flying blind

Okay, not literally flying blind, but it's called Blind Booking. The air carrier GermanWings offers incredibly cheap flat rate flights from certain destinations (one of which is Stuttgart) to a handful of destination cities. The trick: you choose when you want to fly & they choose your destination (obviously based on seats they have left). When my friends first mentioned Blind Booking I was extremely intrigued by the notion. It fascinates me because I like adventure and simple clueless wanderings, and it's just enough unknown to make the Type-A planner-to-the-last-detail in me squirm.

From Stuttgart, there are four groupings available to choose from: Culture (Barcelona, Budapest, Dresden, Leipzig, Lisbon, Rome, & Vienna); Metropolis Eastern Europe (Belgrade, Budapest, Dresden, Leipzig, & Zagreb); Metro Western Europe (Barcelona, Berlin, Lisbon, London, Rome, & Vienna); and Party (Barcelona, Belgrade, Berlin, Budapest, Lisbon, London, & Vienna).

For 30 Euro (really twice that due to taxes) you can fly somewhere. Where? Well, that's where the fine print comes in.

For a few weeks now, I've been waging a battle within me about how much planning should be allowed in preparation for this trip. Is it cheating to plan ahead on what's suppose to be an unknown adventure? When my sister came here after Christmas, I had already booked lodging in every city, train tickets purchased, maps w/ locations & directions highlighted, and a semi-rough itinerary laid out. Part of me wants to do that for each possible city that I could be shipped to. But that goes against the attraction of Blind Booking (besides cheap airfare). A friend last week pointed out to me that I could narrow down the possibilities even further through exclusion (pay 5 fee per city excluded) and I could check to see which cities don't fly on certain days (i.e. there is no flight from Stuttgart to Lisbon on Apr 4).

I am disappointed to say that it's not as mysterious as I imagined. I romanticized that the airline would let you know your destination when you showed up at the airport to claim your ticket, or in the least the day before (realistically better so that you'd know when to get to the airport).

But not so.

Apparently when you book your flight dates and chosen destination group, the confirmation email sent immediately after informs you of where you're headed ... which sadly leads ample time to Type-A plan. Na gut.
In any case, it's a pretty sweet deal, still slightly enigmatic, and something fun to do during holiday. Now, Eastern Europe or Western or maybe Culture? (if Western, I'm excluding London & Berlin ... been to both & will be back in Berlin in June ... I want to go somewhere new and, please God, warm.)


ends & beginnings

The end of something will always mean the beginning of something. Sometimes we forget this.

I am most definitely at the end of something, though this "end" has been happening for quite a while.

Even before moving (and planning to move to Germany) I have felt that pull of needing to conclude a chapter in my life, to move on to something new, though I knew not what "new" meant. I still don't, at least not entirely. I have ideas, I have leanings, but let's just see where the path leads, even if cut my own path.

That big "end of something" was huge. I gave away my stuff. I packed away my life. Became literally homeless. Quit my job, which was so much of who I was for years. Cancelled accounts/services. Truck-sold. Motorcycle-sold. Honestly, the hardest for me was losing my bike. It became an extension of me, of how I learned to define myself. I had this not-so-secret hope that maybe it won't sell by the time I visit Texas in June so that I could hop back on and ride. Just ride. But alas, ends are not discriminatory. (Did you notice my chosen diction of "visit"? I'm not returning home for a week. It's no longer home.) The "end" was huge. And strangely I like it.

There's lots of types of ends however. There's the big, final, life-altering ends, then there's the short transitional ones, like my present situation. My first semester of graduate school in Germany is [quickly] coming to a close. Only three more exams (out of 11) then next week begins a month off awaiting the beginning of the summer semester. It seems both quickly passing and forever in frozen time; both the desire to move time along and an eagerness to slow its haste.

Time is truly measured. The measuring stick seems to be just beyond our comprehension, but we know it's continuous. Time marches on despite those ends. So there's beginnings. New semester, new chapter, new life definition.