Vienna, Autria - July 22, 1962   Here is our KLM Lockheed L-188C Electra turboprop airliner, nicknamed the The Flying Dutchman, arriving in Vienna, Austria, for a short refueling stop. Our incredible journey began in Sofia, Bulgaria, only a couple of hours earlier, in a land that was ruled by terror. As we landed in Vienna, my mother was overjoyed that we were no longer on communist soil, after her 17-year ordeal behind the Iron Curtain. It was freedom, at last!The Flight to Freedom was only the beginning of our journey. On its next leg, The Flying Dutchman would take us to Amsterdam. We then took another KLM flight, this one on a Douglas DC-8-32 jet, and it would bring us to Paris.When the horizon became too dark, all the birds left on the path of hope and we followed them to Paris.**English translation from my favorite song, La Maritza, as sang by my favorite singer Sylvie Vartan. These lyrics were about a group of four people (that included Sylvie Vartan, her father Georges Vartan, her mother Ilona Vartan and her brother Eddie Vartan) who arrived in Paris on December 24, 1952, after fleeing from communist Bulgaria. What’s really amazing is that these same exact lyrics are also quite appropriate for that group of four very lucky people (made up of my uncle Boubi, my mother and I, and Mrs. Vetka Tchaprachikova) who also fled Bulgaria only to end up at the same destination as Sylvie’s family: Paris. What an incredible coincidence! Original French lyrics: Quand l’horizon s’est fait trop noir, tous les oiseaux sont partis sur les chemins de l’espoir et nous ont les a suivis à Paris.(Photo by Günter Grondstein)
 

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