by William Sanders
Prologue: I Got Dem Ol' Call Me Ishmael Blues Agin, Mama
I was forced to travel, to ward off the apparitions assembled in my brain.
It therefore comes to pass that everyone is fond of relating his own exploits and displaying the strength both of his body and his mind, and that men are on this account a nuisance one to the other.
The whole thing came about as a classic case of project creep. My 58th birthday was coming up; my daughter and my son-in-law, who live in London, had the idea of flying me over there for the occasion. A few days' visit, a quick look around, and back home....
But then there were disturbing reports: airport security at Heathrow had been getting tiresome with outbound passengers, including no less a figure than Diana Ross. Knowing my low tolerance for such things, my daughter suggested I fly home out of some Continental airport, such as Brussels.
Which sounded like a good idea; but of course that suggested another line of thought - if I'm going to be on the Continent, why not check out a few of the sights? Paris anyway, never been there, always wanted to see the place -
From that point on I suppose it all became inevitable.
Money was a problem; as a free-lance writer I barely make enough to stay where I am, let alone go anywhere else. But I sold a couple of stories, and the latest book paid a couple of better-than-expected royalty checks, and on top of that there were donations from a couple of people who will have to be nameless here....
So on April 25, in the year 2000, I climbed aboard a plane at the Tulsa airport and took off for Europe. It was the first time I had been out of the Western Hemisphere since 1966; it was my first time ever to visit the European continent west of Greece.
I had about two thousand dollars in various currencies, a couple of changes of clothes and assorted essentials in a smallish backpack, a sketchy knowledge of French and a slightly better command of Spanish, a good solid pair of walking boots, and a passport with a truly terrifying photo. Also an old Yashica SLR with which to record the sights, and an unreasonable quantity of 35mm. film which I knew would still not be enough.
What follows is a rambling account of the journey, with various remarks and observations and outrageous generalizations, and illustrated with selected photographic images.
Next: England Swings, Somewhat Damply
London: Buckingham Palace, St. James, Piccadilly, Trafalgar Square
London Cont'd: St. Paul's, the City, Westminster
Amiens: Arriving in France, Amiens cathedral
Paris, Day 1: incl. Notre Dame, the Seine
Paris, Day 2: the Left Bank
Paris, Day 2 Cont'd: the Louvre, the Tuileries, the Marais and Vosges
Paris, Day 3: Montmartre
Avignon: the Palais de Papes, and the damn bridge
Dancers of Provence: Really neat pictures here
Motorcycling in the South: Arles, the Camargue, Les Baux, Tarascon
Agde: Nudism at Cap d'Agde
Girona: Side trip to Spain
Toulouse: Cassoulet, another cathedral, and a romantic encounter
Back to Paris: Montparnasse, student demonstrations, the Mouffetard and Contrescarpe
Luxembourg again: Scenic wonders of Luxembourg Ville
Brussels: Complete with mussels
Home Page: More about the author, for those who came directly to these pages; published works, critical quotes, SF convention reports, etc. With even more photos of varying quality.