A 48 hour journey door-to-door? The adventure begins!
The beautiful family all came to Sydney airport for coffee and Bon Voyages. The real deal of travel with a baby starts immediately. Ben got in line with our shiny new Alstermo-Bruk suitcases – mine Rio Red and his Bermuda Green – our huge pram bag, the camera bag and a few more on top. Seeing baby Paloma, a lovely Singapore Airlines lady beckoned us to the front of the ‘special queue’ and we were checked in and off for lunch before we knew it.
After the craziness of weeks leading up to our journey, all I could think about was getting comfy on the plane, headphones on, a Singapore Sling cocktail in hand and hours of movies ahead. Flying over our home and off to far away places was the best feeling of this much anticipated adventure with Paloma. All the dreams were in motion and the wondrous new year unfolding with the unexpected.
After countless hours flying halfway across the world via Singapore and Dubai, we stopped for a few at Istanbul. The Bosporus winding through the ancient city glistened below as we swooped in to touch down. The grand city beckoned us through the little window, the ultimate destination in conjuring up exotic escapades. “Let’s live here!” we cried in unison without even exiting the airport. No doubt the enormous platters of a thousand Turkish Delight varieties laid out to sample in the Airport’s “Old Bazaar’ tourist shop had something to do with it. Paloma with her little turtle head poking out of the baby carrier added an extra element of delight to the curious looks we were given. Adding to the appeal of our caravan we propped her up in the complimentary baggage trolley and wheeled her around. The airport photographer rushed over, snapping pictures like he was her personal paparazzi, other tourists stopped us for photos and once again, as so often has been the case with us, we ended up feeling like a tourist attraction in the place we were touring.
Immediately the faces of our fellow travelers changed as we waited for the bus to transport us to the plane bound for Skopje, Macedonia. The ancient complexion of a Macedonian priest peered out from under his tall felt hat as he too waited, cloaked in black shiny robes a golden necklace hung with an enormous cross bearing a painted porcelain portrait of Mary, in one hand an iphone and the other a cup of Gloria Jean’s iced coffee. A young man in a spray-on white tee shirt printed with a picture of a denim waist coat over another tee shirt lounged in acid-wash denim jeans. Our gate opened and with it a tide of people surged forth reminicent of the queuing system in India. The oldest couple, who moments before had been sitting peacefully next to the man with a face like a side of ham had now become wild and pushing younger passengers out of the way in a bid get on the bus first. Never mind the Aussie lass strapped up with baby and two pieces of hand luggage!
From the air we followed the coast line of Turkey on our big map, imagining returning to the little secluded beaches dotting the Black Sea. Tall mountains peaked with snow rose out of the clouds as we turned in land towards Macedonia. Lush thick fields of green patchworked across the land until the plane decended low enough to see farm houses with broken tiled roofs, a man crossing a field with a large flat carton of fresh eggs and blood-red poppies contrasting brightly with the grass. Like the good old days we crossed the tarmac on foot to the dilapidated terminal of Alexander the Great Airport. Once again, our fellow passengers practically ran off the plane tripping down the stairs and over to immigration. A hot and stuffy room filled with people, smoke and fluro lights greeted us. Feeling entirely dishevled at the 46th hour of our trip we took a place in the ‘queue’ and waited. Paloma, like most babies, picked up on the tension wafting through the room. She started to cry, rather rare for her, and all heads turned. Men with mafia faces looked like they wanted to silence us for good. Old grannies covered their ears. Young Russian models rolled their eyes, happy they were single. And magically, appearing out of nowhere, our guardian angel immigration official in fake Ray Bans whisked us to through and into the land of Macedonia.