We walked to the terminal to leave our loved ones behind when we boarded the QANTAS jet. The kids are decked out in Australian Flag T Shirts (as if we were going to lose the kids). They said if they got lost they could be returned to Oz. Funny kids who were as excited as we were. We had never travelled on a Qantas jet before. Except when we went to Queensland. But this was a big jet. Lots of people and a very long way to travel to Germany. And we were going for a whole year.
It was just before Xmas; to be precise; it was the 17th December. The plane was loaded with people travelling to Germany and the Netherlands for Xmas. Marvellous atmosphere and generally a feeling of party on the plane. We were well looked after by the Stewards who immediately moved our kids half way up the plane and us down to just outside Business Class. “We will look after the kids; you enjoy yourself”. So we sat with lots of leg room and our three darlings being catered for by the Qantas staff. Excellent service!
The kids walked up and down the plane to talk to us and complain about this or that. They rang the bell and summoned the stewards who came promptly and indulged these three little darlings demanding ; drinks, chips and food of various kinds. The kids were having a ball.
The Stewards were beginning to call them nuisance names: “You again; Haven't you had enough” and stuff like that. Always with a smile.
Oh dear something was out of sorts with the plane. No we were not falling out of the sky. Just something trivial. So being an Australian owned airline they then lifted all restrictions on the alcoholic drinks everyone could have. Free from Qantas. And so the party continued. Until we reached Frankfurt. A great flight.
After we left Amsterdam the population of the plane had fallen to below half. Just us people going onto Frankfurt. So they broke out the champagne and flew very low over the farmlands of Europe so we could all see the geography and sights of country Germany. It was magic.
Frankfurt we stopped smiling; in the terminal there were Police everywhere and they all had German Shepherd dogs. But what really made us all gape ; they carried submachine guns. We had never seen anything like it before. The kids walked very close to us and we walked very close to one another. We were not real brave just trying to cope with a situation we had not expected. The contrast to the atmosphere on the Qantas Jet was just a little daunting for us first time out of Australia people.
We were travelling to Munich so had to catch a domestic flight from Frankfurt. The flight was called and we began to go through their security checks. We had never encountered security checks before. Just the casual Australian stuff of someone waving a wand over us as we entered the boarding area. This was a real security check. Bags opened; hand bags examined; items shaken; even my Ventolin inhaler was taken apart to see what it was. Scary stuff for us Aussies.
The plane was not a jet but we managed to control our fear and we boarded. The smiles had gone from our faces. We had entered a new land. An environment totally alien to our Australian ways. I think fear; real honest to goodness fear was just below the surface. However, we took ourselves and our three teenage children in hand and advanced towards our destination; Munchen. Magic Munchen.
We were released from the plane; and found in the terminal; no guns and no german shepherd dogs. Just people speaking German and smiling at this strange band of Aussie Travellers. We were all rugged up as it was minus ten when we arrived. We had ordered a white Xmas to embellish our trip and it looked like it was going to be given to us.
All rugged up and at journeys end, for now. We were destined to go to England to spend twelve months in the north of England. Manchester University and Stockport was home for a year but for now we were in Munchen. We collected our luggage and walked through the doors to the park surrounding the Airport. It was like walking into an ice cave. Great icicles hung from all the trees. Our breath nearly froze and every plant had a coating of white. When I picture it now ; it was like a Xmas card only better. Starker and beautifully precise. Magical environment.
A journey I will never forget. Such an adventure. And so very beautiful at the journeys end.
Munchen was magic; and Europe opened its doors to us that day. We travelled extensively through Europe during the following year. A memory that will never fade. Travel does that!
Helen Treloar Duggin