Excerpt from my Germany 2012 travel journals, with my friends Keith and Johanna…

It’s late summer here in Landstuhl, Germany. The sun is shining and the air is clean. There are a few thin clouds above that are strikingly white against the bright blue sky, and the town itself is quaint and easy to walk.street 2

We drove through a couple of smaller towns on our way here from the Frankfurt airport, towns full of pink brick houses. houseWe’d also passed fields and fields of red clay. There aren’t many of those pink bricks here in Landstuhl, but the houses and flower boxes are just immaculate. People really take time and care to make their dwellings look trim, neat, and colorful, yet orderly.

The ride on the Autobahn was thrilling and terrifying. Our driver told stories of how he’s been pulled over in France many times and been made to pay the tickets on the spot. He was probably the fastest driver on the Autobahn this morning. We flew past trucks and small cars as the scenery of blurred greens whizzed by. I was trying to get a sense of the landscape, the size and shapes of the hills and rolling fields, but it really was just blurs of color since we were traveling so fast. It made me sick to my stomach and I had to look away. Johanna focused on her knitting and had no problems.

Keith looked at the speedometer at one point and did the kilometers-to-miles conversion in his head. He made a startled face, and then didn’t want to tell me. I decided I didn’t want to know. There was an order to the deadly chaos, though. Cars used the left lane for passing, and the right lane for driving. (Our driver stayed in the left lane nearly the entire time.) We only had to slam on the brakes a couple of times.

The Frankfurt airport was every bit as sparse and dreary as the Keith and Johanna said it would be. (I’ve always thought Philadelphia was the worst. To their credit, they’d been doing repairs at the time.) Our airplane into Frankfurt, though, had been new and gigantic. I was in row 43, which was not quite the last row. And they had USB ports at every seat so you could charge your phone or other gadgets while the plane flew. That was convenient.

We ate pizza at a café here that had a view of the hospital on the hilltop. lunchstreetWe ate out in the fresh air under an umbrella as a few cars passed by. We laughed at ourselves for thinking the entire place looked like a postcard—a modern card or even one from 60 years ago—Landstuhl, and what we’ve seen of Germany so far, looked lifted from a timeless book.

After the plane trip and the severe lack of sleep, we were all feeling very woozy. Keith and Johanna said I have vertigo. Johanna has it, too. I nearly fell down on the walk back from lunch. As we walked along, there were suddenly steps that I didn’t see. Someone put steps in the middle of nothing along the sidewalk. [Editor’s Note: I would trip on these steps two more times during our stay in Landstuhl, even when I was looking for them.]

After lunch, we visited the train station briefly and then returned to the Hotel Christine for a little shuteye. johannaKnowing we shouldn’t sleep if we don’t want massive jet lag to set in, we still realized the need for some sleep. In the past, I’ve been able to take quick catnaps and still wind up acclimated by the second day of a trip. [Editor’s Note: Ha! That’s because in the past, I knew some restraint. In a future post, I’ll tell you how I found out firsthand that alcohol, trains, vertigo, and jet lag don’t mix–and how on this trip I won’t acclimate ‘til Italy. But for now, hear how calm and self-assured I am. So cute.]

My room is spacious, with wooden furniture and a lot of pine. The bed is two beds pushed together, but they gave me one pillow and one one-person comforter.room  The bathroom is rather spacious, and very clean. There is a lot of dark marble in the bathroom that makes it look very new and sleek as opposed to the large, wooden furniture of the room. The hot shower felt great. bathroomI slept really well, despite my suspicion that the walls are very thin. I don’t hear much from the rooms on either side of me, but I hear everything from the hallway. Conveniently, I can hear Keith and Johanna leave their room on their way to mine to pick me up.

Keith is here for a meeting, and to talk at the hospitals. Johanna and I will use the free time to walk around the town and take pictures. Tomorrow we’re off to Munich. We have some crazy plans on this trip, some good, some worrisome. But this is just the start of our 17-day adventure…


Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, available on Amazon: dld.bz/bYuX4