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09/15 Koln, Deutschland (Cologne, Germany)

Our plan for this morning was to explore the city on the run -- literally. We planned to run up this side of the Rhine river for several miles, then cross over and run back, ending up in the town-zenter. Then we'd explore the downtown.

But, in making those plans, we had forgotten that the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics was on at 10. We watched them until about 2:30. It was somehow so fitting -- watching the Olympic ceremonies on German TV, in a hostel lounge with people from Germany, France, Chili, Canada, and New Zealand. As the athletes marched in, we all cheered for the countries we had visited. It was fun.

During the time we were watching, the weather changed half a dozen times. The sun was shining, then it got cloudy and cold and windy, then it rained, then it cleared, and then, by the time we left, the sun was shining again.

We had a very nice run about 2 1/2 miles up the Rhine, across a bridge and about 3 1/2 miles back down the other side. (We ran the inside and then the outside of the curve of the river - for those who are counting), then across another bridge, through a shopping area (did a little shopping for the plane ride) and back to the hostel. Showered, packed, had a VERY forgettable dinner at the hostel, then went for a walk into downtown Koln.

It was a wonderful evening. It turned out to be a very interesting walk. On the boardwalk and all the way across the bridge were HUGE photos of family's. All kinds, shapes, colors and sizes of families. It was Koln's Celebration of the Family - 2000.

A photographer had been traveling around the world for two years taking pictures of, and recording information about, families. The photos were 5'x7'. Each had a description of details about one of the family members. It was quite a statement about the health and well-being of "families".

On the walk back, we stopped at a restaurant overlooking the Rhine for a coffee for David, a mulled wine for Lisa, and a wonderful apple strudel with ice cream and whipped cream for our last dessert in Germany (and in Europe!)

Back to the hostel to load the busses at 9, then off to the airport. The gear trucks were there. We unloaded them and bid them a fond farewell. We wont see them again until Hawaii . . maybe . . or maybe never again.

The line through the airport leading to baggage check seemed to snake around for miles. We finally got through to the gate at 11:15. We boarded at 12:30. At about 1 a.m., the pilot announced we would refuel in Sri Lanka in 9 1/2 hours. We took off at 1:40.

Love to all,
David and Lisa

09/16 "In The Air" between Koln, Germany, and Canberra, Australia

As we fly over Europe and Asia on the way to Colombo, Sri Lanka, we again have to ask, "Why does staff get the first class section of the plane on every flight, with three or four empty seats per person, while paying customers are crammed in the rear seats?"

The late movie was something dreadful starring Madonna. The dinner was something dreadful starring chicken, broken chips and salsa. We wonder . . . was the dinner meant to take our mind off the movie? Or was the movie intended to take our mind off the dinner??

Morning light hit our flight at 2:15 a.m. Central Europe Time. After a light breakfast we landed in Colombo, Sri Lanka, at 1:40 p.m. local time (10:37a.m. Central European Time) for refueling.

We were able to get off the plane and stretch and spend money in the Duty Free shops. (We didn't buy much, but let's just say those shops were probably really glad we had that stop... :-)

We reboarded at 3:15. The pilot said we should have 9 1/2 hours more flight time. Then he announced that we must take all our hand luggage out so the flight attendants could check because we were leaving a high risk area. (It turned out that they were checking to make sure no one snuck a bomb on board and stashed it in one of the hand luggage compartments.)

After waiting for a couple of Russian jet fighters to clear the runway, we took off at 3:55. Next stop -- Canberra, Australia . . . tomorrow.

We crossed the equator about midnight Canberra time. (For those trying to keep track of the time changes, Canberra is 18 hours ahead of California, 9 hours ahead of Central European Time.)

Love to all,
David and Lisa

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