Germany diary, days 9, 10, 11

Saturday, 6 October, 2018. 17:32

We slept right through to 07:00 this morning, finally getting past the jetlag on the day when we need to leave. Since we planned to shower just before checking out at midday, we simply dressed and went out to seek breakfast.

We thought we’d try to place next door to Café Kosmol, which M. wanted to check out. But when we got there the man setting up tables out in the square said they weren’t open for breakfast yet, only coffee. They would start serving breakfast in another half hour. So we went next door to Kosmol and the same man who served us yesterday welcomed us in again for breakfast. We sat at the same table.

This time we ordered with more restraint, asking for just fried eggs with bread rolls, plus a serve of yoghurt and fruit, and coffee for M. and hot chocolate for me. When the eggs arrived it was two eggs per plate and they all had bacon on them! This hadn’t happened yesterday. M. was okay with me taking the bacon off hers. We ate the eggs with the bread rolls by splitting the rolls and using them like slices of toast. The yoghurt and fruit failed to materialise, but we decided we were full enough to not bother.

After paying what seemed like a random amount that they guy made up and had no relation to what was written on the menu, we went off to walk around the town a bit. The sun was emerging through a veil of high fog, and shining directly down some of the east-west streets, illuminating the half-timbered buildings in a yellow morning light. To take advantage of this light, we returned quickly to the hotel to pick up my camera, then walk through the deserted streets up the hill to see the eastern side of the cathedral lit by the morning sun, and then down to the river and along it to the old bridge. Here I got some photos of the cathedral backlit in the fog, reflected in the still river. Yesterday in a shop where M. had bought a colourful woven basket, the woman who sold it to her had spoken about how she walked across the bridge every day and never tired of seeing the cathedral as the light changed throughout the day and the year. She said it never looked the same twice.

Morning on the Lahn
St George’s Cathedral over the Lahn River, in morning fog

Done with the morning light, we walked back into the town. A market was in progress in the town square just outside the old town, and there were also a couple of stalls set up in the small Kornmarkt square where the old town began, and it looked like more would appear soon. Here there was a stall selling various mushrooms, and another with honey or something. Down in the main square were the fruit and vegetable stalls that had been there the past two days, plus several other stalls and trucks, selling cuts of meat, sausages, cold cuts, cheeses, fish, eggs, honey, bread, cakes, and so on. There were no stalls selling cooked food ready to eat though.

Cheese seller
Cheese stall at the market

After looking through all the stalls, we walked a bit down the street to see if we could find a supermarket so M. could buy some Pringles for the flights. We didn’t find any, but saw several stalls set up promoting various political parties and election candidates. Presumably there must be an election in Germany or at least this region some time soon.

We returned to the hotel about 10:30 to shower, get changed, and pack our bags to leave. Then we checked out and left our bags at reception, saying we’d return for them about 16:00. I asked Ros about the shuttle bus to the ICE station, and she said it left from next to the lift where we’d got off the bus two days ago, and the ride was free. We wanted to catch the 16:53 bus to meet our train departing at 17:07. With my camera packed in the luggage, I went out lighter than before, armed only with my phone for taking photos.

Bäckerei Friedel Hensler
Bäckerei Friedel Hensler

We sought lunch, heading to the Bäckerei Friedel Hensler, the oldest bakery in Limburg. M. wasn’t sure if they made rolls with sandwich fillings there, but I said we should have a look, and indeed they had a counter at the back with sandwich ingredients visible, so we asked, and the lady made us two large plates with a bread roll cut into quarters, topped with butter and two types of cheese for M. and salami and ham for me. With this came a small glass pot of chopped tomato and cucumber with a balsamic dressing, plus a large lettuce leaf with a dressing of sour cream with chopped vegetables in it and a wedge of tomato. The plates were beautifully impressive and we assembled our bread rolls to eat them.

Lunch at Bäckerei Friedel Hensler
Lunch at Bäckerei Friedel Hensler

While we were eating, a lady came in with a small boy. While she perused the bakery goods, the woman behind the counter gave the boy a couple of gummi worms to eat to keep him occupied. After our delicious lunch I asked about the enticing looking chocolate blobs in the display. The woman said they were filled with marshmallow, so I got one. I think she threw it in for free, because she charged us exactly ten euro for the lunches and the marshmallow chocolate, which seemed pretty good value.

To get a coffee, M. suggested we go back to Café Will. Here we got the same table inside as yesterday. I looked at the cake display and the lady described them all to me in English. I decided to try a slice of the cheesecake with apricot pieces in it. With this I just got a glass of sparkling mineral water, although it cost more than a beer or a glass of wine.

Café Will silhouettes
Silhouettes on sign outside Café Will

Following our refreshment, we went for another walk up to the cathedral to look around the interior again, more carefully this time. We saw a lot of details that we hadn’t noticed on the first visit and I took a bunch of photos with my phone.

St George Cathedral

Leaving the cathedral for the last time we walked down the hill and found another church in the square opposite Café Kosmol, the Stadtkirche St Sebastian. We hadn’t been in here yet, so went in to look around. At the front near the altar was a group of about 40 mostly older people all dressed in the same blue shirts. Some had books out and we thought they might be a choir, but then they packed up and walked out, looking more like a tour group. We did a circuit of the church, looking at the various sculptures, paintings, and stained glass work. As we were close to leaving, we heard singing from outside. Going out the side door to see, it was indeed the group we saw, standing ranked on the front steps of the church and singing. We listened to a couple of songs, evidently hymns in German, and the crowd eating and standing in the square applauded each song.

St Sebastian glass
Stadtkirche St Sebastian

From here we did a bit more walking around until we got a bit tired and decided to head back to the hotel to sit for a bit before heading out to begin our journey home. We used the hotel toilets and found a shoe shine machine which M. used. We collected our luggage, then said bye to Ros and headed off to the bus stop on the other side of the nearby railway station.

I knew we wanted stand A, and this turned out to be exactly the spot where we’d got off the bus two days ago, right near the lift as Ros had said. There was a bus waiting there with the door closed, but the driver soon changed the sign to indicate Limburg Süd station and opened the door. We got on with our luggage and simply said hello and walked back to get a seat. The driver didn’t blink twice at us. A minute later a man got on and paid a fare, dumping coins into the machine. We assumed the driver had seen our luggage and simply assumed we were catching a train, so didn’t even bother asking us. A few minutes late a woman got on with luggage and didn’t pay any fare either. The bus sat until 16:53 and at seconds, when the driver started up and drove off to the ICE station.

We arrived about 17:00, in good time for our train. We walked on to the platform and checked the indicator board, which listed our train at 17:07. Looking at the train plan on the poster we determined there would be three second class carriages towards the rear, so headed that way. There were maybe a dozen other people waiting for the train. As we arrived at some seats to wait, a man nearby was looking at the indicator board and muttering, then paced away apparently in a huff. We didn’t twig until a few minutes later, when I looked at the board again and noticed the German word “später” in a message at the top – I knew this word meant “late”. As I watched the message scrolled in German, then repeated in English. Our train was running approximately 60 minutes late!

Waiting for the 17:07 to Frankfurt
Waiting for the train at Limburg Süd station

Fortunately, I’d booked a train that gave us almost five hours before our flight left Frankfurt Airport, so a one hour delay here was not a problem, other than the fact that we were at a station well outside the city, with nothing much around. M. started to get hungry, saying she’d assumed we’d be at Frankfurt Airport soon after leaving Limburg. She went for a walk and found a vending machine in the station, but said it didn’t work, refunding the money she’d put in rather than dispensing snacks. I’d seen a petrol station and some fast food places a few blocks from the station in the small industrial area near the station, so went for a longer walk to see what I could find.

The nearest thing turned out to be a McDonalds. There was a KFC as well, but another block away. Although I think KFC’s chips are better than Macca’s, I went into the McDonalds and bought a large chips for M. Here in Germany they offer you mayonnaise with your chips, but I declined. I took them back to the station and M. ate them appreciatively. The board had updated, indicating our train was 55 minutes late. I’d hoped that it wouldn’t miraculously show up much earlier while I’d been out buying the chips.


Finally the train arrived and we climbed aboard, finding seats by a table to give us some room. The air conditioning was funny and it was really hot inside. The trip was only 19 minutes though. A ticket inspector came through and checked everyone’s tickets. He scanned our tickets from the DB app on my phone – the first time anyone has checked any of our train tickets on this trip.

Arriving at Frankfurt Airport, our first task was to see where we needed to check in. There was a large poster of airlines just outside the station, with a crowd of people around it looking for theirs. We found Emirates and determined that we had to travel over to terminal 2. So we went down the escalator to the yellow shuttle bus, which was waiting at the bus stop as we approached. Thankfully it didn’t leave while we were still walking there, as they only run every ten minutes. We climbed on, and it was pretty full, but waited another couple of minutes as even more people squashed on board. Then it took off for the ten minute trip over to terminal 2.

There, we walked over to the check in counters, where there was a significant queue for economy check in. There was a sign saying Emirates gold and silver frequent flyers could use the business check in. I asked a man if we could go there as Qantas silver, and he said yes, so we hopped over and skipped the economy queue. Once we had our boarding passes we went upstairs and through passport control. Then M. had to have her tax free receipts for the purchase of her puffy jacket stamped by customs. We asked if we could put the paperwork envelope into the box right there, but the lady said to ask at the cash refund desk next door as she didn’t know. We asked, and yes, they said we could put it in there, so we did.

Now we realised that there was no security check, but we were in a lounge area with shops and restaurants. It turns out that at Frankfurt the security checks are just before the gates, and once you go through there is nothing to do. So M. got a coffee from a Starbucks, and then we walked to find a decent place to eat dinner. We found a place called Food Fair or something, which had table service and a menu containing German food. M. chose the tomato soup, asking if it came with bread, and the waitress said yes, of course. I picked the sausage plate, which came with four different types of German sausage, mustard, sauerkraut, and a pretzel. With this I had a Franziskaner Weissbier.

Wurst and pretzel
Wurst and pretzel

M. liked the soup, and the two bread rolls it came with. I looked at the breakfast menu, and every single option came with either two bread rolls or two croissants. It seems one bread item simply isn’t enough. The sausages were good and very filling. The mustard was different to what I expected, being quite sweet, like a honey mustard. We sat for a while to pass the time we had, then eventually left to go through security a bit after 21:00, with our boarding passes indicating boarding would begin at 21:20 for a 22:20 departure.

We went through the security screening, and then straight to the gate, where they had already begun boarding. There was a long queue at the economy boarding, but nobody at first, business, gold, and silver. I decided we could try to skip the queue using my silver status again, and it worked! Qantas doesn’t let mere silver flyers board with any priority, but Emirates does, and it was wonderful. Our seats were in the very first row of the lower deck, right next to the door, which was great, but meant we had to put our bags in overhead cabins a few rows back, so being on first meant we could find enough room without having to battle for it.

Sunday, 7 October, 2018. 06:49

I spent most of the flight trying to doze, but failing to do so. My sore throat hurt a lot, and I sucked an antiseptic lolly we’d bought in Limburg. We didn’t bother with our meals as we were full from dinner at the airport. We landed six and a bit hours later in Dubai, where the sun had just come up.

We had a three hour wait here. We passed through security again and into the terminal to find toilets and shops where M. got some banana bread as a snack, and a tube of Pringles for the flight. We rested tiredly until it was time to go again, heading to the gate for our ongoing flight to Sydney. We waited at the head of the economy queue to have boarding passes checked, and were first into the gate lounge area where you have to wait again before boarding. Again we waited near the front. After a while they boarded people in wheelchairs, then called for first, business, gold, and silver only to board. We flashed our boarding passes with my silver status marked, and got through, once again nearly first onto the plane! This time we didn’t have exit row seats, alas.

The plane was late departing the gate, and then sat on the tarmac for quite some time before moving onto the runway to take off almost an hour late.

Climbing out of Dubai, the plane experienced some heavy turbulence, including a bump strong enough to lift us off our seats a little, but fortunately everyone still had their seat belts on.

The time now being late morning in Germany, I wasn’t sleepy, so planned to stay awake for a while and then try to close my eyes for the last several hours of the flight, leading up to a 7am landing in Sydney. I looked through the movies on the in-flight entertainment system, and saw several that I would like to see, but I always hate watching movies on the tiny plane screen, so I chose something that sounded interesting, but not too interesting. I selected Leave No Trace, a new movie with an intriguing one-line summary. It was a slow burn drama, with some beautiful forest wilderness cinematography, and was decent.

Monday, 8 October, 2018

Much of the flight was rather bumpy with turbulence, but thankfully there was enough calm time to walk around and stretch the legs a bit.

The real problems only really began upon landing in Sydney, a few minutes after 07:00. It seems we hit at the same time as several other planes. The queues to use to the automated assport gates were longer than I think I’ve ever seen them before, and it took us several minutes to get through each of the steps. But fortunately we didn’t have to wait for checked luggage, so skipped ahead of most of the people at customs. We declared the fruit and nuts baked into the lebkuchen that M. had bought in Limburg to give to people, and the inspector waved us through.

It was raining in Sydney. And there was about a ten minute queue for taxis. Oh, and it was Monday morning peak hour. What should have been an under 30 minute trip home took around an hour, as we battled traffic departing the airport and then on Southern Cross Drive and the Eastern Distributor.

Eventually we got home, somewhere around 09:00.

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