By Doris Schroeder
The terrorist’ episode in London a couple weeks ago made me remember the trip we made to Europe in 2001. It was the year of our 50th wedding anniversary and our oldest grandson John Edward had just enlisted in the Air Force. His first tour of duty was to be in Spangdahlem, Germany. He was a bit apprehensive about going so far from home. His dad, who was in the Army as a chaplain, checked it out and was told it was an honor to serve at that location.
At any rate, JE told us he would love for us to fly out to visit him while he was there. We thought it over…our grandson would show us around and we’d always wanted to go to Europe at least once in our lives. After all, some of our grandparents came from Germany and we wanted to visit it at least once. To top it off we had almost enough miles saved up on our American Airlines card. Besides, our grandson would be our guide. All systems were GO and we eagerly packed our bags and boarded the plane to Frankfort, Germany.
We arrived at the airport as scheduled and as our grandson had instructed; we were to wait for him to arrive on the military bus. Of course, it seemed to take forever as we waited. We were in a strange airport that did not look even remotely familiar, among people who spoke another language and observed completely different customs than we. Every waiting area was clouded with smoke as I looked around, unlike our airports in the States.
I tried smiling at some of the women with their faces covered except for their eyes, but they kept looking straight ahead, always following behind their husband, and not doing any talking. I realized they do not enjoy the freedom we have and felt bad for them. Still it was a little frightening since we did not know what they were thinking.
Hubby and I found a waiting area near the glass front of the airport and settled down to wait for the American Military Bus to stop at the gate and we would see the welcome face of our oldest airman grandson get off and head for the front door.
He was a very “take-charge” person and soon had us on the bus with all our luggage, heading back through the German countryside to the American Airbase of Spangoleum.
After checking in at the Air Base office and leaving our luggage, we hurried through the misty rain to the German food restaurant on the grounds for our first German supper. I had a salat and the men had some kind of sausage. Afterward we caught a taxi to drive us several miles out to the village of Speicer where our apartment was located. The military allowed us to rent it at a very reasonable rate as long as no other American military needed it. Our grandson was on a week’s leave and stayed with us a week, renting a car and driving us around the German countryside. One of the side trips was to the oldest town in Germany, Trier. We visited the City Square in the middle of town, which we reached by walking through a store building. Inside the square, people were on foot only and it reminded us of a farmer’s market. There were fruit stands as well as stands selling old books. At one point, a group of German singers gave a short program. We felt like we were in a “dream world!”
Each weekend the military had buses available to take the military and their families to different parts of Europe for a very nominal fee. On our first weekend trip our bus took us to the English Channel and then we loaded onto the ferry and crossed over to England, also viewing the White Cliffs of Dover. Once in England, we again boarded the bus and arrived late morning in London, England. They gave us a tour of the city so we could see London Bridge, Big Ben, the two-Decker buses and Buckingham Palace.
We all got off so we could observe the changing of the guard at the palace. After it had started, the rain, of course, came down in torrents. I had brought my umbrella but neither of my men did (they didn’t want to carry them). We watched the proceedings in a very tight threesome to say the least!
Later, we waited in the rain for our bus to come at the appointed place. We looked over a huge pavilion where they seemed to be getting ready for something. “Yes.” They said “tomorrow we are going to have a riot against Saddam Hussein!”
Of course, we were thankful to get back to the American Base after our long trip back to Germany. I will tell you more about Europe in my next column.
Even with all the trials and tribulations we have had going on in America, it is by far the best place to be in this world! Through these many years in the U.S., I am so thankful to be an American citizen. It is also here where I also became a future citizen of Heaven by believing and asking Jesus Christ into my life. Some day, when God calls me to come, I will say “There’s no place like home!”
Doris loves to hear from you and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org