Travel

While motoring through Switzerland one day ...

... in the merry, merry month of May ...

from Don Norris

This happened long ago, maybe 1973. Lorry and I had purchased a new Saab sedan, with delivery set for the factory town in Sweden called Gothanburg (in English). As I remember, the price was a little less than $4300, which included delivery from Europe to Providence.

It was really strange, for although I had studied Spanish, German and Russian in college,  I just couldn't get a word of Swedish. Fortunately the lady at the airport desk spoke English, and agreed to call the Saab factory and have our new wheels delivered to the airport.

A half-hour later, a pretty blond girl, speaking English, arrived with our new, blue sedan. But that's not the story of this photo.

We motored south to the Swedish ferry and arrived in Denmark that afternoon, and for the next week sauntered along the iron curtain border with East Germany.. At one point on our hiking, we found ourselves illegally close to that plowed earth and electric fence that marked the Russian side.

Not a hundred yards away was a large Russian tower, in front of which was an electrified fence and a plowed strip of raw earth that seemed to go on forever, in both directions. Through our binoculars, we clearly saw a Russian  soldier looking back at us, one hand resting casually on a mounted machine gun. We backed up several yards, then noticed that we had violated that border and were maybe 50 yards into East Germany.

We motored all over West Germany, went to Hitlers' mountain nest in Baveria, then into Austria, found a remote mountain pass going into Italy, got caught in a blizzard, motored through Lichtenstein into Switzerland. One day, as we crossed a high pass in the Alps, we came to a remote resort-hotel, only to find that the only room they had left was on the fifth floor -- "the attic".

It was a rustic room, and the only thing that separated our bed from the neighbors was a thin wall of plasterboard, through which we could heard German being spoken, next door. We had a lovely dinner in the elegant hotel dining room, and were able to spot the couple who occupied the room on the other side of our flimsy wall. He was a late-middle-aged businessman, sporting an affluent belly, and his companion was a beautiful young woman who was obviously not his daughter.

We giggled at the implication, had a fine Swiss meal, and made the long trudge up five flights to our rustic room.

We were reading maps in bed later that evening, trying to figure where to go the next day. Suddenly there was a thump, and another thump, then a prolonged series of thumps, all emanated from our flimsy wooden wall. We giggled again, and decided that the young woman was NOT the businessman's daughter. The squeaking of bedsprings made us smother our laughter.

The next day we had breakfast -- with the other couple a couple of tables away, then resumed our trip. We ended up in Amsterdam, re-arranged the shipping order for our new Saab, and after a couple days as tourists, hopped a plane back to the states.

It was a fun trip.

October 3, 2014


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