we were so lucky; no school during the summer for three months.
I don't remember if you and your family traveled a lot. Well, we didn't either, I guess that's why you and I spent so much time on the streets.
However, every other year we would fly to Germany to visit the grandparents and I always looked forward to that trip. To wait two years for the next visit took way too long. Sometimes I felt an aching longing to be in Berlin, in my grandmother's little mom and pop store, and it would just get too much to wait any longer.
|My grandmother in her grocery store in Berlin|
Traveling by air was a luxury in those days, but we had an advantage because my dad worked for the airline. I remember we always had to get up very early, probably around 3 or 4am. I would be so excited that I would talk non-stop and chatter away until we reached the airport. Not very typical for quiet little me.
We always flew with Iran Air which was a great airline. Those were the days without any security checks. We would check baggage, show our tickets and walk over the tarmac to the airplane, climb up the staircase and that is where my mother would always hesitate. Because my dad did not walk up the stairs with us, instead he would go and check something under the plane, talk to a colleague and make sure that the maintenance-check had been done and signed off correctly. When he was satisfied with the result, he would join us. But during the five hour flight all his attention was on any out-of-the-ordinary kind of noise. I am sure my mom never really relaxed on those flights.
My sister and I on the other hand just loved the attention we would get from the flight attendants as most of them knew my dad and they would spoil us girls with little gifts.
Our stop-over was Frankfurt, where we changed to PanAm for Berlin. We landed at Tempelhof Airport and took a taxi to my grandmother's place.
Note: PanAm, AirFrance and BEA were the only airlines that could fly into Berlin during the years that the wall was up. There were three air corridors between West Germany and Berlin which were only used by U.S, British or French registered airlines. Lufthansa had no authority to fly that route.
Note: Berlin Tempelhof was the main airport in West-Berlin until mid 1970s, and a very historical one. It was one of the locations that played a major role during the Berlin Blockade of 1948-1949. During the Berlin Airlift allied aircrafts flew in supplies for the Berlin population, 1500 flights per day, delivering 4500 tons of cargo. It was closed in 2008 and is a recreational space today.
Returning home from Germany was also very exciting. We would always have excess baggage because we would shop for a lot of things that were not available at home. My dad is the expert suitcase packer and he knew how to get those heavy bags checked without problems. Probably the controls were not as strict as they are nowadays. I smuggled a hamster in my pocket one year. And we would come back with lots of candy, chocolate and gummy bears that he stored in our carry-ons.
My mother would always be excited to come back home. Approaching Mehrabad airport and seeing the lights of Tehran made her smile every time.