There were two first big trips; big and really big.
The ‘big’ trip was my first time to a foreign country, Grand Bahama.
True, it’s only 50 miles off the coast of Florida but it is a foreign country.
It was in 1979. A Grand Bahama resort was offering a promotional $100 visit, including airfare!
Myself, Vicki Berg and my sister were soon on our way to West End, Grand Bahama.
Along with all the tourists arriving by plane, there were many private boats arriving from Florida. The ‘boat people’ came to mix, mingle and party with the tourists.
It was on one of the boats that we learned about lobster diving.
A diver is pulled along in the water at the end of a tow rope.
When he passes over a ‘glory hole’ in the ocean bed, he turns loose of the rope.
He swims down into the hole made by ocean currents, reaches into a cavity made by a lobster and pulls the lobster out.
When enough lobsters have been caught, it’s back to the dock.
The lobsters are immediately cooked right there on the dock.
How much fresher could lobster be!
We were there when Hurricane David arrived.
Rope was strung between all the buildings.
You could hang on to the rope and not be blown away when moving from building to building.
The boat people would often risk the wind to check their boats.
As the water rose, the moorings had to be loosened.
If not, the lines would get too tight and the boats would break free.
Good bye, boat!
The resort opened the bar with free drinks for all.
Not a single person panicked during Hurricane David.
My first ‘really big’ trip was to Europe.
It was in 1980. With a Eurail Pass and a couple of travel books, my sister and I went to Europe.
Neither of us had ever been to Europe.
We started in Barcelona, Spain and ended in Athens, Greece.
We followed the Mediterranean coast by train.
At Nice, France we took a detour to Zurich, Switzerland.
This was an ambitious agenda for two novice, green as grass, first time travelers to Europe.
Our start in Barcelona was not pleasant.
It was incredibly noisy at night.
We got no sleep.
We were ready to leave Barcelona after only one night.
It’s ironic that years later, I chose to live in Barcelona.
It is now my favorite city in the world after Paris.
We had an unpleasant experience on the train going to Rome.
It was a Friday night and we learned that many Italians head south for the weekend.
The conductor on a European train is all powerful.
Exception: Friday trains heading south.
On Fridays, Italians overwhelm the trains.
They crowd in at every stop.
They have no tickets.
The conductor disappears.
Our compartment was soon crowded with an additional 8 Italians.
A compartment is meant for only 6.
I don’t speak Italian but it wasn’t hard to understand ‘Americana’ and ‘turista’ spoken with a sneer.
After a long and miserable night, one of the men looked at me and said, ‘Roma?’
Apparently he had heard us talking about Rome.
I nodded, ‘Yes‘.
The train had stopped.
He pointed out the window and said ‘Roma.’
I looked out the window.
We were in the middle of nowhere.
I ignored him.
Again, he said,’Roma?’
Again, I answered, ‘Yes.’
He repeated more adamantly, while pointing out the window, ‘Roma!”
By this time, I didn’t much care where we were.
I said to my sister, “Grab your bag. We’re outta here.”
We got off the train and we were standing in a pasture.
Down aways, we saw a couple who had also de-trained.
We caught up to them and asked if they knew where we were.
They said we were in Rome (!) but not at the central station.
Seems the train we boarded only skirted Rome.
Another train actually went to Rome’s central station.
Hey! Don’t laugh. We were newbies at this.
We found a bus that would take us into Rome.
When the driver announced, ‘Termini’, we knew we had arrived.
The rude Italian had done us a favor when he insisted we get off the train.
Or maybe he just wanted our seats.
– Sue Williams