Travel Diaries: Athens

Athens 1985Wow, August already! Where has this summer gone? I’ve been so busy that I’m lagging on my reflections on where I was 20 summers ago, but let me take you back again to the summer of 1985. On August 3rd of that year, we were in Athens, Greece.


August 3 / Athens

Woke up and went on a walking tour of Delphi’s Ruins seeing Apollo’s Temple and the Oracle. Shopped around a bit and had lunch before hopping on the bus for Athens. Arrived in Athens and checked into our Hotel. Showered and layed around trying to cool off, it’s so hot! Had a few beers before going to dinner. At dinner we received the coal mine photos they had taken in Salzburg, when I was in the hotel sick. Jenny had bought me one. After dinner we packed our bags for Poros. Jenny waited with me for Mommy to call from home. I wished her a Happy B-day. Jenny and I colled off, relaxing on the balcony. I stayed out there all night and slept great.


Travel Diaries: Copenhagen

Twenty years ago today I was in Copenhagen. Fun to read now how I was recognizing the feelings I was having for Jenny, who of course I was far from knowing would one day be my wife.

July 2 / CopenhagenSkipped the city tour in order to sleep late. Went to McDonalds and walked around a bit despite a hangover. Jimmy and I bought t-shirts and headed back to the hotel. Showered and got myself all together again. Ate an all you can eat buffet dinner which was great and then went to Tivoli (‘I Love It’ spelled backwards), a fantastic amusement part with lit up trees and great rides [doodle of the ride called ‘The Flying Carpet’]. Stayed up late talking in the stairwell with Jenny and I’m finding myself more and more attached to this girl. Pull yourself together Chris! Played a few games of backgammon with Ted and met a few folks from one of the other AESU groups.

Travel Diaries: Paris

Twenty years ago today I enjoyed the last of three days in Paris, mostly by exploring the city on my own during the day, and then bar hopping with a few friends at night. I enjoy traveling with people, but if you have too large a group you can easily suffer tourist paralysis, unable to decide what to do, where to go, or to all be ready to go and do anything at the same time. In Europe I was quick to bail out on such situations and set out on my own.

One of the things I had to do in Paris, was to play a scene from a movie that had come out the same year, Gotcha, in which a college student goes to Europe and gets caught up in many adventures. One of which, was to order a Pernod at sidewalk cafe from a rude French waiter. But I don’t recall the waiter being rude, and I’m sure I’d have wrote about it if he had been.

June 24 / ParisAll day is free so I slept late, and then went to do my laundry. It’s still raining on and off. Took Metro to go shopping and bought a blue paisley shirt and grey tie. Saw the Eiffel Tower and the Arc D’Triomphh up close and then walked along the Champs Elysees stopping for a “Pernod avec de l’eau” which was pretty good. When I got back I found out that is was 8:45 PM and not only 4:19 like my watch said it was, which shows how long I can wander. I’ve picked up the nickanme “Crisco” because I wander off from the group and they all ask “Where did Chris Go?” I’m passing up the Cabaret tonight because I didn’t want to blow the $40 it costs. I’ll party on a budget with my other thrifty friends. Went bar hopping with Jimmy, Lyle and Scott.

Travel Diaries: Bus – Barcelona

Twenty years ago today I was pretty hung over, but it was worth it. I had been out until 4:15 having enjoyed the benefit of being shown Madrid’s nightlife by some locals. One of the guys on our tour group, Ted, had family friends in Madrid, and Feranado and Alicia were wonderful guides. They introduced me to Tapas, small appetizers that come with the price of your drink at many bars. Going from bar to bar, eating a different Tapa in each one, ends up amounting to a progressive dinner. I was the last one left still ready for action after the rest of our tour group had peeled off, and Feranado announced, “The time for drinking beer has ended. The time for drinking whisky has begun!”

June 16 / Bus – BarcelonaWoke up at 6:30 A.M. feeling the pain of last night. I shouldn’t have any complaints, I slept for a whole hour. Spent all day on bus trying but failing to sleep. Still winning big at each slot machine Jimme, Ted and I play. Arrived in Barcelona and ate dinner in our hotel, then we all went to a Flamenco show. Back at Hotel we drank champagne and I called home to wish Pop a Happy Father’s Day and to say Hi to everyone. Crashed at 4:00 A.M.

Travel Diaries: Europe 1985

It was 20 years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.
The Beatles

I’m not used to being able think in terms of things that happened 20 years ago today, primarily because my memory sucks. Sure, I could guess, tell you what age I was, or try to recall events that happened ‘about’ that time. But to be able to say precisely what I was doing 20 years ago today, not a chance. Until now. Because 20 years ago this summer, I kept a diary.

Recently a couple of friends, Nathaniel and Rick, wrote in their blogs about meeting and dating their wives. Their tales got me thinking, and helped me realize that I met my wife 20-years ago, and we had a pretty unique first date. It lasted 62-days and covered 21 countries.

At the time I was in college, and my chosen field of study was International Relations. Never having traveled outside of the U.S. (other than the occasional drinking trip to Tijuana, Mex), and my appeals to expand my horizons further fell on sympathetic ears. Thanks to my folks and grandma, I found myself booked on a summer long trip to Europe, traveling solo, but with a tour group that was compromised of 25 girls and 17 guys, who came from homes reaching from New York to Hawaii. The average age on the bus was around 20 or 21. Nice setup, eh? Our tour group was labeled GT610, AESU’s shorthand for Grand Tour (their longest European trip) departing on June 10, 1985.

And so, dear readers (you are so few that you are indeed dear), I plan to take advantage of this summer and this blog, to share some tidbits from this rare opportunity I have to tell you exactly what I was doing 20 years ago today, by reprinting some of the entries from my travel diary that I wrote that life-changing summer. Where appropriate I will add links, annotations, photos and reflections. And where necessary, I will still leave some of the best stuff out. Even after 20 years, some memories remain my own.

To catch up, we departed New York on June 10, and caught a Madrid to Lisbon connection on June 11th where we met up as a group for the first time. After a brief time in Lisbon and then Guarda, we were in route to Madrid.

June 14 On Bus/MadridCrossing the border into Spain, our bus died leaving us between countries. Stayed an hour in Rodrigo where we had lunch and I won a 500 psta jackpot on the slot machine. Stopped in Avila, a city inside a huge wall dating to the middle ages and then to Salamanca. Arrived in Madrid at about 7:30 and had a whole fish for dinner. Went to the Orense mall and drank a huge beer called a ‘mini’ and danced. Came home at 5:00 am.

Coincidentally, it was just a day or two ago my wife Jennifer recalled that fish dinner for our children. We’ve learned to appreciate seafood more than we did before, but we still prefer it not to be looking back at us from our plates.