A month or so ago, I was asked to write about my life during retirement with comments on places I might have traveled. During the conversation, I casually remarked that my wife and I had visited all seven continents. It was then suggested that I should write a series of articles on each of our trips. I said I would, and so started to review where and when and how each trip unfolded.
Where do I to start? Well, when all else fails, start at the beginning. In my case, this would be back in the 1940s when I was given the book “The Flying Carpet” by Richard Haliburton. The story begins in Timbuktu, as the main character is landing his two-seater airplane in the desert. By the end of the last chapter, I discovered my desire to travel. Timbuktu is still on my bucket list.
The Army, in the late 1950s, gave me my first opportunity for real travel. Although I had been to the Great Smokey Mountains and had visited my sister in New England, the Army sent me traveling through 12 states by train from Ohio to California. Then I was sent to Germany and France for two years. While there, I saved up my leave time of 42 days to visit Switzerland, Monaco, Italy, Spain, England and Austria, as well as more of Germany and France. Remarkably, I did it all on only $250! My last day was spent riding across France in a small bread truck standing up the whole way. The railroad workers were on a one-day strike.
Besides the bread truck, there were several other highlights of this trip I recall. For instance, while being on top of the Arc of Triumph in Paris, I saw an “older” couple who looked familiar. It turned out they lived across the street from my mother! Although I had never met them, I had seen them going in and out of their home many times. Small world indeed!
Another memorable incident that trip happened in Switzerland. Early one morning I walked out on the dock by the hotel and discovered a body in the lake! Someone had fallen in and drowned. I was afraid the police would detain me, but they knew who the person was – the town drunk as fate would have it – and he had fallen off the dock many times before.
In Monaco, I had a much more pleasant experience. I went to the casino, put a French frank into a slot machine and won 150 franks! That paid for my dinner and my hotel room.
In 1970, one of our daughters sang in a high school choral group that was invited to sing in several churches in Italy. My wife and I, along with our youngest daughter, went as part of the chaperone group. We stayed on to visit our son who was in the Army in Germany. After that, we visited more of Germany and then Luxembourg and Switzerland.
In addition to these personal trips, I was fortunate that my business career took me to countries like England, Germany, Mexico, Canada and Switzerland. I retired from my first job in 1987, and the next installment of my travel adventures will take over from there.