On March 17th I boarded a NW A330-300 bound for FRA. I didn't get the N number as I never got a good view of the plane. This was my first non L-1011 wide body flight and my first flight out of North America. I was flying on my cashed in Worldperks miles so I flew in Y. I was impressed with the Y class; I had heard NW had the premium product TATL and I was happy to find all I heard was true. After watching "Dirty Jobs" on the PTV I had some dinner. I actually ate the vegetarian meal. I don't think I have ever done that before, but the beef meal was stew and I don't like stew. The meal was good.
About an hour before landing we were served egg biscuits, which were also rather yummy. Upon landing at FRA I headed over to customs and was amazed to find not much of anything. I was asked no questions and they didn't ask to see anything other than my passport. I was amazed because I usually get the third degree when driving out of Canada in Michigan. I had five hours before my flight to LEJ on LH. I had to go and check my bags again because this part of the trip I booked separately.I was very tired. I tried to sleep on the plane, but my seat wouldn't recline much and I can't sleep sitting up. I pushed a couple of benches together and put my travel blanket over my face, tied my camera bag to my arm, and fell asleep at the gate. The gate agent woke me up when it was time to board. We were bussed to the plane, which was an E-170 from Cirrus Airlines. This was my first E-170 trip and I was very happy with it. The seats were fantastic in comparison to any Y seat I have sat in for years. When we landed at LEJ I was able to get a couple of nice pics of the IL-62 and IL-18 at LEJ. I got some better photos of them, but this is the only one I took with both in it.
The people I was going to meet met at the luggage claim. I collect Falstaff Beer memorabilia from 1933-1975 and I met this man and his wife online while collecting bottle caps. We have been trading caps and other odds and ends for a couple of years now so when They asked if I would like to visit I said sure. They put me up in their apartment in Halle. This photo is of Lutz, his wife Marit, me, Lutz's daughter Stefanie, and her boyfriend Stephen.
It is nice visiting beer collectors because we all have the same hobby, drinking beer. Lutz and Marit were able to take me to all the finest places to drink beers. Most of the time we ate breakfast and dinner at their house and had lunch out. I am happy to say I didn't eat one "American" thing while I was there nor did I drink any beer I have ever heard of (I had drank 652 different brand beers up to that time). I had always enjoyed some German foods, but I was introduced to so many more. Needless to say I ate like a pig and drank like a fish. One night we went over to Lutz's parent's house and drank; I got disintegrated.
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While in Germany I visited a lot of cool places and saw some cool stuff. As a professional gearhead I always enjoy looking at cars. I was happy to see some Trabants and Lattas still on the road.
We drove over to Dresden one day and checked out that city. What a great place. I saw lots of cool things but I really enjoyed the transportation museum downtown. It was filled with cars, trucks, motorcycles, trains, street cars, airplane stuff, and ship stuff. They had an engine in there from the Baade 152. I learned of the museum in a recent issue of Airways. If you are in Dresden and you like the kind of stuff most a.nutters do you have to check it out.
The next day we drove up to Berlin. It rained, hailed, and snowed the entire day; so sightseeing was cut short. Of course it rained or snowed everyday I was there. I Berlin was neat, but I have no desire to go back. I liked the smaller cities and towns better. Berlin was just too crowded and too expensive for me. There was way too much stuff geared to foreign tourists. I don't even like that kind of stuff in my own country. I did enjoy visiting THF. I had a nice time walking around the terminal. It was a great airport and it will be a loss to see it close. One of my favorite films is "The Big Lift" and I while at THF I could just see the C-54s bringing in the goods. The terminal at THF reminded me more of a large railroad station than an airport.
While in Berlin we stopped by the Luftwaffe Museum, it was a short stop because the weather got really crappy. They had lots of neat airplanes from the DDR and FRD, plus most of the countries in the Warsaw Pact and NATO. Most of the airplanes were outside, but plans are being made to move them all inside eventually. The hangers with aircraft in them were really great. I really had a great time there and I wish the weather would have been better. This AN-26T is just one of the many aircraft I had never seen in real life before my visit.
Another Day we drove over to Wernagerode and visited the Schloss Wernagerode and the Hafferoder brewery. The town was really cool, but after walking around a bit I smelled the wonderful smell of coal being burned by some sort of steam engine. I found a cool tourist railroad that operates with vintage steam locomotives. They reminded me of the LGB trains I played with as a kid. We didn't ride the train because by the time we found it the last ride was over for the day. However I will ride next year when I go back. I love steam engines.
Another cool place we went to was a mining museum near Halle. Until recently these big machines stripped the earth for coal. Having lived in Southern Illinois I am familiar with seeing big mining equipment, but it always amazes me.
After having fun for a week and drinking way too much beer it was time to head back to LEJ for my flight back to FRA. Being a holiday there were few people at the airport. I have never seen an airport terminal so empty. I was amazed by the new observation tower. For 2 Euros you can hang out there all day. There was a bar up there too. There was only a few plane movements while I was up there, here is a shot of a World MD-11 I saw taxing.
While hanging out at LEJ I saw this cool bar called the IL-18. I was too hung over to drink any beers so I didn't stop. But I did see their menus at IL-18s on them. I flew back to FRA on a Cirrus E-170.
That evening I stayed at the Ibis Hotel near FRA that was recommended by another a.netter on a thread I posted before I left. I was in the mood for sleeping so I ate dinner, which was the worst food I had while in Germany, and went to bed. The next morning I boarded a NW A330-300 for the trip back. I watched three movies and enjoyed a meal of BBQ chicken breast. Later on we had a snack of pretzeled bread, Gouda cheese, and Danish butter. It was the best thing I ever ate on a plane and I told the FA that and she gave me another one. I wish I was still eating it. We arrived on time at DTW and after a long trip I was ready to go home and hit the sack. The next morning I got up for work and I was really dragging, but since most of my students went places on Easter break too they were useless too.
I really liked visiting Germany and I really liked Eastern Germany. It was more rough and tumble than I expected and I liked that, it reminded me of home. I was amazed by the amount of graffiti I saw all over everything. I don't see that even in Detroit. Sure we have some, but I have never seen anything like this. I never had anyone give me any BS about being from the USA either. Not one person I met asked me anything about current US politics. I was asked a lot about US democracy in general and I asked a lot of questions about life in the DDR. I guess I was just hanging out with people who were smart enough to know I don't represent the government. I really liked meeting up with my new friends and not staying in a hotel and eating always at restaurants. That stuff is cool, but you don't really get the feel for a place. While I was there Lutz and I were interviewed by the Halle newspaper about our bottle cap collecting hobby. They printed a nice full page article in one of the sections of the paper. It was in the Miiteldeutsche Zeitung, April 12th 2008.
It was a great trip and this summer I will be taking another trip to Europe, this time to Leeds, England, via NW/KL DTW-AMS-MAN. Next summer I plan on returning to Germany. Lutz and Marit also invited my parents and they would also like to come and visit me next summer too. They will have to decide if they want to come and visit in Detroit or St. Louis. Both would be cool, but I doubt we can do that.
Since this trip I have flown two DTW-STL trips on NW, but they were uneventful, but any trip on a DC-9 is cool. This summer I will also be visiting DAB and SFO so look for more trip reports from me this summer.
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