Bon Voyage

Day 1: Düsseldorf, Germany

Well, I'm finally off! My parents drove me to Miami, where we had my farewell meal at a cafe on Ocean Drive in South Beach. It's weird to think that I will not set foot in the States until mid-2011. Getting to my gate at the Miami airport was a breeze. Everything was going smoothly until our plane hit some pretty bad turbulence in the middle of the Atlantic that lasted for hours. This caused a nearby baby to start absolutely screaming, also for hours. They banned smoking on planes because it bothers other people. They should ban babies, too.

After a long night of turbulence, I saw the glistening sunrise over the coastline as we flew into Europe. There was a dusting of snow, which gave the effect of everything being in black and white. It almost looked like the land had been covered in ash because the snow was thin enough to allow the shades of the many fields to show through. There was absolutely no color whatsoever – quite a change from the vivid hues of South Beach. As we approached further inland, the snow became thicker. The towns and forests of Germany were absolutely beautiful covered in a blanket of snow. When I arrived in Düsseldorf, I decided to take the train to the central train station and walk around the city for a bit. I had a four hour layover, so it was tight because I wanted to be back at the airport in plenty of time to go back through security for my flight to Paris.

Train tracks at Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof in winter, Düsseldorf, Germany © Matt Prater

Train tracks at Düsseldorf Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) in winter, Düsseldorf, Germany

Düsseldorf is pretty much a typical modern German city. It didn't really look that different from Frankfurt or Stuttgart – mostly modern buildings punctuated by a few cobblestone streets and historical buildings in the Altstadt. As I was finishing my little whirlwind tour, it started snowing harder and harder. I was pretty far from the train station, and I was running short on time to get back to the airport. I decided to bite the bullet and take a taxi. It turned out I really didn't need to do that, as it literally took me just ten minutes to go through security and get to my gate. You've gotta love non-US airports! So now I'm off to Paris.

Königsallee canal in winter, Düsseldorf, Germany © Matt Prater

The Königsallee canal in winter, Düsseldorf, Germany