Thursday, June 7, 2012

Off to Germany

It's that time of year when we start to do our house exchanges. This year we are doing a five week exchange with a family from a small town, Mellrichstadt in Bavaria, Germany. We follow that with three weeks in England visiting friends and finish up with two weeks in Paris. This was all a bit complicated to set up but we seem to have it all organized.

The German family has a baby and the Paris family has a four year old so we borrowed a high chair from somebody in the community as well as a cots and various toys.

Catty-watty sensed that something was wrong again. We were severely scolded after the Grand Canyon trip. She does get to increase her circle of devoted admirers, however. Well that is what we tell her.

Fares to Europe vary considerably depending where you fly from and to. Our German visitors flew into BWI but we saved hundreds of dollars flying out of Newark, NJ. So we dropped off our car for them at BWI and took the Amtrak train to Newark. It works out for our French family to drive our car up to meet us there on the way back. Here is the bus that takes you between BWI airport and the BWI train station.

Marianne and our luggage for ten weeks.

Since I love train travel, I was really looking forward to this train trip. We should be taking 18 train trips during the course of the next ten weeks. Here is the platform at BWI.

We noticed that somebody must have miscalculated at some stage since wooden beams have been installed along the edge of the platform so that there is not so much of a gap between the carriage and the platform. They don't have to do the 'mind the gap' message that you hear on the London Underground.

Our train arrived on time and while there were plenty of passengers we were able to get two seats together.

Havre de Grace at the entrance of the Susquahanna River into Chesapeake Bay. We live near the hill that you see in the distance on the other side of the water.

Puffy clouds.

I had never taken a train through Cecil County where we live so it was interesting to pass under this bridge for the first time. I drove over it every day when I would go to work.

I believe the main waiting room at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station is quite something to see. Down below, the platforms are quite dismal.

So we headed out next to the Schuylkill River with its expressway and boat sheds.

Schuylkill River with the Philly skyline.

There are parts of Philly that are very nice and there are parts that are not nice. The train goes past plenty of the latter.

The Delaware River before coming into Trenton.

We arrived at the Newark Airport train station and then took their monorail train that passes all the terminals. We arrived a few hours before our plane was due to leave so we used the United Club passes that we were given when we did a credit card upgrade (first bag free). I could get used to this lounge thing, especially the peace and quiet, the comfy seats, wifi and free booze. The snacks weren't great.

The United flight was definitely superior to the Delta flight we took to Amsterdam last year. The United seats are less uncomfortable, the food is less miserable and the attendants were happier.

We eventually arrived at Frankfurt where we found our host's car. It was raining but their car was equipped with a GPS Tom Tom. We pressed the 'home' button and once the GPS worked out where we were, it made it a whole lot easier getting to their house in the rain, particularly when you needed to be in a specific lane to make a turn.

After a quick lunch we had a good long nap. When we woke up the rain was gone and the sun was out. The host family's house is on the edge of town overlooking these fields. 

And so we had a pizza and red wine for dinner and then went off to bed again.

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