By Doris Schroeder
It was about three months after the Hutch explosion that hubby and I bought our American Airline tickets with our accumulated points and flew to Germany to visit our grandson John Edward. He had joined the air force right out of high school and his first location was at Spangdahlem Air Force Base in Germany. We had always wanted to see Germany…it was probably what you would say was “on our bucket list” of things we wanted to do before we got too old.
We landed in Frankfurt, Germany, and waited for our grandson to arrive in the Air Force Bus. Since we had to wait two and a half hours, it was interesting to get the feel of the land. Of course, we were the foreigners among the German and many Muslim couples and it did feel strange and a little scary. We were glad when we saw the bus arrive, met our grandson, picked up our suitcases, and boarded the airbase vehicle.
Of course it started to rain when it was time to get off but we survived it, even though we had both had the flu before we left. The doctor did give us some strong medicine and we made it fine although we were sometimes a little groggy.
We ate our supper at the Base and then hailed a taxi to take us to the village of Speicer, where we rented an apartment from the military for two weeks. The next day John rented a car and we did some exploring each day, including the oldest town in Germany by the name of Trier which had a village square on the inside.
On week ends the Air Base had some great bus trips which we could go on with our grandson at a very reasonable price. The first trip was to Holland and we enjoyed every minute of it. We went to the Tulip Gardens and enjoyed the colorful flowers and the winding paths and water ponds in the month of May. We also stopped at a cheese factory and of course, a gift shop. I did buy a pair of wooden shoes but don’t wear them very often as they clomp!
Another week end trip was to Paris and we were enthralled with the Louve and saw the painting of the Mona Lisa. The walking was endless, however, and there were times…! It was exciting to walk up the hill of the artists and watch them paint. We took a boat ride down the river on Mother’s Day. Many of the French people were enjoying a family time by the river. It was exciting to go up the elevator of the Eiffel Tower and see the city below us.
The most exciting trip, however, was the trip to London. We left Spangdahlem at 2300 hours and drove to Calais, France, where we boarded the ferry to Dover, England, also viewing the white cliffs of Dover ( remember the song?) The ferry could hold all size vehicles on the bottom level and had a nice restaurant on the upper where we could sit and relax. After we landed we took our bus to the city of London and viewed all the things we were familiar with…London Bridge, Big Ben, etc., until we got off by Buckingham Palace. I was the only one in our group of three who had brought an umbrella (the men didn’t want to carry one) so we crowded around it on our way to see the changing of the guard. They weren’t sure if they would start or not because of the rain. Finally they did, and it was fascinating to see them marching in precision in the torrent of rain, once they start they do not stop. We did, however, seek some shelter under the trees.
When we were on our own for a few hours, we found a restaurant and had our lunch with a “cup of tea!” We had to wait awhile for our bus to arrive. Across the street from us was a large area that was getting ready for the next day’s revolting against Saddam Hussein. Finally our bus arrived and drove us back to the ferry, who took us back to France, and back to Spangdahlem, and back to Speicer.
You remember we were not yet at war with Iraq and we were just beginning to understand what terrorists were.
The last week we had to give up our apartment for some military personnel so stayed at the lodging at the base for several nights. They told us, however, that there were no rooms available for the last night, May 15. The airport bus would leave the base at six in the morning so we knew there wouldn’t be time to go anywhere else. We decided we would stay in the waiting room of the office at the base and sleep on the chairs.
We ate pizza at the base until about 11 and then walked back the two blocks to the office, putting it off as long as we could. We had just settled down for the night when one of the military personnel came and told us “Since we have no generals here tonight, would you like to sleep in his quarters?”
Would we? We shot up, grabbed our overnight cases and were ushered to a lovely apartment with all the amenities…and I mean everything from snacks in the refrigerator, to extra terry robes and slippers, to lush, comfortable beds. We were so excited we could hardly sleep.
When we leave it all to God, He knows how to take care of us, doesn’t he? Nevertheless, we did make it back to the Frankfurt Airport on time, made it back to the good ole USA, and back to familiar ground. Much as we enjoy visiting other countries, there is really no place like our home in the “land of the free!” Let us do all we can to keep it this way!
Doris welcomes your comments and can be reached at [email protected]