Thursday, October 19, 2006


Old Journals Pt II

This is the second in a series of excerpts from the 21-page journal of a trip I took to Europe the summer after high school. The first post is here. I finally remembered the name of the tour company: American Music Abroad. They appear to still be in business, and hey, why not? It was generally a fun time, and a way for kids whose families don't take overseas vacations to see a place they never would otherwise.

Folks, this trip took place in 1993. Thirteen years ago! That's almost half my life, and I was an adult at the time and even still remember it reasonably well. Can I really be that old? I guess so. Anyway, let's join my 18 year old self in Germany again, as the tour really gets underway:
We stopped in Heidelburg, where there is a large castle, and an 'Altstadt' or old town. I changed $80 into deutschmarks. I now have DM92,10, 90 French francs, and 20 swiss francs. Germans like coins. They come in denominations as high as DM5. I have DM2,10 in change. I also have $1.84 in American change which is worthless here. I have to sit next to a real pete on the bus (coach, sorry. "bus" is politically incorrect. They'll get mad at you and play Neal Diamond on the stereo really loud for the rest of the day if you say it.) The pete is big, fat, clumsy, dumb, crude, friendless, annoying, smelly, possibly gay, camera-happy, and takes up half my seat as well as his own.

Let's pause here while I explain two things. First, as I warned you last time, my attitudes and language were a bit different back then. Today I would take exception if someone else included "possibly gay" in a list like that, especially since there are so many other perfectly good (bad?) items on it. Second, some of my friends in high school used to call annoying idiots "petes" after--naturally--a guy named pete who was an annoying idiot. It's quaint to read that now, and sort of underlines how long ago all this was.
Opening the emergency hatches in the roof fixed the A/C situation. As long as we're moving, there is a breeze inside that's more than adequate. There was a big castle in Heidelberg. It had a 45,000 Liter wine cask in the basement. I wandered around the castle and the altstadt and briefly got lost along the river (the river Neckar) In Dinkelsbuehl tonight, I had my first glass of beer. It was Loewenbrau. It tasted nasty and I got slightly tipsy even though I didn't finish it.

Yup, my first beer at age 18. Without stretching the point too much, it really was a more innocent time (and if you're my age, that's a scary thought!) and plenty of us on this trip were enjoying our first chance to imbibe. I mean hey, it was still illegal back home!
July 3, Dinkelsbuehl.
Today we all (Me, Patrick, and Mike) slept through our alarms. We woke up at 8:30, and skipped breakfast. I showered and was the last to leave the room. I bought some tape to mark my film cans and some postcards. I also bought a 0.76 Liter bottle of orange juice. That was my breakfast. My lunch was some strawberries that I bummed off Laura. She and Leslie came to our room for awhile and talked this afternoon. After they left, Pat and I talked for awhile and Mike fell asleep.

For some reason, I was diligent about listing the names of people who figured in my day. I'm glad now that I did, though some of it is hilarious because, of course, I was eyeing up all the girls in the group:
Tara is really cute, and she is nice to me ...a rarity among the girls on this tour. She suggested that I spend the last of my change on ice cream. I did, and it was good. Now it's time for an evening shower, and then dinner. Concert tonight at Bad-Windsheim.

Ah, our first concert. I just may have been wrong about the 10-hour practices back in PA being superfluous, or maybe people just had a lot of wine with lunch. Either way, it's just a good thing we weren't singing for our supper, because...
12:23 a.m. The concert was very bad. We were out of tune and had poor tone quality. The band directors were too low down for the brass to be able to see them, and we messed everything up. At least the people didn't kill us, though some walked out. I don't want to play in this band again. It is just too bad. Bad-Windsheim is a neat town. It has narrow streets and picturesque buildings, and a real nightlife. I think that Europe is a neat place to visit, but I don't want to live here. I do want a car, though.

And there's our last sign of the times for this section. I was such a car nut back then that my residual knowledge today can still irritate the hell out of people. I've spared you the lengthy description, but not only did I want a European car, I knew exactly which model and engine option. I may even have known the price--and notice everything is in DM. This is long before anyone was talking about Euros.

Tomorrow, we visit Mad King Ludwig's castle and re-enact World War II on the Fourth of July!

These posts are neat! I like the appearence of "pete". I think some of my journals of the time period overuse the word "fearful" too.

I look forward to reading more!
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