(originally posted by Mark on his website)
Sibylle and I just returned from a short trip to Germany. We hadn’t been since May 2010 and the occasion of her thirty year high school reunion seemed like a good reason to go. Sibylle planned for the week off when she was setting up her fall teaching schedule, and so we booked tickets, made a room reservation at our favorite hotel in Bürg, packed our bags, and went.
We needed to mail a letter before we left and managed not to visit a mail box on our way out of town Wednesday evening. The Holiday Inn Express were we stayed didn’t have an out-going mail drop, so we took the letter with us to the airport. Guess what you can’t do at the airport? Mail anything. In the wake of 9-11 all US Postal Services were removed from all airports. There is a package service where you can put your pocket knife or 4 ounce bottle of what ever in a pouch and ship it to yourself for an exhorbitant fee, but you cannot mail a stamped letter.
When we bought our plane tickets we were offered “economy comfort” seats on the overseas legs of our flight, for a mere $40 per seat. We decided to splurge and were very pleased with the result. The seat rows were considerably farther apart, and our seats reclined much further than normal. It was possible to be less uncomfortable than riding in the rather cramped coach section. Both going over and coming back we were able to sleep some and arrive a bit more rested.
Unfortunately we both came down with some kind of intestinal flu or virus. Neither of us felt particularly good the entire time we were in Germany. Sibylle felt so poorly on Monday that she spent the entire day in bed asleep. It was very disappointing and frustrating to have traveled all the way to Germany only to be sick enough that we didn’t want to be away from a bathroom. Public restrooms are few and far between in Europe, and leaving our hotel meant taking a very real chance that we’d need a bathroom and not have one available. No fun.
Internet access is far easier to come by now than it was four years ago when we made our first trip to Germany together. The Starbucks in Stadtmitte Stuttgart has free wi-fi, as did our hotel. And our favorite restuarant in Winnenden sits next to an open wi-fi hotspot. All of which means we can check email and keep up with the world around us as we choose. However, we had difficulty getting to our domain hosted email accounts while at the hotel. I suspect their router was setup to block some ports, and unfortunately those included the ones used by our domain host for secure email. Also, I wasn’t able to use secure shell to access either of my computers here in the States, which mean I was unable to do any remote posting to my web site.
We are safely home again, and in the process of readjusting to a new time zone. I know we’ll have other trips to Europe, I only hope that we don’t end up sick again.