On the Sunday we left the ship I got up around 5:45am to get us to our last breakfast on the ship, and to vacate our cabin, before 7am. After waiting around for hours we finally got off the ship around 11am. It was to be a day of waiting, and I mean serious waiting. First we spent an hour or so in the ship terminal building where we had free WiFi, free toilets, and pretty good coffee. This photo is of us in the terminal building with our Japanese tour guide friend:

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Then we walked to the People Mover for the short train ride to Piazzale Roma to catch a bus to the Treviso Airport. The trip took about an hour and we reached the airport sometime between 2pm and 3pm.

We attempted to get our bags checked in, three times actually, but since our flight wasn’t scheduled to leave until 9:35pm they wouldn’t let us, so we had to sit in the departure area with all our bags until about 7:15pm – about five hours!

I went on the hunt for food but the prices at this airport must be the most expensive in all of Europe so I came back empty handed apart form a few small bread buns. Later Amy and I went for a walk down the road as we were starving by this stage. We found a café and ordered pizza and coffee which we took back to the airport.

After we went through security we bought the most expensive water we have had to date on our trip and then we found our gate and sat on the floor at the start of the line. Later as more people arrived we got off the floor and chatted with other travellers. We met a lovely group who lived in Trier, a small town we had visited a few months earlier. Amazingly one of the couples had been on 14 cruises! That is an awful lot but later on our flight I sat next to an older gentleman who had just come off his 94thcruise and he was aiming to reach 100 by the end of the next year – now that is crazy.

After such a long day waiting around we were pleased it was almost time to board our plane and then we heard an announcement in Italian followed by murmuring around us. We asked our friends what was going on and found out that our flight had been delayed 20 minutes. Ten minutes later it was delayed yet another 20 minutes and then it was delayed further so they could fly in a replacement plane, which meanta total of two hours until the new scheduled departure at 11:25pm! Okay, I thought, I better go buy some more expensive water and some coca-a-cola as well. On the bright side at least I had time to watch the G.I.Joe movie again with Daniel.

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When we got on board we were beyond tired so were not impressed with yet a further delay caused by a faulty stairway which had to be removed. We were finally up in the air around 11:45pm. It was a smooth flight and Amy and Daniel fell asleep pretty fast. We landed at Frankfurt-Hahn airport about one in the morning. Ryan Air uses this airport for Frankfurt flights but in fact it is about one hour 45 minutes drive to the real Frankfurt so IMHO they shouldn’t have the name Frankfurt in it as it is really just Hahn-close-to-the-French-border!

We had booked a hotel about 10 minutes drive away however when we called the hotel they said it was 1:15am and that they stopped the shuttle service at 1am and then the guy hung up on us. Slack! We were blessed by our new friends that we had met while waiting for our flight, as they called about five taxi services for us to try to find a taxi. Unfortunately no one wanted to be playing taxi at that time of the morning so we enquired at the airport hotel thinking we would just stay there and write off our paid- hotel booking. The hotel manager was very helpful and before he gave us a room he wanted to call the hotel we had booked at to see if he could get the guy to pick us up. I am not sure how he did it but 20 minutes later our booked hotel manager arrived with his van to pick us up.

It was a quick drive to the hotel, the hotel manager has obviously driven the route 1000’s of times because he could do it with his eyes shut! He was quite a character and not too bothered about having to fetch us. Our room we perfect for us, comfortable and a good size. Just before 3am I turned off the light – it had been a long day.

When we woke up, Monday, I headed out in search of food and found there were no shops in walking distance so we settled on cereal from a packet without milk which was surprisingly tasty. We were thankful for the water from the tap which was excellent and a million times better than the water on the ship. Just before 11am the hotel manager took us back to the airport so we could catch our bus to Frankfurt. We had just enough time for me to run into an airport shop and buy the most amazing pastries and for a pretty good price considering they were at an airport shop.

The bus trip was over before I knew it and I barely had time to write anything due to Karen reading 39 clues and a talkative friendly chap who lived nearby in the Mosel region. He was a doctor and about to fly to Jordon from Frankfurt to see his parents who have fled the fighting in Syria. We arrived at the main train station in Frankfurt around 1pm and as we were in no rush to get to our apartment we decided to have some lunch. The Frankfurt train station looked similar to one in Florence and Rome and it had plenty of cafes to buy food at. It was difficult deciding what to buy as there were so many excellent bakery items all pretty well priced. I think the pastries, donuts, and buns in Germany are among the best in quality (I am an expert) and price in all of Europe and price-wise you get way more for your money here in Germany than in New Zealand except perhaps from my favourite couple of bakeries in Hamilton.

After lunch we caught a tram to our apartment, well to the tram stop nearest our apartment then we walked five or ten minutes to our apartment. Somehow I hurt my back carrying my pack from the tram and it was pretty sore for the next couple of days. When we arrived at the apartment the mother of the “owner” welcomed us in. I was really pleased with the apartment as it was much nicer than I had expected and a good size although only one bedroom which made it a little difficult at night using our computers while the kids tried to sleep. We didn’t do much the rest of the day, just unpacked and then later we walked a few minutes down the road to the supermarket. It’s much colder up here than down around Greece, perhaps 10 or 15 degrees cooler and it gets dark pretty early, around 5pm.

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The next day, Tuesday, we slept in and then finally got out for our main sightseeing day at around 11:30am! It was a lovely sunny day, couldn’t have been better and we enjoyed walking around some of the older streets in the city. Much of the old square is being re-built to a new pre-WWII state as many of the older buildings were destroyed during the war. It’s our first old city with buildings that don’t lean over on one side and that have a fresh coat of paint. Although I enjoyed walking around the square, and also the newer parts of the city, there are plenty of other old cities in Europe that appear more genuine that Frankfurt’s. It also didn’t seem very large especially compared to say the old city streets of Trier. Still taking the city of Frankfurt as a whole I was impressed with it and it is much more pleasant than I expected. Our problem is that we are all tired and don’t really feel like exploring another city.

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We stayed at home on Wednesday and packed our bags ready for our departure the next day. On Thursday morning I woke up just after 5:30am and we managed to get out the door by 6:30am. It was time to leave Europe and head home.

(Week 39A: Sunday, 11 November 2012 – Wednesday, 14 November 2012)