Railway & Engineering Club in Germany – Day 5

The Final Day …

And what a final day !

Robbie Burns in his poem “To a Mouse” has a phrase that translates to “… the best laid plans of mice and men …” and so it proved to be.

We had planned to be at Marienschule, Opladen (MSO) for 08:45 hrs for an English Lesson (!?!) with Year 7. This was delayed to 09:15 hrs – no names, no pack drill.

The lesson got underway and our girls were paired up with German students, shown around MSO and had to find out 15 commonalities before putting them onto a poster. A good mixer and result.

The second lesson was to be a similar activity with another class before we would get on our way to Köln, put our baggage into Left Luggage, go to the Lindt Chocolate factory before taking a gentle cruise on the River Rhine. We would then make our way to Köln Airport for our flight to get into Stansted for 23:35 hrs.

This was turned upside down before we reached the second lesson.

There was a State-wide (North Rhein-Westphalia) instruction for all students to make their way home, NOW, before high winds and torrential rain would hit the area – sometime around 13:00 hrs. The turmoil would be accompanied by our two reindeer – Donner und Blitzen.

Frau Schaefer (MSO Schulleiterin – Headteacher) announced this information over the school tannoy. The ripple of excitement around the school was audible.

So, that put paid to all our plans. We said our “Auf Wiedersehen’s, Tschüss’es and Goodbyes” to all our newly made friends and headed off to the Opladen Station.

Let the fun begin.

A 40 minute train journey became 2 hours as we made our way in the sunshine with warm, heavy air all around. There were just delays, nothing unusual on Deutsch Bahn (German Railways).

On arrival in the vast air conditioned Köln Airport, we found a spot, circled our cases and got down to some serious “Uno”. We had arrived at 12:50 hrs. McDonalds appeared to be closed. Yes, really ! After a recce to another part of the airport, Fritz-Cola was found – if you ask Lilia, a more splendid drink could not be found ! Also, Burger King – more on that later.

We relocated, nearer Maccy D’s … and found it was open, after all. Surreptitious trips were made to the McD’s counter in the ensuing hours, while Uno and screen-flicking and book reading took place.

Subsequent relocation saw the party go to Burger King for 19:35 hrs. Year 10’s were tasked with organising the ordering of the food. Well done. The best bit was, quite literally, the BK Staff eyes that popped out when they saw our about £105 worth order but, more importantly, the range of foods. “So what?” you might think. Well, it was presented 10 minutes before they were due to close ! We got our food.

Onto Baggage check-in. Seamless.

Next, the monster queue ! It snakes and snakes again, out of the controlled area (not unusual a bit Tom Jones), but when it extends to beyond BK (100 metres from the entry point) and then doubles back on itself, you can just see the fun begin.

We had a fellow passenger decide he was going to be late unless people were sympathetic to him. He converted our 20 minute wait into a ten minute queue-hop. Good skills ! Next was the comedy of a passenger remonstrating with security personnel about the small number of places to be security checked (she ended up on our plane). Security let them continue only to open the tape to allow all others to take a different, quicker route. Oh how we laughed – schadenfreude really works ! Jus’ sayin’ but everyone else – hundreds of us – were queuing quietly. COVID-19 had caused a staff shortage – the previous week they had 4 hour wait to get through one security gate.

We cleared security but not without getting the message that RULES are RULES, loud and clear.

Onto our gate … via another Passport control – this time for a stamp. Brexit will make sure that all our passport pages will start to fill with the stamps of the countries visited.

Could this be another delay ? Or, is our timed run working out serendipitously ?

Well, we had a flight delay of 1 hour and 20 minutes. So, it was serendipity after all. It seemed to be better even than Man City’s goal-scoring (or even Everton’s 3 pointer).

On board Ryanair Flight FR2353, we were shuffled and re-shuffled in our seats. Then started the taxi-ing. It took so long and after such a delay, I could not resist asking the Air Stewardess if the plan was to drive all the way to Stansted!

Arrival in the UK went smoothly and the patient parents collected their bundles of joy and headed home. I arrived about 1hr 40 minutes later than anticipated.

Thank you to the readers for getting this far.

We have had Physics all the way; new experiences; new friendships; new phrases Flöhe hüten – German equivalent to Herding Cats; Donner und Blitzen; Dad jokes – last one … girl drinking Fritz-Cola with her BK hears some fries saying nice things, she calls the teacher over, “Why all these nice things about me from the Fries ?” Teacher thinks for a moment and replies “Oh, they’re complimentary”.

Oh, there were tornadoes and torrential rain, with phone lines down and traffic disruption in and around Köln ! Dodged that one.

Tschüss !

#internationalschoolexchanges

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