Back in April I blogged about how intimidated I felt on returning to my homeland & being greeted by three 'layers' of officialdom at a small provincial airport. I have escaped to Europe again but my return this time was not so depressing.
Landing at Innsbruck on my way out, we were once again met by the lone security guard checking our passports, with a polite 'Danke' as he handed it back. Thereafter I spent a week in small Tyrolean villages where bars allowed smoking. Although smoking was forbidden in the hotel rooms, there was a balcony which held a table & chairs and an ashtray. Like Spain, it appears that the Austrians acknowledge the EU but obey its rules (or not) as they see fit.
On a trip to Germany, we were advised to carry our passports but there was no perceptible border (Schengen?) & we never needed to use them. In Austria I saw a police car travelling through one of the villages - no other police presence. In Germany, police on the beat were more common but they seemed to be more 'keeping an eye on things' rather than anything else. Returning home I had already warned my travelling companion of what to expect. Yes. the zigzag was still in place, yes the three desks were still in place but they were fronted by a smiling young lady who asked if we'd travelled together & suggested we should go to a desk together. Here again we were greeted with a friendly smile and a polite 'Thank you' on completion. Beyond the desk, the way lay open to the luggage retrieval area. Is this the effect of the new government? If so - good for them. It was a much more friendly experience than the one I had at Easter and I really felt I was returning to a 'new' country.
The one sign of my earlier trip was the notice 'remove your passport from its cover....' without any 'Please' or 'Thank you'. I expect to be travelling though that airport again very shortly. This time I'll be carrying a black marker pen & I shall print a big 'PLEASE' at the top of the notice & an equally large 'THANK YOU' at the bottom.