Hoppin’ the pond
I always thought that the phrase, ‘hoppin the pond’ was kind of cute. Although our flight from Atlanta to Frankfurt last week was direct, it was anything but the cute and easy feeling this phrase denotes. The ride felt like anything but that quintessential Transatlantic “hop.”
Although we arrived safely at our destination, exhausted but quietly thrilled with the relocation we were experiencing, our Lufthansa night flight will probably stand out in my memory as one of my more strenuous air flights. The two women to one side of me were so talkative (and loud) that the woman in the seat in front of me actually turned around, midway through flight, to hand me a pair of earplugs in sympathy.
We had already made acquaintances with the earplug lady at the gate in Atlanta. She approached us to inquire about the cats and then share her love for the feline species, as well as share the names of all the felines she had adopted and who she would not see for two weeks.
Travelling with cats, we found, actually imparted what felt like a bit of mini rock star status. Fellow travellers approached us out of the airport woodwork to inquire, with keen interest, whether those were cats we were carrying. Could we indeed take them in the cabin with us? Oh yes. For a nice tidy sum of money, indeed.
Going through airport security with two cats is no joke. Particularly not in an international airport where a throng of security guards surround the machines and a throng of passengers are lined up behind you, preparing to remove shoes and ensuring that their lotions are in a 1 quart plastic bag.
Pulling Ronja out of her carrier to walk through the airport metal detector was a slightly harrowing experience, for her perhaps more so than me.
We didn’t even bother putting Murphy through this experience. The husband (whose first time this was flying with cats) incredulously asked the guards if they really wanted him to pull out this cat. This cat who was, as he put it, a runner. I know the hub and I both had visions of our socially aggressive (and sometimes physically aggressive) but totally lovable young male cat clawing at a TSA agent before bolting and tearing through the security check.
That one word, runner, turned out to be the persuasive plea that convinced the guards to allow them to bypass the scanner experience and head towards a private room where Murphy would be removed from the bag and everything checked to ensure that he was not a terror cat.
(He actually is very much a terror. It’s just a not so well kept household secret)
We (felines included) were approved in fairly good time. Of course, these days, passing through security checks, particularly at international terminals, is nothing like what I recall from travelling in my youth. Even without pets, the whole experience can involve a routine of partial undressing, rearranging of carry on materials, explanations and so forth. I fondly recall when passing through these checks involved using one, maybe two (maybe) bins. These days it appears that, on average, a person needs 4-6 bins simply to get through the security check. One for your laptop. One for your bag. One for your inconspicuous clear plastic bag of toiletries (if you dare even travel with lotion or gel of any sort). One for this, one for that. Suffice to say, the cats were perturbed. And so was I.
All in the name of security, so I appreciate it on some level. I just pray for modern technology to quickly brainstorm and implement a more efficient system.
Ronja in her travel bag. Not too much fun.
Murphy settling into the hotel
Finally, after about 22 hours of travel, waiting time and transitions (calculated from door to door, of our last couple of nights of temporary lodging at the Fort Rucker lakeside cabins to our “Gasthof Hotel” in southeastern Germany) we arrived in our new home territory. Although we were exhausted, tired of travel and very eager to let the cats out of their bag, riding into the region we would call home the next few years was a calming and lovely experience. Very pretty landscape and also the realization striking some very agreeable chords that we were definitely going to be living semi-country.
Our first full day in the Hohenfels region- taking a morning walk to see the immediate surroundings….
Beer. Of course. Some lovely Hefeweizen.
On our first full day, we also got right into day trip mode. We took the train from the nearby town of Parsberg to Regensburg (closest city). Above, the locks on one of the bridges of the city, apparently dedicated to love.
A Day in Regensburg
Regensburg by night