Four Zanies in Europe

Journal or Diary of Robert Weissler

July 1974

[In 1974 at the age of 16, Robert accompanied his brother Rod and some of Rod's friends on a two-month trip in Europe...and each managed to make $500 last the entire trip...and as you read you'll see why!  :-)  Except for the photo of Rod and Robert below (which was actually at their parents' house around the same time more or less), photographs are from other sources and not the originals.  The journal is unedited - it would have been too easy to want to fix or reword parts of it - but there's much charm in seeing Europe through a teenager's least we think so.  -- L&R]

Tuesday-Wednesday, July 2-3, 1974

The flight overseas went very smoothly and (as impossible as this may seem) the flight was on time! It only took ten hours to get to Frankfurt from Oakland and the ride was smooth and comfortable; as good as any commercial airline [this flight was a charter]. The plane was a DC10 which is as wide as a 747, quiet, and I even enjoyed it, first talking to a man who used to live in Die Schweiz [Switzerland]  who, after catching my ear for a couple hours giving suggestions, opinions, and thoughts, bent my brother's ear for the balance of the flight. At the same time (zugleich), I went over to Andy's [Silverstein] seat (and by the way, we did get to sit together), and played cards for a couple of hours with David [LaFontaine] and a girl of my age who goes to Artesia High School (wherever that is), who I also found to be a Gin Rummy (I think that's how it's spelled) card shark. She was a little concerned that we might not make the charter flight back to Los Angeles since we were backpacking all over Europe; she was staying with relatives in Nürnberg along with her brother.

Everything went smoothly in the air, but once we were on the ground, problems began to happen.

First of all, we had to find our luggage, which was quite far away from our passport control area, where everyone went after leaving the plane. Eventually, Andy talked to a person who told us the right place where customs was located.

Then, we took a train to the Frankfurt HBF (Hauptbahnhof, meaning main railroad station) which was sort of hectic in trying to find if the train was the correct one; fortunately it was.

At Frankfurt am Main at the HBF we rested for five seconds, then we changed travelers cheques for DMs (Deutsche Marks) and ate some wunderbar schmecken (wonderful tasting) schinken brötchen (ham, smoked to a great taste and put in rolls) and smelled some sausages. Then, we were off once again going by train to Heidelberg en route to München. Later we found that we had to move to another part of the train which was to split up. That wasn't easy to find out though since the nice elderly people we spoke with didn't know any, I repeat, any, English. So I started to speak German or at any rate communicate with them. All that German came in handy and I felt proud to do something constructive with it. Finally we made it to München and stayed at a Pension for 15 DM.

Thursday, July 4

NeuschwansteinAfter communicating in German with the waitress, making use of the Basic Dialogue Sentences I could remember from German class and Mr. Melden, we left the restaurant beneath the pension (15 DM per person, per day) and proceeded to the Hauptbahnhof where we caught a train for Füssen. Once there, we had Eiskrem and took a bus to the two castles, Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau, the former built a little over 100 years ago by mad König Ludwig, the latter was and still is owned by the descendants of Maximilian. Once again, our everywhere, everything, everytime card (no, not American Express), Eurail, pulled through for us on the bus and we found that it is also good on ferry boats and the Rhein steamer.

One point or note that I can make is that Germans are orderly, they like everything just right, and the streets are impeccably clean.

Neuschwanstein was the castle that was copied by Disneyland and I took a lot of pictures of it.

The lack of drinking fountains here gets to become a pain in the ---. Cokes or Fantas cost 50¢ for one glass! Therefore I'm very thirsty!!

Back at Füssen, we stayed at our first youth hostel which was filled with hostel youths. Later on, after David and I went to eat, Rod and Andy went to eat also, but got lost and almost didn't make the curfew time, 10:00 PM.Hohenschwangau

Friday, July 5

Yesterday, we met a couple of girls who showed us the hostel. One was from Alaska and was a grad student there. The hostel, full of noisy students on a field trip, gave us breakfast tickets, but because there was so much to do in Füssen we ran for, barely caught, and boarded the first train for München at 7:06 AM. On the train we met two girls, Sue and Holly, the former was from Sacramento (and had a cold which I caught), and the latter was from Torrence.

When we reached München, Rod and I took a one-hour tour of München and Schwabing, and afterwards we went to the Olympic tower and park where the World Cup was to be played on Sunday. We meandered for a time, then proceeded to the American Express where Rod planned to meet Randy Rogers (older brother of Scott Rogers). He had told us that there was a McDonald's close by and showed us some papers, napkins, etc. from it. I managed to get a ticket with a McDonald's advertisement on it which said "Willkommen in München”..

What fun it is to go around the city without having to lug that bag around; I like the backpack, bu the handbag is lousy, even the zipper is broken. Andy separated from us to go to Garmisch to see yet another of crazy King Ludwig's castles, Linderhof. We met him upon his return to München and all five of us rode the trolley to the large tent youth camp just outside the city. After we were settled, we had dinner at a marvelous Italian restaurant a couple blocks away, where I ate a pizza mit Schinken (with ham) and had a large stein of dark beer. Oh, how I wish I could have taken a shot of the inside. The lady who ran the place was wonderful and asked all about ourselves. We left with full stomachs and had some tea back at the camp before turning in. When we first came to the camp, a few Irish girls who worked at a hospital told us about their work (with nuns no less) and München in general. The air mattress kept us off the floor which were wooden 2x4's.

Saturday, July 6

HohensalzburgWe left München for Salzburg, a small city which we covered in two hours. Hiking up to the castle on the hill was hard because it was steep, but once we reached the top, we had a great view. When we came back down, we had Schweinwurst for lunch with french fries and Fanta. In Salzburg as in München a person, a young man this time, was offering us a room (in München by the way it was an old motherly lady). We didn't take it, though, and we actually didn't stay in Salzburg. As soon as my brother and I found Andy and David, we all decided that there was no point to staying in Salzburg except for the fact that we might still see the Königsee and Berchtesgaden. This young man, Ken, a grad student in Economics at Tulane in Louisiana, told us what to see and what not to see, while also emphasizing to Rod the importance of getting involved in his Masters thesis.

We had taken a train to go to Berchtesgaden, but we were running to catch it and didn't see that we had to transfer at Freilassing and went 50 miles out of our way to the north. We made it back to Freilassing all right, but we missed our connection and we would have had to have waited two hours for the next one. One funny thing was that in doing all of this, we had to show our passports since Freilassing is in Germany and Salzburg is in Austria. Also, all of this cost us only time, not single Schilling. Gosh, I hate these money belts!

I also changed my shoes from Wobblies to my old standby Tiger Onitsouka Cross Country shoes. Wobblies refers to Wallabies (I don't even know how to spell it, so Wobblies is also more convenient).

The train that we missed, by the way, was only the first and it broke a string of eleven straight that we had made since the trip began.

Andy, Rod, and I left Salzburg (and crossed the border no less than five times through this mad scramble) for the Chiemsee to see it on Saturday night, when the castle of King Ludwig was to be illuminated by candlelight. This turned out to be an unfortunate night, though. When we got there at the Bahnhof in Prien, we arrived at 8:15. Unluckily the last ferry to the isle of Herrenchiemsee was at 7:50. Then, since we obviously couldn't rig our own veritable yacht, we resigned ourselves to the fact that we missed it and would have to wait for tomorrow to come before we could see it.

Next we had to find a youth hostel. An American at the Bahnhof said that it was somewhere near the main street, so we went out into the rain and walked and walked, and realized that the street probably wasn't the correct one and walked. Finally, we got to the hostel after many helpful citizens gave us the directions, entered soaking wet and checked in. This hostel was unusually strict and the manager was like a little Hitler. He checked our rooms to make sure we had sheets and didn't allow down-filled sleeping bags; fortunately we had sheets. At exactly 10:00 PM, curfew time, he turned out all the lights, and when we awoke the next morning, we had to sweep the rooms. The hostel was beautiful, having ping pong tables, pong (the game that you played on a tv screen type of apparatus), and coke, or rather Fanta, machines. The manager didn't have a thumb and index finger on his right hand which reminded me of the guide of the Acropolis in Athens. Because he was strict didn't mean that he hated teenagers or young adults; on the contrary, he seemed to enjoy our company and was interested in where we were going. At night the beds were as squeaky as mice which made it difficult to sleep, but it wasn't bad.

Sunday, July 7

We ate the same continental breakfast except we had some rich, hot chocolate which was refreshing. Andy, Rod and I went to the castle of King Ludwig and saw the fountain in front. I took a number of shots outside, then I admired the lavish, luxurious interior which was ornately decorated with gold-plated bed supports, hand-woven bedspreads and rugs, and lovely, delicate chandeliers which held many candles.

After leaving Prien, we aimed ourselves towards Innsbruck, the site of the 1964 Winter Olympics and the next site for the coming Olympics in 1976.

There were three hostels, one even had a gymnasium, but we stayed at one which was near the tramway. At the hostel we ran into the teacher from Michigan who we first saw in Füssen. We had dinner at the hostel and it almost reminded me of a cafeteria. After that, we went walking around the city which was none too big. We had trouble finding the center of excitement mainly because there wasn't any excitement. We went into a cafe and heard some music by the likes of Elton John, Terry Jacks, and Gordon Lightfoot to name a few. We walked through the busiest portion of the city looking at hats, thinking one of the Bavarian types ...

...which looked rather cheap. Rod was thinking of sending him a letter written totally in German.

After braving a slight drizzle, we prepared for bed and I talked to this guy, a young Canadian student, who told us some places he'd been to and that we should see. We meet so many people each day that I can't keep up with their names.

Monday, July 8

Today we went up to the tram after attempting to have breakfast at a bakery. The weather was on our side when we reached Seegrube, the second highest part of the tram, and we took pictures of the totality of the valley below and met Andy by coincidence. I scratched at some ice and made a snowball, when I couldn't avoid temptation and heaved the mass of melting ice towards Andy (this of course added to my Zany Point Total). We split up again for a short time and soon reunited back at the hostel. Andy wanted to hear if the tickets down from Seegrube, which were given to my brother by some nice people who he met at the information desk of the Bahnhof, worked; they had, which saved us quite a bit of money. Then we made our way back to the Bahnhof and I reloaded the camera and put in new batteries, so I could take pictures of an arch located nearby. Andy went off to buy some food which was going to be lunch. He brought, to our slight surprise, cheese and crackers which we shared with a sailor of Colorado, stationed in Washington and on a month's leave, and with two girls who were going to get jobs in Switzerland. The girls had a tape recorder that played Pink Floyd? Iron Butterfly? Cream?? Rod let out a gasp at such groups and felt lucky that David wasn't there to laugh it up. The sailor told us that he (I think his name was Dan) had been to a Spinners concert in Washington and I was flattened. I couldn't believe we'd actually meet another person who would go see the Spinners and enjoy them yet!

We passed through Lichtenstein after a stop at Feldkirsch, but it happened so fast that nobody knew it. There weren't any signs or announcements like "You are now entering Licthenst-Pardon? You are now leaving Lichtenstein". We started to run out of crackers so Andy took a whole side of cheese (in fact Rod almost forgot to take off the wax), put it on a cracker, ate the cheese, left the cracker, and put more cheese on the same cracker.

When we reached Zürich, home of the Swiss Banks (why do people put money in those? You find Swiss banks on the side of any Swiss river, right!), we immediately went to change money at the Geldwechsel. I find it is getting harder and harder to keep up with the currency: 1 DM equals 36 cents, 18 schillings to a dollar, 2.9 Swiss Francs to a dollar, and soon we will deal in Italian lira which is going to be complicated since there are 600 lira to a dollar. Then Andy told us a YMCA wasn't good enough and that he wanted a shower, so once again we split up. Rod and I went to the YMCA, but they only had one bed left. Ironically Andy decided to skip the hostel and took the extra bed at the YMCA, while Rod and I searched for hours for a place to stay; but all of the pensions were fully booked. One Swiss man went to a lot of trouble to find where a hotel was although it too was filled. We finally found a place, the Hotel Basilea, which was 30 Francs per person, cheap for Zürich actually.

We walked around the streets, ate dinner which was sausages again, then took in the night life. There was, to my surprise, a busy town here full of porno shops, Bavarian and Swiss music, and cafés. A group of people played music in the streets which somewhat made up for the loss at the Chiemsee. Back at the hotel the beds were fluffy and comfortable as compared with the army cots or air mattresses of youth hostels. That night I got a lot of sleep.

Tuesday, July 9

GrindelwaldWe awakened at 8:00 and ate the same continental breakfast as always. Following that, Rod and I walked around the city, took photographs, entered the museum (free by the way) and then left Zürich for the resort town of Grindelwald, located in the midst of the Bernese Oberland Alps. Instead of going there via Luzern, we passed through Bern instead. When we arrived at Interlaken Ost, we found that we had to pay for the train to Grindelwald since private trains don't accept Eurail or student rail cards.

On the train we met a girl from the state of Minnesota, Mary, whose looks somehow reminded me of Jane Fonda, though Mary of course didn't have the same personality. She, too, was looking for the Jugendherberge and though we came at 4:30 in the afternoon the place was nearly filled. They had one bed left for the boys and two for the girls. We waited in line with a young man named Dan. He told us about "the List". If you were on "the List" you were in; if not, sorry no luck unless you were next in line. As it turned out, Mary was the last girl, and we were turned away, doomed for the Glacier. The Glacier I'm speaking of was the Restaurant Glacier which also had a dorm (coed sleeping! - actually nothing exciting happens in such a place for all you peeping Toms), rows of beds and a lot of flies which became a bit of a hassle.

To my brother's and my surprise, David popped up unexpectedly at the hostel. He'd been there a day and said it was very nice. In fact the hostel had a beautiful view of the mountains whose majesty and beauty are almost unmatched. It's higher than Yosemite in the sense of valley-to-peak, and the mountains cradle the town and the farmland around it. The hostel itself was run very strictly by a bearded woodsman who called himself the "Warden" on many announcements. So strict that fines of between 5 and 20 Francs were imposed on latecomers who missed the 10:00 curfew, no shoes could be worn inside and meals were paid for in advance; this hostel was well run and was pleasant.

David, Rod, and I went to eat and first checked out a rather expensive restaurant, or joint as David called it. So expensive was it that I was tempted to call it instead of Grindelwald, Swindlewald. As nonchalantly and quietly as we could, we dropped the menus and left the restaurant, which charged 40 Francs for a fondue for two (or you might call it a "fonduet"). We came to a cheaper restaurant called the Spinne (not to be confused with spinners) which charged 16 Francs. After we ate through part of the fondue where the cheese and wine mixture was compatible, I found the wine started to interfere with my fondue and soon I was none to fond of my fondue.

After dinner we walked around town and viewed for the first time clay tennis courts, which seemed to slow the ball down and made the court appear as if it had been sabotaged with ball bearings. Finally, Rod and I returned to the Glacier, talked to a teacher of elementary school children in Massachusetts, who was young as all the others except for an old man who worked there (his wife came in and gently tucked him in – oh so touching, weep weep!). Soon after stowing our packs and ignoring the flies, we were asleep.

Wednesday, July 10

After breakfast, Rod and I took an afternoon to hike to a glacier (not the hotel if you're keeping track), this hike being recommended by David who had done it the previous day and claiming to have reached a meadow beyond the ladders. It took us an hour to get there (places look closer than they really are when you're hiking), then came the excitement and some spectacular scenery. The ladders were made out of wood and were bolted to the rock. Some of the steps were coming loose which created a tremendous amount of tension in me. The cliff was completely vertical in many parts and looking at the view below reminded me that one false move and I would wind up like the fragments of the glacier; the sound that broken sections of the glacier made as they came crashing down the ravine was unbelievably loud but very interesting to watch. It was exhilarating to look out and see a straight drop below (of course that only occurred in certain parts, others were only slanted).

Later Rod and I went back to the hostel after running into still another person which we had met at the hostel. When we arrived to put our names on "the List" we saw that Andy had come and couldn't believe that once again the "Four Zanies" were reunited. We, Rod and I, killed an hour or so until David returned from his day's journey, and then the four of us went to eat. What was kind of funny was that the waitress said that we couldn't order dinner till 6:00, so we had dessert first, if you can imagine that. Soon thereafter, we went to watch tennis players, especially one who was very good, and from there we went to examine some prospective pros at the miniature golf course. Andy and I laughed very hard after watching a kid take a shot over and over, placing the ball to his best advantage.

With a fun night behind us and an exciting, if not dangerous hike before that, we said a "bon voyage" to David, who was heading off to Yugoslavia. We three remaining Zanies went back to the hostel via the short cut, and talked to some guys who gave us tips. One was named Steve and he suggested especially Vivolis, an ice cream place in Florence, which is supposed to have the best ice cream anywhere. An English engineer in agricultural machinery told us about how he got a job and his trip which he was taking. The view again was wonderful from our room.

Thursday, July 11

We rose to another beautiful day and once again that utterly fabulous view of the mountains surrounding Grindelwald. We ate the usual bread for breakfast but had an unusual extra which was the rich hot chocolate. The "Warden" said on one of this notes that you had to be down at exactly 7:30, but it wasn't all that crucial. Rod and I were tossing around the idea of taking the cog railway all the way up to the Jungfraujoch near the peak of the Jungfrau, however the price was almost 70 Francs apiece and we decided instead of hike five hours round trip to Kleine Scheidegg and back. Going there was taxing because it was a climb of nearly 4000 feet from Grindelwald.

On the way we met a Norwegian traveler who actually brought his pack with him. He shared some beer with us and then proceeded the remainder of the way. Along the trail I saw many farmers; some were literally covered with flies, which was to say the least a disgusting sight. They tended sheep and chickens; in fact some sheep grazed near the youth hostel and even on it. Nature was with us all the time and it was splendid as well as relaxing to take it all in. That, I would say, typified most of Grindelwald and vicinity.

Upon reaching Kleine Scheidegg, we relished the magnificent vista all around us plus our best look at the Jungfrau (actually, I thought that the Eiger was more of a spectacle, projecting further out and rising steeper than any of the others). It was there that we bought a ten dollar wine sack which came in very handy. I took more shots here than anywhere else and tried to get a panorama effect, though it was next to impossible with my camera. It was hot, exhausting though rewarding to do all that hiking. I said to myself, "This is where to hike or climb in the Alps since there are so many varying trails that it offers; definitely worth coming back to."

The return hike was downhill and regardless of how tired we were, we enjoyed it. I found it faster and less work to skip down the steep paths, but Rod declined, preferring to take it slowly. We were plenty hungry and weary, but still decided to pick up our bags and leave Grindelwald, though there were more trails and Andy was staying another night, and move on to Brig, Visp, and Zermatt to see the Matterhorn, which was right on the border between Switzerland and Italy. I got some sleep and rest on the train and I felt comfortable.

We arrived in Brig in the evening and took a train to the youth hostel in Visp; as it turned out this wasn't actually an IYA hostel, but was privately owned and seemed more self-serve-yourself than anything else, Rod washing dishes and me drying them, after preparing our table and bringing the food there. The wife of the owner who cooked all the meals was amazed that I was as careful as I was about cleaning the dishes and remarked "Prima!" which struck me sort of unexpectedly. Rod and I talked to a Japanese couple who were hostelling also. We also talked to a German girl who said she saw us in Grindelwald, and we discussed where we were going and where we had visited. Then we slept dormitory-style once again.

Friday, July 12

MatterhornWe served ourselves breakfast and then left to get ripped off taking a 28 Franc train ride to Zermatt. On the train we met a family from Long Island who was staying with another family there. Upon arriving I found Zermatt to be a very tourist-minded place with many shops and bakeries waiting for unsuspecting foreign customers. (As I write this, I hope you realize I'm five days behind and writing this in cultural, beautiful Florence (Firenze) and I'm sort of smashed from having a bit of wine and developing a taste for it).

Of course, Zermatt is just a tourist town and what you've come to see is really the Matterhorn. It was there alright, but it wasn't as spectacular as Grindelwald; it was set behind too many foothills that led up to it. It wasn't close to the city like the mountains at Grindelwald. It could take a whole day just to get up to the base of the Matterhorn. The trails there weren't as satisfying or as close to nature as they were in Grindelwald. Rod and I only went up part way and then returned to town. We ambled into a grocery store and bought some cookies, gum, and some powder which like Kool-aid changed our water from dull to tasty. It was raspberry and it left an aftertaste.

Some time later in the afternoon we left Zermatt for Visp to get our bags and Brig in order to catch a train from Brig to Milan (3-1/2 hours). It was a total surprise when we boarded the first train that was headed for Milan and Rome: all the seats were reserved with no apparent room for us, so we left the train and waited for one that was to come five minutes later. But to our even greater surprise, it was filled up as much as the first and we had expected to stand the full three hours to Milan, however, a nice elderly Italian couple gave us a place to sit, so we observed the Italians on that train very closely (one reminded me of Ernest Borgnine). It was tiring and I only got an hour of sleep.

Once in Milan, we looked at the train schedules and found that the next train to Venezia was in 5 minutes. We rushed to the train with some other nice people and found it filled (if you can believe it, that was at 1:00 in the morning), making the whole thing appear like a cattle car. Rod and I slept in the aisles though my space was so limited that I actually got no sleep at all. I really am telling the truth when I say I was in a cattle car; people crawling and falling all over other people. No room to even breathe properly. Now I can only wonder what Spain could be like with its supposedly slow trains.

On the train we met a girl and her boyfriend who were moving about Europe. I think I remember hearing them say that they were from Bell Gardens or thereabouts. I didn't get any sleep on the train to Venice, but somehow (I guess I'm used to the hustle bustle of travel), I enjoyed it, mainly talking to the girl.

Venice is the first place where we will encounter a true language barrier. At the train station we left our packs and then proceeded to find a boat to Zitelle, where the youth hostel was located. Someone, anonymous of course, told us that his mind was really blown by the sight of boats and canals right outside of the railroad station. To tell the truth I found it sort of stupid. Venice gave me a bad first impression and unfortunately left me with the same impression later on when we left.

Since we slept (ha, ha, what a joke!) on the train, Friday drifted into Saturday which is what I'm describing now. When we first initiated contact with the hostel, we left our bags and went to see the city. I find Italian lira an extremely clumsy, useless, inflated currency!! It stinks!! For the want of a better expression. No stores etc. had any change and we found it very hard to break 10,000 lira which was what was given to us by the Cambio (Geldwechsel or Exchange).

At the hostel they had a jukebox full of Suzi Quatro, Gary Glitter, Cat Stevens and Paul McCartney, a shop, a snack bar, and some games including soccer. We took the No. 5 boat to San Marco and walked around the town filled with dogs, especially those with muzzle-like devices that keep their mouths closed (I called them doctors because they looked like they had masks on, prepared to perform surgery). At Piazza San Marco we had an expensive cup of hot chocolate in memory of our parents who asked us specifically to do that. That cost 800 lira each, as opposed to 200 lira for pizza (not American style, but doughy and pretty bland, however food at any rate).

We walked over the Rialto bridge and moved around aimlessly, meandering through the labyrinth of streets and alleys that dotted and wound through the city (maps of the city didn't include half of the streets that we found, but we did quite a good job of maintaining our bearings) and eventually returned to San Marco. Rod went into the Doges Palace, and we then headed in the direction of the Academie, where many paintings portraying Christ were displayed (I found the theme redundant). We revisited San Marco and went to catch No. 5 boat which we thought would bring us quickly back to Zitelle. Unfortunately for us it went in the opposite direction out to one of the islands, Murano, taking (instead of ten minutes or so) almost two hours. We were worried with the idea of the hostel being full, but fortunately it wasn't.

Coincidence once again brought us together with Andy, whose bags we found near our beds. We ate dinner at the hostel and then walked around the immediate area. I found that wine was cheap and, since Andy was giving me a good amount, I acquired a taste for it (with my enormous thirst and the Venetian humid weather, which really was Mediterranean like Greece, hot of course, I guzzled and drank large amounts accounting for the abnormal writing three pages back). We found a store where Andy practiced his Spanish on the storekeeper and more importantly, where we could buy 1 liter Fanta bottles for 220 lira (leaving our deposit bottles saved us 110 lira). We returned to the hostel where I first met Martin Hallen, 18 years old (the only other person with a junior pass) from South Africa, where they speak English and Africaans (similar to Dutch). Martin was from Durban, to be more exact, and became an honorary fifth Zany to our group, traveling with us through Rome. He lent me his bathing suit so I could swim at the Lido beach the next day. I slept on a bottom bunk today in quarters termed "Dormitory Style".

Sunday, July 14

Today, Martin, Rod and myself went to the old city of Torcello (it wasn't worth the long boat ride) while Andy visited the city. The bathrooms on the boat were Japanese style, in other words "holes". Torcello was only inhabited by 100 people who tried to swindle you into buying cheap glassware. The church there was sort of interesting, demonstrating a basilica, a tomb, a statue of Jesus on the cross, and a grotto which wasn't intended to be there. One of the rooms showed how the island was sinking with seepage of water.

We were unable to return in time to meet Andy at 1:00 at the hostel so we, Martin, Rod and I, proceeded to catch the boats to Lido, costing about 50 Lira per person. Once there, I was happy to see cars instead of gondolas and vaporettos (only of value to those accompanied by a girlfriend or wife). We ambled for quite a while along private beaches until we came upon the public beach, which was at least as crowded as Santa Monica. The water was typically Mediterranean, it couldn't have been more warm and refreshing. The bathing suit, or as Martin would call it, "bathing costume", was very small, being a European one, and my tan cut off where American trunks extend, leaving a white area that looked sort of funny.

Upon returning from Lido, we stopped off at a Pizzeria and had what I found to be rather small pizzas. Then, Andy offered wine to me again back at the hostel and I drank and drank. Wow, what a thirst! Then we went to the little store again for another liter of Fanta (I like it better than Coke) at 220 Lira. Then, Andy offered me wine back at the hostel again?! The hockey, I mean soccer game was so much fun, we spent 150 L. each to continue a marathon hour, and then talked to Martin about South Africa, almost a fascist dictatorship controlled and restricted by BOSS (Bureau of State Security) which is the secret police. They have Mediterranean type of weather.

Monday, July 15

Duomo of FlorenceWe saw the people from Bell Gardens again at the railroad station, and picked up our backpacks and left Venice. We didn't see Andy for awhile because he wasn't totally sure that we were in a second class car (first class would cost us extra) and went all the way to the other end of the train. Martin bought a bottle of wine which was passed around, and we told lousy, campy but entertaining jokes to pass the time. We were lucky because the train wasn't filled and congested like those to Venice.

I was anticipating Florence (Firenze) to be good and it was. On the train we met our honorary sixth Zany by the name of Hank Collins, from New York, 21 years old. He is going into his senior year in college majoring in psychology. He knew a great deal about Firenze and explained the surrounding architecture. We were rejoined by Andy on the train and he brought still another bottle of wine.

After stashing our packs at the station we hiked to the hostel, had a cheap meal, fixed price, including spaghetti, minestrone, salad, wine, bread, and melon. Hank, Martin, Andy, Rod and I went back into the city and saw the Duomo, a delicate, intricate building featuring marble in white, green and red, creating some fabulous designs. Then we wandered over to see a copy of Michelangelo's David, one of three in the city, this one being in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. To my surprise, on the right was a statue of Mercury with Medusa's head in his hand, the one found on the famous cover of Edith Hamilton's book Mythology.

We ambled by the Uffizi Gallery adorned by statues on the exterior, across the bridge bordered by tiny stores (the Ponte Vecchio) selling fruit, magazines, or knick-knacks, and sat in front of the palace near the hostel behind which there were the botanical gardens. Having had ice cream on the way, we eventually returned to the hostel, 1000 Lira per person per night, and went to sleep.

Tuesday, July 16

Today we returned to the Uffizi and went inside the museum, free with our student cards. It varied its theme having many Roman busts, and including some paintings of Christ. Amazing coincidence once more brought David together with us as we ran into him on the way out. He said he was staying at the international hostel across town for 850 Lira a night, the hostel being formerly a villa and quite beautiful.

DavidAfter that we walked up to another San Marco Square, where the original David by Michelangelo was located. Walking along the hall I suddenly saw it looming under a vault dome structure with illumination from the hotel in the center of the dome. This was truly great and inspired thusly I took Martin's pencil and sketch pad, and quickly drew a side view of him and really got into it, getting a feeling of its contours and shadows. Somehow it looked larger here in the museum and though his muscles seemed to bulge it gave me the impression of stability, sturdiness, and solidity, rather than tenseness. The statue was the epitome of strength and as I said before, stability. Though I only spent little more than a half hour on the sketch and made certain mistakes, it was still representing what I wanted to express. I'm sticking it in this journal for the time being. [Ed: it's not here.]

We spied a few churches and after splitting up from David, not to be confused with Michelangelo's, we found the National Gallery, the flea market, and still more churches. We had planned to rejoin David at the Red Kettle or Red Door (pick one), a restaurant that served only one fixed price meal for 1,500 Lira, but was supposed to be very filling and satisfying. That it was and more!! The owners served only one sitting of 20 people at 6:00, but we were served unlimited bread and wine, three different salads after an appetizer, caviar, and followed by chicken (or fish), rice curry, grapes, and sickle pears (they reminded me of the pears I ate off the trees at the Palace of Knossos in 1973).

I talked with a couple originally from New York and LA who live in Northern California near Berkeley. They hated New York and Nixon, referring to Watergate often. Martin added the fact that South Africa had a secret police and that was worse! Then I met a girl, 17, who was traveling with three others (wrong, make that two friends!). We were all filled at the end having enjoyed all of it.

Still stuffed like turkeys, we rolled over to the Piazza Vecchio and asked some people where Vivoli's was. On arrival, we were baffled at the exotic flavors. First I had raspberry for 300 Lira, then a 400 Lira with chocolate mousse and coffee. The ice cream was great, it wasn't like Baskin Robbins but instead it was sort of pasty, but oh so good!

Unfortunately Andy had a little too much and was feeling sort of lousy. David once again split-up temporarily going to the hostel (our group had enlarged to six) and we went back to the Santa Monica. I was making my way up the stairs when I looked out the window taking in some fresh air and just happened to see into the girl's shower room! (ho ho ho) Boy, I got an eyeful and just happened to pass by that window a few more times before the night was out (I should have said that this was an unabridged version). But, enough kid stuff, that's not really important.

Wednesday, July 17

David met Andy to leave for Rome a day early while Hank, Martin, Rod and I went back to the botanical gardens and then went to the Piazza Michelangelo where the other copy of the David was located. It was sort of green-colored, set in a plaza that gave a wonderful overview of Firenze. Afterwards we walked to the Museum of Science but it was closed (our student cards wouldn't have worked anyway!) so we went back to Vivoli's, had lemon which was very strong just as the rum crisp was. Then we walked way out to the edge of town, to a swimming pool, and had a refreshing swim (we also had the chance to watch some Italian men do their thing on an unsuspecting American female). Italians were an enormous change from the reserved Swiss, Germans, and Austrians; they were loud and not as orderly.

We listened to "Rebel, Rebel" and then made our way back to the center of the city and Vivoli's of course. We ate a cheap stand-up meal of spaghetti and a glass of mineral water, also. Then, we shared a two-liter bottle of wine which made me slightly light-headed. I was surprised that I wasn't hit by any cars; that's another thing to note: drivers don't try to push like Greek or Turkish drivers and will stop if you're in the intersection. Imagine that! They actually try to avoid accidents!

We returned to the hostel; I wrote a bit in the journal before turning in (as I write this I'm in Rome – a couple of hours ago I was nearly a week behind in this journal, now I'm only two days behind!). I can safely say I liked Florence as much as I disliked Venice: the David, Vivoli's, the museums; I believe that Florence had something new to offer on every street corner. Walking around a city is, in my opinion, definitely the best way to see it, get to know it, and remember it.

Thursday, July 18

We left the hostel headed for the railway station to press on to Rome. We saw one train that left at about 9:00 AM, but it was, to our misfortune, what is known as a Rapidi which would cost us extra and only had first class. The next train, a Diretto, which had second class seating, left at 10:21 leaving us 1-1/2 hours to kill, so we took advantage of that by changing some more money and buying some bread and cheese, which happened to be Kraft, and sort of had a picnic. Hank used his pocket knife to cut the loaf of bread, which also came in handy for opening bottles (Lord knows we've had enough "vino", wine, or Fanta, Coke, and Lemonade bottles to be opened. Hank's pocketknife was exactly the same as Martin's though they purchased them thousands of miles apart.

After polishing that off, we went over to the tracks to await the train. Once more there were drinking fountains which help to was down food. Italy had many fountains just as Switzerland did, in contrast to the lack of drinking fountains in Germany, Austria, or last summer in Greece. Yes, we actually opened Pandora's box and drank the water. In fact, we also defied nature by enjoying some Italian salads, believe it or not!

The train was inexplicably late, a half hour late. Up till then, my experience with trains led me to believe that they all arrived and departed exactly as scheduled. When we boarded the train, we found it was almost filled. As it turned out, the (ugh!) aisle was where we sat. Trains conveniently have fold-out seats; just pull on the handle in the wall and wammo! -you've got a seat. We put our packs up on the rack; mine was hanging precariously because of the curved Kelty frame. I was wondering whether it would fall off. Before, it sat in the same way, but it was more stable in the compartments; now we were out in the aisle. To my chagrin, the pack fell square on my head (or fell on my square head, it depends on how you look at it!). Luckily for me, I had bought some Ritz crackers and placed them in one of the side pockets of my pack. To make my handbag lighter, I'd put more stuff in the pack making it weigh 25 lbs. The crash of 25 lbs. on my head was sufficiently absorbed by the crackers that my pack and I felt no ill effects or damages from it. The box was crushed, but the crackers inside were still intact.

Inside the compartment were two American girls, both just graduated from Denver University and intended to become grammar school teachers in their respective home towns, Boston and Chicago. Debbie was from the former while Carol was from the latter, and the two had met each other at the university. They had bought box lunches including chicken, potato chips, pears, cake, and wine (or coke), but filled up quick so they gave us some of it in return for a couple cups of water. They sang some American folk songs to the Italians they were sitting next to. Apparently those were the ones they intended to get their future classes to sing.

Eventually we arrived in Rome after a 3-1/2 hour ride. When we got off, we were joined by our 7th Zany by the name of Don, who goes to Northern Illinois, and soon after in the information center we were joined by Miguel, a Mexican, who was quiet and soft-spoken, our 8th Zany. Imagine out group swelling to 8. We of course have people coming in and out from time to time, and the size changes like a variable star.

We reached a hostel near the river Tevere (Tiber). We walked to the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, and the Piazza Venezia before having dinner at Mario's, which was an experience in itself. The service was more than slow, it was like waiting for the second coming of Christ. I must have broke a house rule or tradition by ordering something other than a fixed price dinner, because there was a space of an hour between each dish I ordered. The reason might also lie in the fact that there was only one waiter to serve a section holding at least 25 people. In all it took 2-1/2 hours, but it must be said that the food was tasty and most important, I guess it was cheap.

As for the sights, the Roman Forum was fun to walk around in, mainly since it reminded me of the many ruins I'd visited in Greece the year before. The feeling that I get from a place like that is one of exploring, investigating, and discovering. I've always kind of liked the idea of going to an archaeological site sometime if I could. Right across the street from it was the Colosseum, which wasn't as huge as I'd imagined it to be; it certainly wasn't nearly large enough to play baseball in. One note: the cat population of Rome must equal that of the humans. I've never seen so many cats in my whole life! It was reminiscent of "Planet of the Apes", only it seemed that here the feline civilization rose to prominence and reigned over Rome (sorry, as I've said before my spelling and grammar won't be so good because I haven't the time to correct, reread, or censor it).

From there, we walked along the main boulevard which led to the Piazza Venezia, where a marvelous building, the Vittoriano, stood. It wasn't colorful, but rather grand and majestic, a center square from where many major streets radiated out like the spokes of a bicycle wheel. Afterwards, we wandered over to the Trevi Fountain, where supposedly street gangs used to fight over collecting the coins people would throw in, resulting in the police stepping in and collecting the money for itself (I don't make up these stories, I just call ‘em as I see ‘em). We were told some none-to-comforting stories about Italy, but frankly I've enjoyed it so far, especially since it's cheap.

But getting back to the sights we saw, I will conclude by saying we circumambulated the Pantheon, though it was closed. The hostel included sheets and the use of the baggage room in the 900 lira price. This gave me a chance to air out my sheets. Soon I'll be forced to do the laundry; the smell of the dirty clothes becomes rapidly more and more overpowering!

Friday, July 19

VaticanToday, we started off by visiting the Vatican and the Piazza S. Pietro with two beautiful fountains and long rows of columns adorned by myriads of statues. Rome was supposed to be hot like Athens was last year, so we dressed ourselves in shorts. One must show respect at churches and therefore obey the wishes, however trivial, and be properly dressed. The attendant told us to go over and get something which the church provides for proper "protection". We were forced to give a 100-lira offering for the black plastic coats (which were stupid because they failed to cover our legs with any degree adequacy any!). The basilica was enormous featuring busts and statues of former Popes over the centuries, as well as the Pieta. The paintings and general scope of the place were breathtaking. I still can't get over how ridiculous I looked in that costume.

After that thrilling episode, we rounded the perimeter of the walls of Vatican City and entered the Vatican Museum including the Sistine Chapel. It was so large that we spent two hours and a half in it. It even had a display of mummies (in the Vatican? No, impossible!) and Greek vases. Michelangelo, of course, painted Last Judgment and the Volta in the Sistine Chapel which were absolute masterpieces. (By the way, in working his way through the ranks of journeyman, apprentice, etc., for one to become a master and have people working under him, he must do his masterpiece which is where the word, as it is widely applied, was derived. Hank told me that.)

After that exhausting museum marathon, we wanted to have lunch, and, since we hadn't had breakfast, we were willing to spend a little more (there is a difference between spending a little more and splurging). One place had advertised a fixed price meal for 1300 lira. However, in trying to find out whether the cover charge, bread, and wine were included, we felt that we were being given the runaround. Though she brought a bottle of wine to the table, we didn't want to get shafted, and since she was so incoherent and paid so little attention to us, we got up and left. We found a much cheaper place and had a stand-up meal.

From there we passed by St. Angelo where Hadrian's Tomb was located, but the place was closed at 1:00, so we went on to the Spanish Steps to the American Express to meet Andy and David. We arrived early and had time to get some stuff to eat. While buying cookies I discovered the meaning of d'Etto which meant "per 100 grams". That changed the whole complexion of buying anything from bread to cheese. We waited for awhile, but Andy and David didn't show. Later on, we were to find that a lot of things wouldn't show, including the Pope. It rained a bit, so we decided that, even though not meeting the two might mean not seeing them until the charter flight back, we should find a place to eat. Hank and Rod remembered a pizzeria near the Pantheon, so that's where we headed. It was wonderful to fill up on pizzas of all kinds including one that had spinach filling (hear that Mom?) and each piece only cost 100 lira with the most expensive costing 120 lira (with mushrooms). We intended to visit it often during out stay in Rome, but it was closed over the weekend. Most places give you very little pizza; on the contrary, at this pizzeria, if the pizza weighed just a gram too little, more would be added so that you got your money's worth.

We ambled back to the hostel stopping here and there, really getting to know the city. There was still some time before the midnight curfew, so we went back out to enjoy more of the city. We told Martin and Miguel, who went off on their own today, about the pizzeria, and we, too, ended up going back, but we returned too late and it was closed by 9:00 when we arrived. From there we stopped by the Trevi Fountain the second time during our stay in Rome, went back to the Spanish Steps, walked around awhile longer, and finally returned to our youth hostel to get some much needed sleep.

Saturday, July 20

The hostel sold sandwiches for 100 lira so that it substituted for breakfast. We ventured past the Piazza Venezia and the Colosseum to reach a mausoleum called "St. Peter in Chains". It was interesting in a mysterious way with a relief on one of the side walls showing St. Peter with horns! It was bizarre, that's the word, bizarre! From this church it was easier to find the next (in searching for directions to this church, we had many incorrect suggestions and had to slowly zero in on the target), which was located in the vicinity of the train station. It was beautiful, but only in the ordinary sense. There wasn't anything that stood in my mind, nothing significant to remember it by.

While we were near the station we checked the train situation and decided that the most expedient train to take would be 8:25 on Monday. The distance from the train station to the Olympic Stadium (Rome had the honor of hosting the 1960 Summer Olympics) was quite large leaving almost no choice but to take a bus, which only cost 50 lira per person anyway. The Foro Italico was adjacent to the Olympic Stadium and was decorated with a great deal of statues portraying different Olympic events regardless of whether they were ancient or modern ones which we see today. It was built in the style of the Delphic stadium and was pleasant to look at as well.

It began to rain or, at any rate, drizzle (this day was sort of overcast creating a slightly blah feeling). We took another bus to the Ville Borghese, went to the Museum of Modern Art, but it was closed (yet another no show). Somewhat bothered by the early closing hours (1:00 pm or 12:00) we went to a sure bet, the zoo! The animals were a nice change from churches and museums, some gorillas drank coke, chimps and mandrills demonstrated their tremendous catching ability, one-handing peanuts thrown to them by visitors like a Brooks Robinson.

We wandered slowly out of the park, finding in the process an underground parking lot in the most unlikely place. Above it was a field that hardly led on to the existence of the lot; the elevators totally baffled me at first. From there we hiked back to find a place to eat and we did! It was on the street that we usually take back to the hostel and I got two pizzas, a roll filled with meat and stuffing, and two large, sugary, satisfying donuts. That almost filled me for only 850 lira, but later on the way back I got a chocolate ice cream cone (the chocolate was smooth and rich!).

We ran into a festival of some sort which featured a carnival atmosphere and loads of cheering, excited Italians. However, we were sort of tired, so we returned to the hostel to do some writing in this journal and met a couple interesting people. First there was Amidou, an Egyptian who could literally speak 7 languages (it was interesting to hear him speak German), and he told me that he'd been LA after buying a car in Vancouver. He didn't like Los Angeles because it was expensive, spread out, lousy transportation and hectic in the downtown area. I also met Perry, a black Britisher who in a year or more would get his Masters and his Ph.D. He said he'd bought a shirt, made out of good material, had nice looks, and was only 350 lira! I really wanted to find the place but couldn't; I guess I didn't try hard enough. He had a bit of an accent and told about his parents who were very proper. He was really a great guy. He said that he was meeting another guy in Yugoslavia in a week. After that, lights out.

Sunday, July 21

Today, we began with another 100 lira sandwich before heading off for what was going to be apparently our best view of Rome. Of course, there aren't any mountains to speak of, so the view wasn't much. I probably could have had the same view from a three-story building. I was rather pissed off when tons of tourist buses came rolling up the hill; they seem to be everywhere. It just destroyed the atmosphere when we saw so many tourists moving in and out of San Marco Square. Not that they hadn't any rights to be there, but that they all seemed to center in one area all at once.

After walking down the hill, we went to the Piazza San Pietro to see the Pope come out at 12:00, which is what he does every Sunday. That's what we thought! Waiting at least an hour, we had the misfortune of hearing a message over the loudspeaker saying that the Pope was at his summer home, but that the people in the Square could listen. Big deal to hear the Pope! We wanted to see him. He turned out to be another no show!

Just by chance, we ran into Martin there, however we split up again because he hadn't seen the Vatican yet. Hoping to make up for that loss, we headed for the Church of St. Angelo, where the Hadrian's Tomb was located. That turned out to be still another no show! Darn (a euphemism for "Damn") it! Missed another sight. It closed (now hold on) at 12:00 noon for the whole day!

In disbelief, we walked along a main blvd., and happened to find yet another pizzeria (we saw a second one just before going to the railroad station). This one was a bit more expensive, but the pizza was good just the same. We walked only a block further when I spotted ice cream for 50 lira. The shopkeeper showed me that it was a misprint, but I just acted dumb, pointing to my 50-lira coin, so he gave it to me for only that amount (what a steal!).

Just by sheer coincidence, Martin came down the same street, stopped at the very same pizzeria, and then met us again. We were planning to go to the catacombs, but we had a little extra time because of all the no shows. I wanted to see the Circus Maximus so I convinced everybody else to come along. On the way there, Hank and I discussed music, most specifically soul music, and said that he'd liked to have heard a new song which his friend told him about, but his friend misquoted the name, calling it Where You Got the Notion. Setting the matter straight, I told him that it was called Rock the Boat and that it was just recently #1 in the states. I told Rod at that moment that I'd bought the record a day before leaving.

After talking for awhile, we came to the Circus Maximus, which really could be termed a "Circus Minimus". All that remained was a field fitting the general shape of an ellipse, not much at all. On we trudged, heading for a pyramid. It turned out to be a bit more interesting, especially since it too was inhabited by a horde of cats. We decided to also try and squeeze in the Roman Baths. It took us some time to reach because of fortress-like walls which were the outskirts of ancient Rome. It gave me an extremely funny impression at first of being the locale for a Hollywood, Cecil B. Demille classic with the formidable statues (actually modern man works quicker and cheaper than the ancient Egyptians making his statues out of wood and plaster of paris). Actually an opera or play was performed there and the baths seemed almost nonexistent as well as the toilets (Jesus, I really had to go to the restroom!).

We walked from there to the Colosseum to catch the bus to the catacombs. At all these sights, our Student Identification Cards pulled more magic for us. We arrived viewing a bus which was about to leave, so we hopped on it. We sure had a haphazard way of choosing the proper mode of transportation, but it just happened to be the right one. As coincidence would have it, Miguel jumped on the bus just before we got off for the catacombs.

At the catacombs, we saw a film describing the many features of the catacombs (I found that Americans frequently comprised the majority of tourists at most places). The part which I enjoyed most of all was of course experiencing it for myself. The feeling it gave me was sort of spooky! It was quite a nice (not to be confused with the city on the French Riviera by the same name) change of paste [sic] (also not to be confused with the Italian type of food), from the usual, dull, redundant churches.

We met some guys who told us about a cheap, but filling stand-up, self-service restaurant in the vicinity of the railroad station, a row of Gelati's (ice cream parlors), and a monastery decorated with the bones of fellow monks who had passed away (dirty cannibals!) which they showed us a picture of (oh, so lovely?!). We were leaving the very next morning, so we didn't have time to see it. All the Gelati's seemed rather ubiquitous much like McDonald's, except for the section where we were supposed to find the best ones according to these guys. Instead, we found a Wimpy Burger place, McDonald's' New Yorker counterpart, but we refrained from eating there. We ambled back for a third time (or at least I think it was the third?) to the Trevi Fountain and had a lemon and creme cone to boot.

We passed by the old pizzeria again, but like everything in this very religious country on Sunday, it was closed. No show again! But we saw a lot in Rome, including the police or carabinieri which was active getting ready to deal with what some people told us was a Communist demonstration. There was an awful large amount of graffiti on monuments, street signs, and the like, communicating the Communist slogans, defacing a lot of beautiful, respectable sights.

I talked with Perry when we returned to the hostel; he was a very handsome, lively soul who rounded out a tiring, but constructive day in "smashing" (as he would say) style. He also had a girlfriend who he referred to saying he was sort of glad to be free of her temporarily. I told him I still hadn't found the place where he bought his inexpensive yellow shirt. In the meantime, I exchanged addresses with Martin and finally caught some sleep.

Monday, July 22

We got up early today in order to catch a train for Nice, France via Pisa (or Pisa en route to Nice).  We returned the sheets, got our hostel cards (Hank regretfully left his card there, not seeing it or just not quite having been fully awakened at the time), and took bus 75 for the station.  We ate at the self-service place which was recommended to us by the young adults (old teenagers) at the catacombs.  We ate dinner there last night and we were satisfied enough to come back and have breakfast there; however it was closed, so we caught a quick snack and Hank used up part of the remainder of our Italian coins by purchasing bread and wine cheese (Freudian slip, sorry 'bout that).  We caught the 8:25 train alright, but things were kept down in our car, conversation held to a minimum because of the presence of a man of the cloth.  We ate the bread and cheese (sorry, correction again, crackers, cheese and ham!) quickly and felt satisfied to get a meal for three for less than a dollar! 

Leaning TowerWe arrived in Pisa only to spend 2 hrs and then hop onto another train through to Nice (add a Ve prefix to any French city name and it changes it to an Italian name, just kidding to throw you off for a second).  We found that 2 hrs in Pisa was one hour too many than you needed to cover the town, which was served by a smelly river.  The Leany Tower leaned to such an extent that I thought it would fall any minute.  It looked like a wedding cake which was left out in the rain for awhile.  Hank told me that the builders of the tower saw that it was beginning to lean and built the upper stories at an angle to compensate for it giving it a bow or curved appearance.  It cost £500 to go up and Rod and I were suckers to go up, since it was no more than a view.  Walking up the stairs gave me the impression of being drunk since I had a tendency to slide to one side or bump in the walls.  It was scary to move about on top because my since of balance was disturbed.

We took the bus back to the station, and ate and drank a bit before boarding the train to Nice.  On the train we were in the same compartment as this high school senior from Pennsylvania, Scott, address we also got.  He played football and ran sprints for his high school track team claiming to have run a 10 flat 100 yd dash!  Hank said he could do a 10.5 and I am more inclined to believe Hank (somehow at first I got bad impressions of Scott for really no good reason, I learned to keep an open mind about everything on this trip).

The view of the beach and surrounding cities was frustrating because the train was so fast and also because before you had time to look, you were in a tunnel.  We passed through Genoa which gave me the impression of being a much larger port city than I would've been led to believe (history classes never really teach the material to you properly!).  The train ride was longer than we'd imagined taking 7 hrs from Pisa including a long stop at the border in Ventimiglia just before Monaco and Nice.  Scott was thinking of staying there, but settled on going with us to Nice.

When we reached Nice we thought it was too late to go to a youth hostel, so we looked at the book, "Europe on $5 and $10 a Day" and were lucky to choose a cheap hotel which only had a room for four left, so we spent the night there; we walked around the beach resort to find a place to eat dinner since we hadn't eaten properly since Rome.  The beds were such that I slept in the same one with Rod (how weird!) but they were comfortable so who's complaining.

Tuesday, July 23

We ate breakfast in the hotel, including hot chocolate in large cups.  To start off, we went to the bank which gave 4.7 francs per dollar and cashed a travelers' check.  On the way back, we stopped at the post office so Rod could get some letters off (so far, I've had no chance to get off any postcards or letters, using the writing time to stay up to date in this journal).  Afterwards we traveled over to the station to check the departure times.  The hotel allowed us to leave our bags there after checking out (we also made use of the WC on the first floor).  Soon we were heading off to the beach; I left the camera back with the packs since the possibility of getting sand in it might be too risky.  We got a loaf of bread to keep our mouths entertained before reaching shore.  I probably could have been safe taking the camera to the beach since there were only large rocks and pebbles.  The water was cool, clear, clean, but lacking in waves as does your average Mediterranean beach.  Rod and I took turns going into the surf while the other stayed with the money belts.  There was also a shower to wash yourself off which was a refreshing way to get wet without having to brave the stones.  I brought the frisbee along, but there wasn't any room at the crowded beach which was just as well since it would be painful at best to run on the rocks.  Hank told me he really enjoyed this beach like no other he'd ever been to.  I personally wouldn't go that far, however it was above par.

We stayed for three hours before we left at 3:15 pm.  Buying 2 liters of wine we ambled over to a park and polished them off quickly.  The rest of the evening went by in slow motion; every time I turned my head quickly the vision seemed a second behind.

We ate dinner at the Self-Service Saint Michel which consisted of a sausage, salad, bread, peach and water, all for less than a dollar.  The peach was especially satisfying; juicy, fresh, and filling.  The food didn't diminish the effect that the wine had on me, so I was still slightly woozy.  Scott was staying in Nice a bit longer, therefore we said "bon voyage" to him after getting our bags, destined for the station to catch a night train to Barcelona.

Getting on the train, we found it to be rather crowded and saw few places to sit.  These Danish girls wanted to lie down on the seats and tried not to let us in.  It took time, but we finally got in and placed our packs on the racks.  What relief to know that you won't have to stand for a 9 hr train excursion to Port Bou.  We brought some bread along with us to ease our mad hunger pains.  I wrote in the journal for 3 hrs and was bored and cramped finding comfort in sleep for only 2 hrs, waking at 5:45 am to change trains at Port Bou the border town.  There we found the customs and passport check to be more strict, making us stand for 45 minutes.  They did a spot check of luggage, but didn't search us.  This is a good place to make the transition between Tuesday and Wednesday.

Wednesday, July 24

Out of customs, we jumped on a train to Barcelona (the reason for the switch lies in the fact that the Spanish trains have narrower gauged tracks to that French trains must stop at the border).  We were told that one must have reservations on any Spanish trains and we skipped it and just hopped on.  Two people who sat next to us looked American so we started a conversation.  They asked us how long we were staying and when we were flying back to the States.  When we said, 2 months and the 28th of August, they said, that's funny 'cause we're doing the same thing.  They wondered how long we'd been in France and where else we'd been to.  I told them that my brother and I started from Frankfurt on the 3rd having flown over on the 2nd of July.  By coincidence they had also and proceeded to ask where we were from.  Rod replied LA, and they said that they are also from LA.  We asked if they had take ONA's DC10 via Oakland, the charter flight out of West Imperial Terminal and they replied positively.  How about that!  The reason why we didn't recognize them from the plane was that they had seats in the rear while we were located in the front.  Their names were Ray and Rose which made it easy to remember. 

The train was almost haunted with windows which rose after being forced down to be open, allowing fresh air to cleanse our lungs, and armrests which had a mind of their own without any provocation.  The distance from Port Bau to Barcelona was short, but the train was so slow (we were being passed by cars on the road) it took 3 hrs.

I always thought of a small, scenic, old town with dirt roads, adobe abodes and dogs drinking out of the gutters when I heard the city, Barcelona, mentioned.  How wrong I was!  Barcelona was an enormous, modern harbor metropolis.  We stayed at a hotel called "Torello" for $2.00 or so.  It took time to find it because we were without the use of a map.  We asked some policemen the direction in which to go.  (My printing is sloppy because of the vibrations of the train to Madrid.)  At the hotel they only had single rooms so we each slept in separate rooms (I had my own key, too, so I could do as I pleased, which came in handy when Rod sacked out early after having a bottle of white wine).

We first saw the Spanish Village since the Museum of Ancient Art was closed after 1:45 pm.  On the way we saw what looked like a driving school or motor vehicle department plus a view of the expanding, industrious port city.  The bus system was a bit screwed up: one of the destinations listed on the bus was Zoo/Estacion Termino, but the bus didn't take us anywhere near the zoo or the station, so we wasted about 30¢ altogether (18 Ptas or pasetas).  We met a girl who had to make a train at 6:45 pm, but I doubt if she made it.

We passed by our hotel en route to the Barrio Gothica (Gothic Square) where we went to see the Museo Picasso.  There we found a complete collection of Picasso's early works amazed to see his advanced ability at the youthful age of nine.  It was fascinating to see his delicate brush work and imaginative impressions of people from all walks of life.  This was free with our student cards, but looking it would've been more than worth the entrance fee.  He may have created crazy abstracts later on, but in the beginning he was a marvelous impressionist. 

Instead of eating dinner at a restaurant, we pulled yet another satisfying "Ham, Cheese, Bread and Wine" number.  Think about splitting 2 liters of wine 3 ways.  While Rod left my room, the place where we ate, Hank and I went out to explore the night life.  Spanish people eat dinner after 8:00 pm and the city stays alive until quite late at night in contrast to all the other places and countries we had stayed at.  The excessive amount of wine had me bombed and I wasn't really watching where we were going and meandered all the way to the middle of the city and I had no sense of time or direction.  It was almost like sleepwalking, but when wine costs as little as it does here, you're bound to have a lot.  Upon returning, I just hopped into bed without even turning off the light.

Thursday, July 25

Being in my own room, I didn't know what the others were doing and instead of knocking on their doors, I went down alone to have breakfast for fear of waking them.  When we all collected again, we went to the station to check the train situation and get reservations.  Hank left his Interail back at the hotel so Rod stayed in line while Hank and I went back to the hotel to get it.  The line was so slow because of insufficient means that he'd barely moved up upon our return.  Finally we got reservations for the train to Madrid paying 75 ptas (there were 56 ptas to the dollar at that time).  Then, we went to the park to see the Museum of Modern Art, which turned out to have a wide selection of Spanish impressionists other than Picasso, and was also free though it was worth 15 ptas.

Today, because of their low cost, I went absolutely wild on pastries.  There was a real good one with soft, creamy cheese filling and donut outside.  (As I write this, I'm puzzled to find ourselves traveling along the seashore.  Boy, this sure is a roundabout way of getting to Madrid.  No wonder it takes 12 hrs!) Today, I had the camera with me, but I didn't take many shots because there was a lack of scenery.  It was fun to walk in the Gothic Square looking into the shop windows (yesterday, some old women enthusiastically helped us put together our picnic-feast).  We went over the same ground as yesterday and did another bread, cheese number with our special guest, Salami (mmmmm, yummy!).  We stopped by a park to have it.  Then I consumed more pastry! (lick, drool)

We walked along the "World Famous Ramblas", a place that nobody ever heard of, a boulevard lined with shops and cafes.  In general, I liked the city and got a bit of a different feeling there, but when we got to the harbor it was a filthy mess!  We returned to the hotel and got our bags to catch the 7:30 train to Barcelona.  Rod unluckily didn't have a seat near Hank and I.  We bought a liter of red wine and another of rosé along with some gum on the train.  Hey!  Now I'm all caught up in my journal!!

Picking up where I left off, I soon realized the mixture of the wines combined with the vibrations emanating from the train created a condition suitable for cement or milk shakes, but certainly quite the contrary for a delicate, jittery stomach like mine.  Advantageously, I slept through the epoch of my abdominal discomfort, snoozing for a remarkable span of time; 6 hrs straight.  Regretfully for me not only did the wine have the effect of allowing me to sleep comfortably and quite quickly, but left me absurdly absent-minded; soon after, I realized that my glasses weren't in my shirt pocket.  For the life of me I couldn't remember where I put them.  Incredibly I was on a train where sitting was the only pastime other than excreting; all I needed to do was look around my seat, which I did, but no glasses.  Chalk one up for wine!  Remind me never to do that again.

Puerta del SolWe took the Metro which reached its destination in reasonable time as opposed to Renfe which was as fast as a bear in Winter.  We had made reservations for a HR (Hostal Residencia) in Puerta del Sol located in the center of Madrid.  The train station, one of three in Madrid, was Estacion Madrid-Chamartan in the north.  Believe it or not, we've traversed from Rome to Madrid in 3 days!  Naturally after that consumption of miles, we were mere skeletons of our former selves so we honored our bodies with easy day; walking to the American Express (no letters), the "Post Office" though it appeared to embody more than the name would imply, and en route to the Renfe information which was closed, I bought a European copy of Time and informed myself on pressing issues such as the Cypriot conflict (I wonder if Hanson, Snow, and their group are still sampling the scenery of Greece!), and the handing over of the leadership of Spain from Franco to Juan Carlos (Jesus, I'm right here in Madrid where it's all happening, though nothing is really happening at all).

We loafed, wandering back to the Cafeteria Arysol, the sight (sic) of breakfast and returning to the HR to relax and recuperate.  Afterwards, we re-tuned our engines and walked to the Renfe train information, closed still, and then set our sights on "Dinner"; we hadn't had a proper meal for at least 24 hrs.  We were coming too early at 8:00 pm so we knocked off a half hour at a bar harmlessly downing a Coke while Hank lapped off every bit of foam residue on his glass.  I only had a few weeks of Spanish in the 6th grade, so to say the least I became a "Waissonkind", an only child lost in a foreign language menu.  I had no idea of what I was ordering; Mexican foods like chile rellenos, enchiladas, burritos and tortillas: actually they had tortillas or at least that's what they called them, to me they were still omelettes and I absolutely, positively despise eggs!!! I ended up eating very little, handing the majority of it to Rod who has always been a human garbage can.  Rod was tired and put up a fuss or a "shit fit" when I suggested walking around the sidewalks, but Hank accompanied me while I consumed some pickles and donuts and cokes. 

Early in the day, Friday if you're still counting, I washed a shirt, some underwear and other stuff.  Only the shirt had dried, the rest hanged soaking wet on the wire over the shower; the room including shower cost us only 100 ptas per person per night.  I read some of Rod's Vocabulary Self-Teaching Something-or-other book before going to sleep.

Saturday, July 27

Once more, we ate at the Cafeteria Arysol and consumed a breakfast consisting of the usual continental format, yet different in one way: the bread actually resembled American toast including lots of butter and marmalade, drinking hot chocolate to wash it down.  Having appeased our stomachs for another couple hours, we began a marathon museum tour of the Prado.  We began this stroll by examining some paintings by El Greco, remembering what I'd learned last summer about his style: he painted elongated people with disproportionately minuscule heads and using white tints to give an illuminated effect.  Next, we came across Peter Paul Rubens and Velasquez, and a painting which was the basis of Picasso's impressions in the museum in Barcelona.  Then we viewed some of Rembrandt, Pouissin and Bosch before descending the stairs to see whole roomfuls of Goya.  All in all we spent a whole afternoon, nearly 4 hrs in the Prado and I observed much learning the different strokes and styles.

Finding some time left to do just a bit extra we strolled over to the Royal Palace after having lunch at the Arysol, including a club sandwich.  We disdained the 130 ptas tour for the inexpensive 60 ptas tour which lacked the Armory and library.  I was forced to check my camera before entering.  As usual we hung around waiting till we heard an English tour and like parasites (not to be confused with Parisians), we clung to such tours till the time when they ended the useful explanations of the different rooms of the palace.  All the rooms had delicate, intricate paintings and frescoes adorning the walls, and formal furniture filling the rooms, and even tapestries (hand-sewn in truth) hanging here and there.

Later that night, Hank, Rod and I ate just north of the Puerta del Sol, though I chose not to eat much since I couldn't read the menu properly or efficiently.  Madrid was still hopping and frenetic when we emerged from the restaurant.  We walked endlessly along the main street, one of few times allowing me to reflect back on the trip up till that moment, and wonder about what was happening back in the US.  Watergate is always in the headlines.  We heard Marlon Brando had committed suicide or at least attempted it.  Even now this far into the trip I haven't written a single, blasted letter or postcard.  I use the writing time to stay up-to-date, as I said before, in this journal. Soon in Paris I will definitely write somebody or they'll hate me forever.  I had the blahs for about two hours until Hank and Rod brought me back to life talking about Steve Martin and Albert Brooks and the Marx Brothers.  We even discussed Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First".  Madrid was as bustling and fast-paced at 1:00 am as 6:00 pm.  After talking for awhile at the fountain we altered our course to the HR and then slept immediately and instantaneously thereafter.

Sunday, July 28

El EscorialAs before we started with breakfast at the Arysol having the usual toast and hot chocolate.  This day was to be our most adventurous one though the three of us were rather bushed: the first journey would be to the palace at El Escorial and upon return to Madrid we would see a bullfight.  We strolled from the Puerta del Sol all the way down to the Atocha station catching a Renfe train that was sardine-packed with people. 

It was a bright, gloriously azure sky which greeted us while we walked up from the train station, stopping for a coke, then proceeding on an arduous hike to the touristy (though they were almost totally Spanish) palace.  It turned out to be similar to the Royal Palace and not quite as good.  Housed inside were tombs of past Spanish leaders, rooms of the living quarters and other religious places that got to be a drag very rapidly.  I had some refreshing ice cream before our procession made tracks back down the hill to the Renfe station, which I took a picture of with our train slowly pulling into the station.

Madrid bullringWe got off before Atocha station in the general proximity of the Plaza de Toros; so general that we found ourselves walking for miles.  In Spain, before coming to the bullfight, we hadn't seen many Americans, but there we discovered that half the seats supported yankee posteriors, many of whom failed to tip the ushers; I remembered to tip because of an experience the year before in Greece at the theatre near the Acropolis.  They had coke and souvenir sellers circumnavigating the circular structure, winding here and there on the concrete blocks which we sat on - they even filled the aisles.  Juan Carlos, new leader of Spain, entered the mushrooming list of no show disappointments. 

The bullfight started with the introduction of the cast: the picadors, toreadors, matadors and various other miscellaneous personnel.  The bulls came roaring out of the stalls, thundering aimlessly looking for escape and freedom, not seeing the threatening figures of the cast closing in on them, taunting, teasing, and torturing till the final sword.  The season ends in May and so we saw up and coming new matadors who hit the shoulder blade and protracted the process, pitifully trying to locate and thrust their swords into the heart of each bull.  We saw the jet-black, enormous creatures dripping sheets of blood from their flanks hopelessly trying to survive.  It was exciting, causing my heartbeat to go fast for the first of the six 630-kilo bulls, but also was unfair and I was sort of on their side.  I must say all the cast was brave, to be so close especially the matadors who came within a sneeze of them.  After 3 bulls, half-time took place, with people heaving flowers and even bodas to the matador who drank with one hand.  On the last and largest bull, a young, frustrated man ran down onto the arena and was almost gored before giving up.  It was a baseball atmosphere, but this was like someone was streaking.  Most of all importance: it was a fun and exhilarating experience though it was rather gory, like having the three horses pull the dead bull away.  It left me with mixed feelings, favorable and unfavorable while Rod was bored with the repetition.

We stopped at some bars later and we enjoyed ourselves.  We've had some weird meals, but this time, Rod really outdid himself.  He demurely dared to order an exotic dish of mysterious appearance which when all was said and eaten turned out to be fried squid.  He graciously gave me a nibble so I could let my mouth embrace it, feel its texture and taste its flavor.  Meanwhile I was having boiling, clear chicken consommé, a plate presenting tomatoes and a melon; my dessert would've been flan but I decided it might become repetitious and lose its novel flavor.

Afterwards we went to the Puerta Mayor on foot; going on the subway from the bullfight was torture having elbows in your face and so crowded that although Rod got off at the right stop, Hank and I were unable to sandwich between the multitude to escape and got off at the following station.  First we had gone back to the original stop to see if Rod was there and after that we went to the restaurant and then headed back to the HR and I spotted Rod on the way.  Sorry to digress like that, but I put down afterthoughts that return to my memory and stick in no matter how long after the point at which they were to have been rightly placed.

Let's Go said that the Puerta Mayor was the big excitement area at night.  Once again they struck out; it was almost dead and, but for the architecture, resembled a ghost town.  Hank was going to have sangria right from the bowl, but everything was closed.  As for me all of the optic or prescription glass stores were closed as well as camera stores, so my quest for a replacement for my long lost Polaroids was unfinished.  We went to a few bars before going to sleep.  My laundry for the most part was damp or moist though the shirt was warm and crisp.  The weather continues to be blazing hot.

Monday, July 29

Something must have been eating our cook at the Cafe Arysol because he put so much cornstarch and chocolate into our cups that the hot chocolate more closely seemed to be chocolate pudding, so thick that I couldn't pour it, but was on the contrary, forced to use a spoon to scoop its enigmatic contents into my puzzled stomach.

Burial of the Count of OrgazToledo was scheduled as our last day of sightseeing for Spain.  As previously we caught a train at Atocha just barely boarding in time.  We thought for sure that we'd have to transfer, but as it turned out, the train went straight to Toledo, a very Spanish-styled town full of churches, synagogues and fortresses.  What I liked especially was El Greco's house and the museum adjoining it.  I really learned to appreciate his unique style and viewed his best painting at the church Santo Tomé [The Burial of the Count of Orgaz].  Before that we had gone by the cathedral which was huge, highly decorated, ornate in other words, with gothic spires and beautiful stained glass windows. 

Leaving the cathedral I took the opportunity to check out a store selling sunglasses and choosing and rejecting, deliberately taking my time I found the most comfortable pair though they cost a little more since they were definitely better.  I was thinking of waiting till England, but they were so much cheaper I thought it best to jump at the opportunity and spend a little over $7 (425 pta to be exact) plus a cover which I never had to protect the polaroids.  I was a satisfied customer and went back to feeling normal again.  They're tinted brown a radical change from green and not quite as dark, nonetheless a good, solid pair. Hank finally bought a Boda, and was continually washing it with water near the cathedral trying to get the sticky substance out of it.  He got the real thing with a skin and no plastic taste and it only cost about $4.  Hank also bought a loaf of bread and each of us broke off pieces; a little treat like that can make all the difference in the world.

What was especially interesting was the tight arrangement of streets - in fact I found that they made no distinction between highway, street, or alley.  This is what I told you I thought Barcelona was going to be, a quaint charming cozy Spanish village.  It's built on a hill with a bland, but bold, colorless, but imposing fortress or castle on the top overlooking the rest of the city.  Here as elsewhere in the country we ran into few American tourists which, thank God, maintained the peaceful atmosphere.  Most tourists though were of Spanish origin themselves.  We enjoyed Toledo for its pure unspoiled Spanish surroundings and beautiful landscape down below the citadel.

We took a train which had us transfer at Castillejo in order to return to Madrid-Atocha.  We arrived, immediately heading for the bars for a bite to eat, Hank offered me some olives but I was sort of upset at Rod for not buying me something because he knew I was short on funds and would change a travelers' cheque the next day.  He told me later that he had no extra change.  Just by coincidence while walking int he park we suddenly saw a familiar figure who we thought we wouldn't see until Frankfurt, Andy fresh from a 24-hr train ride from Granada, after waiting 5 hrs at the station in the southern Spanish city which he said was absolutely beautiful.  He had a $5 meal and was with some friends for awhile living high-off-the-hog so to speak.  We talked a lot; David went from Cannes just south of Nice all the way to Paris and probably soon thereafter to London.

We went to the grocery store and Rod and I knocked off a liter of coke and put another liter of rosé in the boda for a smooth sleep on the train.  Soon Andy was to meet his friends again so we set a date to meet in Paris at the Amexco, the 3rd of August 1974.  Hank, Rod and I picked up our bags (Andy helped us by speaking Spanish to the owners) and we went to the train station.  On the way I had a bizarre experience with a blind person who walked right into my backpack though I was motionless and got so upset at me that he kicked Rod's bag a couple feet to release his pent-up rage!!

The train left at 10:00 on the button and Hank talked a lot to me about various subjects and explained an awfully great amount.  I've learned quite a sum of things on this trip which have raced my maturity level along to a much more advanced level than it was before.  He gave us his address and vice versa.  We drank slowly and leisurely and all finally dropped off to somnolence.

Tuesday, July 30

I awoke as the train was passing through San Sebastian.  Rapidly (that is at least rapid for Renfe), we approached the border town of Irun, then crossed into France at Hendaye, an old scene of French military history, where we disembarked and passed through passport control (unfortunately I didn't get my passport stamped).  This reminded me of Port Bou where the laughing machine somebody brought along was a foreshadowing of the joke of a railway known to travelers only too intimately was Renfe.  We soon boarded a train destined for St. Jean de Luz where Hank would be leaving us to stay for a few days with a friend.  We got off with him after 10 hrs of rail travel having been a little worn out.  A short distance from the station we plopped down our packs at a cafe having a few hot chocolates and some bread.  First I went out into the rain to look for a bank to cash a cheque, then when I returned I showed Rod where I'd gone, and after he'd cashed the cheque we talked a little more with Hank, then sentimentally we bid him a fond farewell, hoping to see him during Christmas if he made it out west from New York.

We left rainy, gloomy St. Jean de Luz hoping that the weather would be better at Biarritz.  However, since it wasn't, we decided to skip the whole place.  A seaside resort is only good if the weather is warm and sunny.  We caught a train at Bayonne while it was thundering and raining and headed for Tours.  The train itself had problems of its own and added about an extra 2 hrs to our travel time.  While on the train we talked to two English students from Cambridge.  They told us about that college town and how involved it could be to visit all the beautiful colleges there.  They were camping in most of the places in which they stayed and got off the train at Dax for reasons which I still have yet to figure out.  They knew some French and gave us some quick phrases which might come in handy getting a room.

The train went on to St. Pierre des Corps which was the city adjacent to Tours where the express train stopped.  We walked (oh, what a mistake!) for 45 minutes with our packs on to get to Tours, when all we needed to do was take a train from St. Pierre des Corps to Tours which would cost us nothing anyway.  We found it a bit hard to find a room, but eventually we came to a place that cost 17 francs for the two of us in a room about the size of the bed.  We went back out to have some dinner and met a guy from New York by the name of Woody who had been living for the past two years in a Kibbutz in Israel.  He ate dinner with us, then returned to the railroad station to catch a 2:00 am train to Paris.  We then came back to our hole-in-the-wall room and managed to get a pretty good sleep.

Wednesday, July 31

We woke quickly and hurried down to the station to deposit our bags and packs, rushed over to see if we could get a tour of Tours which isn't a pun, but the truth.  I wasn't sure if I even wanted to spend somewhere close to $10 since it seemed like we could cover most of what they were seeing for almost nothing by taking trains making use of our student rail passes.  As it turned out, the tours were all filled up or rather the tour was all filled up.  We looked at the castles that were listed for the tour and started off by taking a train to Blois where the castle was only 3 blocks away from the station.  The train passed another castle on the way which we had a good view of, called Chambord, with turret, tower, and moat. 

BloisFrom the inside though the castle at Blois was more impressive; it was a potpourri of different periods and architectural styles.  There was an Italian facade, a classical Greek setting of three levels of columns, the bottom having Doric capitals, the middle having Ionic capitals and the top having Corinthian capitals and a pediment which was left incomplete - the constructor of this part was working for a king who was dethroned before the completion.  There was also a Gothic chapel and a Renaissance building which also had a serpentine or spiral staircase.  The bedrooms of some of the kings or queens were wallpapered (not literally) with the emblem of their royalty such as an owl or even in one case a salamander or a porcupine.  The guide showed us the secret doors where supposedly Catherine de Medici kept her poisons; she was later executed because of it.  Two other kings were murdered there with paintings on the walls of the very room where it happened showing scenes of the murder.  The different architectural styles contrasted so much that the castle looked like a reject from every period it tried to incorporate into its buildings, almost like an orphan child of six different backgrounds.

We had a hot dog and a fanta, which were cheap and quite satisfying, near the station, then returned to the train station to go to Amboise.  It was a short ride (all of the rides were short, but we wasted a lot of time waiting for the right trains to arrive).  Like most of the cities which were built around the castles, Amboise was small enough that we didn't need a map to find the castle.  We walked across a bridge over the Loire river and saw the grand fortress-castle of Amboise.  In the chapel of St Hubert, the famous Renaissance artist-inventor, Leonardo da Vinci, was buried.  He had been commissioned to come to Amboise by one of the kings, who gave him a beautiful residence, Clos Lucé, where he spent the last years of his life, adding the finishing touches to such works as the Mona Lisa.  They also showed us where the Huguenots were hung.  Most of the castle had been destroyed earlier so there wasn't much to see on the inside.

After visiting the castle we went to a grocery store to buy some water (before going into the castle we had some strawberry and chocolate-vanilla crepes).  We only had a short time to see Clos Lucé so we didn't explore the beautiful grounds, but did go inside the house and saw not only paintings and sketches, but in the basement we saw many of his inventions, which I think showed his true genius.  We had to do a little running, though we made it to the station with extra time. 

We returned to Tours to decide our further plans, getting another look at Chambord castle (whoops, we saw that on the train from Blois to Amboise, sorry about that folks!).  At the station we had another adventure similar to that in Salzburg a month before.  We went through the ticket control showing our student rail pass, but then we wanted to go to the WC, which was back on the other side so we went back through the ticket control and to the toilets.  Once we were finished we went through the ticket control to get a coke and look for trains to Azay-le-Rideau.  When we found the train we went back through the ticket control; however we didn't bother to check when the last train would be arriving from Azay-le-Rideau so to avoid getting stranded we got the time of the last train by going through ticket control to look at the arrivals board and then back again for the sixth time!

When we reached the town, unlike other places, it was a two mile walk to the castle and we were short on time.  When we got there not only was it closed, but [there was a] fence some distance from the castle with trees interrupting our view.  It looked beautiful enough, yet we know it would've been best to see it from the river side. 

We hurried back after taking a picture and caught the train bound for Tours.  We couldn't see any way to quickly get to Chartres so we went in search of a cheap hotel.  We stopped at one that had a double for 42 French francs.  Rod was prepared to give in fearing that other places would be filled, but still I put my foot down and said "NO!!!".  Lucky for us we found a place that cost only FF18 for a double and stayed there.  We went back out to look for a restaurant; Rod wanted a sit down dinner whereas I wanted a cheap meal.  This time Rod got his way and we had a fixed price dinner.  Lo and behold the meal turned out to be a success, filling us with good tasting food.  Afterwards we wanted to wash our food down with Vichy water since Dad told us that it was good.  It wasn't to us though, because it was actually more like tonic water not normal water.  Tired after a confusing day, we went back to the hotel early at about 10:00 pm.  I listened to Radio Luxembourg for awhile before going to sleep.

Thursday, August 1

We left the hotel early to catch a train to Paris which would arrive at Austerlitz station.  Before boarding the train, we got 1 franc cokes out of a machine at the tourist bureau, and Rod got a liter of water (Vittel) and another of Fanta Orange.  The train would actually have to be joined at St. Pierre des Corps so we took a short commuter-type train from Tours.  The seat arrangement on the train to Paris was more like that of an airplane with rows of seats stretching across the width of the train.  Rod and I split up so each of us could have seats for the 2 hr or more trip.  We got a good perspective of the French countryside in general, having traveled the whole southern coast and also the distance from Hendaye to Tours.  I slept a bit just to catch up on some which I desperately needed for quite a while. 

The train passed through an enormous amount of Parisian suburbs before reaching Austerlitz station.  There while looking for some hotels, trying to locate them on the map, we met two guys from Norway, and I talked for a short time to yet another South African by the name of, as his friends called him, Solly (that, believe it or not, is how it's spelled).  We all went walking in the direction of the youth hostel when soon we realized it was all the way out of metropolitan Paris.  We chose another hostel which, however, wasn't an IYH.  This one seemed to be rather dingy and lacked any sort facilities of any kind.  Not only that, but the office didn't open until 5:00 pm, so on we went in search of a place to stay.  We walked for another hour before reaching the Latin Quarter and wasted about 2.5 hrs in the whole process.  The place where we stayed, the Hotel Nicole, cost us only FF28 for the double room and I must say that's cheap for Paris.  We found the room to be very nice; it even had a wash basin. 

We were anxious to stay the whole 4 nights there so we told the managers almost immediately.  There was some time left to look around the city so we bought a book of tickets each and went to the Amexco office near the Opera, cashed a cheque and inquired about mail at the client's mail desk.  We received two letters from our parents, one from Copenhagen and the other from Hamburg, saying the usual, "We miss you," "See this, do that," etc.  We were going to meet Andy there, however an hour or so remained before our set time, therefore we went walking a bit and had a hurried dinner at Wimpy's and returned to the Amexco.  We waited and were about to leave, when with good timing Andy ran over to us.  He hadn't had dinner yet so we went to a self-service restaurant and had chocolate mousse and pie, and citron to drink.

We talked for awhile about where we were staying, how much we were paying, and what we'd seen.  After sitting a bit longer, we left to take the subway to the Eiffel Tower and at night it appeared as monstrous as the Colossus of Rhodes; or at least as I imagined it to be.  We decided that we might as well go up and have a view of the city at night.  We went to the second level (the top was closed) and Andy used his shutter release on my all-automatic camera, and I'm very curious to see how they turned out.  It was relaxing and fun to look at the mass of steel girders shooting up to the nose-bleed height of the apex.

We came back down, and Andy and I split some frites (french fries), then headed on the metro for Odeon passing through the long corridor at Montparnasse where we transferred.  Rod and I earlier had been searching for McDonald's so that's where Andy took us.  The one on Saint Michel was open all night it seemed, since we arrived after midnight.  Paris certainly had a night life; the McDonald's (in English for the most part and loaded with Americans), was packed.

The Latin Quarter definitely was the best place to stay since it was the most active.  I also took the opportunity to use the toilets which were probably the cleanest in all of Paris.  Andy thereafter returned to his hotel while Rod and I walked up Saint Michel to Port Royal and Nicole street where our cheap hotel was.  I listened to Radio Luxembourg hearing a very mysterious song which was called though I'm not sure, "Alright, Alright, Alright!" by Mungo Jerry or the like.  The disc jockey spoke English which made me feel at home.

Friday, August 2

We started in the direction of the Louvre where we were to meet Andy and go to Versailles thereafter.  We took in Notre Dame which was larger and grander than I lead myself to believe.  Hearing the organ music was almost spooky with its full sound and echo reminding one of the "Hunchback of Notre Dame" or even "Phantom of the Opera" which I think was in the Paris sewers by the way.  We also heard a choir and saw what seemed to be a funeral service.  Like Andy, we couldn't find where the choir was coming from. We also went up into the tower which had an endless number of steps winding up to the top of the spiral.  There were monstrous, frightening, threatening gargoyles looming high above on the cornice.  Notre Dame, of course, is a gothic cathedral as were most in this area.

When we met Andy at the entrance of the Louvre, he told us that unlike the day he was there before, the Mona Lisa was back, this time in a glass case.  It was in Japan and some other place prior to its return to the Louvre.

We went to the Gare des Invalides which served only Versailles.  The palace was only two blocks diagonally across from the station.  It was surrounded by a lovely, shining golden fence and gate, with a huge plaza inside.  Behind, the palace spread horizontally in all its splendor.  It was a sort of hunting lodge and had enormous woods and grounds for thousands of acres.  The garden just in back of the palace was colorful containing a variety of flowers, while a fountain contained a startling dragon spewing water int he center plus an assortment of other odd, discombobulating creatures like the gargoyles of Notre Dame.  Once as before, we attached ourselves to an English tour and got the history of the place.  The most interesting part for me was the table on which the Versailles treaty was completed and signed by all the notables of World War I.

Andy disturbed the guide by reading his book about Versailles while she was talking.  She actually thought we were part of the tour and was insulted that Andy would rather discover the information from a book.

We walked through the long, shimmering hall of mirrors and saw the bedrooms which were all well decorated.  We also saw what was a billiard room where visitors who usually had to stand up were allowed to sit and that went for women just the same.

We returned to Paris and the Latin Quarter and ate dinner at a place recommended by "Let's Go", Les Balkans where we had a fine shish kebab.  After dining well we stopped at a pastry shop and McDonald's before splitting up, setting a date of August 6 at the Amexco at Haymarket.  We took the same route back to the hotel and after all the walking my Tiger shoes had had it, so I switched back to my wobblies which I found more comfortable than before; I guess my initial discomfort was caused because I hadn't had the chance to break my shoes in properly.  Tomorrow we would be on our own again.

Saturday, August 3

In going to Napoleon's tomb at Les Invalides we ran into Andy again by accident.  We said yet another "so long", and then went on to the tomb.  It struck me like a hammer with its bold, solid features arranged like a church with the most important item located in a location like that of a crypt.  The monumental size of this tomb was overpowering to look at putting you in a trance keeping you under its spell with the swirly red marble which it was made of.  The ticket for it was also good at the adjoining military museum, which displayed uniforms and weapons of the Napoleonic period.  We didn't find it as interesting as we thought we might otherwise so we left by Metro for Denfert-Rochereau and the catacombs of Paris.

We talked to a young American fellow who'd been to London and told us also about the sewers which I expect to be the same ones as I said earlier of "Phantom of the Opera".  These catacombs were quite a contrast to the ones in Rome. The French resistance hid under the city here in the depths below the surface; the catacombs were only lit by candles held by some of the tourists who were issued them, without any permanent electrical lighting in the walls or anything all.  Finally what was sort of funny to me was that French girls behind me would continuously giggle and bump into me as if it were some sort of sensitivity or encounter session.  Most interesting of all though were the walls made of bones with skulls put in here and there in different designs, which were so odd that I had chills down my spine.  This sickening exhibition of human bones meandered for miles.

... [missing pages?] ...

Wednesday, August 14

Woke early 5:00 am, after star gazing 1.5 hrs on boat seeing 50 or so shooting stars.  Came at sunrise to Hoek Van Holland, got another stamp for visa.  Took train from Hook of Holland to Amsterdam central station via West Rotterdam and Haarlem.  Left station, immediately found room for F6,50 per person, dorm dingy beds in red light district with bar below called Amsterdam Visitors Club.  I was worried about theft, locked securely the packs and bags with bicycle chain and lock later depositing the packs at the station.  My pack missed fitting into locker by 1 cm literally so checked it.  Went to eat pies for breakfast then wrote a letter to Russ while Rod wrote to Von Engels and Hagelbergs.  Surprised by sight of McDonald's and took picture then ate lunch there.  Afterwards went to Rijksmuseum saw good collections of Hals and Rembrandt including Rembrandt's famous "Nightwatch" then discovered the Van Gogh museum and saw Potato Eaters, Drawbridge, Sunflowers, and self-portrait (found on cover of book "Lust for Life").  Then saw garbage of Picasso and Matisse, Chagall and maybe one good Van Gogh. 

We were dead tired, had a liter of coke between the two of us.  Had dinner at Orange Julius: a hawaiian burger with pineapple frites and a large OJ.  Checked pack at station then while looking for a disco place we saw Andy Warhol's Frankenstein showing and I convinced Rod to see it for his second time, so I could see it once which since "X" I couldn't see in America.  I was rolling in my seat with laughter.  It was dubbed in German which I was able to follow fairly successfully with Dutch subtitles.  It was gory: snipers slowly, agonizingly chopping off heads, hands caught in door jambs, cut off hearts, lungs and guts floating amongst quarts of blood!  Dr Frankenstein proclaims while pressing himself his self-made women sticking his head in her guts, "fur Lebenheit kennen, muss man Geschecht mit den Eingeweide machen".  This guy from London sat laughing with us.  Here are quick sketches of sick humor from the movie.


Thursday, August 15

Rod slapped me in the face in order to get me up.  I elaborately chained the bags again today.  Ate at the Orange Julius on the side street near Dam Square then went to Amexco to see clients mail and Rod cashed a check.  Went to Anne Frank's House though it was a bit hard to locate the small building it was nestled in.  It had a 20 picture display with captions chronologically describing the terror in Holland and brutality of the Nazis during World War II, and then showed the unchanged to this very day rooms of her family and the van Daan's in hiding from the Nazis.  (Note: yesterday we saw Ray and Rose again near the Amexco Office and will probably see them on the flight back.)  After that we saw her diary now translated into 50 different languages and the efforts of the Anne Frank Fund. 

From there we crossed through Dam Square to get to Rembrandt's House which had a collection of his sketches in ink and some paintings of his and other painters as well.  The sketches were interesting showing how he conveyed expressions with shade or line in the face or strength etc. through highlights in muscles or limbs.  There was an autograph book where I signed in "Robert 'Sal' Eric Weissler".  I also looked for the names of people I might know but the book only had signatures of the past week.

We returned to Dam Square and planned to go to the Heineken Brewery, but it wasn't having tours until Monday because of maintenance.  A short ways away we came to a flea market where, as in Cambridge, I loaded up on fruit: peaches, pears, and apples.  Then we came to Vandel Park after passing by the student hotel COK which looked great?!  The park was a place to slow down after a tiring day and walking on a blister.  We saw dogs running about, people riding bikes, throwing frisbees or playing soccer or even just like us, relaxing.  On the way back I had a little encounter with a cow trying desperately to take a photograph of it.

We reached the Mensa student restaurant and ate potatoes, spinach and meat for 2 guilders 75 centimes with unlimited water, before reaching the Lucky Star Disco where I talked to a Frielander from near Leeuwarden 19 and a student called Harry while listening to Al Green (For the good times, how can you mend a borken heart), George McRae (Rock the Boat) I had coated peanuts for 90 ct, and a soft ice for 50 ct, while Rod had fudge.

Friday, August 16

We left immediately upon waking to catch a train for Alkmaar where at 10:00 am there was going to be the weighing of the cheeses.  The trip took us north by northwest for a half hour till we reached the city.  What was odd about going from the station to look for the centrum was that it seemed as though every single person intended to go to the same place and the long procession stretched for blocks everyone following the ones in front as if it were a Broadway musical.  I saw a sign pointing the direction of Leeuwarden which reminded me how very easy it could be with the rail pass to go and drop-in on Jeff, but I wasn't sure what the situation was up there so I decided to keep my nose out.

Before we ran into the cheese market we were surrounded by the flea market.  After passing along for a couple of blocks we turned left and almost instantaneously came to the cheese market, the large golden balls, disks, and spheres of cheese brought back and forth being weighed and loaded by four groups competing against each other for speed and efficiency.  It was charming and colorful, revealing excellent cheese to my taste buds. 

We strolled around town for awhile.  Then, just to see the Ijsselmeer I told Rod that the city of Hoorn was close by and might be really Dutch, maybe even containing windmills or drawbridges like those pictured in Van Gogh's famous painting.  We arrived feeling pleasant and relaxed though we really didn't know where to go.  This was probably the first place we've gone to which wasn't listed in the "Let's Go: Europe" book.  We enjoyed the park and trees where we sat on a bench overlooking the Ijsselmeer.  I watched dogs running into the water chasing after sticks which had been thrown by their masters.

We returned to Amsterdam and paid for the next night though Hoorn was a nice, quiet and peaceful resort town.  Then I got a letter off to Mom and Dad.  We found that confectionery stores were all closed so after eating at the Mensa again drinking lots of water we tried to find simply chocolates of any kind at all to satisfy us.  We looked for some discos that I had listed, but it didn't work out so we went to McDonald's and ate some more.  Afterwards we came back to our place and sat at the bar for awhile before calling it quits.

Saturday, August 17

We woke up later than usual and got off to a slow start.  We looked at one restaurant, but we decided the wait wasn't worth it, so we had some pies at the Hema department store.  Soon after, we went to the station to catch a train bound for the Hague (Den Haag).  The ride took about 45 minutes and displayed an awful lot of beautiful Dutch scenery including some windmills scattered here and there.

We took a bus from the station to the door step of Madurodam, a city representing Holland in 1/25 scale model size.  It was given the miniatures of many often-seen buildings by the companies which owned them, and must have been a way for the companies to advertise as well.  What I was most interested in was the model railroads since I've been riding in the real thing so much.  I'm still fascinated by the smooth gliding way in which they move.  It was almost haunting to see building which I'd seen before.  The whole of the city offered surprises and tricks which demonstrated some characteristics of different displays such as a fire on an oil tanker put by water from a fireboat.

After examining it for 2 hrs or so we walked a long way down to the Peace Palace.  Since I wanted to be back in Amsterdam at the Amexco before 5:00 pm Rod and I split up; Rod went inside to take a tour which he later said wasn't that good while I took a tram back to the station.  Looking at the schedule of departures from Amsterdam, I found that there was a train leaving once every 10 minutes and arrived in Amsterdam with 45 minutes to spare.  I went to the WC to wash my hands (I haven't had much time to clean myself and I was a mess!), then I left the station and briskly walked to "de Noten Bar", or in English the nut bar, to pick up 300 grams of candy-coated peanuts while I waited.  Because I had to wait to set a date, I was only giving Jeff short notice and wasn't sure exactly what his situation was, so I didn't really expect him to make it.  However, I was also going to meet Rod there, and at 6:45 just as I left Amexco I ran into him going back to the hostel.

We had dinner at Harekema and then got some fudge, walked around, went finally to a disco, but on weekends they charge an entrance fee.  I talked to a guy from Curacao who liked Al Green.  We were at the Lucky Star, because the other disco was fancy and selective.  Later we went to the Post Office and called our parents, then went to have colas at McDonald's.

Sunday, August 18

We skipped breakfast today in order to catch a train bound for Hagen, West Deutschland.  We wanted to get rid of most of the Dutch money, coins at any rate, so we bought some cheese sandwiches just before departing.  The train wasn't terribly crowded making it easy for us to find a seat and relax.  We weren't sure where we wanted to transfer; there was a later train to Osnabrück, or the possibility of getting off at Essen.  I was sort of looking forward to returning to Germany.  Maybe the reason for that was because that was our starting point or since that was the country whose language I learned as my second language, or because Dad's German as are the better half of my relatives.  The passport check was quite informal and I regrettably didn't get a German stamp on it.

We decided after looking at a map that Essen would be the best point of transfer and waited there only half an hour for the train to Hamburg.  I talked with a guy from northern Germany and alternated between English and German; he spoke English a little bit better than I spoke German, however each of us would occasionally lapse back into our native tongues.  He told me a bit about where he lived, what to see in Hamburg, and many miscellaneous small talk subjects which sufficiently made time fly.

Hamburg is one of the largest ports in the world rivaling Rotterdam or even Harwick Parkeston Quay.  When we reached the HBF we got change to use for the lockers (once again the German lockers came through and proved large enough to hold my massive frame pack), then found U-Bahn 3 or just plain U-3 which took us out to the hostel.  We arrived there at 6:30 but luckily they weren't full yet.  This was the first hostel that we stayed at which was the official IYHF in about 5 weeks since Venice.  Here is where my stamping sheet was added on since the original area in the IYH card was filled. This hostel like other German hostels was sparkling clean and orderly.  It was also strict; they only served dinner between 6:00 pm and 6:30 pm, so we had to go out to eat. 

We walked a while until we reached a Chinese restaurant where for 17 DM the two of us split a rice (or Reis Tafel) dish which included far more than the name would indicate, and we happily consumed genuinely good tasting sweet and sour plates and servings.  Afterwards we passed by green, baroque St Paul's church before walking through an amusement park which was typically American (I also took the opportunity to eat a lot of candy).  The Reeperbahn, Hamburg's Red Light District, was disappointing since it was too 5th-Avenue-styled, too clean because of the licensing they must go through.  It reminded me more of Las Vegas.

Monday, August 19

We woke up early at 7:00 am to eat a continental breakfast and quickly go down to the docks to get the first or earliest tour that we could.  The first tour left at 9:00 am so we had to wait a minimal amount of time before shelling out 5 DM apiece.  The tour was given by the captain of the ship, though this boat, little more than a motorized canoe, only needed a child to operate it.  He wasn't really a captain, but actually a salty, old skipper whose glory years in the navy must have been long ago, maybe on some doomed U-boat or something like that.

The tour, passing by launches where enormous, cavernous freight and tanker ships underwent massive overhauling, lifted totally out of the mucky, oily and smelly waters of the harbor, lasted only (or over, depending how long you think a tour like that should last) an hour and a half.   We left the boat and headed for the station having determined that there wasn't any time left for sightseeing the rest of Hamburg.

The travel time to Copenhagen (København, which you might notice like much of the language relates to German, the German word for harbor being Hafen), was 5 hrs.  The student rail pass was good on the ferry from Puttgarden to Rødby Færge.  Rod talked to a sophomore from Minnesota who'd been traveling long and oh so far; she'd been to Afghanistan and Turkey and Greece before the Cypress conflict.  She hopped off at Lübeck and we changed cars since this train like the one to München split up and only some cars would be going on to Copenhagen.

The new compartment had an interesting mixture of people: Turkish newlyweds, the young husband spoke English, Danske (or Danish if you like) and German as well as his native language; an elderly Danish couple, the antithesis of the newlyweds having been married for 30 yrs, both of whom spoke English, German and assorted (or sordid, if you like) Scandinavian languages.  The whole train, except for the locomotive, was rolled on the ferry and transported to Denmark; the train had been an Austrian Express starting initially at Vienna.

We arrived in Copenhagen and after depositing our packs, we took a chance and went way out to the hostel, an official IYHF located on a lake in the suburbs.  There was no room left for girls, but fortunately we got in.  We ate dinner there for 10 Kr (Kroners became our newest currency and the coins made my wallet swell so much that I put some other coins in my glass case and in the money belt!).  We went back to town hall square by bus that took about 20 minutes and visited Tivoli, an amusement park located across the street from the main train station, which had ballet, concert and band music, gambling and shooting galleries, as well as soft ice stands.  We took their version of the Matterhorn ride of Disneyland (it wasn't as good!).  We left at 11:00 pm for the hostel which didn't close until 1:30 am and went to bed in the basement.

Tuesday, August 20

We woke after breakfast at 8:30 and stuffed our small bags into lockers, then we went back to the center of the city and had some fish-type sandwich for 2,60 kr and then ate an 85 øre pastry before searching for the Carlsberg Brewery.  It was a little hard to find, Carlsberg was located on a large area encompassing a dozen square blocks, but it was definitely worth it.  The tour was given by a very humorous guide who spoke English like a Briton though he was Danish.  The brewery smelled terrific having the scent of mashed barley all over the place.  We saw the bottling factory where the profusion of bottles were filled, labeled, capped, packed, and stored.  We were taken by a small bus to the hall where we would sample their wares, but first to make our thirst grow the guide told us about the Carlsberg Foundation which was a non-profit organization devoted to the arts and sciences.

MermaidThen came the best part of all; drinking the varied brands of beers and non-alcoholic tonics.  There were three girls at our table who didn't drink much so that I was able to down three beers and two tonics and tasted two other tonics besides the raspberry and apple cider.  Rod was sort of dizzy from having so much beer and almost went to sleep near the Mermaid.  He had every right to; the Mermaid wasn't all that beautiful, but instead I found a marvelous, commanding fountain with large oxen spurting forth streams of water.

Before getting there we walked past the Round Tower and Church and Rosenberg castle in a verdant, peaceful park.  We also saw a windmill and the colorful, picturesque botanical gardens, and thereafter we planned our travel to Berlin at the train station.  There was a Berlin-Moskva (Moscow) Express, but though the time was right, it was too expensive.  In the end, we decided to make use of the student rail pass and avoid a charge for the Gedser Ferry crossing, returning to Hamburg and hoping to find a train from there to Berlin.

We hadn't had dinner so after the risky decision, we went to a less expensive (nothing is inexpensive in Denmark) self-service restaurant called Vista a short walk from the central station on Vesterbrogade.  After having our stomachs filled we proceeded back to the station to take an S-tog to Klampenborg and another amusement park called Bakken which hopefully wouldn't be as expensive as touristy Tivoli.  It wasn't on the map so we wasted about a half hour or so before finding it.  In my opinion it wasn't nearly as active or exciting, or simply put, boring.  It was no less expensive, and didn't offer nearly as much variety of activities as Tivoli.  We returned a little less satisfied than we did upon departing, taking the No. 2 bus back out to the hostel from the central station.  I got a hot chocolate to warm myself up before diving into an ice cold bed during the brisk night.

Wednesday, August 21

Today we got up in time for breakfast which had more generous portions than usual, and I took the opportunity to get a second cup of tea as well.  That cost us 7 kr which wasn't too bad for our budgets.  Afterwards we collected our bags and I folded up the bright azure corduroy pants which I'd washed, that were still wet, and put them in the bed sheets.  We stored them at the station before taking a train to Helsingør (Elsinore),w here saw not only Kronborg castle, a beautiful, green, and enchanting Baroque styled one, but later on at Hillerød, the Fredriksborg castle which was similarly styled.  In Helsingør we saw, after some strenuous search and destroy tactics homed us in on the target, a monument dedicated to the legend of Hamlet whom Shakespeare wrote about after being inspired by the surroundings of Kronborg where the story took place.  We took a slow train to Hillerød which plowed between plains and fields of flat, scenic countryside.  We had no map of Hillerød, but I managed to take us in the right direction and we were quite astounded by the grandeur of the whole picture: the castle, moats, fountains, and the lake.  Rod especially liked the area and took the camera right out of my hands.  I thought however that 5 kr just to tour the inside was too steep because I rarely value the interior decorating nearly as high as the architecture from the outside.

We mistakenly took an S-tog back to Copenhagen instead of the regular trains, which are free with the student rail pass, but we weren't discovered since S-togs don't have conductors which come along to check for tickets.   I was so tired that after fighting it for awhile I fell asleep.  When I awoke we were back in Copenhagen and I thought about Helsingør again and seeing Sweden so close by on the horizon that I could distinguish individual windows and cars.  I was tempted to go since it was only a 20 minute boat ride, but Rod restrained me and blocked me at every escape.

We went back to the Vista self-service restaurant, but instead of having 2 frankfurters and potatoes as last night we experimented with one of their 12.95 kr dinners; Rod had veal fricasee with plum jelly while I had Italian goulash with spaghetti and tomato soup.  We came back to the station and had a summit conference on the type of staple we were going to bring with us to while away the hours before and during our Berlin-via-Hamburg trek.  I decided on coconut cookies while Rod chose day-old bread for the same price, 2.50 kr.  Afterwards I returned to the grocery store and looked for something to drink.  The cheapest thing was a 1.95 kr horrible tasting lemon-flavored buttermilk, which I immediately got rid of.  The next couple of hours I spent writing about the last four days.

Thursday, August 22

We were still in the station in Copenhagen waiting for our 12:30 train.  I thought about what some friends told me before the trip on all sorts o f subjects and topics.  I was told that I would probably find Dutch girls, in Amsterdam at any rate, the prettiest.  On the contrary, having been through so many countries, I find that there are many contrasting aspects to judging anything at all from the food to the living quarters.  I can safely say that Copenhagen was expensive, especially when it came to food or spirits.  The city was clean, though the wood mosquitoes in the park were a pain in the a--.  There were many parks in the center of town as there were in towns or cities in England or Germany or Holland.  Tivoli was right across from the station which ranks it among the all time tourist attractions.  At Bakken I realized how many German tourists there were and for that matter Germans seemed to travel on "holidays" more than any other Europeans.  I also thought about the sexual freedom in Europe: Italy and Spain seemed almost void of sex oriented attractions and shops, displaying a rather Christian or traditional strict set of morals and clean conduct.  The English seemed to be middle of the road having sex shops but lacking a Pigalle (June 17) or Reeperbahn.  Germany had an above-average rating because of all the sexshops plus the prostitutes.  However they were all licensed so that it was under control by the government.  France would rank there as well and I left Switzerland and Austria out because we didn't stay in the big cities there, though would rank low anyway.  Holland and Copenhagen rank as the highest with Holland getting the trophy because of its total freedom and unrestriction.

At the train station there was a train display which simply enchanted me.  Trains are such a large part of this trip as well as being one of the most expensive that I have rekindled interest in them as I think I mentioned earlier. 

Getting back to the moment, we got a seat on the train, but quickly lost it when we had to move to another part of the train that continued all the way through.  A German, a young man a little older than Rod, offered us a seat and gave me a cola spiked with some schnapps.  Afterwards, I woke from a pleasant sleep upon our arrival and with luck we only waited a half hour, 8:10 am for a train which was uncrowded, and cost us 28 DM.  We had the compartment totally to ourselves - heading for Berlin.  East German officers were everywhere and barbed wire fences accompanied the train tracks into West Berlin.  East Germany was run-down, gray, and dirty.  We were issued transit visas simply for traveling on a train through East Germany.  West Berlin, filled with parks, lakes, and the Grunewald, was an enormous oasis; I had the feeling like I was a prisoner since I couldn't visit anything outside the city without being, you might say, "on parole".  The Verkehrsamt was near the station and gave us all the information we needed to get around all of Berlin and even helped us locate Schwäbische Strasse, where the Beckers were, the people we would be staying with.

Both Lorena and Hartmut spoke English, both were also athletes; Lorena was the number one grass skier of Germany and Hartmut used to participate in the decathlon.  Hartmut, who answered the phone, "Becker!", met us at the bus stop and took us to their apartment.  We rested and they acquainted us with all the intricate matters we needed to know, including the keys which were many. We went out at 5:30 pm and went to the wall and saw the Brandenburg Tor (gates) and the Reichtag and the Russian war memorial, watched and patrolled very carefully.  I had the feeling that a war could begin at any moment with all the electric gates and barbed wire fences and the guards with loaded guns!!!

We saw the prostitutes along the June 17th Avenue, seeing the Congress Hall which was a modern building built for an exhibition in 1957 and reminded one, as a quote went, "of a pregnant oyster".  We also saw the Victory column which was illuminated with orange lights making it appear like gold and commanding attention from distances because of its stature and size in comparison with the surroundings.  We walked a long distance to the Kurfürstendamm or "Ku Damm" as it was called.  I couldn't take a picture of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, which had old remains of World War II and a new ultra-modern church next to it, clashing like black against white.  We walked along the shopping and entertainment areas for a few hours sampling "soft Eis" as it's called. 

We returned to the apartment just at the same time as the Beckers and enjoyed a midnight snack with them.

On this trip there hasn't been too much time for too much laundering or cleaning and I took the opportunity to take a shower and remove all the grime and smell that has been accumulating on me for the past weeks.  I also dried my blue corduroy pants properly and got myself back out of my "durcheinander" or confused, disorderly state of affairs.  I didn't have time to do everything, though, and remained an ape man for another day failing to shave off the week's accumulation of growth which you might see in the pictures.  Actually a few weeks ago Rod was even worse to the point of growing a beard.  I checked my film and found more than enough to last me for the rest of the trip.  By the way while lying in bed I admired the marvelous posters of the Munich Olympics having talked with them earlier about that.

Friday, August 23

We ate breakfast with the Beckers, Lorena made sandwiches with ham, cheese, mayonaise and a fried egg on top, which was filling and delicious, the kind of home-cooked meal to break the monotony of always eating out, since we haven't the time to do a bread and cheese number.  We first saw the Technisches Universität where my dad studied, and saw the Kernphysics lab which is the specific place that we wanted to see.  Lorena, by the way, was kind enough to drive us out there in the Volkswagen, the first that we've been in for two months; I wonder how this will have affected my driving ability.

NefertitiWe walked up to the Egyptian museum where we saw Queen Nefertiti, a bust dating from 1240 BC (or vor Christ as it said in German).  I was especially interested because, like seeing the Venus de Milo in the Louvre after seeing the copy we have at home, I wanted to compare the copy which is situated in our living room with the bona fide item.  Right across the street was the Charlottenburg Palace, so after examining the Nefertiti - which was almost life0sized and awed us with its age and vivid color and bold appearance - we saw the Rococco busts of Frederick the Great and some paintings of German artists in the palace.  We took the U-bahn to the Dahlem Museum located adjacent to the Freie Universität.  I was very pleased with their collections of Rembrandt, including the man with the gold helmet, Hals, and a few Rubens.  Here and there we also found works by Hans Holbein, Titian, Velasquez, Poussin, Dürer, and a lonely El Greco.  I examined an awful lot of the paintings so closely that one of the guards told me, "Vorsicht!  Möglich können Sie den Alarme andrehen, weil Sie beinahe gegen den Kunst stehen!"

I saw the similarity between Rembrandt and Hals; if anything Rembrandt van Rijn copied Frans Hals' style since the latter preceded the former in time.

We ate at a cheap pizzeria for a DM per piece and then went to "Old Eden", which lacked a crowd though having television and films - we saw the first Clay-Frazier fight in black and white, and saw the Streets of San Francisco in German.  There was also a juke box, discotheque, bar, pong, and other assorted games and decorations.  Rod had a Berliner Weisse Rot while I had the Grün, famous German beer with syrup which I liked a good deal, though I usually find beer a little uncomfortable since I'm still not accustomed to it.  We also went to "New Eden" which wasn't at all like the first.  It had an "Eintrittsgeld" or entrance fee of 5 DM while the other was free.  This was going to be as they called it, "super erotic show", and when we sat down it was only then that we were forced to order food or drinks.  The final killer which forced an exit was the 25 DM minimum which comes to about $9.  The lady at the front was topless, but believe me it's not really interesting and I felt out of place just as I did when we were shown a sample of porn in Hamburg.

Saturday, August 24

Checkpoint CharlieOnce more we were able to get a strong start with the breakfast of breads, meats, coffee, and an egg, this time hard-boiled which I actually enjoyed.  Today we went on a memorable journey through East Berlin.  We took the tube to Kochstrasse which was only 50 yards from famous Checkpoint Charlie, one of two common checkpoints, the other being at Friedrichstrasse.  Before putting ourselves through the process of entering "no man's land" to reach East Berlin, we toured the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie and saw the whole history of the escapes, attempts, protests, and conflicts and the like set up much as the Anne Frank House.  After turning the place inside out reading everything and anything, we then walked unassuredly past the "Allied Checkpoint" sign and then still another, which was very sobering, which read, "You are now leaving the American sector".  It was then that I realized how real World War II and then the cold war actually was.  Here I saw the blockades, walls, barbed wire fences, watchtowers, and soldiers.  We waited for quite some time in order to get through; it took up about 45 minutes altogether.  We had to exchange 5 DM/west for the same amount in DM/ost though DM/west were worth 4 times more in the exchange rates.  We actually got 10 DM/ost since we didn't have any change.  Fortunately things were quite inexpensive; Berliner Weisse was only about -.65 DM which was cheaper than West Berlin.  In fact I've come to enjoy it very much and hope that I might be able to find it in Los Angeles.

Checkpoint Charlie signI immediately got that cold chill feeling almost exactly like that of Orwell's 1984; the streets were wide, but empty of cars, pedestrians, or cafes on its sidewalks.  Police, or the Volks Polizei, as they're known were everywhere, and I thought that I was fast becoming paranoid since I would continuously glance over my shoulder.  We read that it gave the most vivid feeling of gloom on a cold, rainy day.  Yesterday would have sufficed, however today was the first time that the sun had appeared in Berlin in quite awhile.  Still you had that eerie tingling down your spine.  There was virtually nothing at all in the way of entertainment, a direct and clear contrast to West Berlin where there was always something.  No bars, discos, and in fact few cafes either (they had a funny way of reserving tables considering that the restaurants were all of a lower standard).  There was almost no place to spend our money.  I can't stress anything as much as that.  The only thing which East Berlin had were people and a few museums, nothing else!!!!! 

We walked along huge, empty Friedrichstrasse till we came to Unter den Linden, which we walked to the end to see the fabulous Brandenburg Gates from the inside out.  We walked the length of this avenue past the Museum Island and also past what was supposed to be the site of the Marx Engles Platz, however a new building was being constructed on the land there, and I would think that it no longer exists.  We came to the Marienkirche, the oldest church in East Germany, and fruitlessly waited in line to see the panorama from atop the Television Tower.  For some reason they regulated the small number of people who could go up and see the view at respective intervals, which caused us to waste half an hour and if we hadn't left probably still another half hour at least.

We went back and saw the Pergamon Museum which had not only the altar, but large columns etc. from other civilizations such as the Assyrians.  By this time I wasn't afraid to take pictures; Lorena told me beforehand that it was okay to bring my camera into East Berlin though Dad said not to.  We also said the Red Rathaus, or city hall, which seemed unoccupied now, not unlike everything else in the city (a double negative for a metropolis which could also be called a double negative of sorts). 

We went into the Hedwig Church which was similar to the Pantheon which we'd seen in Rome.  We also went to a Russian war memorial with a tomb to the "Unbekkanter Soldat".  It was guarded outside by two Russian soldiers, and at 5:00 pm we saw the changing of the guards, getting a look at their marching using the infamous "goose step".  We had to get rid of our DM/ost since you aren't allowed to bring them in or take them out of East Germany.  Unfortunately nothing was open and I mean nothing!  That was ont he main street yet, the biggest boulevard in East Berlin and we couldn't even buy a glass of water or a toothpick.  Saddled with the coins we laid them on the ground, and later when we were leaving we saw a "Soliderität or something sounding like that, which extra, left-over money was put into.  Better to have left it in the street and leave it for a poor person than to give it right back to the government.

The departure wasn't as involved as I thought it would be.  They only checked our passports before letting us reenter the civilized world.  It really was out of this world, a totally off-beat experience drumming up feelings of fear that war could flare up at any moment.  There seemed to be a lack of culture as well as self-expression, but a great abundance of oppression. 

I took numerous photos of Checkpoint Charlie before returning by tube to the Ku Damm.  Once there we had soft eis, pizza at the pizzeria we ate at yesterday (today they played two, count 'em two songs by Al Green, "Stand Up" and "You Ought to Be With Me"!), then finally the third Eden, Big Eden, where I talked to a 17-year-old girl from near Düsseldorf called Althea or something Spanish like that; it could hardly have been a German name.  I told her about my trip and then I in turn listened to her talk about her travels to Ireland.  She knew one of the barmaids and had a coke on the house.  She was thoroughly surprised when I told her I was sixteen, and told me she thought I was older.  She said that it was unusual to find someone of my age in a place like Big Eden.  Just to tease me afterwards she told me that it was my "bed time".  Nevertheless it was the first time I socialized with such a stranger chatting at a bar like that.  I guess I'm still at that teenage stage of my life where I'm testing everything, trying new things and hoping to gain maturity.  On the contrary, though, I can see where gaining maturity might be related to not having to prove masculinity or penetrating shallow goals and discovering for yourself what should genuinely be valued.  Hank said it best when he mentioned to me, "Let it happen naturally as a part of life, don't force things which shouldn't or needn't be forced; for some people it might not happen at all, so big deal!"  Still I had to say I enjoyed exchanging experiences and thoughts with her, which I similarly liked to do with anybody at all regardless of race, color, or sex.  That's the way to make the best use of bars - to meet all sorts of people and learn from them and hopefully you can contribute something to them also.

I said goodbye earlier than I might otherwise have wanted to since the night needed to be used for writing, and soon afterwards for sleeping so we could cram in all of the sights we had yet to see.  Just for your information, I initiated the conversation with the question, "Ist es immer so voll hier oder nur am Wochenende?".  Lucky for me she spoke English quite well since the Big Eden was crowded and noisy.  Rod and I returned to the Beckers' and ate some delectable plum pie which was left for us.  I, of course, am writing now in this journal at 1:30 am to catch up.

Sunday, August 25

We were left with one day to see the rest of interesting sights in West Berlin.  We started off by walking down Martin Luther Strasse to the Schöneberg Rathaus where John F Kennedy said, "Ich bein ein Berliner," the summer preceding his assassination.  The Rathaus was celebrating its 60th year as well; it's been, of course, much more recently that it became the city hall of West Berlin.  We planned to leave Berlin later that evening, so we took the tube from the Rathaus to the Zoo Station and purchased tickets to Heimstadt, the border city just inside West Germany, from where our student rail passes would be of value once again.  The tickets cost a bit less than 20 DM whereas the tickets from Hamburg cost 28 DM, and if we'd taken the train from Copenhagen to Berlin via Gedser it would've cost about 42 DM. 

We left the station by S-bahn to the Victory Column.  I'd only a few exposures left on my roll, so I became very selective until we returned to the apartment and got a new roll.  After walking around to the front of the enormous, golden structure, we ambled past the Bellevue Palace, the residence of the Chancellor when he is in West Berlin, which had the same sort of entrance facade as the White House.  In the Tiergarten we saw, as you would expect, a lot of little animals: rabbits, porcupines, and the like.  Through the trees we had a view of our next destination, the Congress Hall, which we had also been to the day before yesterday.  In the fountain we saw the most unnerving sight, which was of remote-controlled, scale-model ships which could go in reverse as well as forward.  One shot firecrackers into the air like missiles which exploded with quite a startling jolt.

Soon after, we went to the picture taking highlight of the day, the Brandenburg Gate and its surroundings.  We were lucky to find an especially well-centered view of the Russian War Memorial, guarded by Russian soldiers who have to be guarded by East Germans, West Germans, and Britons since a Russian guard was shot once.  We also took a shot of the gate itself from the West this time.  To our surprise the Reichstag was accessible though we were only able to penetrate its cafeteria for a Berliner Weisse.  We also snatched some literature pertaining to the history of the Reichstag which was free of charge.  The building was burned down around 1935 or so, and now stands as monumental as before with a classical facade. 

We had returned simply to get closer looks or take photos of these historical sights.  We still had time so we took the U-Bahn to the Olympic Stadium and as luck would have it, there was a North West German track meet which proceeded so slowly that it got tiring to wait for each event.  I can categorically state that Birmingham High track meets are run smoother as well as faster.  I put Rod out of his misery by walking about finding a plaque with the winners of each event in the 1936 games with Jesse Owens' name heading the list.  We walked from there to the Teufelsberg, a hill built upon the remains and ruins of World War II as a reminder of peace.

Lorena and Hartmut were there earlier the same day to go grass skiing, but returned home before we got there.  We found remote-controlled model airplanes which were even more interesting to watch than the model boats earlier.  One was so extravagant as to release a parachute upont he command of the owner.  These owners and patrons of model gliders were not young kids, but on the contrary, were common adults out to enjoy a Sunday afternoon.  One didn't use his head and tried to throw the plane over the field instead of over the cliff to catch the updrafts for a take off.

We relaxed there for a while before calling it quits and returning to the Zoo Station and finding a pizzeria where we filled up on spaghetti and pizza. We had some soft eis before going back to the Beckers' to collect our packs.  They were kind enough to invite us to have some drinks with them just before taking us to the station.  First I had helles or light beer, and then I couldn't resist the offer of a Berliner Weisse.  I also listened intently to, "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch" by Donnie Ellert which reminded me just how much I wanted to listen to the full sound of my stereo.

Berlin has provided me with many pleasant surprises which I've previously described, therefore though we are approaching the time to go home, I wish I could stay longer in Germany's largest city.  But all bad things must have a beginning as all good things must come to an end; I do look forward to seeing all my friends and telling each one of them as vividly as I can about what I've seen, learned or in any other way experienced.  I want to relax and take pleasure int he comforts of home and the old routine.  I've come to have a routine on this trip, one which is too rapidly paced since I find all too often we frenetically run here and there to see this and that, tired or not!  I can't believe that I've been away so long and now I can't believe either that it's time to go back home.  We thanked the Beckers for making our visit to Berlin so pleasant and easy.  We told them if they come to America in 1976 for the Olympics in nearby Montreal that they're welcome to our house.  At 11:00 pm, we said a last "Wiedersehen" to the Beckers and got a compartment all to ourselves on the train.

Monday, August 26

I woke up after a few hours of sleep to find the train had stopped in Essen, where we had topped through earlier.  I went back to sleep and finally we reached Köln, so I stayed awake the last fraction of the train ride to be ready to disembark. Before we could even get out of the station, we were confronted with the huge, gothic cathedral which equaled Notre Dame in size and grandeur.  I had to back-peddle for several hundred feet in order to capture a shot of the dome which would include ever spire of it.  On the inside it was spacious, but sparsely decorated and contained a marvelous organ.  I also saw a plaque reminding me of those I'd seen in Westminster Abbey, dedicated to Kaiser Wilhelm I.  When I was on one of the bridges which spanned the Rhine, I took a good photo which included part of the old market, the cathedral, the station, and another large bridge.

We walked around only a short time longer before heading for Bonn to catch the Rhine Steamer.  However at Bonn we learned of some unforeseen problems: our father said that it would only take 5 hrs for the whole thing, but actually it took 13 hrs, and it left Bonn 3 or more hours before we got there.  We were almost going to skip it and go instead to Trier, however the best idea which we followed up was to catch the ship at Koblenz.  While it took the ship 5 hrs or more to go from Bonn to Koblenz, it only took us 30 minutes to get there.

Although the Rhein trip is free with the student rail pass, we had to sit out on the side deck.  The train ran along the side of the river all the way to Mainz and did it far quicker.  Still, it was relaxing to take the time to drift past castles and small German towns.  When we passed the Lorelei, the song of the Lorelei was played over a loudspeaker on the ship, sounding just like the version that I'd heard on the tape recorder in Melden's class.  The scenery was pretty, but we decided to get off early at Bingen since we wanted to stay in a hostel and would be arriving at 9:00 pm in Mainz, which was too late.  We were lucky to latch onto two French people, one called Theresa, she was a doctor, and her brother, who we had pizza later with.  We made it to the hostel and got in a room with wild, rowdy Scots and young English boys.

Tuesday, August 27

We ate breakfast with Theresa and her brother.  He spoke a little German and even less English so I talked to him in German and we managed to communicate.  We walked down to the station at Bingen and caught the next train to Heidelberg.  We stashed our packs in lockers at the station and walked to the old section of the city in the Neckartal and walked past many pizzerias, record shops, and other assorted student-oriented facilities.  I was enchanted with the rusty color of the castle against the green, foresty backdrop with the statue of the baroque, golden style in the foreground which made a frequent picture for the covers of Heidelberg tourists books and guides.  The view from the castle was fascinating, displaying the bridge, the Neckar river, the church spires, and the red roofs of tudor-styled houses.  I only had a very limited number of shots because I failed to bring along an extra roll of film, leaving me restricted to shooting only the best of photos. 

Heidelberg was as green as any city which I'd seen in England and had a blue river cutting and winding between the beautiful, rolling hills with the new, modern, industrious university city spreading and sprawling out on the plain in the distance.  We walked down to the Rathaus and started a walking tour of the old city, passing by the birthplace of Friedrich Ebert, the first Reich president, a house where Goethe wrote during his prime, and the bridge decorated with a statue of Athena and St George, to name a few.  We also walked past some university structures like the library, all having brilliant facades with relief sculpture of such people such as, once again, St. George.  I also took the opportunity to get a coke, cookies, and wafers at one of the many markets along the Hauptstrasse.

We unfortunately didn't have the time to go on the Philosopher's Walk which had some great views, and was a relaxing way to enjoy the nature all around you.  That will have to wait until I return to Europe and certainly Heidelberg will be visited.  It gave the same feeling of pleasantness and tranquility that Grindelwald gave me.

We were obligated to meet Andy and David at 6:00 pm, platform 1, of the Frankfurt Main HBF (Rod has misplaced a note which he made, but searched carefully, revealing it in his flea-bitten wallet).  We met Andy, but not David, who we met the next day at 12:00 noon at the same place.  After talking for awhile, at the station we got a room for 3 at Elben Hotel, 3 blocks from the station, costing 59 DM all together.  We ate at an Asian restaurant having a dinner for 3 costing 55 DM n all.  One man near our table brought his dog in, and the dog hassled the waiter.  We walked past Frankfurt's Red Light District.

Jokes and Sayings

"Nicht München"

"Why do all the trains go to Bahnsteig?"

"Oh no, we're back in Bahnsteig!"

"Oh, we were supposed to transfer at Freilassing!"

"King Rod II and his insane brother" - allusion to King Ludwig II of Bavaria.

"Trattoria must have a monopoly of restaurants because the only places to eat fall under that name."

"Oh no, we're back in Binario!"

"Hey, isn't that the original copy of the David?"

"Oh, do you blow your nose properly," Perry quoted, "Firenze, Roma, and countryside, lend me your ears of corn!"