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My First Europe Trip Was Fifty Years Ago Today


Lucky
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On this date in 1971, my younger sister and I flew to Gatwick Airport in London for our first Europe trip. The RT fare was $259. Over the next 7 weeks I spent $741, including passport, Rail Pass, food, hotels and incidentals. We had the Europe on $5 a Day book and followed it religiously. London to Scotland to Ireland. In Scotland a street sweeper asked why we were not down at Holyrood Castle. He said the Queen would be passing by as she went to Holyrood with Princess Margaret. So went down the hill and saw that pretty up close. In Ireland I kissed the Blarney Stone, thus my gift for gab.

Parisians didn't like us drinking Perrier right from the bottle, but it was so hot! We continued to Vienna and up to Denmark and The Netherlands. I hadn't yet acknowledged I was gay even to myself, but we did go see Death in Venice in Dublin, so my sister later told me that was when she began to wonder. Lots of things happened but I won't bore you.

It does seem so long ago. We surely never gave a thought to looking back 50 years later, but here we are! Yes, I have returned multiple times and would still go if COVID allowed.

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42 minutes ago, Lucky said:

On this date in 1971, my younger sister and I flew to Gatwick Airport in London for our first Europe trip. The RT fare was $259. Over the next 7 weeks I spent $741, including passport, Rail Pass, food, hotels and incidentals. We had the Europe on $5 a Day book and followed it religiously. London to Scotland to Ireland. In Scotland a street sweeper asked why we were not down at Holyrood Castle. He said the Queen would be passing by as she went to Holyrood with Princess Margaret. So went down the hill and saw that pretty up close. In Ireland I kissed the Blarney Stone, thus my gift for gab.

Parisians didn't like us drinking Perrier right from the bottle, but it was so hot! We continued to Vienna and up to Denmark and The Netherlands. I hadn't yet acknowledged I was gay even to myself, but we did go see Death in Venice in Dublin, so my sister later told me that was when she began to wonder. Lots of things happened but I won't bore you.

It does seem so long ago. We surely never gave a thought to looking back 50 years later, but here we are! Yes, I have returned multiple times and would still go if COVID allowed.

You must have a remarkable memory.  To be able to vividly recall a trip you took as a toddler.  ;)

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You beat me to Europe for the first time by exactly two weeks! But we had very different itineraries, because I flew Icelandic Airlines (RT $218), which flew only to Luxembourg. I never got to Britain on that trip. My route was Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp, Bruges, Zurich, Vienna, Copenhagen, Bremen, Amsterdam, and Paris, back to Luxembourg and then to Reykavik on the way back to NY, all in six weeks.

I also spent my time a bit differently, since I met up in Brussels with a gay friend and traveled with him for the first 3 weeks, then stayed in Copenhagen for a week with another friend who was living there, and later met up with a third friend in Paris. During the day I saw the sights, but I had sex with local men almost every night, in bathhouses or with pick-ups from bars or the streets, in every one of the cities named above except Bremen (I needed a break).

It was a wonderful experience, so I went back frequently, even lived there occasionally, but there is something specially memorable about the first trip to Europe.

 

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On 6/25/2021 at 4:34 PM, Lucky said:

On this date in 1971, my younger sister and I flew to Gatwick Airport in London for our first Europe trip...

On 6/25/2021 at 6:29 PM, Charlie said:

You beat me to Europe for the first time by exactly two weeks! ...

I beat you guys by 7 years.  Flew to Paris (TWA) immediately following graduation;  met up with a friend who had graduated a year earlier.  Picked up a leased car (standard shift Simca) at a factory outside of Paris and had to drive back into town during rush hour through the Champs-Élysées.  Spent about 7 weeks touring all over France, Francophone Switzerland, and parts of England and Scotland.  He returned to the States from London; another friend joined me there.  We took the ferry to Belgium and spent another 7 weeks or so in Belgium, Holland, Germany,  Germano- and Italophone Switzerland, and Italy.  Somewhere I have notes of that trip....

 

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Mine was 49 years ago, 3 and a half months in Europe with 2 weeks in Mexico on the way back. How I remember my first night in Venice! Magical! The Swiss train rides particularly the Jungfrau. Amsterdam, the DOK Club and Thermas 2. The latter almost defied belief. Ah memories!

Edited by sydneyboy
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my Dad was an airline captain (TWA) and so we had passes....first European trip for me was in 1969 at age 6......only Germany and Austria, I think.......the entire family was on one passport, I think...

I remember emerging from low clouds as we landed at Frankfurt and noting how all the buildings seemed to look old, uniformly dark brown, and a couple or three stories......I got lost in downtown Munich one busy evening (lost a parent's grip) and a German woman came up to me as I wandered the busy streets and started asking me a bunch of stuff in German....all I could do was nod "yes" to everything she asked me and I was finally let go and made my way back to the hotel (always have been good with navigation)....I asked the desk clerk about my parents and he said to just wait in the lobby....a few minutes later, while my Dad was still out looking, my Mom and younger brother came in and all was concluded.......

we all went skiing with other airline friends at Kitzbuhel in Austria - my first time on skis......I do remember being a bit of a brat during the ski lesson one day (several of us of various ages at the lesson) and taking off down the slope at full speed out of control....the instructor caught up with me - and I don't remember what happened next (I think I went back to the lesson??)......they gave out medals to all the ski students at the end of the week and I remember getting the lowest of the possible ranks......still have the medal somewhere around here.....   

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Thanks for sharing your travel memories,  I read these with so much pleasure, as travelling is one of my great loves, and during this Pandemic, its not possible.

 

I Iive in Australia and our borders are closed, to travel you need a permit then you have issues getting home, as you have to do hotel quarantine for 14 days at your cost $3K.  There are plenty of seats but the airlines are limited by the number of available slots for hotel quarantine.

 

So no chance of me travelling.

 

In 2020 we had 4 holidays booked 2 international and 2 domestic, we were only able to take one of those holidays due to international and state borders being closed.

 

In 2021 we managed to get into Queensland from NSW,  the borders are currently closed again, and we are on stay at home restrictions for 14 days, of which today is day 1,  we have had to cancel a trip to Europe and meanwhile we are desperate to return to our holiday home in Bali to help out our staff.

The future is out of my control 

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What a fun thread!

My first trip was in the summer of 1974.  I went to the UK with my mother for 3 or 4 weeks...I had just turned 15 a few weeks before the trip.  We were in the UK when Cass Elliott died there and we were still there when Nixon resigned.  Even the flight over was exciting for me...a Pan Am 747.  I had flown before but never long-haul  and never on a 747.  I doubt I slept a wink on the entire flight to LHR.

We spent time in London and also went to Edinburgh, Wales, and Dublin.  I remember the ferry crossing from Wales to Ireland was during a storm and it was very rough!  I met cousins on the trip that I continue to see to this day.  Just waiting for borders to re-open in order to get back over there.   I love traveling to the UK between mid-September and mid-October.  

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22 hours ago, sydneyboy said:

Mine was 49 years ago, 3 and a half months in Europe with 2 weeks in Mexico on the way back. How I remember my first night in Venice! Magical! The Swiss train rides particularly the Jungfrau. Amsterdam, the DOK Club and Thermas 2. The latter almost defied belief. Ah memories!

An example of how times have changed. I flew home Acapulco to Sydney on a 707 which had about 10 passengers! Imagine that today! 

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I took my mother on her first trip to Europe for her 75th birthday. My father had a died a few months earlier, and I felt she needed something to take her mind off her new situation. She had never been out of the US, but I had lived in London and had friends there, so I thought it would be a good place to test her travel stamina. She stayed in a hotel across the court from the friend's flat in Covent Garden where I stayed, and my friend decided to host a few social gatherings while we were there. It was the first time my mother had ever been in a social setting with some fairly sophisticated (gay and straight) Londoners, and she was fascinated. We also walked all over the city, visiting the typical tourist sites. On the flight home, I asked what she thought about the trip; she hesitated a moment, then said, "When can we do it again?"

Over the next dozen years I took her on seven more trips to Europe, including France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, the Low Counties, all the Scandinavian countries, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Greece. We even went back to London a couple more times, but the first trip was the one she said was her favorite, because she said it made her realize how much she had missed by never venturing abroad before.

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2 minutes ago, Charlie said:

I took my mother on her first trip to Europe for her 75th birthday. My father had a died a few months earlier, and I felt she needed something to take her mind off her new situation. She had never been out of the US, but I had lived in London and had friends there, so I thought it would be a good place to test her travel stamina. She stayed in a hotel across the court from the friend's flat in Covent Garden where I stayed, and my friend decided to host a few social gatherings while we were there. It was the first time my mother had ever been in a social setting with some fairly sophisticated (gay and straight) Londoners, and she was fascinated. We also walked all over the city, visiting the typical tourist sites. On the flight home, I asked what she thought about the trip; she hesitated a moment, then said, "When can we do it again?"

Over the next dozen years I took her on seven more trips to Europe, including France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, the Low Counties, all the Scandinavian countries, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Greece. We even went back to London a couple more times, but the first trip was the one she said was her favorite, because she said it made her realize how much she had missed by never venturing abroad before.

You're a good son.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My first trip to Europe was the summer of 1969, quite an eventful year. I went on a student charter flight to London from Montreal, only $79, the lowest fare offered but the catch was it left 25th May and returned at the end of the first week of September. I was at university so it fit perfectly. 

I spent the first 3 weeks with an aunt, uncle and their daughter and we went from England by ferry and picked up a new car in Paris which we drove to Spain and back to Nice, where I left them. Saw a bullfight with my cousin.

From Nice, I mostly hitchhiked around 13 countries in Western Europe, only taking one charter flight from Copenhagen to Rome. I was in Denmark when the moon landing happened and watched it on TV late at night.

I met up with friends along the way and we would travel together for a week or so and then split up. I kept a daily diary and went through it in 2019 on a regular basis to remind myself where I had been on that date 50 years ago. The craziest people I fell in with were 3 Aussies who had a VW camper. We did the two breweries in Copenhagen and walked away with 3 shopping bags of bottled beer which we lifted off the assembly line.

There were many days when I didn't spend a cent, people were so generous. Other times I splurged, like on a $5 glass of fresh orange juice on the Cote d'Azur.

My only regret was that there was no sex, I was still in the closet. Serge Gainsberg had his hit song L'an Soixante neuf. It was a couple more years before I tried that and saw what all the fuss was about. 

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1 hour ago, Luv2play said:

My first trip to Europe was the summer of 1969, quite an eventful year. I went on a student charter flight to London from Montreal, only $79, the lowest fare offered but the catch was it left 25th May and returned at the end of the first week of September. I was at university so it fit perfectly. 

I spent the first 3 weeks with an aunt, uncle and their daughter and we went from England by ferry and picked up a new car in Paris which we drove to Spain and back to Nice, where I left them. Saw a bullfight with my cousin.

From Nice, I mostly hitchhiked around 13 countries in Western Europe, only taking one charter flight from Copenhagen to Rome. I was in Denmark when the moon landing happened and watched it on TV late at night.

I met up with friends along the way and we would travel together for a week or so and then split up. I kept a daily diary and went through it in 2019 on a regular basis to remind myself where I had been on that date 50 years ago. The craziest people I fell in with were 3 Aussies who had a VW camper. We did the two breweries in Copenhagen and walked away with 3 shopping bags of bottled beer which we lifted off the assembly line.

There were many days when I didn't spend a cent, people were so generous. Other times I splurged, like on a $5 glass of fresh orange juice on the Cote d'Azur.

My only regret was that there was no sex, I was still in the closet. Serge Gainsberg had his hit song L'an Soixante neuf. It was a couple more years before I tried that and saw what all the fuss was about. 

Thanks for sharing, wonderful trip.

Similar experience in 1972-1973. I remember being in West Germany  for Christmas, cold and a bit lonely.

But, I really loved the German food and beer at the local guest house.

I didn't like the Christmas bombing of Hanoi by the US. 

Greatful for Spanish bull fighting,  but Francisco Franco was still in power.

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21 minutes ago, WilliamM said:

Thanks for sharing, wonderful trip.

Similar experience in 1972-1973. I remember being in West Germany  for Christmas, cold and a bit lonely.

But, I really loved the German food and beer at the local guest house.

I didn't like the Christmas bombing of Hanoi by the US. 

Greatful for Spanish bull fighting,  but Francisco Franco was still in power.

It was only years later that I read Hemingway's stories of bullfights in Spain, especially The Sun Also Rises. His paying homage to bullfighting did not measure up to my experience of the spectacle.

And yes, the police were everywhere. Hard to ignore. More like a military occupation, especially in Catalonia.

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On 6/27/2021 at 12:48 AM, sydneyboy said:

Amsterdam, the DOK Club and Thermas 2. The latter almost defied belief. Ah memories!

I may have run into you at DOK or more likely in the Day Sauna.

My first trip was in a small gaggle of  university students in 1974 going to attend an EU course at the University of Brussels. I think it was the first time for all of us and we were dropped into the Grand Place at about 8am with no sleep from the rapid airport train totally confused. Almost like being teleported to a different dimension. We all had separate small hostels to find to stay in and were all in sleep-depravation/sun-coming-up-at-midnight mode. 

Then someone found a KFC close to the Grand Place and we were all fine.   

Edited by tassojunior
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On 7/8/2021 at 1:38 PM, Charlie said:

I had an affair with someone I met at the Day Sauna in 1974. It was the only time my marriage was ever seriously threatened.

i ended up with a Dutch lover who worked days which meant i was a regular (almost everyday) at Day Sauna in 1974. Often saw a hunky muscle lad from Gouda and i've never looked at cheese the same way again. 

people keep saying "Thermas" and "Thermas 2"......was there a name change or was Day Sauna/Night Sauna just slang? 

he always took me to a very fancy gay bar that i remember always had a humongous vase of flowers on the center of the bar. I don't think it was D.O.K. or C.O.C. 

Amsterdam was a lot more fun then. Now it's just another big corporate city. 

Edited by tassojunior
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  • 3 months later...

You should definitely repeat your journey again! I travel a lot and Europe used to be on my list of priority destinations for travel. I especially love magical Paris. But this year I decided to go to Australia and New Zealand to visit the places where the Lord of the Rings was filmed . There is amazing nature and an amazing climate. Last week I enjoyed a beach holiday by renting a house on https://www.onholidays.com.au/victor-harbour-holiday-houses/ and I understand that I want to go back there again.

Edited by maddorax
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7 hours ago, Charlie said:

I think I will suggest to Lucky that we go together on the 60th anniversary, and revisit all the places that each of of saw in 1971. However, we will fly first class, and take our portable walkers with us.

Any inhibitions I had about unnecessarily asking for help passed away several years ago when I had to walk a half mile with carry-ons and stand in immigration line at Terminal 4 JFK for 2hrs. Next time and every immigration line I now ask for a wheelchair and I get wheeled through immigration immediately, plus no walking through terminals. There's plenty available so it's not like you're taking from others. 

Students working as guides/helpers, even drivers (cheaply) are very good looking often and while younger people hiring one looks odd, age has it's privileges' there too.   

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On 7/9/2021 at 4:44 AM, tassojunior said:

i ended up with a Dutch lover who worked days which meant i was a regular (almost everyday) at Day Sauna in 1974. Often saw a hunky muscle lad from Gouda and i've never looked at cheese the same way again. 

people keep saying "Thermas" and "Thermas 2"......was there a name change or was Day Sauna/Night Sauna just slang? 

he always took me to a very fancy gay bar that i remember always had a humongous vase of flowers on the center of the bar. I don't think it was D.O.K. or C.O.C. 

Amsterdam was a lot more fun then. Now it's just another big corporate city. 

When I was there the day sauna was Thermas2.

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