My parents gave me this as my college graduation present the summer of 1970. (I'll take the opportunity here to thank my parents for all the gifts they gave me, particularly my life, my education, the 1966 Mustang I got when I graduated from high school, and the life-expanding experience of this trip.)
I'd never been further than New Mexico, Mexico, and Louisiana then, and barely that. I booked the trip through a travel agency on the Drag in Austin, and it was a good choice. Our guides were guys who'd graduated from universities in Britain and who spoke multiple languages; our group was college students from all over; and the guidance included a pre-trip packet with maps and overview and city orientations and lots of planned activities during the trip.
I shot a total of 3 rolls of 36 exposure 35mm film during the whole six weeks, and almost lost some images by opening the camera before the film was completely rewound!
Back in 1970 we cut up film negative strips and mailed some around to friends from the trip. Remaining negatives are a mess now anyway, so a set of small Kodacolor prints, labeled on the back and organized in a binder, was the source for digitizing. As computers, monitors, scanners, and Photoshop have all changed since then, the images have been tweaked. The original web page album of the trip that went up on the Web in 1998 is available here; this new version has more commentary and larger images.
We arrived at Amsterdam in the afternoon and spent our first evening touring the Red Light district in the rain. After that, it was mainly museums, with lots of and Rembrandts and Van Goghs.
A subset of the group (about 8 of us) opted for a Spain excursion, taking the train from Amsterdam to Madrid, with a stop in Paris to change guides and trains.
In Madrid we visited The Prado and learned that the Madrid climate had three months of invierno and nine of infierno. We saw a bullfight and flamenco dancing. My roomie Sylvia and I met a couple of Spanish guys who took us to the Parque de Attraciones and then out to eat paella.
It was a thrill to see El Greco's town. We visited the cathedral and synogogue and had lunch at a restaurant.
Our Spanish friends saw us off when our small group took the night train to Barcelona.
We had just a brief look at Barcelona before travelling on, but we saw some deco buildings and visited a glassblower.
We flew to Rome from Barcelona and had a moment of panic when one of the plane's tires blew during the landing and then another when we went through customs. Reunited with the rest of our group, we visited sights like theTrevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, experienced an outdoor opera performance of Mephistopheles, and then wandered the Forum and the Coliseum. There were many cats in Rome, and many Italian men to trail the women in the group.
At the Vatican, we saw the Pope at an open window, St. Peters', and Michaelangelo's Pieta and Last Judgment.
From Rome we went by bus to Florence, passing a hill town on the way. In Florence, We visited the Uuffizi, Ponte Veccio, Michaelangelo's David, churches, etc. We had yummy strawberry desserts, and one evening we walked in the hills above the city where the Brownings made a home.
In Venice we stayed at a hotel on the Lido and gloried in the water taxis and vaporettos, bridges, and San Marco plaza and cathedral. It was hot walking across all those bridges; I had potato pizza and bought a gold ring and a small vase of Murano glass. Then the group was off again through Italy into Switzerland, with a picnic on the way.
In Switzerland we experienced the Alps — and fondue.
I went on this side trip to Berlin by myself, visiting with friends I'd known from San Angelo and Goodfellow Air Force Base at Templehof. We looked at the Berlin Wall (I bought a souvenir rock with barbed wire), saw more sights, ate German food, and even checked ou a Berlin disco. Then I packed again and on flew to Frankfort to rejoin the group.
The hills were alive with the sounds of music, and Neil bought (& wore) lederhosen. Then it was on through Austria into Germany, with another picnic on the way.
We stayed in a hotel with a charming view, toured Heidelburg castle with its huge wine cask, and lunched at the student restaurant.
Going from Germany to France by bus, we had yet another picnic. In a village in the Alsace Lorraine area, I wore my Texas t-shirt and learned that the French associated Texas with bang-bang guns and Kennedy's assassination.
In Paris we visited Notre Dame, Sacre Coueur, the Eifel Tower, the Louvre, the Champs Elysses, and the Tuilleries Gardens: culture city. We also bought perfume and smoked Gauloises.
When we toured Versailles, I was impressed by the gold and mirrors and the artistic busyness of the rooms.
Then we crossed the channel from France to England and came to London, staying at Ifor Evans Hall. London was culture city, too — and we were glad to be among English speakers again. We saw London Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Parliament and Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Hyde Park and Marble Arch (where we met Gary Bhogal from India, with whom I exchanged Christmas cards for many years), and of course the British Museum. In terms of shopping, this was the time of Carnaby Street and "Swinging London."
Our farewell dinner was a dress up affair.
Of course, there's no place like home!