Give me a BZN number and I will sing everything word for word. For hours my father, mother, brother and I drove through the rugged landscape of Norway. Every hour the cassette tape (we speak in the early 90s, people) with other people’s favorite music. Confession: My favorite music was Clouseau (I repeat: we speak in the early 90’s, people, I was 12).
We did our shopping for way too much money miles away, Norway was not one of the cheapest countries back then.
The days were filled with climbing steep rocks, making a wooden bow and arrow with a pocket knife and lighting a fire in the fireplace of the wooden house. And with trips to glaciers (they will find those sunglasses that have fallen into the crevasse in thousands of years) and open-air museums (note: if the antique steps are wet from the rain, you will slip and bounce down).
In the evening we dived again in the pastel yellow Peugeot, looking for moose in the twilight.
One day, we had driven miles to the nearest, overpriced supermarket. We didn’t do this on a daily basis, so we looked forward to the fresh Kaiser rolls from the transparent bag. Smac (we’re talking in the early 90s, folks) from the car’s carefully packed six weeks of canned food. Fit for a king! Although the sandwiches tasted a bit strange, we noticed after a bite or three. On closer inspection, they also looked a bit pale. However, the bag showed no instructions for use …
See the anecdote that we still quote regularly: it might have been useful if we had baked those sandwiches first. Overpriced, expensive kaiser rolls with sticky Smac. Who hasn’t grown up with it?
Adolescent party in London
And whether there was interest in a school trip to London in 1979. All of HAVO-5 accompanied thirty teenagers traveling. Meet at school, take the bus to Vlissingen and take the ferry to Sheerness. You will just see: storm at sea! We all went to the top deck to sit in the middle and focus on the horizon. Everything not to have to hang over the railing and not to spit us into the sea last time.
We were accommodated with host families, in groups of 4 or 5 students. Those families were waiting in London as if they were going to meet their foster children and in a way this was the case. Fortunately, our group immediately clicked. That was also evident that evening when there was a party, organized by a kind of Miss Marple. “No Alcohol!” the stern lady called several times in a threatening tone. And she was right of course, but yes, adolescents …
Our holiday parents knew something about that: a bottle of cola containing a good dash of rum, nobody can see it. Not even Miss Marple. But she smelled it and the whole party was canceled. It’s strange that I remember the beauty of the British capital, where I still like to visit. Nice to see that many places, such as London Bridge, Windsor Castle and Trafalgar Square are still exactly as they were then.
Sleeping on wicker beach mats
Of course I would behave, often look up a phone booth and take good care of my money, myself and my girlfriend Nicole. Still exciting, two girls for the first time alone on vacation.
We had just finished my final exams, were 17 and I remember looking forward to two weeks of island hopping in Greece. The plane tickets were booked, we would arrange the hotel rooms on the spot. Things almost went wrong after arriving in Athens. We met Kostas; stunning, 42 and owner of a luxury yacht. He could drop us off on an island of your choice. I thought it was tempting, but luckily Nicole had more sense. So we just took the ferry.
On the ferry we came into contact with Sjoerd and Maarten, two Dutch boys who asked if we were going to their campsite. Fun! On Paros we bought wicker beach mats and a tablecloth. Sjoerd and Maarten’s very hot tent served as storage, we slept outside on our mat for two weeks. Sleeping is a big word, not much came of it. This photo is the most decent one. In the other pictures from the Greece series I often see myself standing at a bar, always together with delirious teenagers and a lot of alcohol. Our group of friends grew by the day, our money flew through it. On the table is a package of Marlboro, but we mainly smoked Greek Papastratos, without a filter. Nice and cheap.
Occasionally I called my parents, so hoarse that they could barely hear me. It was also two unforgettable weeks for them.
The best of both worlds
As the daughter of a Greek father, our next vacation destination was never a question; you spend it with the family. In my case that meant six weeks to Rhodes every year, which was never a punishment. I still think it is one of the most beautiful Greek islands with its beautiful old town, nature and beaches. Yes, it is touristy. But you will also find plenty of peace in quiet mountain villages and breathtakingly beautiful deserted bays.
Every year when we finally arrived in Archangelos after three full days in the car (it doesn’t get any more Greek than in this village), yiayia (grandma) ran with open arms to tell my sister and me how big and kissed we hadn’t become. In the courtyard of her house we put down mattresses every night and slept together under the stars.
During those holidays we enjoyed the best of both worlds. Did what tourists do but lived Greek life at the same time. Went fishing with Grandpa who was a fisherman’s boat and all slept on the beach; the more people the better. We were there at weddings, village festivals and baptisms. Were allowed to go with grandma to feed the goats (rehearsal, I was shocked when I opened the fridge again and a goat’s head stared at me) and helped bake bread in the traditional wood oven in the courtyard of grandma’s house.
Today, as a holiday destination, Rhodes is no longer as self-evident as it was then. Yiayia passed away a few years ago and there are too many other places to discover. But still when I set foot on the island again, it feels like coming home.
Compete for the girl
It was at the campsite in the German Moselle region when I really fell in love for the first time; Debbie was by far the prettiest girl on the campsite. Unfortunately, that opinion and her attention were not only assigned to me, but also to another boy. A tough guy from the city with a cool haircut.
Debbie divided her attention between me and the Tough Guy and I divided my attention between swooning and very fanatical table tennis. A round-the-table table tennis tournament was organized in week two of the holiday. De Stoere Gast also participated and was – just like me – in pretty good shape. Debbie was in the audience encouraging both of us.
After a fierce competition, I faced the Stoere Gast in the final. The battle for the win and for Debbie had started. Just before the last set I saw doubt in my opponent’s eyes, after which I finally knocked him off the table.
After my win, I got a kiss from Debbie, my first kiss ever. Two days later we returned home. My tears were unstoppable because I would never see my great love again.
Years later, in high school, I received a Hyves message from a childhood friend that I had lost sight of after moving. He had become friends with one Debbie and she recognized me on a picture of him and me together. Bizarre! She was still very pretty, but the connection we felt next to the table tennis table was gone.
Mountain goats and Edelweiss
What a holiday! Snowy peaks, valleys full of edelweiss, gurgling mountain streams and crispy Kaiser breads for breakfast. As a child I was taken to Austria for many consecutive summers. Bofferd? No, I didn’t like it at all.
What did I want then? I knew that as a ten-year-old, we don’t speak exactly in the early seventies. Something far away and exotic and all. Japan, that seemed like something to me. But at least I didn’t want to go for a hike every day. My father does. Map in hand, camera around the neck, and there we went up the paths and into the valleys. I trudged around bored and sighed deeply when I was pointed out at beautiful vistas and purple flowers in the field.
Because my father was an enthusiastic amateur photographer, we were also expected to stop regularly so that he could photograph mountain goats / snowy peaks / edelweiss. Whether we were used as image filling, where some action was expected; there are dozens of photos that we enthusiastically point to.
As a consolation I got a walking stick on which you could save metal shields from the different places we visited in those years. The really old-fashioned copies were attached with small nails, the modern variants were glued. I still have it and look at the names: Sankt Anton, Salzburg, Zell am See …
What beautiful holiday destinations. I’d be willing to go there again. Now completely natural, but also outside corona. Fortunately, I was repaid with the same currency. When I traveled through Switzerland with my two sons years ago and enthusiastically pointed them out at the mountain train Glacier Express, they looked at me bored. Could we maybe go to Japan next vacation?
Magical trip through Florida
The realization that you have been spoiled as a child often comes later. But as a 10-year-old boy, I had noticed that my summer vacation in 1988 was very special! For two weeks I was allowed to go with my twin brother in Florida, the largest playground in the world, and we also (deliberately) took the plane for the first time.
Our magical journey started – how could it be otherwise – in Orlando, in Walt Disney World. Soaring in Space Mountain, cuddling in the picture with Mickey and Goofy and of course swaying over the water It’s a Small World … I didn’t know where to look! Of course we went on to Universal Studios, Epcot Center and Sea World. To then set course in the rental car to Cape Canaveral – although I kept it at Cape Carnival: watching space rockets and shooting pictures in an astronaut suit.
The many hours in the car flew by – without an iPad or smartphone – in my opinion. If only because every so many miles a magical yellow M passed by, where we absolutely had to stop for a citizen. I would have preferred them for breakfast. (Little has changed in that area, by the way.) Miami was immortalized by the beach fun and sea life at Sea Aquarium, where we were kissed by a lifelike seal and soaked by killer whales. Wild animals are no longer possible, but I will never forget those shows. I am now 41 years old, but still as a child as happy when I walk through an amusement park, and just as excited as then for a (long) trip. Because of corona, a distant destination is no longer so obvious. That makes that summer of 1988 even more special.
Beach fun with grandma
I flew to Malaga with my grandmother, mother and aunt for many years during the May holidays. The first time I was not yet 2. We stayed in the same hotel in La Carihuela on the Spanish Costa del Sol, next to Torremolinos every year). We only went a week, but I felt the vacation lasted much longer. We walked straight onto the beach through the backyard of the complex. I looked for a lot of shells there together with grandma. A long boulevard with all kinds of restaurants ran along the beach. There were crabs and lobsters in trays that you could just touch. Sometimes they moved.
We always ate in the hotel restaurant. Every year there was the same nice big-nosed waiter who took me to the kitchen, where I was allowed to make my own dessert. I always hoped my mom would marry one of the waiters so we could always stay …
As I got older I quickly made friends with the English children in the hotel. We would spend hours in the hotel pool and all made up games. I sent those friends cards and notes for a long time until the following summer.
At one point, my grandmother grew old and we stopped going. The last time we were there, they were building up the entire boulevard with restaurants, so that you could no longer see the sea. I haven’t been there in twenty years, but I still remember the smell of the lobby.