Have you ever had one of those “Wanna get away?” moments? Well I have, and the last time it was a strong enough urge that I acted on it…in a pretty big way!
How about Frankfurt for less than a day and then back home? Well, that’s what it took to make me feel better. I tasted new food, smiled at new people and, most importantly, I breathed new air.
OK, so I am a “stand-by” girl. The jig is up, that’s my secret. My mother taught aircraft systems for United Airlines for years and I still have travel benefits from her. YES!
So, you can imagine, it’s fairly easy for me to hop on a flight and jet off somewhere…loads permitting. Stand-by can be a complete nightmare or it can be a dream when everything goes smoothly. In this particular situation I was quite antsy to get outta town, and luckily this trip was more on the dreamy side of the spectrum.
Now, some background information on my family…
We are an aviation family and between my mother and her 9 other siblings there are 7 pilots, 3 of whom were/are captains for United. Only one of my uncles still flies the line as a captain on, and check-airman for, the Boeing 747-400. His name is Chris.
I called Chris on a Tuesday in April and left a message that went something like this, “Hey Chris, um, I was wondering if you have any trips coming up soon (he typically has one per month), and if you do, do you think I could tag along?” His response to me was, “Yep, I’m doing a check-ride on Sunday for a 23 hour turn-around to Frankfurt, meet me in Chicago!”
So 5 days later I was on the plane heading to O’Hare from Denver. I met up with Chris and his first officer, Roman, on the C Concourse and found that our flight was delayed an hour and a half due to an aircraft change. It always amuses me when the passengers get all disgruntled about their flight being late for those kinds of reasons. My thoughts?? The airplane was BRO-KEN, aren’t you glad they figured it out while we were still in the terminal? Broken plane = delay … get over it. I swear, people anymore just want something to complain about!
Sorry – where was I? Oh ya, Concourse C…
C Concourse O'Hare
After finally boarding and settling into my economy seat we were on our way. Now, don’t go thinking I’m stuck up because I had to mention that it was an economy seat, it’s just that typically when traveling stand-by internationally there are more First and Business Class seats available. Just sayin’.
We arrived in the morning the next day, took the crew bus to the Marriott, dropped our bags off and headed to the train station for breakfast. Appropriately, our breakfast consisted of beer and brats… a hearty German start to the day!
From the left...Roman, me and Chris having the breakfast of German champions!
After a seemingly 20 minute nap back a the room, it was actually 2 hours, I met the guys in the hotel bar called Challengers. Their slogan was, “…for a real American experience”. Well, I didn’t come to Frankfurt on my “wanna get away” whim to have a real American experience so we slugged down our beers and went to this cute little restaurant called Pielok… for a real German experience.
The first thing we experienced though was the German smell leaking out of the place. Holy shit, what IS that?? I’m sure it was some kind of warm cheese plate, but it smelled like dirty, sour laundry! I’m not sure if it went away or if our nostrils just assimilated. I’m assuming it was the latter.
Yes, it was that bad!
I mean, don’t get me wrong, the Germans make some fantastic cheeses, its just that this one in particular seemed to offend our little American noses…. a lot.
Chris and I couldn't stop laughing about the pungent cheesy stench!
Unlike the smelly cheese trough, my dinner was to die for! This was comfort food at it’s best…. A burger patty – a real mouth watering burger – topped with 2 thick slices of salty, greasy bacon with sauteed mushrooms and onions and a side of roasted potatoes! Delish. I was feeling better already!
Salty, greasy, meaty German goodness!
We all took a little stroll after dinner and noticed the small differences that definitely lent the foreign feeling I was craving. What a gift. The bicycles, the people, the little shops, the small streets, the flower boxes, the trains, the housing flats, the fresh food. It was perfect for my little getaway!
I present you...Frankfurt
Once back at the hotel, I was asleep by 10 and up by 6. After a more breakfasty breakfast of coffee and danish we were on our way back to the airport with the whole crew.
Airports and airplanes are sometimes my favorite parts of traveling. I think you really get a chance to see who people are when they have to pack a little, tiny piece of their lives and take it with them as they navigate the uncharted terminal territory… I find it very interesting.
After people watching for about an hour while sitting at our gate, I was escorted to the plane with the crew by one of the Lufthansa gate agents who was working our United flight. I loved it when another agent we passed by tried to stop me, because clearly I wasn’t in uniform, and tell me that I couldn’t go that way. Chris simply threw a quick head nod her way and said, “Uh, she’s with us.” HA! Royal treatment when you’re with the captain.
This time, as we returned to Chicago, the travel itch was out of my system. I was loving my lavish upper-deck business class seat, sipping my wine and enjoying the added pride that my uncle was flyin that bird. Thanks Chris for helping me get away.
What a trip!