For several years, I’d pass the time on the flight home from my annual summer trip making a crude one-page frieze summarizing my trip. On my best trip ever (in 1973 with Gene Openshaw — who co-authors many guidebooks with me to this day — making our first trip without parents), Gene and I alternated scenes producing this pictorial review of the most memorable events of our 10-week “Europe Through the Gutter” trip, which we kicked off the day after our high school graduation.
Reviewing these scenes, laced together by our beloved Eurail transportation, we: Flew from Seattle’s Space Needle to Germany where we stowed away in lofts, slept in barns in the Alps (notice how for impoverished 18-year-old vagabonds, mere survival — eating and sleeping — is a huge part of this trip…on which we spent literally $3 a day plus our flights and rail passes), stumbled upon a street party inaugurating a new public toilet in Geneva, got kicked out of the casino in Monte Carlo, took the hot and slow-as-a-snail train across Spain, enjoyed flamenco and bullfights, delved into hot and scary Morocco (my parents made me promise to not go to Turkey… but they didn’t think to be concerned about Morocco), puked our guts out, purchased the horns after a bullfight (and kept them lashed to my backpack until they rotted and got infested with bugs), luxuriated in the art of Paris, stuffed our shrunken stomachs at an Indonesian rice-table feast in the Netherlands, slept on a dike, explored the sex shops of Amsterdam, stopped by Copenhagen on the way to my relatives in Norway (where we were fed lavishly and once again stretched out our “sandwich a day” bellies), dropped by Germany’s piano royalty (the Grotrian family, from whom my father imported pianos), were wowed by Hitler sites, climbed to castles in Bavaria (4 in a day: at Neuschwanstein and Ehrenburg), sampled Salzburg, soaked up Venice, ogled art in Florence, saw ancient sights and open-air opera at the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, crossed Italy on the train (being repeatedly kicked off because we had no reservations…and hopping back on) to catch the Brindisi-Patras boat for Athens, slept in the rocks under the temple at Cape Sounion, camped out drunk at the Dafni wine festival, suffered through the endless train ride across Yugoslavia, sloshed through Munich’s Hofbräuhaus, and spent our last nights in Rothenburg before heading home for college (inspired to travel more…but still happy to keep it a hobby and pay for my trips by teaching piano).
It’s fun to think of the wonder created by being overseas, on your own, living on a shoestring, as a teenager. While Europe has changed, the impact of travel is still just as powerful.