|We woke at 5.10am, quickly got dressed and met the girls on the way to the lobby. Because the hotel shuttle service doesn’t start until 6.00am, we had ordered a taxi for 5.20am. In good German style, the taxi was on time and we were at the departures lounge of Terminal 1 soon after 5.30am. We’d had a call late last night from Evania’s family in the UK – they were concerned that they could find no record of Evania’s booked flight into Birmingham! When we checked in it became evident that the Lufthansa flight she had been booked on no longer existed, but she had automatically been transferred to a later flight. We checked her bag and then sat at a café (with coffee and croissants) waiting for the next hotel shuttle. Evania joined us on the trip back to the hotel, where she would be able to relax for a couple of hours before returning for her flight out.
We all spent the rest of the morning relaxing, napping, and catching up on email and on-line news, before seeing Evania off from the hotel late morning. She will spend some time with her family in the UK and make her own way home in February.
By this time the day was fine and sunny, and a warm 14o – this has apparently been the warmest German Xmas on record!
We were keen to find a Laundromat to catch up on some laundry, but the hotel staff weren’t able to steer us to anything nearby. A Google map search found a likely place about 10km away, so we jumped in the car and went in search of clean clothes. Unfortunately the place we were looking for had closed some time previously, and the owner wasn’t able to provide any further help. We drove through a couple of small towns in hope of finding something but to no avail. Instead we stopped at a supermarket where Zoë bought some chocolate to take home and we picked up some pastries and yoghurt for lunch. Back at the hotel we ate together before taking more time to kick back and relax (and, in Zoë’s case, to start packing). At about 6.00pm we met up again and walked some 200m to a nearby Italian ristorante. It was in an unlikely location, down a long tree-lined country road, next to a camp ground, but it proved to be a great find. The interior was warm and cosy, the staff very friendly and typically multilingual (Ron spent more time using Italian than German) and the food excellent. The girls enjoyed gnocchi in a tomato pesto sauce, while Ron demolished a meal of turkey breast and fries. Dessert was too good to refuse, so we had Tiramisu, Panna Cottta with berries and lemon sorbet. We then walked back to the hotel feeling very satisfied.
The evening was a chance to prepare for tomorrow. Zoë continued packing and Skyped briefly with Josh, while Ron and Barb used the internet to check out our train transfer in London, to locate our hotel, and to locate nearby amenities (like a laundromat!). It has been a fairly restful day (despite the early start and the change of plans for Evania) as we each prepare for the next stage of our respective journeys – Zoë back to NZ and R&B to London for New Years and our wedding anniversary (W for those who know).