Thursday, September 20, 2007
We have arrived at our friends Tom and Christine's house in Cologne, Germany. We are now well over 20,000 miles traveled. We set a record on the way here, doing 4 countries in a day. It was a mighty effort, we pushed ourselves to the limit, but we did it--Belgium, Luxembourg, Belgium again and then Germany. John Glenn would be proud!
Funny how stereotypes are so often based in reality. Once we got on the autobahn....the left lane started zooming by us at 100 mph, from Mercedes, to tiny Fords, even a Smart car. We also stopped by the Iranian embassy in Brussels to try and get a visa on the day that the French and Iranians were verbally blasting each other about war. Not necessarily the best day to work on our French while we spoke to a native Arabic speaker, but it went fine. The Pakistani embassy was typical of the "impossible" paperwork regimes famously known in Pakistan and India. The embassy smelled of something, I thought food, Clara thought worse! The civil servant's first response was that our request was impossible and that we would have to go to Washington, DC to get a visa but with some prodding an alternative was found, although also not an easy one.
Germans have some interesting habits. Some good, some bad, some strange. Good is that beer glasses are automatically refilled unless you put your coaster on top indicating you have reached your limit. Bad is that the wait staff won't come to your table if your menu is open, which can be a pain if you don't remember. Strange is that they only drink bubbly water. They even have machines in their homes which add "fizz" to tap water. Some restaurants don't even have bottled water without fizz. Quite odd!
The Cologne Gothic cathedral is pretty amazing, huge, detailed, and inspiring! Our hosts have been fantastic, as we prepare ourselves and our paperwork to try and make it to India.
Luxembourg was quite nice, and worth a day or two trip if visiting Europe. Gas was a bit cheaper than in the rest of Europe so far, maybe $7.50 a gallon instead of $8.
The cost of things is killing our budget, and a constant reminder of how far America has fallen. Thanks George!
Hope the Red Sox can limp across the line first...