January 1, 2007

A New Year, a new country

Hallo von Deutschland! Kevin and I finally arrived in Frankfurt yesterday after 18 hours in transit, and we could think of no better way to spend our first day in our new country than by going straight to bed for several hours.

Transatlantic flights are tedious to begin with (airport food, recycled air, screaming babies, etc.), but ours was made all the more stressful because I incorrectly completed our declaration form on the first leg of the journey and got us flagged by U.S. customs in Toronto. In the field “place of residence” I naturally wrote “United States,” after all, I am a U.S. citizen and have lived there my whole life and Kevin has lived there for the past seven years. Of course it didn’t occur to me that we are now officially residents of Germany, because before today neither of us had ever set a foot on German soil. This simple mistake wouldn’t have been a problem except for the fact that Kevin’s residency in the U.S. expired when he left the employment of Boston University, and so to the U.S. immigration official, he appeared to being trying to reenter the country illegally. And let me tell you, those U.S. border guards really frown upon that.

We avoided the full-body search, but we got a stern talking to from the border guard before she finally let us board the plane to New York. While it makes be feel safer to know that U.S. immigration does a thorough job of screening everyone who tries to enter the country, it was frightening to find myself on the wrong side of that process. The experience also made clear to me the complications associated with marrying a foreigner – as long as he’s a Canadian citizen, he cannot just return to the U.S. whenever he wants. But that is a worry for another day.

Our more immediate concern upon waking up in Frankfurt was much more basic: food. Unfortunately, it being New Year’s Eve (Silvesterabend, the Germans call it), most restaurants were closed and the few that were open required reservations. After walking all over the city (and getting lost more than once), we finally found a table at Rama V, a small Thai restaurant. Perhaps it wasn’t the most authentic German experience for our first night in town, but I could not have been happier. I am a huge fan of Thai food. In fact, on our last night in Boston, I insisted that Kevin take me to my favorite Thai restaurant for dinner because I feared I wouldn’t be able to find Pad Thai in Germany. Well, I am happy to report that the Pad Thai they serve in Frankfurt is just as good as the Pad Thai they serve in the States, even at twice the price!

After dinner, we lost ourselves exlporing the city, all lit up with Christmas lights and impromtu fireworks displays. Bands of tipsy teenagers roamed the streets shooting bottlerockets and Roman candles at each other. Although we were finally driven back to our hotel by a light rain, the fireworks kept up in spite of the weather, and we had a better (and safer) view of them from the comfort of our hotel.

At midnight, Frankfurt's church bells rang for a full 15 minutes, followed by another 15 minutes of wailing ambulances (presumably for teenaged victims of firecracker malfunctions). Kevin and I rang in the New Year in our new country watching the Leipzing Orchestra on television and dancing across the floor in our socks to the Blue Danube Waltz. And then we fell asleep again.

Getting lost in Frankfurt, and loving it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

lovely picture. what do you mean kevin can't enter the US anytime he wants once you're married... that's insane. that's the whole point of marrying an american :) (ser)