Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The (Mostly) Friendly Skies

Well, here we are in Kaiserslautern, Germany, after about a thirty-hour day, or so it seemed.
We got to the airport the recommended three hours early, and I have to tell you that United Airlines has to do a better job with international checkins.  First of all, it's not clear which line you get in.  We started to get in one in the front of the terminal but asked and were told we needed to go around to the rear.  There was a line about 1000 feet long but it seemed to be moving quickly so we joined it, meeting up with people from the Chorale as we looped back and forth.  When it became our turn, we had to use the automatic checkin which entailed scanning our passports. The agent snapped at Becky for not knowing where to scan the document.  We also noticed several other United agents fussing at people.  I know it's a busy time for them when all the international flights seem to go out at once, but don't you think they would know that by now and put on a few more agents...or at least some good-humored ones? Makes sense to me.

Anyhow, her document was accepted and the screen asked her if anyone were travelling with her.  That would be me so I scanned my passport and the machine printed out a boarding pass.B  ecky didn't did get one, so we had to find a (non fire-breathing) agent.  We did so and she fixed us both up with a boarding pass and we were on our way. Becky set off the detector at security with her hip replacement so she was patted down.  Turns out she was supposed to tell them before she went through the detector and they would have put her through the infamous scanner.  This was a big secret, but she walked through the detector and then they had to pat her down.  I stood there and stared at the procedure, but she took it with good humor.

We got to the gate where there were a number of our people there. Waiting for a flight is a whole lot more fun if you're doing it with people you know. One couple came up to the gate as boarding was beginning.  They had spent an hour and 45 minutes trying to check in.  The same thing happened to the man as happened to Becky except he couldn't get the attention of an agent. Finally they asked for other passengers on Flight 916 and then they got their passes.  Come on, United, you gotta do better.

The flight was fairly uncomfortable, since we were crammed into steerage.  The seats made my hips and knees hurt so I couldn't sleep.They did keep feeding us which helped.  The flight landed and we made our way through customs and retrieved our luggage.

We met up with the leaders at the Meeting Point (that's what it's called) in the Frankfurt Airport, loaded on a bus and were off to...Worms?  This was a surprise side trip, probably to occupy us until we could check into the hotel.  We found Worms to be interesting and historic with some beautiful very old churches. We also found we couldn't figure out the menus in the restaurants but finally we found one that had a picture menu we could point to.  Then it was back to the bus and on to our hotel in Kaiserslautern.

There we took naps, freshened up (it was very hot here today with little air conditioning), had a big (if slow) traditional German dinner together of thousands of carbohydrates on the plate. We then had a short orientation meeting about what to expect (answer:anything) and rehearsed the music for an hour or so. Then it was time to relax and prepare for tomorrow, which will being a cruise on the Rhine, a loooong rehearsal, and our first concert in town. Stay tuned to see if we melt from the heat.

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