We’re baaaaack! We survived our first over-seas trip with baby. And it really wasn’t that bad! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to do it again anytime soon, but Anneliese did really well, especially considering she only slept 1 hour on the flight over, and was up the whole flight back (she fell asleep literally the second we touched down). Sharing a room with your baby for 14 days is also not my idea of relaxing, but it was all worth it to see family.
We flew from Phx to LAX, where we stayed the night near the airport, then left from LAX for Dusseldorf the next morning. It was a fiasco getting on our first flight, which only preceded to get worse as we continued on our connecting flights. Here’s the story: First, we went to the wrong terminal to check in. Our flight was booked through Lufthansa but we had a connecting flight in Chicago, so the first leg of our journey was code shared with United. So when we went to check in with Lufthansa, there was not a soul around, and we found out we needed to check in with United instead. Fine, except it was 3 terminals away, and the only way to get there was to walk. With all our luggage. So we arrive at the United terminal irritated and drenched in sweat to a 30 minute long line of people waiting to check in, of which are all self serve kiosks (about 30 of them) and two actual employees to help you with any issues. We finally get to our turn, and the kiosk cannot find our reservation. We flag down an employee, who doesn’t even work with the airline and is some sort of contract worker, who does the same thing we do and also can’t get it to find us. We wait for an actual United employee to come over, tell him our issue, and he punches some buttons and gets our bags checked and boarding passes printed. Good to go… or so we thought. We notice once we get to security that only Chris has a boarding pass for our connecting flight (Chicago to Dusseldorf) and that Anneliese’s boarding pass has her as a lap child (we bought her a seat). So after another 30 minutes at the gate in LAX, we get a seat for Anneliese but they tell us we’ll have to go to the gate in Chicago to get our boarding passes for the next flight because they didn’t have enough time to print out our passes in LAX. Three hours later, we land in Chicago 20 minutes before our next flight is to leave. We haul it through the airport to our connecting gate, and when we arrive everyone is already on the plane. Chris goes up to the gate and proceeds to spend no less than 20 minutes talking in German to the agent. Come to find out our entire reservation had been canceled, and they had to reissue our tickets. Two of the three seats left had no working TV screens, and they told us our bags probably wouldn’t make it on the flight since our tickets had been cancelled. My suspicions that the lovely United agent in LAX who checked us in screwed this all up began. Nine hours later (and one hour of sleep total between the three of us) we land in Dusseldorf, and miracle of miracles, our bags were there!! Finally on to fun:
Anneliese met her great grandma and grandpa for the first time. They fed her lots of cake & ice cream!
She also got to pick and eat fresh raspberries from their garden.
Chris’ sister lives in Cologne, about an hour from where his grandparents live, so we took a few day trips into the city, too.
We went to Lindenthaler Tierpark where we were able to get up close and personal with deer, sheep, goats, ducks, and chickens. Or as Anneliese called them all, “puppy!”.
We also go to see our friend Emily who lives in North Africa. We don’t get to see her very often (like once every two years!) and since it is a (relatively) short flight to Germany from Africa, she met us for the week.
We drove up to Oldenburg where we spent the rest of the week, and it unfortunately rained pretty much all day, every day we were there. We spent one day inside at the Klimahaus (a pretty cool place if you ever find yourself near the North Sea in Germany).
When the rain wasn’t too bad, we headed outside. One day we visited Chris’ old school in Ofenerdiek, where he last attended before he moved to Arizona.
Since we were flying home out of Dusseldorf, we drove back down to Cologne where we spent the night at Chris’ sister’s before flying out the next day. Thanks Autobahn for allowing us to get there quickly (that’s 209 kph, or 129 mph).
Our flight home was pretty uneventful, once we finally got on the plane. When we checked in at Dusseldorf, we spent no less than half an hour with the agent trying to get our tickets straightened out. This time we all had seats, but Anneliese also had a lap child assigned to her ticket (as in she would have a child sitting on her lap). Since we were flying into another country we had to have passport info assigned to each ticket, except there were only three passports to assign, and four tickets! Apparently it is easier to add a lap child than take one off. We thought it was straightened out until we got up to our gate and they called our names. There was a lot of German going on so I don’t know what the problem was, but it obviously was not straightened out, and Chris spent another 30 minutes with the gate agent, where they finally got it fixed as our flight was boarding. Luckily it was smooth sailing from there, but needless to say, we will be writing a letter to United.