Spring has arrived in Saskatchewan and with it the sense of optimism I experience each year. The first vaccination against the COVID-19 pandemic has given me hope that air travel will be in our future and provide an opportunity to see my families in Calgary and California. With that hope there is some apprehension, and I am reminded of the dreams and hopes that were a part of me many years ago.
As a young farm wife living on the Canadian prairies, I had watched the jet planes fly high overhead and visualized their exotic destinations. Travel for us would not be possible for some time but I could use my vivid imagination and I could dream! That transatlantic flight I fantasized about so many decades ago was about to become a reality!
With the thrill of adventure came the weight of apprehension. In the midst of planning our daughter’s wedding the timing of the trip was not great for me and it was a busy time at the office where I worked. However, for farmers the time of the holiday was perfect. Spring planting would not begin for some weeks and so the plans for this remarkable vacation were suddenly falling into place.
It was the spring of 1983. The previous fall, with the blessing of an abundant crop, it became obvious that larger equipment would be necessary to harvest future yields. A new combine was purchased from a nearby farm machinery dealer.
Manufactured at a factory located in Harsewinkel, Germany the machine came with a startling bonus. The purchase included a ten-day all-inclusive bus tour to this factory and various parts of Germany. For an additional two thousand dollars a second person could be a part of this amazing adventure. I was to be that person!
On the day of departure, I awoke feeling like I had slept barely a minute; excitement and nervousness ran about my mind the night prior. On the designated day we met friends from our area at the Saskatoon airport who also took advantage of this offer. We tried very hard to look like seasoned travelers. Flying off to Chicago on my first airplane flight I gazed below thinking of that jet stream I had seen so many years before.
In Chicago we met many people from the United States who would be traveling with us. There were peanut farmers from Georgia, soybean farmers from Kansas, a young farmer from Indiana who chose to bring his grandmother with him and dozens of others, but we all had one thing in common. We loved and tended to the land!
It was difficult to contain my excitement as we boarded this huge aircraft which would take us to Frankfurt. I found it difficult to imagine how such a massive plane could actually lift off the ground. Our kind tour guide assigned seats and explained various aspects of the flight. Wine and beer was complimentary on this flight and cigarette smoking was allowed only at the rear of the plane!
Have I mentioned that my dear husband was a very quiet and reserved man? I on the other hand do not have these admirable qualities. I really enjoy meeting and chatting with others and can be quite demonstrative with hand gestures in my enthusiasm. He had learned to be patient with me but there could be exceptions to the rule, and this was one of them.
Only hours into the flight I accidentally bumped my husband’s beer which landed squarely into his lap! Now if you ever want to impress your spouse do not do this! Thank goodness for the lovely tour guide with her sense of humour, dry cloths and for the polyester dress pants that dried quickly and were fashionable in the day. It did take some time, and possibly another beer, but soon there were smiles around!
The flight, resembling a party of long-lost friends was wonderful with the many passengers obviously enjoying themselves and each other. The flight across the ocean was all that I had dreamed of and more. Flying above the white, billowy clouds seemed like magic to me!
Very soon it seemed the pilot announced that we would be landing in Frankfurt. Three large tour buses waited for us there and after meeting our bus drivers and guides we were taken to a grand hotel. The double doors of our room opened to a spacious, mirrored, and luxurious foyer. I felt quite like a new bride as we entered our room with the high ceilings, heavy velvet draperies and four poster bed.
Sleep did not come easily but now it was out of pure excitement and the prospect of adventure. Lying in that magnificent room I tried to imagine our trip south to Heidelberg the following day and the new sights we would see. The dream truly had come true!
Have you had the opportunity to travel to Germany and see the many famous and historical cities? You would not be disappointed!
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