so i'm in cologne now. getting ready to IM w/ the family in about an hour (midnight my time). let me tell you about the trip so far.
it started thursday morning. i got up took the kids to school, came back, hung out w/ the hubs a little then left for the airport. since i was going to be on an overnight flight i put my toothbrush and toothpaste in my carry on. they confiscated my toothpaste--even though it was half empty it was a full size container. great.
i had a 4-5 hour layover in charlotte (a NON smoking airport) and went outside and back through security twice while i was there.
i did get a little bit of work done since i had a laptop but not as much as i'd hoped.
i tried switching my seat when i realized i had a center seat, but no luck, the flight was packed. it was a two-four-two set up. i was on a row w/ four guys and the guy beside me slept the entire way so i had to wake him up to go to the bathroom. normally i sleep on planes pretty easily, but i didn't this time. couldn't get comfortable, too many people, it was hot, i was antsy and almost worked myself into an anxiety attack the last two hours because i was getting clausterphobic and needed a smoke. there was a little girl sitting with her parents in front of me, she was about 3ish, cute as could be. reminded me of the only time we flew w/ the girl. she was really good.
i get off the airplane in frankfurt and the memories came rolling back. germany has it's own smell. i can't describe it. it's not a bad smell, not like garbage or anything, just a german smell. weird i know. the last time i was at an airport in germany was when we were leaving and i was saying good bye to the hubs. sniff sniff.
you can smoke in the airport, hell, you can smoke pretty much anywhere here, though there are designated areas. but right there, in baggage claim you can light up.
the next fun thing was trying to figure out how to get the train to cologne. there are no information desks. there are signs and yes, in the airport they also are in english so i got to the train station. then you have to buy your ticket from a vending machine, yes, it has an english option, but i didn't really understand the schedule or the acronyms, etc. and the ticket prints out in german.
i get on the train. it's nice, fine ride, only an hour to cologne. however, apparently i sat in first class when my ticket was for second class. the first ticket train agent guy came by and didn't say anything, he didn't speak english and didn't want to bother with me. the second spoke some english, he's the one who told me i was in the wrong area, but he let me stay probably because he recognized the totally confused look on my face.
i get to the train station in cologne. it literally took me 30 minutes to find my way out of it and to my hotel, which was across the street. by this time it's like 10:30 cologne time (4:30 home time). i got to my room and took a shower then tried to figure out how to get from the hotel to the show.
in my show packet there was this little pass for free public transportation. so that's what i used today thinking i was doing well. at the train station there was a pharmacy so i thought i'd get some toothpaste. it was like a pharmacy, not a cvs or walgreens. i recognized nothing--no american labels to be found. i spotted toothbrushes and what i assume is toothpaste. you tell me.
(i've used it, it is toothpaste, thank god it wasn't like some hemmoroid cream or something!)
so, i took the train to the show. it is ginormous, the buildings are huge and the show is huge and only takes up two of the 12 or so "halls" aka buildings. in my haste to get over there i didn't take my business cards or a notebook to take notes. yeah, i'm hella professional. frankly i was a walking zombie. you can smoke in the show, right there on the floor. well, like at designated areas, but in the actual convention center. some people were smoking in their booths, which was nasty. and beer. they sell it right there along w/ the sodas for lunch. warm most of it because i had forgotten germans don't drink stuff cold or on ice. i roamed around, talked to some vendors, took some pictures and headed back. i was wiped out.
got back to my room, checked email, worked a little then took an hour nap. i ate dinner (kalbschnitzel mit kartofelsalat) in the hotel restaurant. i hate eating in sit down places alone but i really didn't like the thought of going out after dark and getting hella lost. i don't do that in cities where i speak the language let alone here! so at dinner i'm looking over the city map, waiting for my food (and i had a beer) and i smell something burning. i look down and my map is nearly on fire from the little tea light candle on the table! there's a brown spot on the map now, but nothing burst into flames. so dinner was yummy and i came back to my room. it's small but not like the ny box. feather bed, i'd forgotten about those too. well, not the mattress but a feather/down duvet thing.
i haven't met up w/ the vendors i know who are supposed to be here. i at least thought i could have dinner with them one night. i'm just so exhausted at this point.