So says an ancient Chinese proverb. My train trip to Munich worked out quite well–the train arrived only ten minutes delayed. However, it was enough for missing the connecting train to the airport. I decided to spend the waiting time at–guess where.
Three stations before I reached the airport, it turned out that somebody committed suicide by jumping on the track. The DB (who runs the trains in Munich) was not able to come up with an adequate solution. They didn’t manage to install buses; people started to call cabs. Furthermore, this event far out of the city center caused a break down of the entire train net. My favorite announcement of the train conductor after several complaints is “It’s not the DB’s fault that somebody jumps on the rail”. There are two trains running to the airport; east and west. Luckily, I scheduled enough extra time. After all, it took me about four hours to get to the airport, instead of the planned 45.
The rest of the journey was very relaxed. At the airport in Munich I had still enough time to walk around the Christmas market. Yes, seriously, there is a Christmas market at the airport :). The flight was perfectly ok–I absolutely can recommend Lufthansa. Sunrise was somewhere above Kyrgyzstan. Later on, we passed the Taklamakan Desert. George picked me up at the airport in Hong Kong.
Tomorrow I leave for an almost two week journey to Hong Kong to meet an Emory colleague. What a pleasure! This trip also gives me the chance to reunite with a former JKU exchange student. Maybe I have the chance to meet Austrian exchange students too!
The last of numerous highlights at my south-west trip I decided to be the musical Wicked. I actually never planned to see it. Also I was very skeptical about this production. Anyway, I recognized it is played at the Orpheum Theatre so I just tried my luck. Fortunately, there were some tickets left at the box office.
The stage design and the music where just awesome! I purchased the cast album and the souvenir book during the intermission. Now it is your turn to discover the untold story of the witches of Oz!
Spaceflight is something really fascinating for me ever since childhood. So we decided to drive down to Cape Canaveral for the Space Shuttle Launch STS-119, scheduled for Wednesday, March 11th. Around 30 minutes before we arrived we saw on a highway information panel that the shuttle launch was canceled. What a bad luck!
Anyway, after we checked in at our motel, we drove over to the place in Titusville where we were supposed to watch the shuttle launch. We just arrived in time for an awesome moonrise! After great dinner and some walk in Titusville we headed back to our motel.
Next day we spent pretty much at the Kennedy Space Center. We started our tour at the Rocket Park and got right afterwards on the bus tour to the Shuttle Launch Pads, the Saturn V Center and the ISS Assembly Buildings. We also did the shuttle launch simulator and had a look at the shuttle model at Shuttle Plaza.
Late afternoon program was hanging out on Cocoa Beach. After dinner (and some Starbucks coffee) we started our way back to Atlanta. Basically we drove 1150 miles for a three-minute-thing that didn’t happen. But it was a great trip! We had fun and I am impressed by spaceflight more than ever!
We ended up watching the Shuttle launch this evening on NASA TV.
The last thing on my amazing journey over Christmas was to visit the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Air and Space Museum at Dulles International Airport. The reason because I wished so much to go there was that the Space Shuttle prototype Enterprise is exhibited there. NASA used this shuttle to test whether it is airworthy or not as the shuttle is optimized for space and not air operation.
Other planes exhibited there are the Concorde, the “Black Bird” and several planes from World War II.
This afternoon my host mum took me to Lancaster in order to introduce me to the Amish People. We took a tour at the Amish farm and house, located little bit outside of Lancaster. Later, we drove along Old Philadelphia Pike, stopping at the Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse, have a look at the map. Unfortunately, I left the memory card of my camera in the card reader. No photos of the Amish. Very sad.
This afternoon I went with parts of my Christmas International House Family to see the Gettysburg battlefields. We started our tour at the visitor center with a Civil War introduction film followed by the cyclorama illustrating the battle of Gettysburg. After that we visited the museum. The visitor center is providing maps for a car tour through the battlefields.
We picked one of those maps and started the tour. Before we actually started the tour we went to a really good restaurant in Gettysburg for lunch. All over the battlefields are many monuments for various soldiers or group of soldiers from various people or states. The last point was the cemetery where Abraham Lincoln delivered the well known Gettysburg Address.
After a lot of walking through three major and historic cities of the United States–especially after loud New York City–I was glad that I had the chance to stay with a family for Christmas and New Years Eve, and calm down. I was welcomed by the father at the train station in Harrisburg; unfortunately the train was late for over an hour, due to a mechanical defect of the locomotive. Before we drove to their house I got a brief Harrisburg-introduction, which was continued on the next morning.
The Christmas days were full of family parties. A lot of people and delicious food–what a great thing for Christmas! I am very thankful for the hospitality I experienced in those days.