And now we head home

 

And so the final day of a wonderful holiday in E. Europe has arrived and it turned out to be very special.

We had most of another full day in Frankfurt as we only had to be at the airport for our flight home at 6pm. We were very excited as the young lady, Nadia, who stayed with us for a while when she was a volunteer intern at The Open Air School for children with special needs. She lives in Basel, Switzerland and she travelled all the way to Frankfurt, 4 hours by train, to spend most of the day with us. She is a very special person who just loves to give of herself and care for others. Today she is in a permanent relationship and has a daughter, Lea, who is now 11 months.

Once up and about we made our way to meet Nadia and it was wonderful to see her come running up to us for hugs and hellos. We immediately started a walk around Frankfurt discovering places and monuments we had not seen when we had been there before and rediscovering others. monument to workersMonument to workers

One of my most favourite places there is the outside ‘university’ which is in the street right outside the Goethe University of Sciences itself. It was also interesting to read about Goethe and other medical scientists who had attended and lectured at the university.Vicky Nadia with T RexVicky & Nadia with T RexNadia and a dinosaurNadia and a dinosaur

There are sculptures of various dinosaur species built to full dimensions. Also as one walks up the street there are examples of petrified woods and stones as well as information on some of the famous botanists and medical researchers who have come from Frankfurt. It is a most interesting way to spend a morning and so much to see.

After about an hour there we walked down to the river and decided to go on a cruise up the River Main. The full name of this city is actually Frankfurt am Main or Frankfurt on the Main River. It was a beautiful afternoon and very relaxing cruising up and then back down the river with a very good guide describing what we were seeing. It was also a good time to take an opportunity to get a snack and a drink, using some of our last Euros.Frankfurt Trevor NadiaTrevor & Nadia on the boatbridge over River MaineA bridge over the River Maine

On our way back to the station we walked through the old part of the city. Something really special about European cities is that the old buildings and areas have generally been well maintained and are advertised as tourist attractions. We continued pass the German Bourse, the DAX, outside of which are large copper sculptures of a bear and a bull. Before we knew it we were at the station, a wonderful day was over and we had to say good bye to Nadia as she boarded the train for the 4-hour journey back to Basel.Man busking bubblesA man busking with bubbles in the old quarterVicky Trevor Frankfurt CathedralVicky & Trevor with Frankfurt Cathedral behind them

We returned to the hotel, had a quick freshen up and change of clothes and then went to catch the train to the airport. We soon discovered that our experiences were not yet over. At the time I travelled assisted as walking any distance was very painful. This meant being taken by wheelchair around each airport. Our travel agent had arranged for us to fly home on Ethiopia Airlines and we were not impressed with them overall. Why?

  • On checking in at Frankfurt airport we learnt that there was no ‘assisted travel’ booking for me. After a bit of a rush around a lady finally arrived in a large golf cart and drove (and drove and drove ...) until we reached Gate 162 at the other end of the airport. She left us at the check-in counter and was surprised when Trevor asked whether the person to assist me on to the plane would come early or not. This really had her flustered and she said that she would find out. About 10 mins before we were to board a gentleman arrived with a wheelchair and grudgingly took me through check-in and to the entrance of the plane.

While we had waited for the flight to be called Trevor decided to spend his last 40+ Euros and was gone for ages. He finally returned with a large packet of chocolates saying that was all he could purchase with this money. No complaints from me as we enjoyed good German chocolate for a few months!

  • I may sound like a difficult traveller but I do not eat any form of spicy foods which is what seems to be served on most airlines these days. Therefore, I request a Bland Meal. No problem with Turkish Airlines on our trip to Europe a month earlier but definitely a problem for Ethiopian Airlines. They understood BM to mean baby food and that is what was first offered to me. After some explaining I received a bit of a mish-mash for a meal but it tasted fine.
  • On arrival at Addis Ababa there was no wheelchair waiting and after quite a bit of discussion with the airport staff and it was finally agreed that we would be taken down on the food lift, by ‘bakkie’ to the building and then into a wheelchair. But it got worse.
  • A very nice young man wheeled me into the airport building and told us to wait at a spot furthest from the check-in area and said he would be back in an hour to wheel me on to the plane. He took the wheelchair with him. It’s been a very long hour – from the night of 3 October 2014 to present and still waiting!! Realising time was moving on Trevor went up to the staff at the check-in counter a couple of times to ask when someone would fetch us to be first on board as should be the system. “Not to worry Sir, we have it in hand,” they confidently assured him. Next everyone else, and I mean everyone else, joined a queue and went through check-in while we watched. Then there was no one else waiting to board a plane except ourselves. Our plane was due to leave in 20 mins and we were nowhere near it.
  • A gentleman in uniform walked passed and asked what we were doing there and on hearing our explanation somehow found a wheelchair and literally ran us down to check-in, removed my shoes and watch, zipped through the scanner, dumped them on my lap and once again ran down to the door of the plane which was about to be closed. They did not seem to realise that they were 2 passengers short. Our seats were at the very back of the plane so we had to walk past every other passenger now knew who had delayed the flight. Very embarrassing.

The same understanding of BM on this flight was the same as the earlier one but the meal put together this time was just awful. There was good news at OR Tambo International airport. The staff had called ahead and all was arranged and flowed perfectly. We arrived home safely on the afternoon of 4 October 2014 after a really wonderful experience.

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About Me

I was born into the early part of the Baby Boomer generation, the 3rd of what came to be a family of 6 daughters. Although both our parents, who are now deceased, had been raised in rural Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) and the 2 eldest daughters were born in a country town, the other 4 of us were all born at home in Durban. Read More

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