I initially planned on taking my bike to Germany using the hard bike case I purchased. However, that represented a problem: what would I do with the case once I got there? I figured I could just ask one of my cousins, who usually drive from Germany to Turkey just about every year, to take the case with them and drop it off at my parents’ flat in Istanbul. From there, I could just put the bike in the case and fly back to Los Angeles. However, while in New Jersey I found out that my cousins wouldn’t be driving to Turkey until the end of the summer. That was problematic for me because, although I did not have a return date, I sure did not want to wait till the end of the summer to return to the States. Besides, I really was not too keen on asking them to take my case in the first place. The case was quite large and their cars tend to be small. Plus, they usually travel as a family with kids and all. After seeing how well my brother’s bike was packed in a cardboard box, I decided to go that route, too.
We decided to fly Singapore Airlines for a couple of reasons. First, I heard from several cyclists who have flown with them that they did not charge for bicycles and second, it would give me a chance to fly on one of the Airbus 380s for the first time. True enough, we were not charged a dime for the bikes and the 380 was quite comfortable. On a side note, I thought the kebayas worn by the Singapore Airline stewardesses were pretty cool, too.
Once we landed in Frankfurt and picked up our “regular” luggage, we headed over to the oversize luggage area hoping that the bikes would show up in one piece! To our surprise, we did not have to wait long. The bikes showed up after a few minutes and, based on the condition of the boxes, it seemed like they were handled carefully.
As we were trying to go through the customs area, one of the German customs agents started asking a series of questions about where the bikes were made and where we purchased them. He was inspecting our US passports and we (perhaps naively) assumed that he understood that we were there for a cycling trip. I soon realized that was not the case and we had to explain to him that we were going to cycle from Germany to Turkey and the bikes would be leaving with us. He soon realized what we aimed to do and waived us through with an attitude as if to say “really, you two are gonna cycle all the way?”. The passport check was quite a contrast. Our passports were stamped in record time without any sort of conversation whatsoever. Once we made it outside to the secure area, one of our cousins was outside waiting for us.
We soon loaded up the car and headed down to Elsenfeld on a beautiful sunny morning unaware of the mean plans the weather gods had for us. We were jet-lagged but excited to be finally in Germany to start our journey.