MEMORIES OF MY 1961 VACATION ABROAD

Published January 19, 2022 by Nan Mykel

It’s funny how some memories persist while others are scarcely registered or maintained.  For example, I have almost no memory of my visit to the Louvre, but many memories of…maybe incidents?  What would it have taken for me to have remembered seeing Leonardo daVinci’s  Mona Lisa, for instance?   Things about the trip that I do remember, for instance, include:

The perpendicular chain on the window of our cabin on the  slow freighter Marengo appearing to move back and forth as it was tossed to and fro on the north Atlantic…(It was the porthole that was moving, not the chain)…

Being introduced to the taste of a drop of rum in morning tea at a campsite in Bulgaria…

Unexpectedly meeting some friendly gypsies with a dancing bear in the woods–but I can’t remember the country…

Being interrogated at the equivalent of a police station by an official who was reading our passports until he came to the photo which caused him to turn the passport rightside-up…

Eating so many plums from the Bazaar in Instanbul that I got a bad case of hives…

Mistaking the drain in a shower for the local version of a toilet at a youth hostel in the early days in France.

Upon returning to Manchester to catch a slow freighter ride back home, we were afforded a few nights free because a strike was going on.

Lice at an overnight inn at Brindisi.

While traveling deck passage, the first thing I saw and heard when I opened my eyes the next morning were cliffs either side of our ship and far overhead the sight and sound ot a distant tooting train crossing a bridge over us: the Straits of Corinth.

The one-legged communist who ran the campsite in St. Remy and bought our bicycles, prior to our purchasing one Vespa motor scooter.

The wonderful beaded doorways in St. Remy.

Surprise that there weren’t any mountains across the lake in Geneva, until the mist thinned and way up on top of the sky the setting sun moved a hair, revealing alps at our zenith.

The expression on my partner’s face when a dog peed on him alongside the Seine in Paris and I had a laughing fit.

The sound of firecrackers when we camped in the Pompeii campsite, momentarily causing alarm when wakened by them.

Learning the small cafe in Pompeii had a special cutrate menu for campers like us.

The sight of a fountain in the train station in Marseilles that read “Defense de uriner.”

On the Vespa, traversing sandy roads en route to the site of Schlieman’s Troy, in Turkey.

Sitting in dejection when the guard at a Turkey military base wouldn’t let us drive through the area on the way  back.  I said, “But we’re on the same side!” until they gave us a military escort through their base.

I think it was in downtown Bulgaria where we saw a billboard with a fat pig on it with the label USA.

Camping at Monaco and keeping a low profile when the Gary Powers’ U2 reconaissance plane was discussed.

Surprise at seeing all the stray cats near the Coliseum in Rome.

Collecting a few fossils in the white cliffs of Dover.

A free visit to an emergency room when I tried to get off the Vespa when left alone for  a few moments. An unimportant broken bone near the top of my foot was diagnosed.  Can’t remember which country, but the emergency visit was free, I do remember that!

Maybe it was having to crane my neck to view Michaelangelo’s ceiling fresco in the Sistine Chapel in Rome that left a memory with me.

Being stopped in Florence in the middle of a foot bridge across the Arno by a man who charged us for crossing on foot.  We had just been admiring works by Michangelo , after having camped in an olive grove overlooking the city.

On the same slow freighter we took both to and from Europe accidentally, (by serendipity), we were almost the only passengers, and so we always shared the same table as the captain.

When docked temporarily in New Brunswick  we were astonished to note that when we left the boat we had to walk down the gangplank, and when we returned we had to also walk down it, so great were the tides.

Learning to avoid looking at cars parked off-road in many of the countries.

Feeling ashamed of myself for getting so happy at the prospect of a hamburger, back in the U.S.

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