SJO airport. It’s around 6 am and I’m extremely tired as yesterday we had a party at my place. I had to say goodbye to a good friend that’s going away to study in Chile for two years. Of course I’m planning to go and visit him perhaps at mid year so we can go off roading in the snow and maybe snow boarding.
From SJO we go to MIA…3 hours later…and as usual it is as close to hell as one might think. This airport is over-used and under-attended which is the worst combination I can think of. Also please take into consideration that we are in post 9/11 times, which means that going through immigration is kind of hard, even when I have a real job and I’m attending a real training. Immigration officers can make you nervous anytime! Went through, I’m in!
After a couple of hours, we take a plane to ORD. I like this airport much better. Ate something quick, McD!, and moved on. Bought my favorite brand of sleeping pills, Unisom. I seriously object sleeping pills, unless on an overseas flight or heavily jetlagged. Any way, I still have a huge headache, so wth…I’ll take it!
9 hours later…We arrive in Frankfurt Main international airport, also known as FRA. After a quick Pass Kontrol, we enter the EU! Wohoo, we are in!
When we get there we find Paul, our coworker sleeping in a very uncomfortable chair. He took a direct flight from Miami but lost his connecting flight. We all hop in a REALLY small plane, and take the 45 minute flight to PAD airport in Padderborn.
We get there with the address of our hotel, the Vital Hotel. We only know that it is north of the city, but nothing else. A lady points out that it is a really nice hotel, actually kind of a Spa/Hotel. My first thought is: but it is snowing, who would go to a pool with snow? (however, I soon react and remember about indoor pools – hey, gimme a break! It’s been over 28 hours of traveling!).
So it’s us three, the snow and no taxis. This is a REALLY small airport. We then decide to rent a car so we go to the AVIS counter. A nice lady greets us and tells us our car is ready, but since I don’t believe in telepathy, we tell her she is confusing us. She asks us if we have a reservation and we say: “no, we just decided a minute ago to rent one”. A mix of panic and surprise shows up in her face. Of course we have a US-like way of thinking…let’s get a car and go. But here it seems that they actually get cars on a request by reservation basis. Luckily, she kind-of-likes-us so she gives us a car that somebody else was supposed to get and asks for another one. We pay and she asks who will drive. By popular decision, it will NOT be me. I kind of have a history when it comes to driving. Also, she didn’t like it very much that I asked if it was true that there are no speed limits in Germany. Well, in the AutoBahnnen there are no speed limits, everywhere else there are.
So Paul drives and we get safely to the hotel. It actually is a Spa, and a beautiful one for that. We get our rooms and go out to eat. It’s Germany, so I wanted a bratwurst. We look for a nice restaurant but it seems weekends are kind of dead here. We find a nice restaurant…opens at 5:30. It’s 5 o’clock, and we haven’t eaten decent in the last day and something so we go to the next one. Greek fast food…I’ll take it. And I got my bratwurst with fries. Very good. We asked for a plate that comes with all kinds of pork in a lot of different ways. Very good.
Next day, Paul wakes up and tells us that there are naked people going around in the snow. Yeah right! we say. It’s -1 degrees outside. We completely ignore him. I mean, who trusts an Irish mathematician that does not drink. That can’t be real. Any way, we go out to Paderborn to take a look around. It is snowing which is really nice (from inside a building anyway) and we go out to the city. We go and take a look around the city, its nice and small. We walk for a while, its a Sunday, so everything is closed. At the end we find the Cafe & Bar Celona. Very nice, had some wine and had some fun with some mind games that Paul had. Have you ever head about the Monty Hall puzzle. Well, I got it right. Then another one about some marbles, after some thinking got that one right. This went on for a while. Christian just drank wine in the meantime, I guess he didn’t enjoy this as much as I did. . We also enjoyed looking at a very pretty girl that Paul thinks was from eastern Europe
Off we go for dinner, greek again. The girl that served dinner was from Brazil, although no English. Paul lived in Paderborn and Munich for a while, so he spoke german and I took three years in the Goethe Institute in Costa Rica so I could kind of fumble my way around. More porks and fries. If you can’t speak properly the language, be careful for what you ask for. Apparently I ordered food for a small army! After ordering a normal amount of food, we went back to the hotel and decided to hit the spa. We were going to use the normal entrance to the pool area, but Paul convinced us to use another door and Voila! there was a bunch of naked people in the snow. Investigating a little further, we went inside and there was the pool, the sauna, the steam room and the changing room. Mixed! Everybody was naked. I don’t consider myself very conservative, but I draw the line there or at least I’m not that comfortable going around naked with old and young people around. I saw some things I wish I was blind.
Well, the next couple of days we had our 64-bit ISA event in the Heinz-Nixdorf Museums Forum. This is world’s largest computer museum and conference center, however almost all of it is in german. Well, the presentations went allright and the food was quite good. Of course, I miss white rice. This is funny, in Costa Rica white rice is part of most of the food you eat. You take it for granted, until you don’t have it in front of you. The museum was amazing, you could find almost any geek toy you could think of and being a geek myself, I felt like a teenager in a porno shop in A’dam.
Last day Paul took me to the airport. I was bored waiting for the plane and met the girl in the snack bar. Really pretty, totally german. A computer graphics student. She was really nice, a good conversation can pick up your spirit when you travel that much.
I got to FRA at around 6 pm. Hopped in the hotel bus and got to the Express by Holiday Inn. Nice hotel, but NO internet. This is an insult. However, this made me get up and go to downtown Frankfurt. Do not take a taxi, it will go for 20~25 euros each way. Take the train, round trip for 7 euros. Get off in Hauptwache. That’s the city center. Lot of bars and like 5 H&M! Ate also Doner. Good stuff.
Took the train back, went to the hotel and then next morning off to London Heathrow we go.