I was the first person off the plane in Atlanta and the first person off the plane in Frankfurt. For very different reasons, I assure you (one borne of the urgency for things to be ok and one of convenience), but nonetheless, I think that being the first person on an escalator or in a corridor helped me to notice things a little more clearly. When I landed in Atlanta, I found that even the stale, probably nasty airport air just smelled more like home. That and the fact that you can stand even kind of close to any given stranger without being overcome with smoke. One of the first things I noticed upon landing in Frankfurt is that the majority of escalators here are of the super-skinny variety. And… it is really cold here. I knew that already, of course, but… I’ve been here for 8 days already, and I haven’t seen the first day where the temperature broke freezing. In contrast, the last 8 days I was in Atlanta was filled with the likes of 60s and 70+ degree high temperatures. Even the super-efficient Germans haven’t been able to keep up with de-icing/snowing the sidewalks around town. In spite of it all, though, life keeps moving; honestly, this is as much of a culture-shock ingredient as anything else I’ve known, given my lifetime spent in the South, where the mere mention of snow or ice ensures a run on bread and milk at the grocery stores and may even prompt pre-emptive school closings.
On the plus side, though, being here feels more like being at home than it did in any of the 3+ months I was in Germany before my trip back to Atlanta. I was always aware of a sense of watching myself live life in Germany in those first months, but now I am just doing it. I’m not sure what that’s about, but it is definitely more comfortable to not constantly be having a slightly out-of-body experience! Also (and more importantly) on the plus side is being back in the same time zone (and living space) as my sweet husband (who has no idea of what it means to clean an apartment, although perhaps I even love this about him, although I wouldn’t ever want to seem as though I were encouraging it). In any case, although it was wonderful and awful to be home in Atlanta, and I do hope to return under less stressful circumstances in the near-ish future, it is also really good to be home in Aschaffenburg.
Of course, almost immediately upon getting home to Aschaffenburg, we left on an adventure! Ever since our foiled attempt to go to Cologne for the Christmas markets at the very beginning of December, I have had a HUGE hankering to go there (prior to that 1st attempt, it had been a “oh, that seems like a nice place to go” kind of desire), so we put that at the top of the list. I should also mention that we have become, obsessed? extremely goal-oriented? fixated? oh, let’s just say we are *interested* in collecting mugs from all of the various Starbucks in Germany that have a local mug (see the list above…). 🙂 So… our little trip to Köln warranted side trips to Düsseldorf, Bonn, and Aachen, as well! For today, though, I will stick to showing you the parts of Cologne we experienced (beyond the Starbucks…)!
It was a very cool welcome-back-to-Germany kind of trip! I hope you enjoyed this little slice of it…