K2inCanada's Blog

April 25, 2010

Holidays in Germany – Dec 24, 2009 – Jan 4, 2010

Filed under: Germany, Travel — K2 in Canada @ 4:10 AM
We are back from our 10 days in snowed-in Oldenburg. White Christmas in Oldenburg only happens once in a decade if not less often. I actually can’t remember ever having a white Christmas while still living at home (that’s for 18 years). But this year was one of those rare ones. We landed in Amsterdam at 7:45am in the morning of Dec 25th after leaving Vancouver at 8:30am on Dec 24th on Alaskan/NWA (connecting through Seattle). It was still pitch dark and it was snowing when we landed. Only a light cover but definitely collecting on the ground. My dad and brother who picked us up from the airport said it didn’t start snowing until just before Amsterdam. On the drive home it was snowing the whole way. It all melted away on Boxing Day only to return with a vengeance on Dec 31st. Luckily the landscape is completely flat so no hills to worry about while driving.

My mom spoiled us with her German style cooking and we had more meat in those 10 days than we usually eat in 2 months. But it is soooo tasty. And the German bread – yummy. To date I still can’t fully get used to the soft bread you get in most countries such as Canada and Australia. And off course we brought back tons of chocolate – it better will last past January this time. I gained about 6lb – yuck – only exercising once.

All in all we had a great time. Friends from University visited us in Oldenburg and I met with a couple old school friends – one of them I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. Partying with friends of course meant a lot of drinking and I have to admit that I lost my ability to drink a lot of beer – Jeff though managed to keep up with the visitors like a pro.

Some more Pictures “Olderburg & Hinterland”

One of the highlight was a visit to a shipyard in Papenburg that builds those big cruise liners (traveling to Alaska size). Unbelievable what they put onto those ships – ice rink, golf course, spas or water slides reaching 30min beyond the side of the ship. All that pomp and glory – like watching Titanic all over again. Unfortunately the tour is in German only and I can’t recommend it to any of my English speaking friends.

I was also surprise about the increase in wind energy farms all over the place. On Christmas Day 82% of all the energy used in and around Oldenburg came from wind energy. Pretty amazing even though it was a low usage day. On a heavy usage day (workday) the percentage went down to 42% – still not bad. Oldenburg won an award as best city in Germany in technological advancements and research in 2009.

The last day we left early to spend some time in Amsterdam. We had just enough time to do one of the “Krachten” tours on a small tour boat. At least it was out of the cold and the tour was given in 3 languages (Dutch, English, Spanish).

 

Few more Amsterdam pictures can be found here

I wanted to get to the airport early due to the potential delay in security after the bombing attempt on a NWA flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, even though we were flying back on KLM. But my worry was unfounded. We didn’t have to go through security until we actually got the the gate – that limits the number of people to have to go through at once. It still took a while but I didn’t think it was any more intense than normal. But then the waiting started. First the plane wasn’t ready on time to be boarded. Apparently the cleaning personnel was delayed. When we finally made it onto the plane we were told that they loaded a wrong piece of luggage onto the plane that had to be removed. So we left the gate and parked somewhere on the tarmac to unload the luggage – 20mins. After that was done the pilot tried to start the engine again and some relay blew. So we had to go back to the gate and wait for an engineer to come on board and check the electronics – 20min. It took a hole lot more time than 20min for the engineer to solve the problem. By now we were sitting in the plane for 2hrs. But eventually it got fixed and we all thought this is it. But oh no – not even close. Apparently Holland’s airport regulations say that a dutch crew can’t work overtime without having an area to rest in. Since we were 2hrs late on a 10 hr flight we had to find room on the plane to allow the crew to stretch out their legs. The plane of course was fully booked – and lots of families with small kids. So regulations said that 6 passengers were selected by the ground crew to leave the plane and that they would TRY to find them accommodation for the night. You can image what kind of responds the ground crew got. We weren’t one of the selected passengers but those people did not leave without a fight. A couple passengers actually volunteered to stay behind instead but airport security didn’t want to hear about that. So it took another hour to sort things out. At the end the volunteers were allowed to leave the plane but they had to leave their luggage behind on the plane. I have never experienced anything like that – the one time a plane was delayed like this they switched out the crew instead of kicking paying passengers of the plane (that was in Vancouver on an American airline though).  
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