Last night in a real bed – Hamburg

Whoa! That’s how I feel a bit. We are here in Europe and this means we are here in Europe. All that planning, dreaming, calculating, thinking, exploring, investigating, pontificating, considering – and we are here. And it’s real.

It’s rather incredible.

We arrived in Hamburg Thursday night or actually it may have been Friday morning as it was midnight by the time we got off the plane. Was a horrid flight – I’d like to be more positive about it but it pretty much sucked the majority of the time. I managed to read a chapter of Gloria Steinem’s wonderful memoir “On The Road” (could write a post on this too!)  and have some lovely conversations with some Arabic women sitting behind us, but that’s about it. To recap – our flight was changed from 3pm to 7pm leaving Tel Aviv to Hamburg but we only found out when we got to the airport which was a palava in itself as getting to the airport was very stressful as the taxi was late and the wrong size and our light plastic bags to save weight were breaking one after the other …

So we arrive and then have some surprisingly relaxing time waiting at the airport. Lina slept, then Noa slept and I wrote and Guy read. We then ate some rather crappy airport food and boarded our flight. Lina sat down and threw up and so it all went down hill from there. Guy sat next to a lovely Arabic man who gave the kids zaatar biscuits but then he had trouble breathing and required oxygen the whole flight. Around 9pm we realised it was 9pm and there was 2.5 hours more and the kids were awake and wired and exhausted and we would be landing at around 11pm. And all I could think of was how would we be able to carry the kids and the luggage and get off the plane. And did I mention that both kids had colds … Of course we made it and our drive into Hamburg was super quiet as Germany had just lost the European Cup. I was immensely grateful that we splurged and booked an Airbnb and that our host didn’t mind greeting us at midnight. Bed at 2am but who’s counting?

Our decision to start the trip in Hamburg was a bit of an accident as we booked the camper van here and then booked our ticket from Tel Aviv to Hamburg a little prematurely as within 24 hours we discovered that the van could only be picked up from Frankfurt. We toyed with the idea of cancelling the ticket but it was too expensive so we decided to spend 4 days in Hamburg and get to Frankfurt refreshed and with clean and washed linen. Having a friend in Hamburg also sweetened the mistake and made it a blessing in disguise.

So here we are on our last night in Hamburg and it’s been a full three days. It’s 11.30pm now so I won’t write much but I’ll break it down for you lovely readers:

Seeing my friend Claudia and watching our kids and husbands get along so brilliantly was  definitely the highlight. Claudia and Wolf took us under their wing and showed us the town, and on top of that could empathise with us having two young children as they do too. Though our timetables didn’t quite synch with day sleeps and wake ups and what not – we met every afternoon and had dinner every night and it was magical. Claudia and I met around 16 years ago on Kibbutz Ein Gedi – we talked and we talked and we talked – and though the conversation may have changed a little from boyfriends to parenting – the conversation is as fluid and bright and intelligent and warm as ever.

Noa and Lina have for the most part been incredible travellers. They love meeting new people, taking public transport and seeing new sites. The past three days have been harder than usual and I am hoping it’s just them getting over their colds and the awful flight and getting used to a new place especially one without their grandparents who they became very close to in Israel. (when asked what Noa misses she says nana and saba). Yesterday was meltdown central and I thought my body would literally cave in and crumble. I was so weary from the flight and my legs just ached. Today was a great day and I think we have returned to our groove. I love seeing them interact with Claudia and her family especially their oldest daughter Tara. It’s so easy between them – there is an immediate trust and a desire to connect. Language is no barrier.

IMG_8851Germany. There will be a post dedicated to Germany and my feelings about this country – its past and how it has affected me and affects me. I am thinking about it a lot. One thing that keeps me rooted in my past is the Stolpersteine on the footpaths. See the link for details. I will write about it later but here are my four lines of poetry today:

Children playing in the park

Church bells chime on time 

Birds continue their migration

History sleeps. 

And finally … anchor-less. That is how I felt for a moment today. And I got a little nervous about this whole BIG TRIP and wondered if all the naysayers were right. But it was fleeting and having no anchor is a big part of this whole trip. And what is an anchor anyway – is it physical? I feel so anchored in our family unit, so anchored in the love we have created between the four of us. And I am looking forward to having our little shell – our van that will house us and move us and keep us together. Tomorrow we meet the van.

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