2001 USA-Germany Travel Record

October 8, 2001: From Washington DC to Germany

We will start to Germany from this evening at last. In the morning, I washed cloths and cleaned the room we borrow from Mr. Tsukamoto and then assembled our belongings into a suitcase. It is good that I can leave items not to be used in Germany. I also made homepages until today and sent them to the web.

As the American attack to Afghanistan terrorists started yesterday and the security check could be tighter, we headed to the airport on the safe side. We will be picked up from Mayflower Hotel in which we stayed 22 years ago. On the entrance is a sign that reads, "The Hotel with a long and distinguished history." A shop in the hotel called "Pink" was very beautiful. They sell men's clothes and this is a necktie corner.

We started the hotel and arrived at Dulles airport in 30 minutes. It is said that the number of the travelers has decreased due to the start of the attack to Afghanistan, but there are still many people in line for check-in. It took almost 50 minutes to check-in my large suitcase.

The security check was tight. What was surprising, my carry-in baggage was detected by the machine. A security officer opened my cosmetic bag and picked up a small nail cutter with a small spire file. Two soldiers with gun in hand carefully keep watching me. I felt something terrible, but I was also relieved to learn that the security check was perfect.
At the boarding gate, I showed my passport and get on the airplane to Frankfurt. The flight was about 30 minutes behind schedule and took off at last.

When the flight levels off, I saw New York City under the sight. It was a little bit cloudy, but it was surely NYC. As there were no landmark of World Trade Center, it was hard to identify the city. The dark spot in the light may be the Ground Zero as I watch the tragedy everyday on TV.

The sunset in the sky of Boston.

As I have to say good-bye to American beer, I asked it on in-flight meal of beef. Only the knife was of plastic-made on the United Airline flight. As there were many unoccupied seat, I could lay myself down and sleep.

Now, it is October 9 on the Atlantic Ocean to Europe I am crossing for the first time in my life. I could sleep only three hours. The map on the small TV shows we are flying over England. The breakfast was served still in the dark. I could see the lights of cars on Autobahn below. The plane soon landed Frankfurt at seven in the morning. The temperature was ten degrees C and it was very cold. I adjusted my watch. It took about eight hours.

The big cart was very good; it was very strong just as made-in-Germany. I could use it even on an escalator. I could carry all my baggage on it down to the platform of the train.

I could pass the immigration smoothly. The world has turned into German, but English can also be partly used. I first exchanged money from yen to mark. We bought a calling card and train ticket to Bielefeld in which our friends Mr. Klaus and his friend Ms. Kaeko wait for us. We could take contact with Kaeko from airport.

At the platform is an officer of DB (Deutche Bahn) with a red beret who kindly teaches us whatever we ask. There is a dust box on the platform. It is colored in three, yellow, blue, and red for paper, glass, and combustibles respectively.

We soon got on an ICE (Inter City Express) for Berlin starting at 8:57 a.m. The seat was free and spacious. We took a four-seat corner with a small table. There is a cloth hanger stand with a mirror on it. Other wagons are of two-seated on each side or of compartment.

The ICE soon started quietly. The speed quickly goes up to 200 Km/h. The express runs along the Rhein dotted with old castles on the small hills. Each small village has a church with a spire. As the speed of the train is so fast, 230 Km/h maximum, it is very hard to snap good shots.

The blurring picture is vineyard. They produce a lot of wine here. A nuclear power station came in sight as well.

As the dinning car was full, we took the first beer in Germany at the buffet car. Pilsner tastes something bitter. As there are many people who smoke, we got back to our seat and enjoyed the beer.

We stopped at Bonn, the previous capitol of Germany. The small city passed away soon.

When I saw many spires, it was Koeln. The train stops for ten minutes. A kind passenger took a picture for us.

Koeln is a large station. I remember I saw it on a movie before. I was delighted. We bought sausage at the kiosk. Look at the big sausage!

Koeln cathedral is located next to the station. It is very magnificent and beautiful.

After a while, we finally arrived Bielefeld at 1:20 p.m. some ten minutes behind time. At the platform, Mr. Klaus and Ms. Kaeko were kindly waiting for us. Nice to meet you at last! We soon got on Mr. Klaus's car and looked around Bielefeld downtown. We took a commemorative picture. Mr. Klaus gave me a branch of rose. The yellow building on the back is the City Hall. We took hot soup and beer in the restaurant in it. Mr. Klaus is very gentle, and Ms. Kaeko is a reliable tour manager for our travel in Germany. She is a member of a local travel agency.

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