Sunday, April 28, 2013


Jet lag is a mysterious makes you feel like you’ve dreamed everything and it’s not real. But here I sit, sipping my German coffee and nibbling a little almond cookie/cake from the German bakery while I look out the window at the German landscape. Okay, it’s really not that romantic. My view out the window is gray cloud, gray tarmac, gray airport and gray rain. Pretty dreary! I left almost 80-degree weather and Kate has informed me that I’ll be arriving in 80-degree weather, so I won’t complain about the rain here.

Gray Day in Germany

I flew to Chicago yesterday and had a 6-hour lay-over there that I spent in a very boring manner, working my transcription shift online. My flight to Frankfurt, Germany left at 10:15 p.m., so it was an all-nighter. I’ve flown quite a few all-nighters now, and I actually don’t mind them. The flight goes faster when you can sleep through some of it, even if it’s just cat-naps. When I woke, it was around 2 a.m. my time. I sneaked a peek out the window by raising the shade ever so slightly. Bright sun flooded the dark interior of the cabin. My seat-mates snoozed on, unaware. I pulled out my breakfast, which was last night’s dinner, dining on teriyaki chicken, green beans and a slice of Tillamook jack cheese. Yup, that was about as delicious as you imagined it to be. Then I studied and read until real breakfast was served a few hours later. Finally, we were allowed to open the blinds and let the sun shine in. I looked out the window on Ireland and then England. That was cool! Off the coast of England there are wind turbines standing straight up out of the sea. It looked very odd. We then flew over mainland Europe, and began our descent. I was wide awake, even though it was only 4 a.m.  I think it’s easier to adjust to the time change when you fly all night because when you get off the plane you walk right into morning sunshine and your body clock instantly re-sets. Okay, I’ll admit I’m a little tired, but I definitely feel like it really is afternoon here and not early morning like it is back home.

German kafe and a delicious almond cookie

I had a 4-hour lay-over in Frankfurt. Since this is the only Germany I’m going to experience, I had to milk it for all it was worth. I found the most German-looking café to buy a coffee and little almond cake, and then I sat by the window so I could take in the view...of planes and tarmac. I was a little disappointed I couldn’t see the forest and a castle! I did learn something, though. I had noticed that the landscape was full of green trees and farmland scattered with what I was sure must be little villages. There were no farms as we know them...a farm house, a barn or two, and fields surrounding them. There were just neatly defined villages. I never saw a city or any suburbs. I asked the man next to me on the plane about it, and he told me that no one was allowed to build a house on their farms. They may buy land and farm it, but they cannot live on it. So farmers live in villages and business people live in cities. The prettiest places to live looked to be those houses built along a canal. I so wished I could actually drive through some of those quaint villages!

The flight to Vienna was running late, and you know what that means! I already only had 45 minutes between arrival in Vienna and departure to Sarajevo, and watching the minutes tick away made me a little nervous. Of course my seat was at the very back of the plane. My Czech seat-mate told me I needed to just push my way through everyone. Made brave by desperation, I did just that, along with another man behind me who was also headed to Sarajevo. He spoke very little English and I speak no Bosnian, so we gestured our way along and made for our gate. Talk about a run! It seems to me when flying that if your plane is on time and you have a long lay-over, your departure gate will be very close to your arrival gate. But if the plane is late and it’s a tight connection, for sure you will be departing from a gate at least a mile away. And I’m not kidding! At all. So I pushed my way off the plane, rushed past everyone in the terminal, butted right to the front of the long customs line, got admitted into Austria, and then booked it down the long corridor. My buddy was right behind me, clomping noisily and a bit awkwardly in his cowboy boots. I didn’t know they wore cowboy boots in Europe! I also didn’t know they don’t wear flip-flops. No one was wearing flip-flops and many women stared at me. I felt soooo American in my Athleta yoga pants and sparkle flip-flops! We arrived at our gate just as they began to board. I breathed a sigh of relief and stepped through the gate, but there was no plane to board. No, we walked through yet more corridors (which were all heated to 100 degrees!) and then outside to board a shuttle bus that took us to the far corner of the airport tarmac where we boarded the plane the old-fashioned way, climbing on from outside. I must admit it was incredibly refreshing to stand outside in the balmy evening breeze and breathe in Vienna! My Czech friend said they were having summer weather and I was lucky. Although there wasn’t a thing to see but gray tarmac and terminals, the sky was turning pastel with the sunset and the air smelled sweet. It was great to cool off and calm down after the sweaty mad dash through the airport. And then it was on the plane for the very last hour of travel. Night fell and there was nothing to see. I’d have to wait until morning for the mountain views. I touched up my make-up and popped a mint so I’d be presentable to meet Kate’s family. I was so eager to hug Kate. I thought about how kissy-huggy I was with the kids when they were little and how that changes as they grow up. We are affectionate in our family but not gushingly so. Still, there is nothing like flesh on flesh. Kate and I have Skyped regularly and I’m up to date on all she does and most of what she feels. But to hug her and stroke her hair...that is so precious to a mother and I couldn’t wait. Landing took forever.  We circled the city about 2-1/2 times...I knew because I counted how many times we passed the moon, which was huge and a luminous bright yellow.  We finally landed and I cleared customs without a single word exchanged; he just took my passport, typed the number into the computer, stamped it, handed it back and dismissed me with a wave of his hand. Well, that was easy! And then I stepped through the gate to a happy, laughing Kate and her host mom and dad, who greeted me affectionately with a hug and a triple kiss on the cheeks.  We rode all the way through the hilly streets of Sarajevo laughing and talking in a jumbled mix of English, broken English, Bosnian and broken Bosnian...but it worked! We arrived home and went upstairs to unpack and get settled while Kate’s host mom loaded the living room coffee table with goodies...three different kinds of cookies, a rich chocolate-apricot cake, fresh fruit and spinach pita, which is not what you think. It was much more similar to spanakopita, only it was baked in a large pan like a lasagna rather than individual pies. Oh, so good! I could have eaten three pieces, I’m sure! I gave the family the gifts I had brought them, and then we headed upstairs to bed...but who could sleep? I gave Kate the treats I had brought her, we took a picture of us together sitting in the spot I had seen her sit while Skyping for the last 9 months, and then she sat on my bed with me and we talked until we were both sooo tired. Finally, good sense prevailed, because we had to be up at 6:30 as we were taking a bus to a war memorial 3-1/2 hours away. We hugged goodnight and then I slipped under the covers of my bed under the slanted wood-slat roof and listened to the night sounds of Sarajevo until I fell asleep.

Skyping together instead of apart!


1 comment:

  1. With your blog Karyn, I feel I am reading chapters in the book I suggested for you to write years ago!
    I love "travelling" with you and discovering new places ... through your eyes!
    I am sure you are a blessing to the people you are meeting and you are leaving a deposit behind.
    It awesome to see you with Kate, her friends, her church and in those places that she has done a great job in sharing with us