Traveling long haul is always a bit arduous – especially in “cattle class” – though I must say Malaysian Airlines is one of the better ones for that – their seats are nicely spaced (even for people with longer legs than mine) and the configuration of 2-5-2 means I had only one person next to my aisle seat rather than two.
The food was not to bad for airline food and the very fast connection from New Zealand with only 3 hours in Kuala Lumpur is great to – that way one spends only the time one really needs to on the flight itself.
I was lucky to have a lounge pass for the Golden Lounge in KLIA – so had a relaxing hot shower and some great food on my break there – so nice and I highly recommend it if you get a chance.
However – arriving into Frankfurt and the pilot saying “it is raining and 6 degrees centigrade” I thought I am about to land back in NZ… this is supposed to be late spring here – with ripe strawberries and cherries not far off – and what do we have? Torrential rain with heavy rain warning in many states and a 4 hour + autobahn trip ahead in that kind of conditions… really?
Lucky I brought my warm NZ winter clothes and a decent rain jacket:-)
Speaking of Frankfurt – this must be the only major international airport in the world where one has to have a 2 EUR coin to get a trolley! OK – the machines also accept credit cards and notes – but most travelers who come of a long haul flight are tired and just want to get a trolley for their luggage not having to contend with those obstacles on top of it besides finding a “return station” when one is done with the trolley…
By the way – the same system applies to German shopping trolleys – one gets the coin back when the trolley is returned but it’s not very nice – love NZ!
First task: pick up the rental car from Hertz – I was an hour early (7 am rather than the booked 8am) but that was no big deal – they tried to “up-sell” me a bigger car – really? What for? I am traveling alone and a Opel Astra is perfectly all right for one person with a bit of luggage!
Rental cars are always fun – especially over here where they basically brand new – the one I have now is very new (barely 7000 km driven) and it almost seems like I needed a license just to operate the thing – took me 5 minutes to disengage the handbrake (which is no longer a handbrake per say but a button on the side..) – finding my way through an array of knobs and buttons I am still not sure how the lights work (and I had to have them on for the whole duration of my drive as the weather was so bad). Everything can and is done automatically – except the gear changes – they are refreshingly manual – but 6 gear:-)
The Cruise control is very handy when one drives at 140km/h and needs one hand for the indicator and the other for the cup of coffee:-) The wipers and anything else really work automatically – even adjusting speed according to the amount of rain – marvelous.
What I keep forgetting (but not for long) is how expensive the most natural of human needs can be – a toilet stop…. gone are the nice NZ free toilets in every tiny village – EUR0.70 for a go to a loo at a Roadhouse – ok – with that one can get a EUR0.50 voucher to use for a drink or food – but mostly it’s 0.50 everywhere – just to go to the loo!!!
Along the Autobahn there are of course also free toilets – but trust me when I say that even most men would not use those – yet alone a woman.. No, No!
Over here one really needs to think about “where to go” well before one needs to – as public toilets are far and few in between and they all cost money – and that does not necessarily means they are clean!
So off I went – after getting the handbrake released that is – on my 450km drive to Dresden – my home town and capital of the state of Saxony – crossing two other states (Hessen and Thuringia) on the way and with the dash info thingy telling me it is 8 degrees outside – so much for a German Spring! More like a NZ Winter!
The average speed on the Autobahn is around 130 – 140km/h – anything below and one is a hindrance – but it is a myth that one can drive as fast as one likes – only a low percentage of Autobahns are “open speed”. However – if I tried to go 130kmh with my car at home it most likely would fall apart (na, not really) but here that Astra – as if one is flying on the road – no loud engine noise and no under or over steering – very nice indeed!
I also checked the petrol prices here – converted it is about $2.52 per liter (91) – wow – I won’t be doing much driving around town here that’s for sure – but instead make use of the excellent public transport systems here (listen up Auckland city!!).
So for now I try and get over the jet lag as fast as possible – got up at 4am today.. and then start planning my next moves – I have to go to Berlin on Friday to the Ethnolisches Museum there – my first glimpse I hope into plenty of taonga maori over here.
In the meantime I try to stay out of the rain and cold and hope everybody at home in NZ can do the same – I heard there is a cold snap on the way.