How to stay out of Phoenix when the weather is nice..........
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It all started after we had been home from our respective jobs for six days, Mark from Savannah, Georgia and me from Minneapolis, Minnesota. "So what do you want to do this weekend?" We can't sit around here and watch TV the next nine days", which was how much time I had before I was to return to work on Christmas Eve. Mark had the rest of the year off and just the thought of no work to fill his thoughts on sleepless nights was already starting to keep him up in further anticipated sleepless nights. Not one to shirk household chores and projects, he mentally brushed them aside and said, "Let's go somewhere." Well, heck, why not?.....That's what we do !! His remark was tantamount to Mickey Rooney saying to Judy Garland (in one of their countless musical extravaganzas).
So, we put the pin in the map and came up with the Christmas markets in Germany. Within 36 hours or less, we had planned, reserved, packed, instructed our good friends (L.J. and Eleanor) in their cat maintenance duties, completed one flight from Phoenix to Chicago, another from Chicago to Dusseldorf, Germany and were planting our feet on German soil.
To digress, it wasn't all that simple as we prepared to take off from Phoenix Sky Harbor airport. Our anticipated ontime departure was delayed due to air traffic control delays into Chicago...
Once we landed at ten past one in the afternoon, we were nearly certain that we would not make our connection to the Lufthansa flight departing at 1530. After sitting in the "penalty box" (an affectionate term that airline folk have for the ground holding area) for 25 minutes, we KNEW we would not be making the connecting flight. Plus, I'd gone against my better judgement this time and had checked a bag (mental note: don't check any bags ever again).
It was 1527 as the gate loomed into view and I was gabbing on my cell phone to our friends, the Von Banks, in Wilmington, De. (for info on "Hotel Von Bank" see previous travblogs on this site) . After surprising the gate agent as well as the flight attendants as they thought boarding was complete, we took our seats, took a glass of champagne and took a deep breath as we congratulated ourselves on this unexpected coup de grace.
I looked in awe at the interior of the aircraft. The A319s upon which I work, seat 124 passengers uncomfortably in 22 rows. This aircraft had 12 rows, seating two passengers on each side of an aisle so wide that even two of our most robust flight attendants, walking side by side, would be hard pressed to touch their well rounded backsides against the seats on the aisles! Forty-eight business class seats with only twenty-two passengers headed to Dusseldorf ! It was difficult to suppress the grin that was forcing its way onto my face as I perused the dinner menu, mentally making my selections for the evening meal. I was only allowed to whip out the camera, by my embarrassed husband, after it was evident that I wasn't the only one with an itchy trigger finger. I was like a kid on Christmas morning as I watched the flight attendants gliding up and down the aisles with their white cloth lined trolleys upon which gleamed silver pots and pitchers and numerous colorful bottles of liqueurs and juices. Meals were served on covered, china plates and we even had cloth rollups containing among other flatwear, "real" knives, something which had become non-existent upon my own airline since 9-11. Since there was one attendant for every five passengers on this flight we never had to worry about missing out on anything that was offered, including the boxed white chocolate Christmas tree that was presented to every passenger.
But all too soon we had worn out all the facilities available on the aircraft (you should have seen the lavatories!) and could see the twinkling lights of Dusseldorf below us as we touched down in Deutschland, ready to file the claim for our bag which was waiting with the agent back in Chicago......