Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dusseldorf Germany - Italy and France trip Day 1

Ready for another adventure?
Every year we try to take a big vacation around July 4th.  Previous trips have included Tahiti and Bora Bora. This year instead of a relaxing vacation, we're going back to some places we've visited before but didn't spend enough time.  
Follow along as we go to Rome, Florence, Disneyland Paris, and Paris!

We're flying on free airline tickets (that's a whole other post) on Air Berlin.  The way we're routed, we're leaving Los Angeles at 6pm and taking an 11 hour flight to Dusseldorf Germany.  The next morning, we'll catch a flight to Rome.  We left work just a little early on Thursday to head to the airport and have dinner.
Even though we'll be gone for a little over 2 weeks, we still only do carry-on bags.  Each of us got our tickets from the Air Berlin counter and they actually weighed our carry-on bag.  There's a limit of 10kg (22 pounds) and each of our bags was right on.  I'm really glad they didn't ask to weigh my camera bag!  With all my lenses, the laptop, etc, it might look small but I bet it's over 10kg.

We were supposed to leave at 6pm, but that came and went and our plane wasn’t even here. Around 6:15 the plane showed up and we were given the announcement that we’d start boarding in a few minutes. A few minutes turned into quite a few minutes and they finally opened the gate at 6:45pm and that was just to let the handicapped and young kids on.
Finally by 7:20 we were allowed to board. There was still plenty of room in the overhead bins for our bags and we had good seats. This plane is configured in a 2-4-2 and we’ve got the window and aisle which is fantastic. The seats themselves are normal size, but the space between them is smaller than any other plane I've been on. My knees are touching the seat in front of me unless I’m sitting straight up. We’re off the ground by 7:40pm, so we were about 2 hours delayed.

Goodbye lovely Los Angeles.

As soon as the wheels left the ground, the guy in front of Theresa throws his seat back. Unless you put your seat back as well, that seat is just about in your lap. I haven’t figured out how to deal with the time difference yet. When we land it’ll be about 5pm in Germany.  Do I stay awake the entire time and go to bed early when we arrive? I always have problems sleeping on planes, so I didn’t think I’m be able to nap well, but surprisingly, despite the cramped conditions, I was able to. I think the combination of the Bose headphones, sleep mask, and blanket just let me finally nod off. I fell asleep over Wyoming and when I woke up we were already through Canada.  I’m guessing about 3-4 hours sleep.  Not bad.  Theresa is doing pretty well too. She’s gotten up a few times to stretch her legs.  I rub her legs and back for a bit and she falls asleep, and again surprisingly I’m able to fall asleep for another hour.

Welcome to Dusseldorf! Our landing goes smoothly and we taxi right up to the gate. We breeze through immigration and customs and find a sign directing us to our hotel.

T booked the Sheraton right by the airport and we walk right over. The hotel staff is nice and we get a decent room overlooking the runway. It's a decent size and not the mini European room we've had in the past.

Our original plan was to head into Dusseldorf for the evening and explore the city and have a nice meal somewhere.  But because we’re arriving 2 hours late, we decided to chill here. We wander back over to the airport, which also seems like a shopping mall with all the stores and restaurants inside. We grab cash from an ATM and look around for something to eat. The first level has nothing that interests us. We grab a frozen coffee from the McDonalds on the ground level and continue looking for decent food. 

At the very end of the level, is what looks like a small grocery store.  Score!  T’s looking very happy now.  She found fruit and a salad. We bought a bunch of stuff including water, Mezzo Mix (my favorite German soda that you can also find in Epcot), Lift (an apple drink T likes), a salad, strawberries, pineapple, chocolate and gummy colas for 11 Euro. 

Add in a pretzel and sausage link in a cheese bun from another store for 5 Euro and we’re eating a tasty dinner for 16 Euro. On the ride back up the elevator, we notice the hotel restaurant is serving a wienerschnitzel and potatoes for 22 Euro, or tomato soup for 8 Euro.  I think we did pretty well.

Our German food tonight.  A sausage in a roll and a pretzel.

Theresa didn’t have fork for her salad, so she used my tiny fork I got with my pineapple.

It’s 8:30pm and we’re about ready to call it a day.  Our flight leaves at 7am, so we’re getting up pretty early.  Tomorrow we’re off to Rome!  It's going to be fun!

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