Thursday, August 8, 2013

Eurocco Trip, Phase III: Fes, Morocco to Karlsruhe, Germany

Our journey to Germany came not a minute too late. We were done with the heat, dust, and Ramadan. I truly did enjoy much of our time in Morocco, but a lot of it was lonely and tedious and so very sweaty. I think had we been there longer we could have eased into a better groove, maybe made some friends, and found places to play, but the weird "we're-living-here-but-not-really" period of two months was not quite enough to really invest but was long enough to feel really long. But it's over, and we're in Germany, and it was worth the two months in Morocco. Plus, my Arabic improved a ton and we had interesting cultural experiences. On the day of our flight, we spent a lot of time at the playground getting the kids' energy out thinking it would help them sleep on the plane ride, since we were leaving in the evening. Farewell, only playground in all of Fes!

Our flight to Germany was uneventful and actually fairly enjoyable. I was nervous about getting to the Fes airport because it is pretty far away, but my school called a driver for us and we paid him 120 dirham for the 30 minute drive (about 14 dollars?) We was really nice, arrived in front of my school 5 minute early, and drove fairly safely. He did refuse to turn the A/C on and the temp was 106 that day, so our kids were pretty dang sweating. It was also 5 pm and he had been fasting all day, so I can't imagine how he was feeling. Atticus looks a little nervous in this picture. I was.

I had ever flown Ryanair and heard horror stories, but I have zero complaints (except there was a family behind us with 6 LOUD kids.... they screamed and kicked our seats and wreaked havoc... it was pretty nuts). The flight left prompt-ish, they allowed us to take our baby backpack even if it was a bit too big (they checked it like a stroller), and when Atticus decided he needed to defecate (he always has to poop at the most inopportune times... he couldn't have gone when we were sitting at the airport for 1.5 hours, had to be the minute we were in line) when we were in line to get on the plane (no assigned seats, so where you are in line is a big deal), the employee at the counter let us out and back again in our same spot. They let the families on first, and where we were in line actually did not end up mattering because the plane was huge and half full. We ended up with six seats for the four of us. We left late in the late evening for the 3.5 hour flight, thinking both our kids would be passed out shortly after take off. But with the crazy kids behind us, Tallulah did not fall asleep until about 3 hours in, and Atticus nodded off during what was a very rough and scary landing through some dense fog (scary enough that the plane cheered when we touched down).

Tallulah woke up as we got off the plane and then we waited in a very long line to pass through customs. They asked us the usual questions but Tim was getting way too specific (and our plans are pretty complicated) and the guy looked a little suspect. But I imagine most Americans are not trying to illegally immigrate to Germany so he let us through. We found a pay phone to call our hotel to pick us up and a McDonald's without free WiFi (free WiFi doesn't exist in Germany, as far as we've seen).

The nice hotel owner picked us up five minutes later and drove us through the countryside to his establishment about 7-8 minutes away. The hotel was immaculately clean. Cleaner than anywhere I have ever stayed, and he had set up a travel crib for Lulah (though Atticus slept all night in it) and pushed together the twin beds at my e-mail request (all free of charge). There was even a changing pad and extra kids' blankets and pillows and plastic Ikea cups in the bathroom.

It was eerily quiet and pitch dark in this tiny German village, and was hard to get to sleep at first, used to the lights and constant late-night Ramadan street noise from the cafe next to our Morocco apartment. But we soon drifted off and slept hard until 9:30 the next morning (we changed two hours of time zone). We woke up and showered and ate delicious fresh bakery pastries, and walked the streets for an hour or so until we needed to leave to catch our bus to Nina and Juwe's city. The nice man drove us to the bus station to catch our bus to Heidelberg (again, all free of charge... and we only paid 45 euro for the room). I've decided the German countryside will be my go-to vacation spot in the future.

Atticus found Angry Birds in the toy store
WW I memorial with the name of my HS boyfriend

The bus trip was (almost) uneventful, though both kids got car sick and Tallulah puked once (in a bag, we were prepared this time!) We sat in front of a hilarious German-turned-British woman and her two kids. She was kind of annoying but super nice and friendly at the same time. Her kids had AWESOME afros, and she had made a Barbie with an afro for her daughter because apparently you can't buy them anywhere. After the two hour bus ride, we arrived in Heidelberg and found the express train to Karlsruhe, and 25 minutes later, arrived at our destination. The trip seemed so daunting in my head, but it is amazing how smooth everything can turn out.

And that was how we got here. Here will come in another post.

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