Saturday, June 16, 2012

How To Enjoy A Layover: Be In Munich.

Last week, I had a 6.5 hour layover in Munich. That may seem like a long time, but I hardly wanted it to end. Munich offers the greatest airport experience I’ve ever had. It’s enough to make me want to fly through their airport intentionally, if I ever have that opportunity. Here are my top 12 reasons why I love the Munich airport more than all other airports:

1. French Hot Dogs: Grilled outer shell/bun (fantastic bread) filled with the condiments of your choice, plus it can’t drip out the other end. Brilliant!

  1. Kombucha: they sell it in almost every store in the airport! Where, apart from health food stores (and every bodega in Manhattan), does this ever happen?

  1. Free internet access (no pic): There are stations where you can use the internet for free.
  1. Moscato Chocolate: moscato. chocolate.

  1. Coffee & News Stations: Lufthansa has these stations every few gates. They have a variety of free newspapers from around the world, which you can read while you drink one of 18 free drink options of teas and coffees. I am definitely excited to tell you that I tried them all in my 6.5 hour layover. Given the 30 minute boarding time, that works out to one drink every 20 minutes, and a total of approximately 10 shots of espresso.

  1. Nap Cabs: If I weren’t so busy playing, I would’ve rented one of these.

  1. Stores: The stores in Munich are so design-y and hip.

  1. Free Toblerone (no pic): in all 3 flavors. Dark chocolate. White chocolate. Milk chocolate. They’re just laying out on a stand outside the Toblerone store. Joey from Friends would be so happy!
  1. Wide walkies: the people-movers in the airport are wide enough for 2 people and their luggage! No more standing behind the standers when you really need to sprint!

  1. Lounges: the lounge areas all had these recliners with footrests.

  1. Free luggage carts (no pic): All the luggage carts are free and there are stations throughout the terminals. 
  1. Free foosball tables: I mean, what? Awesome.

And once I boarded, this was my plane. So posh, so sleek, even for coach.

For the sake of comparison, this is where I spent my 9.5 hour layover in the Berlin airport.

What airports are at the top and bottom of your list? 

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Europe: Days 1-3

Hi friends!

I am going to attempt to keep a regular blog about my travels in Europe for the next 4.5 weeks, so here are my first few days! First, I should tell you that the z and y are switched on this keyboard I am using in the Munich airport (free internet station!!!) so this is taking me a while. They also have lots of other fun characters scattered around the keyboard. For example: Ö Ä Ü € µ § ß.

Note: I am going to try to include a "takeaway tip" in each blog post. This is something I learned about Europe or travels or God or myself during the particular days I'm documenting. This is a reminder for myself, but feel free to use it for yourself as well.

Day 1: Two of my friends dropped me off at the Charlotte airport. I flew to Newark, then got on a long overnight flight to Munich. I didn't sleep. I watched The Descendants (fantastic), a few episodes of Friends, and listened to a sermon series about God's Sovereignty by R.W. Glenn. It is fantastic. It is called "The Hardening of Pharoah's Heart." Here is a link:

Day 2: I arrived in Munich, which has the greatest airport I have ever experienced. In addition to the free internet stations, they have free coffee stations with fancy coffees and teas, as well as about 20 options of free newpapers. This is in the Lufthansa terminal, so I can't speak for the other airlines. But way to go, Lufthansa!

Then I flew to Cluj, Romania. Two of my hosts for the Romanian leg of the tour picked me up. Ioana and Corina drove me to my hotel, which is near downtown and only $25 per night! Then I went to the missionary headquarters where they fed me chicken, macaroni, and potatoes. Carbs abound here, from what I gather. I took a 1-hour nap, since I had not slept in about 30 hours. Then we headed for dinner in downtown Cluj-Napoca.

Cluj has rolling green hills in the countryside, then you follow some terrible roads and dodge the craziest traffic I have ever seen (not many traffic lights or lines on the road -- just go and pray and hopefully you own a cheap car!), as you make your way into the beautiful downtown area. Cobblestone streets, planters and flower pots in windows, old stone buildings, people dining al fresco at picnic tables on the street, lit by candles.

The missionaries took us (a team of 12 German short-term missionaries and me) to eat in the oldest building in Cluj! The salad was fantastic! I was exhausted! I had to use the exclamation marks to stay awake! (transcribing this from my journal) Then they dropped me at my hotel at 10pm. I fell asleep at 11pm and had to wake at 4am.

Day 3: A man from the front desk agreed to drive me (for free) to the airport. There aren't many people I know that I would take to the airport at 4:30am, and there are probably zero strangers I would do this for. So... God bless this man. :)

I stepped outside the terminal to watch the sunrise.

I had the same flight attendant from my Munich-Cluj flight yesterday. I met some Americans in the terminal (Romanians living in L.A.), as well as a German whose English was so American that I am not convinced he wasn't lying about being from the Black Forest.

So here I am in the Munich airport, actively working to make all my Zs into Ys and vice versa. I will be flying to Sweden in a few hours. But first I will read my free USA Today and go get another free Espresso Macchiato. Whatever that is.

TAKEAWAY TIP: Try to catch a sunrise in every country you visit. I did this in Israel last month and today I got to do it in Romania.  It shows you something about the country that you will miss if you only see it during the busy hours of daylight, covered in rush and rumble. And there's an intimacy with God that occurs when you patiently watch Him waking up the land.