I'm in the air over Germany, and observed that the forests here are far more deciduous than evergreen. From the plane they make large swathes of fuzzy brown on the ground.
The Lufthansa flight from D.C. had a documentary which was unintentionally hilarious, about Lufthansa's new uniforms. Scant attention was paid to the uniforms themselves, which are stunningly utilitarian and just like every other flight attendant's uniforms you've ever seen. Loving attention is paid, however, to the "logistics" by which 25,000 employees all get uniforms within 3 months. It's so sterotypically German I can't help but laugh.
The Frankfurt airport is vastly different than American airports - we land on the tarmac far from the terminal (why am I writing in the present tense?) and are bussed to the inside. Another immediate difference - people are smoking indoors, something that I hadn't realized I was so happy about. Fortunately, as it turns out later, Italy is quite a bit more strict about such things, even most of the restaraunts will not allow smoking indoors. Filthy habit that makes your hair, clothes, and breath stink. Everybody quit, k?
This airport is ugly. I mean ugly like a rich man's unmarried middle-aged daughter. Every surface is steel - walls, cielings, railways. The floors are shiny and unyielding marble, as hard and cold as the stares of the people who humorlessly watch us parade by. The effect of the corrugated steel walls is unsettling -- it's as if the airport is a giant steel operating room/ techno-club, only it was designed by D.J. Albert Speer, and when the light comes on after 2AM, and last call, the chilly ugliness that was masked by alcohol and darkness is stripped away. All that is left is the unlovely steel.
After killing time in a very expensive snack bar (3.5 EU for a soda!) we board in bright daylight for Venice. Europe looks different from the air - at least from over Frankfurt and Northern Italy. The houses lean closer together, huddled in tight communities. The Alps are beautiful in an austere way. Having seen them from satellite photos so many times, the impact is lessened -- until we land in Venice.
Upon debarking from the plane, I immediately am gfited with the comprehensive Carnivale guide, something K has been trying to score for weeks. It is handed to me by a lovely young Italian girl in her early 20's, perhaps. She was dressed in a shimmering frock coat and tricorn hat.
I immediately decide that I like this city - no sooner have I stepped off the plane than a beautiful woman gives me a useful, and hard-to-get gift. Ave Venice!