Well, wir sprechen Deutsch nicht, but we've made it here to Deutschland and are having a great time, although we're in the midst of fending off attacks jet-lag. We took 3 different airplanes - Minneapolis to Chicago, Chicago to Stockholm, Stockholm to Hamburg - so Thursday into Friday was a lengthy, crazy day, filled with not near enough sleep, but it was obviously quite worth it since we're now happily across the pond. We'd highly recommend Scandinavian Airlines if you have the chance, it's part of the United network, but unlike United their planes are extremely pimped out. How can a plane be "pimped out" one might ask? Well, each seat has its own retractable TV screen, with over 10 different selectable movie channels, plus the usual music selections, as well as a video game controller built in so that you can play arcade games if you so desire. Since it was an international flight adequate legroom was available of course, and the food was arguably the best airline food we've ever had. Dinner was salmon pasta, with a salad that was actually tasty, and a delicious dessert - a frosting-coated brownie. And dinner was actually served by chefs. All the staff was very nice, and unlimited alcoholic beverages has never hurt anyone - well, it has, but it didn't hurt us...
They even had a documentary channel, which was great accept that it kept Anderson up much later than initially intended.
Even though we only saw the Stockholm airport, we definitely intend to return to Sweden since the country looked absolutely gorgeous, and the residents weren't too hard on the eyes either! We'd highly recommend Thursday travel, as none of the airports were really very busy at all, particularly the Stockholm airport at 8 a.m. local time Friday morning. It's a seven hour time difference between US Central Time and whichever European time zone we are currently in (Greenwich +1 possibly).
We arrived in Hamburg at around 10:30 a.m. and Tom was nicely there to pick us up from the airport, so we didn't have to wander around like the sleep-deprived tourists we were, which was fabulous.
We then drove to Tom's apartment, which is a quite nice, particularly for a self-described bachelor pad :-)
Tom is here in Hamburg doing PhD research at the particle accelerator (through a UW-Madison program), and is into his 3rd year living in Germany, so he is pretty well-informed as well as almost fluent in German. So we've got it real rough!
We had a nice lunch at a nearby cafe, Liz had a tasty panini sandwich with pesto, tomato, and ham, while Anderson had a pasta dish with ham and four types of mushrooms. After suffering through water with gas on one of the airplane rides, we are now being diligent about requesting no gas - who honestly wants to quench their thirst with seltzer water... Europeans evidently!
Things then worked out well, as Tom had to go to work for a weekly video conference, which enabled us to get some much needed sleep in the form of a five-hour post-shower nap. After that recuperation, we were ready to experience some of the Hamburg nightlife, and with Tom's friend/coworker Anna (who's from Spain) joining us, we had an excellent seafood dinner at a La Sepia, a Portuguese restaurant. Anna informed us that the seafood itself (Anderson had salmon, Liz red snapper, Tom crab, and Anna mussels) was authentically Portuguese, while the side-dishes of potatoes and beans and such were very German. Obviously the "grosse pils" was German as well, but all the beer we have had thus far, and all those to come we're sure, are quite good. After our European-paced dinner (in America we'd call it bad service, but here slow service is the culturally-expected norm and a 15% tip is not only not expected, but would almost be inappropriate since the workers receive livable wages) we then headed to a pub near Tom's house, where we met several of his friends, all coworkers at the physics lab as well. One of his friends is actually from Iowa, oddly enough, and she lived in Iowa City about 15 years ago, so that was an unexpected coincidence.
We had some Astra beers, which at 2 euros each (about $2.60) on a Friday night for bottles was a pretty great deal. Given our lengthy days preceding, we kept the night relatively short, but we plan on making up for that this evening.
All in all our journey to Germany went off without a hitch, we are very excited to be here, and very appreciative of Tom's hospitality. We plan on being in Hamburg until mid-week, at which time we will head, most likely by train, to Nijmegen, Holland, where our friend Nicole is studying.
It should be mentioned that our photo website will be suffering for a while, since Anderson accidentally dropped our camera the Tuesday before we left, which means it is currently at Kodak getting fixed, though we will hopefully have it back within a week or two (most likely two since it must get shipped by Anderson's parents to us over here). But life goes on, we've purchased several disposable cameras to tide our photographic side over, and we'll get them developed to photo CDs in order to post them on our website.
Until we post again, Frieden auf Wiedersehen!