So I am now finally back in the states after my visit.
First thing I did was go to the local mall and eat a Big Mac! (well, American junk food is not cheap in Europe)
Some lessons to learn from international travel:
1. Make sure you have your documentation - yes, the passport is obvious, but tickets and boarding passs are just as important. I wasn't able to get a paper ticket for my flight to Billund (it was with a regional carrier whose office WASN"T in the US) and I got quite a bit of grief from the people at the Munich airport.
2. Make sure you're security friendly - as in have everything ready for security checkpoints. The Munich airport has 4 checkpoints to go through before you get t o your plane. That's right, 4. And somewhere in there I got quizzed verbally twice on what I brought and am taking home.
3. Know the exchange rate. Why? Because bank machines won't tell you anything beyond native currency. I accidentally pulled out $300 when I meant to pull out $50 or so.
4. Have a positive attitude.
Okay, so now you may ask, what has happened since?
The wrapup to Bricking Bavaria was basically a coasting for me - just slide through the day and get on the plane to Billund.
And during that time I wandered and talked with René Hoffmeister and Axel from 1000stene, and starting to work on an international data point for AFOL event planners - based on what I saw and what I know, there is a lot that the Europeans do that we don't and vice versa. A collective point for information for those interested in doing events would be a good investment to the future of community events.
During the event, there were people like Malle Hawking and Jan Beyer who were introducing me to the rest of the group and made me feel at home. And others knew of me from the magazine and introduced themselves - it's a lot of fun when you meet the people that you have only seen online with thier models! I met so many people who I remembered from LUGNET posts, so it was very eye-opening for me.
I'll be writing an article in BrickJournal about the event, but it will not have certain things included for the reason that BrickJournal is family -oriented. So I'll place those stories here:
After the banquet, much fo the group hung out at the restaurant chatting and shooting the breeze...which was pretty relaxing and fun. I talked with Reto Geiger (who was showing off the new Star Wars Scout Walker - it's pretty neat, and the new gun design is sharp! Only problem is that the posability of the legs is limited the ankle joint is restricted by a tile - but I digress...), and Marco T. and also got drinks from Holge Matthes (HoMa) and talked for a while with René and Axel.
Well, we left and went back to the event site and hung out for another couple of hours...and Jan Beyer attempted to teach me a drinking song. I say attempted because I really didn't get it. With the drinks I had in my system, it wasnt easy at all. But after some prodding and practice, I got it, sorta.
And promptly forgot it. I am hoping the next time I drink with these guys muscle memory will kick in so I remember the song...
Before the banquet, there was a littleinceident that happened between HoMa's church and Hawking's aircraft carrier - and it starte with some talking and laughing, then the top of the church was removed, and placed on top the carrier control tower...so now the aircraft carrier has a cross on the top - which leads to some comments about Bush , which I get and start laughing too.
Not to be outdone, Hawking puts the radar tower that he removed from the carrier on top of the church - to which HoMa simply states that the Russians made it a secret listening post in the 50s...
Yes, I have pics of these. Somewhere.
Bricking Bavaria also had a sales area, which had a place where the Munich store sold the new sets and then and area where parts were sold by 1000 steine - and they had a LOT! With the exchange rate, it was a bit of a challenge to figureout what cost what, but it became apparent that the deals were pretty darned good - so I bought some bags I found appealing.
Well, onthe last day, I walk by the sales area and Axel cuts me a deal - 2 bags of parts for really cheap - so I buy without a second thought. Only problem is, they are about 15 pounds of parts altogether. And they need to fit in my luggage. After some fighting with my bags and rearranging, I got the parts in, but now I hev no room to buy anything else....
Axel planned that:-)
If you are wondering about the hospitalty I mention, perhaps the best example of that was me wandering outside for a moment to cool down - it got hot, and outside was overcast and a little damp, so the cool was actually nice to got out to. I was met by a guy who introduced himself as Arnoldand mentioned that he knew me from BrickJournal, and I didn't know him. We talked for a few moments, and I found that he came from out of town to visit and had his family there too...and they were going to the Munich LEGO store. And I asked if I could come along, and before I knew it, I was in with the family to go shopping!
His family and I went to the store (which is in a gigantic mall) and on the way, the two boys and I chatted about building and sets. And because they were younger, they were using English in speaking to a natve English speaker..and they were learning:-) It was nice to know that I was helping indirectly with language, and it was really nice seeing the parents encourage them to speak to me.
So the stor visit was short, and there was some more shopping, and we returned, and then they left to go home...but not before getting my e-mail address and my thanks! So thanks again Arnold - it was really nice to take me to the store!