We left London and headed to Dover. There we boarded a ferry to cross the English Channel. The farther out in the English Channel the ferry got, the whiter the cliffs of Dover looked. It was beautiful.
I don’t remember how long it took us to cross the English Channel, but I do remember the ferry arriving on the other side. We seemed to wait a really long time in the harbor. The ferry needed permission to dock.
Eventually our ferry was given the go ahead, we docked and disembarked. Our tour bus was waiting. We all climbed on board and headed out to see Europe.
After we had going along for awhile, our bus broke down. Whatever was wrong couldn’t be fixed, and we found ourselves waiting again. This time we were waiting for a new bus. Fortunately, it was a pretty day, and we got to be outside.
After a couple of hours, our new bus came. Back in business, we all got on board and started on our journey again. Then we drove. And drove. And drove. Eventually, it got dark. I remember our German tour guide, Christian, approaching our bus driver several times. There was only one problem.
They didn’t speak the same language, and we were lost.
That might be hard for the younger ones to fully appreciate, but these were the days before car phones, cell phones, electronic navigation devices and GPS. All we had were two Europeans who didn’t speak the same language. One was driving, and one was looking at a map. Ideally, those two functions do not operate independently.
Finally, we arrived at our hotel in Belgium. We marched inside without any idea of what the outside of the place looked like. It was midnight. Maybe even later. We were tired and hungry.
The wonderful staff at whatever hotel we stayed at had saved our dinner for us, waited for us and even served our dinner to us upon our very late arrival. We sat at a long table in an elaborate dining room.
First, we had soup. It was tomato soup, and believe it or not, I had never eaten tomato soup. I was a picky eater. However, with limited discretionary spending money and the deep pit in my stomach, I tried it. Nothing ever tasted so good, and tomato soup is still a favorite of mine.
Next, we had salad. Believe it or not, I had never eaten salad before. Like I said, I was a picky eater. Though I had soup, I was still famished, so I tried the salad. Nothing ever tasted so good, and salad is still a favorite of mine.
I don’t remember the rest of the meal, but soon it was off to bed. I do remember in this hotel, the bathrooms were down the hall. Hotels at home were not like that, but hey, if I can eat tomato soup and salad, I can go down the hall to use the bathroom.
The next morning, we were able to spend a few moments outside before boarding the bus again.
Whereever we were in Belgium was absolutely beautiful. The hotel was like an estate, a large beautiful building set in the countryside. The new day was bright and sunny with a touch of coolness which helped to wake us up. Even though we went to bed so late, we still had to get up early, so we could stay on schedule.
Much sooner than I wanted, we were back on the bus. Christian announced that because of our troubles, we’d have to miss most of yesterday’s agenda.
So, we moved on to our next stop: Copenhagen, Denmark.
There, we saw the Legislative Building in Copenhagen. We were told Denmark had one of the highest tax rates – 30% as I recall. The human sculptures on the building were said to be writhing from the tax burden. We also saw a place I noted as “Christiania – Hippie Land.” I don’t remember much about “Hippie Land”, so if you know anything about it, please feel free to comment.
We saw The Little Mermaid statue in the harbor at Copenhagen.
Our next stop was Tivoli Gardens. We arrived in the afternoon and stayed long enough to see it all lit up.
Next up – A new bus driver, and several short stops before heading to Berlin.