Twenty years ago today I landed in Germany. It was my first time in Continental Europe, but I wasn’t there as a tourist. February 2, 1997 was our first day of our five-ish years in Germany. We wouldn’t see Canada again until Labour Day 2001. It was an amazing experience! To mark the 20th anniversary of my move overseas, I’ve been doing a countdown on social media.
Countdown to Germany
23 January 1997
8 days to go. I spend my last day at the Manitoba Museum (I was a volunteer and worked in the shop, and temporary and permanent exhibits) cleaning up water damage.
24 January 1997
7 days to go. Hang out and ‘help’ the packers who were in, packing up the stuff to go to Germany.
25 January 1997
6 days to go. Robbie Burns night at the Legion. My first time eating haggis! Not horrible.
26 January 1997
5 days to go. Last night in our Winnipeg home.We definitely weren’t sad about that at all. We kind of hated that place.
27 January 1997
4 days to go. More packing. A night at a hotel. A fire at the restaurant buffet. (I don’t remember which restaurant it was.)
28 January 1997
3 days to go. Sea containers arrive to load up the boxes & furniture destined overseas. Dad had to get shut inside one to make sure there were no holes in it. Definitely don’t want that on the open sea! Also: having the front door wide open for an entire day in the middle of a Winnipeg winter is not fun (or cheap!). Just in case you’re wondering.
29 January 1997
2 days to go. Packers in to pack and move the stuff we were going to keep in storage. Then it was time to clean the house! Finally, we stuck our shovel in a snow bank and said ‘Fuck you, Winnipeg’ as we peeled out of the driveway. Probably all our neighbours (who we didn’t really know, even after two and a half years there) were happy we wouldn’t be back! We were, too. It was also my last day of ‘college’. (That’s in quotes because it was one of those ‘business college’ chains that is barely worth the money the ‘diploma’ was printed on, let alone six thousand dollars. But I did get a diploma in four months so…)
30 January 1997
1 day to go. This was our last full day in Winnipeg. We spent it visiting some of our favourite places (basically the only places we liked in the city). The Forks and Children’s Museum. Our other favourite place was the Manitoba Museum and symphony complex, which I had obviously just been to the other day. At dinner, our waitress offered us a ballot for a chance to win a trip to Europe. We laughed and told her she could give it to someone else. We were maybe a bit full of ourselves that night, but what the hell. :)
31 January 1997
D-Day. Flight number one takes us to Toronto to visit family. We spent the night there.
1 February 1997
Day 0. Our Toronto family gave us a going away party. We then boarded a flight to Dusseldorf, Germany via Amsterdam. Inflight movies (on the communal TVs – economy class didn’t have individual TV’s back in the day, kids): Space Jam and That Thing You Do.
2 February 1997
We’re Home! We land in Amsterdam, board a flight to Dusseldorf, and then drive to a hotel in our new town.
To be Continued…
In the end, mum and I messed off to England while the boys moved into our new house. Mum and I officially moved in on February 22nd. Coincidentally, mum and I also bugged off to Sweden five years later and left the boys to pack up the house. Sorry(not sorry).
On the 5th of March 1997, World War Three started… but that’s a story for another time… #cliffhanger
It was never a dull moment in Germany, like when we had to keep herding these guys out of our yard and back into the field where they lived with some sheep.
And, not gonna lie, we may have done questionable things to annoy one of our neighbours. They were nice enough folk. She escaped East Germany, made wonderful tea; he was most certainly a voluntary Nazi at some point. We did things like call our dog Winston (Churchill) and yell for him to come in from our small, fenced yard (i.e. yelling wasn’t really required). We may have also left a giant RAF roundel in our front yard when we left…
Ah Germany, we miss you. <3
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