Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Holy Thunderheads

It was one of those gorgeously frightening October days in North Texas when the skies open up and change colors from slate gray to onyx black and indigo blue with the crackling roar of each bolt of lightning. These are the legendary storms that can travel faster than traffic, rising up from nothing, leaving complete chaos and devastation behind and subsiding to nothing again with equal speed. One hour of amazing atmospheric activity can throw off an entire day's operations at Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport, my home field, and on this October day that is exactly what happened.

I was booked on Lufthansa this day for my first trip to the Holy Land of Israel, connecting in Frankfurt to Tel Aviv. Where Lufthansa is synonymous with clockwork dependability, however, October thunderstorms in North Texas keep the famously punctual German carrier quite humble indeed. Today diversions were the order or, in the case of my flight, a delayed arrival from its point of origin in Houston by some four hours. When boarding for Frankfurt was finally called, though, I was not even close to being panicked. I'd been through the fortress hub of Lufthansa before and knew that there would be alternate flights later in the day. My biggest concern was in meeting up with friends in Israel who had left the day before.

Upon arrival in Frankfurt my faith was confirmed but tested like few other trips before at the same time. There were indeed later flights but the next one from Frankfurt was a red-eye which was oversold. If I could make it to Munich, however, the gate agent informed me that their flight from that airport the following morning had plenty of room. Let the adventure begin!

Collecting my luggage I was really enjoying a disruption that would have evoked heated letters and guaranteed hours on the couch for other travelers in the same situation. They'd given me options, I was on "home turf" in Germany, having lived there many years and well knew how to use and rely upon "The DB," or Deutsche Bundesbahn, the national train system. I wasn't used to the then new Munich Airport, however, as I'd never flown from even the old one before. I didn't even know where it was in relation to the city or the main train station downtown!

Didn't need to know and I knew it; this is Germany. A new airport is rare - there hasn't been a completely new field built since - but I knew they wouldn't undertake such a project without linking it to the existing public transit system. A few questions in the right ears and I was on my way via light rail to the new "Franz Josef Strauss" Airport about 18 miles northeast of the city. My chariot to Israel awaited in the bright morning sunshine after a chilly evening waiting for the counters to open.

Hardly was there a faster flight than the three hour service I slept through on the way to Tel Aviv. My friends were miraculously waiting for me outside of customs, concerned that I hadn't arrived the day before but equally pleased to finally see me so we could start our vacation in this wondrous and ancient land.

I'll tell you about the flight home later; it was more of the same!

Gotta go.

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