Monday, February 25, 2008

leaving CV part 3

In Europe we always carried guide books giving the sites to see, where to stay and eat, what to buy etc. I would read these aloud to Walt as he drove us to our next destination. The books failed to mention a few situations we found ourselves in.

In a country inn in Spain we discovered bed bugs!! and left in the middle of the night. In Edinburgh, being unable to understand our guide even though he was speaking English. Asking directions in France, knowing he spoke English and have him refuse because we were not educated enough to speak French. Snob!

We camped as often as possible including in Bulgaria where we stayed in a new campground, however, they were not really ready for people. An old woman sat on the bathroom steps with a bucket of water, her job was to flush the toilets after a tourist exited. Constipation!

In Turkey seeing Mosques and women wearing Burkas for our first time and astonished at the weight the men carried by balancing anything and everything on their heads and backs.

In Greece not being able to understand each other so the waiter took my hand and led us into the kitchen so we could point at what we wanted to eat.

Checking into a Belgrade hotel surrendering our pass ports and then realizing our room was bugged. Creepy!

Being approached by some young boys in Rome offering to watch and protect our car for a dollar, knowing if we did not pay the car would be broken into.

At the Greek/Bulgarian border crossing while Walt was getting the car inspected I took pictures of the guards, buildings etc, the Greek guard kept saying 'no no' I just smiled and waved to him continuing to snap pictures. As we were leaving I noticed a sign in English that said ' No Pictures'. Lucky for us he must have thought I was just another dumb American.

To cross into East Berlin through Checkpoint Charlie, Walt, had to wear his uniform as per the Soviet/US agreement. Needing directions we saw several East Germans at a bus stop but when we approached they disappeared. Only a Russian officer stopped and helped us. It became apparent the Germans were afraid to be seen talking to us.

In a Danish Youth Hostel the room and sheets were not clean. Walt, did not seem to care but after I said I would sleep sitting up in the chair, we again left in the middle of the night. Is this
a guy thing that you dont care if the sheets are clean or not?

Getting to hike on a Norwegian glacier above the Artic Circle. Witnessing the pageantry of a bull fight in Madrid. Having a gondolier sing to us while riding in his gondola in Venice.

We had a flat tire when we were crossing Greece to catch a ferry to Italy. It had rained so much mud was up to the running boards of the VW, since we had not seen a car all day, Walt, stripped to his underwear so he would not ruin his shoes and clothes. Just as he finished a car full of young people honking and laughing passed us.

At the Parthenon in Athens we were overwhelmed by the beautiful 5th century temple when a man started pointing at the city and said 'Look thats where we are staying, The Hilton'. Ugly American!

We Visited the Normandy Beaches of WWII with their steep cliffs that our GIs had to climb while the Germans were shooting down on them from their bunkers. There were 120,000 allied troops and 10,000 allied ships involved on D Day. My Uncle Claudie was one of those GIs in that landing he was in the third wave because all these men were short in stature and they needed the dead bodies to wade in on to keep from drowning! A US military cemetery is now on the top of the cliffs where over 6000 US GIs are buried. They all died within 3 days of D Day. Heartbreaking!

South of Munich is Dachau, a concentration camp which was liberated by the US Army, over 200,000 people were brought here by continuous trains. We stayed at an inn there and I was awaken in the night by a train whistle causing goose bumps!

Visiting two of King Ludwigs castles in Bavaria, Neuschwanstein, the castle Walt Disney used as his replica for Cinderella castle at Disneyland or at dusk crossing the lake by boat then riding in a horse drawn carriage to Herrenchiemsee, sipping champagne and listening to a string quartet playing Mozart in the Hall of Mirrors lit by thousands of candles. Wow!!

Returning to US next


Gary White said...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Your experiences bring back a lot of similar times we've had traveling in Europe. I can say that the accommodations have generally improved over the years, but you can still get into some strange places. Interestingly enough, it has often been those "strange" situations that I remember years later.

Phil Foust said...

Excellent narrative, Nancy ... of what must have been a wonderful time in your lives together.

Jay (J.D.) Mills, HP3AK said...

Nancy, you give just the right amount of detail and in just the right phrasing! I enjoy your accounts...

wayne woodruff said...

You and Walt had wonderful times and wonderful memories of your travels in Europe. But I am again amazed at how similar your experiences were to ours. You did mention seeing men in Turkey carrying burdens on their heads and back, and that reminded me of what I thought at the time was the most outstanding feat of strength I had ever seen. We were in a little town on the Amazon in Peru, and were wandering around the town, and went down to the river to eat ( the best fish dinner I ever ate). A supply boat had just arived down on the river. The bank was about seventy feet above the level of the river, and there was a full sized motorcycle off-loaded from the boat. A little man, probably in his mid twenties, and only about five feet four inches tall, somehow balanced this huge bike on his back, with a strap from the motorcycle around his head, and walked up the bank of the river to the street level above. I still marvel when I remember this.
We also walked into East Germany through Checkpoint Charley, but we were not allowed to actually walk through together. Diana went through with the baby and I, wearing the uniform, had to go separately. We met on the other side. It was interesting that the East German soldier-guards and Russian soldiers were very nice to Diana and little Debbie, but almost did not acknowledge my presence. Very cold behavior. Rather frightening.

Nancy Goode Schmid said...

Wayne, I too had to go through the east german border building where everyone is given a number. In my situation they skipped my number and continued to process the germans. Finally when I was the last person there they stamped my passport and allowed me to go on. Just more harassment. My in-laws were standing on one of the towers overlooking the wall with our baby and were sure they would never see me again.

wayne woodruff said...

Nancy,. You must have kept some kind diary or notes on your travels. You seem to remember details of the trips much better than I. For instance, I do not think we went to the palace at Herrenchiemsee, but went to a nunnery or monastery at Frauenchiemsee (same lake). Diana kept scanty notes of trips like that, but I, in my ignorance got rid of them after she died.

wayne woodruff said...

You mentioned some of the places in which you two stayed on your trips that were not so nice. Reminded me of a place we found in Belfast.. We had just arrived after an overnight ferry trip from Glasgow and were tired, so we immediately looked for a place to crash. It also had to fit in our budget. The "hotel" we found was awful. It was in the wharf area where sailors and prostitutes found each other. We did not know that until we went to the room and found that there were no locks on the door, and we could hear every sound of the bed springs in all the other rooms. Needless to say, we did not stay another night. Keep writing about you trips. It helps me to remember ours.