My life has always been about the social interactions of groups. The feeling of being a part of a group. The sharing of group experiences. The conversations that occur when sharing those experiences and the knowledge and expansion of mind and heart that flow around a group e.g. – As my man of the moment, Tom Hiddleston says,
People can go into the theatre as strangers and leave as a group, having understood and been through something important together.
I love the group experience but I was about to begin an amazing solo adventure that I had to complete alone! I was equal parts excited ( by the carrot dangling at the end, visiting my son) and terrified ( by the process, travelling thousands of kilometres across land and sea – alone). But the only thing I knew for sure was that both were going to happen!!
Most people love to travel ….. I love the idea of travel! Many people can’t wait to see, taste, touch and smell new and different things and places ….. I can’t wait to look at peoples photos of them seeing, tasting, touching and smelling new and different places! But after making things as simple as possible (with the amazing help of friends and family – financially) I arrived at Brisbane Airport and checked in at the Business Class ticket desk and my journey began. Yes, I know, some of you will be incredulous that I had the money to spend on a Business Class ticket but anybody that truly knows me and my struggles, knows that this was a necessity not a luxury!
I was travelling to Berlin – alone!
I was flying Etihad Airways for the first part of my journey – Brisbane to Abu Dhabi – but as Etihad does not have its own lounge at Brisbane Airport, I was indeed, privileged to experience the new Koru Club, offered by Air New Zealand. This, I like to think, was meant to be, as I felt so close to my many loved friends and family from my country of birth. I knew immediately, that I was not travelling alone – I had gone into the theatre of thought, that I wanted to visit my son in Berlin, alone, but already there in the Koru Club, I was leaving Australia with a group of people who understood we were experiencing something important together! ( Tom Hiddleston – the man is a genius people. Totally, into him for his mind!!)
The first flight was 17 hours long but I was comfortable and distracted by the entertainment, the service, the food & drinks and free gifts. My luggage was deposited and would not be seen again until my “priority” marked bag slid onto the conveyor belt, first bag off, at Berlin Tegel Airport. One of my worries dissipated immediately! I had a completely flat bed during the flight on which to grab 4 – 5 hours good sleep and a few more hours dozing. When I left my seat to use the bathroom, what I found on my return was, my bed had been turned down like in a hotel room and a pair of pyjamas and slippers were neatly laid next to the pillow! Andrew has happily snaffled both the slippers and the pj’s for his use! Just one of the lovely surprises that keep me counting my many blessings during that 17 hour non stop flight.
We arrived at Abu Dhabi at about 5:30 am local time, I think. Time had already become one of those things that are so important when you travel but also mean nothing! Listen to me … the big time seasoned traveller! What I mean is that you need to know the time to manage your connecting flights etc but already your mind and body are lost and just attempting to go with the flow. I was hot and sweaty and not at all hungry, so after identifying my boarding gate for my connection to Berlin ( I had already been issued with my seat allocation and boarding pass for this flight in Australia – second worry covered!), I made my way to the Etihad Lounge and was directed to a spa where I was able to freshen up with a shower and a change of clothes. I immediately felt better. Ready to take on the final 7 hour flight. I made my way down to the boarding gate early and was slightly overwhelmed by the diverse cultures around me. Although English speaking helpers were easily found, I was very aware that I was in the minority in this melting pot of cultures and religions and languages. My mind wandered to the refugees when they arrive on our soil and how confronting and challenging that must be. My mind was talking to my heart – soften, appreciate, help, understand. I was learning why travel is important because these are lessons not taught by reading or watching a TV show but by experiencing and feeling. I turned to a youngish woman next to me to share a joke, only to be met with the apologetic words No English – sorry! I smiled and she smiled back – I had been fooled by the assumption that because she had a fair complexion she would speak my language but I was wrong. I was flying Air Berlin for my final leg and the complexions were fair but the language of prevalence was German!
As I waited for my flight, I logged into the free airport wifi and my phone began to vibrate with message after message – 40 in all – from the remainder of the theatre group, waiting and hoping and praying for me from home! They were riding each wave with me, hoping I was going well, wishing me all good things and oh so proud of me! Tears flowed silently down my smiling face. Tears of anticipation at seeing my son and tears of relief that the journey was nearing the end and tears of joy and pride that I have this wonderful community carrying me ever onwards to new life changing experiences.
The final flight with Air Berlin from Abu Dhabi to Berlin was again wonderful and surprising. The views flying over the desert sands as we left and over the yellow fields as we arrived, made me sorry my phone battery was running low and I had packed my charger in my other bag. Both were truly beautiful to see. Another flight, another beautiful comfort pack and of course, that breakfast champagne!
I arrived, collected my bag and sat to wait for whoever was coming to get me. After, a little while I noticed a youngish looking ‘old man’ was walking towards me, from a distance. As he got closer, the smile made him instantly recognisable. I was grateful for those minutes that he didn’t know I was watching him. They told me all I needed to know about why I had made the journey and that it was worth every single risk taken and dollar given. I was exactly where I needed to be ….. in Berlin!