Tuesday, July 05, 2016

50,000 words later, my 1985 European travelogue is finished. I think.

How many words are in a book? Estimates vary, though at the low end of the range, I'm close.

Perspective is a condition impossible to gauge without the passage of time. Given what we can see now about the way the world has changed since the Berlin Wall fell, those bits of Europe I saw in 1985 were considerably closer to 1945 than we are today, by comparison to 1989.

At least it seems that way to me.

Not a day passes without my being thankful for being able to commence my foreign travels in 1985, when a place like Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) wasn't merely located in a different country, but a different galaxy.

Sometimes I try to imagine an alternative reality, in which the European bug didn't bite. It's an American Dream sequence, filled with signposts from the sort of conventional family and professional life portrayed on the television shows we all grew up watching.

There was a time when I aspired to such a life, but it would have been a mistake. In fact, I can't even imagine this alternative reality, and in saying so, I'm not copping an attitude or being snobbish. I'm not implying that the way I turned out is better or worse than anyone else's path.

I always knew something about me was different, that's all. This was clear to me long before Europe entered the scene, and while much of it remains a mystery even after all this time, I know that whatever the nature of the itch, Europe enabled me to scratch it.



AFTER THE FIRE: Euro ’85, Part 34 … The final chapter, in which lessons are learned and bridges burned.

THE POTABLE CURMUDGEON: Euro ’85, Part 33 … All good things must come to a beginning.

THE POTABLE CURMUDGEON: Euro ’85, Part 32 … Leaving Leningrad.

THE POTABLE CURMUDGEON: Euro ’85, Part 31 … Leningrad in three vignettes.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 30 … Or, as it was called at the time, Leningrad.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 29 … Helsinki beneath my feet, but Leningrad on my mind.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 28 … A Finnish detour to Tampere for beer and sausages.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 27 … Stockholm's blonde ambition, with or without mead-balls.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 26 … The Hansa brewery tour, and a farewell to Norway.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 25 … Frantic pickled Norway.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 24 … An aspiring “beer hunter” amid Carlsberg’s considerable charms.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 23 … A fleeting first glimpse of Copenhagen.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 22 … It's how the tulips were relegated.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 21 … A long day in Normandy, though not "The Longest Day."

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 20 … War stories, from neutral Ireland to Omaha Beach.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 19 … Sligo, Knocknarea, Guinness and Freddie.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 18 … Irish history with a musical chaser.

The PC: Euro '85, Part 17 ... A first glimpse of Ireland.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 16 … Lizard King in the City of Light.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 15 … The traveler at 55, and a strange interlude.

The PC: We pause Euro '85 to remember the Mathäser Bierstadt in Munich.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 14 … Beers and breakfast in Munich.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 13 … Tears of overdue joy at Salzburg's Augustiner.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 12 … Stefan Zweig and his world of yesterday.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 11: My Franz Ferdinand obsession takes root.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 10: Habsburgs, history and sausages in Vienna.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 9 … Milan, Venice and a farewell to Northern Italy.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 8 … Pecetto idyll, with a Parisian chaser.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 7 … An eventful detour to Pecetto.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 6 … When in Rome, critical mass.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 5 … From Istanbul to Rome, with Greece in between.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 4 … With Hassan in Pithion.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 3 … Growing up in Greece.

The PC: Euro '85, Part 2 ... Hitting the ground crawling in Luxembourg.

The PC: Euro ’85, Part 1 … Where it all began.


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