Requiring neither the motivation nor fearing the drudgery of getting up at dawn, we both woke early and were soon down in the lobby and ready to start the journey home.
It is still dark outside and our flight to the US will depart from the Dusseldorf airport at 9:10 am. Cologne is about 45 minutes away and there are a few ways to get there including taxi or train. We have opted for the train from the main Cologne Station. Prior to 6:00 am we were in the lobby completing checkout and ready to drive to the station.
The Cologne train station is very nice (almost sparkles!) and I actually prefer it to the one in Dusseldorf. It is very large but somehow does not feel chaotic. However at this early hour there were hardly any other people around.
We purchased our tickets from the kiosk and then went down to the track to wait for the train.
|Cologne Station in the early A.M.|
It is between 29 - 37 minutes nonstop on the ICE trains depending on the schedule from Cologne to the Dusseldorf airport and then the SkyTrain is only another 5 minutes. As it is more convenient and faster, we opted for this service.
Happy to report the journey was very easy and after a couple different escalators at the SkyTrain station we arrived inside the Dusseldorf Airport main terminal.
I had my mother park herself on a bench while I walked all the way to the end where the AirBerlin US bound checkin desks are located. No luck and then walked almost all the way back when I spotted him! I scampered over to get mother as she needed her bag wrapped too. There were 3 people ahead of us and they were wrapping some very small bags which looked kind of silly.
With the bags wrapped (8 euros each) we proceeded to the AirBerlin checkin desk at the end of the airport. The checkin was fast and I found out my bag weighed 14 kgs. Passing through security was easy too and we proceeded to Terminal B. Everything looked very familiar from our visit here last year. We went to a different restaurant this time where my mother had a cappucchino and a we both purchased a breakfast item.
My mother is still complaining about her legs hurting so we stopped at a pharmacy type store and she purchased a cream from Switzerland. She got some free samples too! At the gate she put some of the creme on and it smelled like menthol eucalyptus. It was very strong and seemed to be clearing my sinuses too!
Because we were assured of having the newly configured aircraft this time with the new IFE system I didn't download any movies to the iPod or iPad. However at the gate I tried to download a movie to the iPad in case the IFE was broken. This was not going very well! Not sure if the connection just was not working or if I didn't have enough storage space on the device. Defeated I plugged my iPad into the outlet on the wall to charge it anyway. We were due to board at 8:30 am and next time I will have the movies already loaded in advance.
|Our aircraft on the right|
Our turn came to board and we made our way down to the seats past the wing. Both the new seats and the monitors were very nice. Some people have complained about the new seats being too hard but it seemed fine to us.
|Gloomy Departure from Dusseldorf|
After a few minutes in the air the monitors came on. I absolutely love the new monitors! The clarity is amazing and the size which is 8.9 inches seems even larger and is so easy to see. The monitor has a USB port too if you want to plug in a mobile device. The RAVE high definition audio/video on demand AVOD system offering more than 200 hours of entertainment is fantastic! AirBerlin also switched to the one prong audio headsets instead of the double pronged ones pre-refurb. Another huge improvement as you can use your own headphones without an adapter.
|Our Journey Home Begins|
|Western Coast of Ireland|
In about 2 hours we were flying off the coast of Ireland near Dingle. No more land for many more hours.
As we are on a morning flight, I was thrilled AirBerlin wisely did not insist on serving breakfast! The lunch entree looked pretty good. I selected the chicken in a tomato type sauce with rice and broccoli. There was also a little salad, crackers and a dessert.
Once the lunch tray was removed I enjoyed the new IFE system and watched some movies. My first choice was American Beauty with Kevin Spacey. I have seen this film before but I wanted to watch it again. Spacey's portrayal of "Lester Burnham" is so funny and it was even better the second time around.
I then selected Star Trek: Into Darkness. I am not a "trekkie" but a big fan of the original series and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Chris Pine plays a young Captain Kirk and is a great addition to the franchise.
|Chris Pine as Captain Kirk|
|Beautiful day to fly!|
In need of something more cerebral I was delighted to discover that apparently the Germans are big fans of Mad Men. AirBerlin had 25 episodes on hand and I watched 6 of them. They were from all different seasons. I jumped around a bit and really enjoyed the ones with young Sally and Ms. Ida Blakenship who expires at her desk!
|Don Draper would you like some coffee?|
|Peggy, you look a bit tense!|
This looks reminiscent of the same snack we were served last year. Kibbe, potato salad, cheese wedge and a cookie. It was very good!
|Arriving in Florida|
We landed in the late afternoon and were soon queueing at immigration. The line for US citizens and landed immigrants was not long at all. I really felt for those in the longer line and one adorable screaming little boy who just wanted to get the heck out there. Unfortunately he was in the non-US line and it was not going to be a quick exit.
Two weeks away on vacation was great but I was excited to be home again. One of our petsitters (Jeanne) was out walking the dogs when we pulled into the gate. I don't know if Siebren or I was more excited to see one another! It was a perfect welcome home!