cars, plane and trains….and the flu

As with the beginning of any travel adventure, it always begins with the most tedious part – the transportation.  This is the necessary evil to the travel process.  As much traveling as I have done, not much of it as been across the pond, and therefore it wasn’t until today that I realized that my tolerance to long flights wasn’t nearly as good as I had anticipated.

Let’s start with the bad part of the story.  I have the flu.  Like uber fever, congested, feel like I’m dying flu.  PERFECT for travel.  Walking is twice the work, food makes me nauseous, i’m incredibly parched yet my throat is always dry.  Timing couldn’t have been worse.  I spent Thursday and Friday drowning myself in oranges and vitamins and Advil cold & sinus.  Except the amphetamine portion of the Advil were driving me into a state of panic.  The night before we left I slept less than 4 hours, waiting up in states of terror and panic.  So I gave up the Advil.  Benylin didn’t help either.  Things were looking bleak as we prepared to leave.

Saturday morning we exited the house, early, all ready to go.  Thanks to the great advice of our friends Luke and Karen, we had invested in some packing cubes.  I must say – get them.  These things are AMAZING.  Everything we needed was in one suitcase.  The only reason we brought a second suitcase was for shoes (in case the snow soaked the ones we wore) and souvenirs (we may be bringing home a beer stein or two).  Due to the glory that is Nexus, we went straight through the border, without more than a single question.  Fantastic.  We stopped at the Coach outlet to buy a new wristlet.  I bought one at Christmas, but it was hurting my wrist.  When I was in the store, I found a few I liked, and I asked Ray his opinion.  He touched them all and said “definitely not this one” and then through my existing wallet (with money and idea) back on the pile.  I laughed.  He then encouraged me to buy a new one.  Thanks for that Ray.

We were way ahead of schedule, so we thought we would stop in Seattle to pick up tea from Pike’s Place.  We didn’t account for the St. Paddy’s day parade, so finding parking was tricky.  While down at the market we had some lunch with a beautiful view from Lowell’s – voted one of the best places to eat like a local by Travel & Leisure Magazine.  Ray indulged in some clam chowder in a sourdough bowl.  I ordered the Tuna melt, but my flu didn’t allow me to get past the second bite.  So Ray ate that too.  After picking up some pasta and teas, we hiked back up to our car and headed to the airport.  We were now behind schedule, but still managed to get there and checked in 45 minutes before boarding.  Enough time to stock up on water for the plane.

Flying with Iceland Air wasn’t much different than most standard 737s.  Rows of 6 (3 and 3) lined the plane in cramped quarters.  We all got a bottle of Iceland Glacier water getting on the plane (to add to my collection), and the plane left on time and without any hassles.  The flight from Seattle to Reykjavik was 7 hours.  I was feeling optimistic though.  I purchased some Tylenol Cold & Flu Extreme, and combined with Otrivin it was keeping my fever and congestion at bay.  I watched Looper and Hairspray and 6 reruns of the Big Bang Theory.  Played some iPad games with Ray and watched the time slowly tick down on the screen in front of me.  Ray also enjoyed his first “Gull” – an Icelandic Beer made with Glacier water.  Best part is that the reciept for the beer says on the bottom “Thank you for shopping like a viking.”  I was doing great until hour 6, where suddenly the flu bested me.  This hour was THEE longest hour I have ever had to endure.  I won’t go into details, but lets just say I wasn’t so excited about getting on the second leg of the plane to Frankfurt.

Our turn around time was short – but the time we got through customs (got our EU entry point passport stamped for ICELAND!) they were already on final boarding for the flight to Frankfurt.  Given how the last hour had gone, I decided to bench my bravery and go with the tried and true prescription drugs to help with the next flight.  Between those and my AMAZING husband I can happily say that i do not remember taking off from Iceland, only waking 10 minutes before getting to Frankfurt.  And boy was I grateful for that.

The Frankfurt airport is ginormous and it took a while to navigate our way around.  we had 2 hours before we had to catch our train, so we had some time for food.  There wasn’t much available where we were (much more was around the bend, but we didn’t know that), so our first german meal was the tried and true….McDonalds (yes, foodie friends, you may cringe).  But Ray did try to make it as authentic as possible, but ordering the “McCurrywurst” – McD’s play on the local favourite.  I managed to keep down a cheeseburger and some water, which comes in a cardboard container like a juice box.

We took an airport train to the actual train station and found the Deutsche Bahn IC train to Berlin (via Fulda).  The total train ride was 4.5 hours to Berlin, and me and Ray took turns sleeping (me the first 2.5 hours and him the last 2 hours).  We were both EXHAUSTED.  Ray didn’t sleep on the plane at all, and I had only had 3 hours (and barely any the night before that).  My the time we arrived at the Hauptbahnhof in Berlin, we were pretty much beat.  We took the S-bahn to Friedrichstrasse and walked 1 block up to our hotel, the Melia Berlin.  Beautiful Hotel.  Great location, and WAY WAY nicer than I would have imagined.  I was really happy with the deal we have found here.  We will be here for the next 3 nights.  Only downside is that Wifi must be paid for (uncool!) so tomorrow I may have to seek out a local McD’s or Starbucks (I think there is one down the street).

We didn’t have energy for much more than dinner – so we went to Mercado’s for steak.  It was probably one of the worst steaks I’ve had.  Along with mediocre salad and unseasoned fries.  And my Pepsi cost $5.  So on the food level, today wasn’t a big win.  My flu is moving along though – I’m down to just a cough and I’m hoping that after a good 12 hours of sleep and a few more Tyelnol Severe’s (what a melodramatic name….) I may be almost back to normal by tomorrow – but a few prayers would hurt on this one.

In my state of exhaustion I didn’t take my camera out of the bag today, but did shoot a couple pictures with Ray’s little point and shoot that was in his pocket.  You can see Ray enjoying his first bites out of Germany.  And regardless of the bumpy start we are both SUPER excited to be here.  Ray is absorbing the language, and loving every minute of it.  Even though our waitstaff spoke English, he was asking them how to stay the equivalent things in German.  He has 2 different German apps on his phone and he is constantly translating.  I think he wishes he would have studied more in depth in his early years.  I think a lot of it is in his memory somewhere and it’s all rising to the surface pretty quickly.  It’s fun for me to watch him enjoy speaking German and also makes it easier for me to communicate through him.  Win win.  We both said at dinner if we went back to high school, a second language is the one thing we would focus on that we didn’t deem as important when we were there.

Anyway, that is all the energy I have for this evening.  Tomorrow we have a big day of exploration ahead of us….and it is going to be COLD COLD COLD (like below 0), so we will be bundled up and walking through the biting wind.  But the camera will be out and we are in good spirits.  Hopefully many photos to share with you tomorrow.

Lots of Love!


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