7 May 2005
Please note that text in red indicates comments and changes to the original 2005 text that I made in June 2008. Enjoy!
Well, after much hurried packing the day before, I was finally ready to leave for Germany! However, on the way to the airport, we had to stop at Wal Mart to get some luggage tags. At this time, we (Mom, Christina, and I) thought that it would be nice to take some pictures.
As you can see, I love my mom very much. Heh.
An amusing note about this picture: if you look closely at the shopping cart (or click for a larger image), you'll see that it's actually a Target shopping cart. *shrug* Ah, well.
This is a quick snapshot that I took of my sister and myself. You know, it's one of those I'll-hold-the-camera-and-take-our-picture-simultaneously kind of deals. I'm a big fan of these shots for some reason. Maybe it has to do with the fact that in taking one of these pictures, I don't have to bother anyone else. One thing to note here: be sure to position the camera higher than your face so that you're looking up (and are therefore able to avoid an unfortunate double-chin!). As you can see, we didn't do this.
Mom was standing right there, though. Hmm. . .
Mom and Christina soon dropped me off at Pittsburgh International Airport. I hadn't been to the airport in a long, long time, so I really didn't remember much of it. However, there were some very helpful workers there that really made my stay quite pleasurable. I had no trouble checking my baggage and obtaining my boarding passes.
After I got my bearings, I wandered over to my gate and sat to wait. Luckily for me, both of my instructors, John and Keiha, were flying the exact same route as I was, so after I found them, everthing else was a breeze.
During my time as I was waiting, I took great advantage of Pittsburgh International Airport's free wireless internet by playing some World of Warcraft online. I earnedthe rank of Seargant for my character that day during some massive player versus player action. Paladins rule!
I eventually gave up WoW a few months later when I realized just how ridiculous my life had become: I was in Salzburg, Austria, sitting in a public square, stealing Wi-Fi so that I could play with some people eight time zones away! At that point, I decided that this was one addiction that I needed to kick. All of my girlfriends since should thank me. :)
Although this Saab 340 appears to be fairly unpreposessing, flying on it was my first time in the air, so everything was very new and very thrilling. At the beginning of the flight, as the plane was taxiing, the engines hummed very smoothly and it kind of felt like we were sliding over the tarmac. On the way to our runway, I was ablo see FedEx and UPS planes, which I thought was pretty neat; they were painted just like their respective trucks are.
As soon as we hit the runway, takeoff began. The pilots hit the throttle, and we were off! I thought it was just a ton of fun--I was grinning from ear to ear! It felt just how my mom told me it would: like a ride from Kennywood, our local amusement park. I thought to myself that the "wing walkers" of yore must have been nuts!
I also reflected that flying in the Saab 340 wasn't really much like what it must be like for Hamish (my character on World of Warcraft) when he flys on griffonback. It was also too bad that there weren't any kindly Mages in Germany willing to just portal me over. Ah, well. /nerd
Our flight to Washington D.C. was very short--much shorter than the time we spent when we took the family van down all of those years ago. There was some turbulence on our way down to Washington D.C, but other than that, the trip went swimmingly.
I saw this plane in D.C., and it reminded me of a space ship called the Clipper from a game called Escape Velocity, so I had to take a picture.
As we were in the tram going between terminals, I happened to glance this larger plane off to my right. The emblem on its tail intrigued me--during the course of designing several web pages (about various subjects), I had often tried to create logos, generally with little effect. The logo on the back of this craft was so simple, yet so professional. I liked it.
Later on, after I was already aboard the plane that was bound for Munich, I found out more about what this logo meant. Apparently United and Lufthansa, among other airlines, had formed an alliance to provide better customer support and retention. Originally, 5 air lines participated in the Star Alliance, though I think that there may be more that do now. At any rate, because of this alliance, I ended up on a Lufthansa flight.
I had a four-hour layover in Washington D.C., which was annoying, to say the least: it was enough time to stretch my legs and get something to eat, but it wasn't enough time to really do anything. There wasn't even any wireless internet like there was in Pittsburgh! Alas.
At this point, our group kind of all got together (the five of us: John, Keiha, Lisa, Jamie, and Adam (me!), along with Laura (who lives near D.C.) and agreed to meet at about 7:00 PM, an hour before our flight was supposed to leave. After I got done eating at Burger King (Yuck!), I sat down and corrected my younger sister's research paper about infant sign language. I also saw this kiosk in the airport, and it drew my eye.
In the airport, a vendor was selling "learn a language quickly" software. Having nothing much better to do, I decided to try out their iMac, as it was running the program. I chose to do a German lesson (an obvious choice), which consisted of listening to a phrase in German (which was also accompanied by a displayed version of the phrase) and then clicking the corresponding picture from the four that were on the screen. Let me just say that up until then, I had never worked so hard at German for my entire life. :) I manged to guess about 93/100 correct, so that made me pretty happy. I even picked up the German word for plane,
Flugzoig (sp) Flugzeug, along the way.
For all of you people like Ryan from high school out there, this is one of those sort of semi-random pictures that we from Karns City High School seem to be fond of. In this case, this pic was one of an advertisement that was apparently trying to sell airplane tickets, which I thought was pretty funny, because we were in an airport.
This advertisement made me think of the Catcher in the Rye and about how Holden Caulfield wanted to "go west" once himself. For whatever twisted literary reason, going west equates to taking ones own life. *shrug* I could never figure that out, especially when combined with the phrase "Go west, young man, go west." *shrugs again* Who knows? Nobody else I've ever talked to has any idea about this, either. Maybe that means that all of my college friends weren't interested in literature. Hmm.
Eventually our plane came and it was time for me to board my first trans-Atlantic flight. Needless to say, I was excited. Heck, I was even so excited that I walked past my seat the first time around (I'd forgotten this tidbit! Let that be a lesson to you--take good notes while you can!) and nearly missed meeting my seat-mate, Beto. Once I found my seat, however, everything went swimmingly.
Beto, a Mexican immigrant to America who made it big here, is married to a French woman. Together, they have three children, the oldest of whom is about 12 years of age. Beto has a PhD in a form of veterinary pharmaceuticals. He does research in North Carolina. He was traveling to Germany in order to give a presentation on his recent work.
When I tried to show him a list of Germany vocab words, he told me that I am the one who needs to study them, not him!
There are some shots that I took from my seat on the plane. Included here are my last view of America along with my first view of Europe. Sadly, some of the image quality is less than awesome, so I apologize. Be sure to click the picture directly to the right, however--I think it's one of the more interesting ones I've taken so far on my trip.
Being able to see from so high up was quite breath-taking. I also enjoyed flying through the clouds despite the turbulence they made for us. Flying for about 8 hours wasn't a lot of fun, though; I got very stiff and I didn't really sleep all that well.
Finally, to end day one, here is a picture of me at the end of my 10,000 km journey! I have safely landed in Munich and I am now ready to make my way to Augsburg. Beto kindly took this picture of me right before we said goodbye.
I hope you've enjoyed day one! I know that I did, despite the fact that it was only a day of traveling and waiting. Who is up for Day 2?