We Made It!

Well, we’re here! The trip was remarkably smooth, with just a few comical bumps. We stayed up as long as we could yesterday and now we’re only slightly jetlagged after a solid night of sleep.

Here are a few of our memorable moments. Enjoy!

The “Super Shuttle”…

Since Ralph had already dropped off the car at the port in St. Louis, we were car-free. Instead of calling an Uber, he opted to make a reservation with the Super Shuttle, which in our minds conjures up 15-passenger vans with loads of space for bags. Kind of important, since between the four of us, we had 16 bags – 2 checked bags per person, plus a carry-on and personal item. I mean, it sounds excessive but we are living out of these bags for a few months!

When Ralph made the reservation online, it mentioned something about a minivan, so he clarified in the comments that we’d have a bazillion bags and if they were planning on using a minivan it would require two of them or two trips.

You can probably guess what happened.

This company was not the “Super Shuttle” but really just a cab operation. They did indeed send one minivan that already had a case of water in the trunk. And it was a wee bit of drama as the driver realized there’s no way that all of this would fit in the van and tried to coordinate with dispatch for another driver. But in the end, we were only 7 mins from the airport and Omaha has zero traffic, so this did not slow us down one bit.

When we arrived at the airport, there wasn’t even a line to check in and remarkably, not one of our 10 checked bags were overweight. We celebrated with high fives. 😉

Plus I realized this photo could help us pinpoint any future missing bags, so I applauded my own cleverness.

Will the Husband of the Woman in Seat 2A Please Come Forward?

Our flight from Omaha to Chicago was delayed. When we finally got to board, I learned I’d been upgraded to first class. This perk was a throwback to 2019, when I flew almost every week for work and made status on three different airlines. It was a short flight and the cabin was basically empty, so my leftover Silver status with United was enough to get by. Not a bad way to kick things off, especially for my first time on a plane since March 2020!

The first class cabin was so empty that they started calling up significant others – including Ralph, “the husband of the woman in 2A.”

Now, I’m bringing up this detail to set the stage for history I have with this man when it comes to flying.

He HATES sitting in economy. I mean, that’s not unreasonable. Those seats keep getting smaller and smaller. It’s no picnic.

Ralph hates sitting in economy so much that if I get an upgraded seat because of my status, he wants it for himself. “Do the right thing” he’ll say, with a pleading look in his eyes.

Well. I made that mistake once.

About 7 years ago, we took a flight from Honolulu to Chicago, or maybe even Dulles. It was a long one, that’s what I remember – at least 8 or 9 hours. I was lucky enough to get an economy plus seat on the aisle. Ralph, however, was stuck in the back in a row of 5 seats and the plane was completely full. He didn’t even have an aisle seat. So when he asked if I’d switch with him, I said no way.

Then, he came up with a brilliant idea. Why not give up the economy plus seat so we could at least sit together during the long flight?

Eh…I mean, this guy isn’t a talker but it was sweet that he wanted to sit together, so with a little prodding, I said yes.

He went up to the counter to handle the switch, and that’s when things went desperately wrong.

Instead of getting someone on the aisle to switch so that in our row of five we could be the two on the end, he switched out the middle seat so that we were both in the middle.

It gets worse. He told the agent the WRONG ROW.

Now, instead of sitting next to him, I was in the middle seat (in a row of five!) in the row in front of him. It was too late to do anything. I’d already seen the guy in 17A rejoicing over his good fortune.

Completely deflated, I wedged myself into my seat and turned back to give Ralph the death glare. “Sorry…” he mouthed with a wince. The thought of spending all day trapped with two people on either side of me was enough to bring on a case of hot tears. And in that moment, I vowed never to switch seats for Ralph again.

Yes, We’re Those Parents…

That’s why I even though I’m kinda thrifty on flights, I try to accommodate Ralph’s desire for upgrading to better seats if it’s a long flight and the cost is reasonable. It’s better than the alternative, haha!

When we got to Chicago, we checked in with Lufthansa. They had seats in Business Class that were under our pre-determined limit, so we snagged them. Interestingly, they were reluctant to fill the seats because they were worried they didn’t have enough business class meals on hand. But as long as we’d agree to accept economy class meals in business, they’d take us. In the end, it wasn’t a problem – we were flexible with whatever selections were left over and everything was great. Kind of wild to see the difference in mentality at play, though. I swear any US airline would try to maximize the $-to-seat ratio big time, yet that didn’t seem to be a concern.

What WAS concerning was how accurate the warnings in the safety video were. Apparently the struggle is real when it comes dropping electronics! In my haste to reset my seat for breakfast, I managed to lose my phone somewhere in the depths of this lay-flat chair. I would say that it was kinda humiliating to call a flight attendant to help me find it, but I saw no fewer than two other people in the same situation so I let that just roll right off my back.

By the way, I know people have different opinions on parents flying in a different cabin than their kids. I mean, there’s a lot to consider. My approach has been to evaluate every situation on a case-by-case basis. And in our case, our boys are 16, they have each other, and they’ve been flying long distances together for years. They’re considerate and know how to behave, so I view this as another opportunity to flex their independence. And if that means we’re in business class while they do it, so be it!

It also means that we get better sleep, which helps keep Ralph from being so dang grouchy…and that’s worth something!

The Carry-on Bag From Hell…

Okay…so the next funny thing happened after we landed in Frankfurt. We were basically in a daze, following the crowd, going through the motions. There was some question about whether we’d have to go to baggage claim first to grab our bags, or go straight through to the connecting flight. Luckily, it was the latter – because of course, we had a bazillion bags and no one wants to deal with that while sleepwalking!

Anyway, we start going through domestic security to take our flight to Stuttgart, and it’s a bit different than TSA in the States. There are lots of people to keep the process going smoothly, telling you want to do and what to put where. That is, until Ralph showed up.

Ralph, and his enormous carry-on bag.

What’s funny is that two years ago, I gifted him one of those sweet little Away carry-ons that wheels like a dream and keeps you organized like nobody’s business. Then you can put a backpack on top of it and walk with ease. He doesn’t use it.

Instead, Ralph insists on carrying this huge bag on his back that probably weighs 50 pounds and has at least two pillows strapped to it. And he’s sleepy. So when the agent asked him to put all electronics in the bin, he got out his iPad and put the rest of the bag on the conveyor. Naturally, it gets flagged and the agent starts to dig in.

First, he pulls out a laptop in a bright orange case and waves it over his head like “WTF is this? I said all the electronics go in the bin!”

Next, he pulls out a bag full of cords and other electronic-looking components. At this point he glances over at Ralph, who’s shrugging sheepishly like “I don’t know what to tell you, man.”

This whole time he’s wearing a mask, but I swear there was so much language being communicated with his eyebrows alone. It transcended the language barrier, that’s for sure.

Then he pulls out a box that was stuffed full of watches. At this point it was just plain comical. Two bins were already filled when he called for yet another. His mood was a cross between awe and condescension. I wish I could speak German already, just to know what he was muttering.

But in the end, we moved on without issue and got the kids some breakfast.

Finally to Stuttgart…

The flight was short and uneventful, and even with 10 checked bags we were out of baggage claim in under 10 minutes. Pretty amazing, if you ask me!

We were lucky enough to have three of Ralph’s coworkers meet us and take us to our apartment – room for everyone AND the bags! They also hooked us up with some groceries and a collection of Ritter Sport chocolates. It was the best welcome of any move yet!

Now we’re getting settled in the apartment where we’ll stay until the end of June. It’s got three bedrooms, a nice little terrace, and great views over the rooftops. Interestingly, there’s a stable right outside (?) so with the windows open we hear the horses whinnying. It’s walkable to lots of different shops and markets, and we have much more exploring to do!

Next up, we prepare for our Phoebe girl to arrive and continue the search for a permanent place to stay. 😉

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