[In the midst of the Holiday Season, I recall the joys and travails of going in Europe on a summer vacation as a 20-year old hitchhiker: My autostopping days I recorded
in various missives from foreign lands to close friends and family members.
Here are Parts I & II written to my good French friend Gérard Cordier in Lyons and devoted to my winding journey through various cities and towns from Hamburg, Germany,
en route to Aalborg in the North and Copenhagen in the East.]
Hamburg, Rendsburg, barrels, Husum, Frierderichstadt, Niebüll, Süderlügum,
Ribe, Esbjærg, Varde, Herning, Silkeborg, Bjerrengbro, Viborg, AALBORG
Mon Cher Ami ,
I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve been travelling too fast(!) Since I last wrote to you from Jo-Jo’s home near Hamburg (in Scheneburg) I’ve continued to be lucky. After an all-day city bus tour of Hamburg on Tuesday, taking in mainly the huge port – Germany’s gateway to the world and the center of the city’s economy, the Kunsthalle and the new Renaissance-style Rathaus, I left Wednesday morning, when I had to walk 5 km to reach the main road.
I then took half-an-hour to hitch to Rendsburg, where I met two other hitch-hikers – one Italian, the other Danish. I had originally planned to enter Denmark via Tønder so, to stick to this, I left the others who were going via Flensburg.
Scheneburg City Hall
I had qualms about the small road to Husum, but almost immediately got a car to Friederichstadt, where 10 minutes later – wonder of wonders! – a car driven by a young German girl stopped for me. She spoke English, and I couldn’t help thinking, that except for the color difference, she reminded me of my sister. Amazingly enough, she turned out to be a twin like myself and was older than her brother by 20 minutes – a coincidence, what? She took me as far as Niebüll, whence I had to walk 14 km to the Youth Hostel Association at Süderlügum, just near the border.
Next morning (30th) I hadn’t been on the road two minutes, when a Danish-driven car stopped for me – without my thumbing a lift! Soon after, it came down pouring and lasted for 8 hours, during which time my benefactors drove me via Ribe (where they gave me a mammoth Danish meal – steak, potatoes, salat, rodkaal and various tasty mixtures of which I don’t know the name). I felt as when I’ve been to a Chinese restaurant(?) Then on to Esbjærg, Varde, Herning, Silkeborg and Bjerrengbro, where the two men (brothers) put me up in their house for the night.
The elder bother works in the East Asian Co. and has covered the world pretty thoroughly, including India, and the younger is just completing an Electrical Engineering Course. [Back in London U., I’m just in the middle of my E.E. Course!] Their father died 2½ months ago – he was the manager of an engineering firm. After a very light but delicious supper in the early evening, I listened to their huge modern radiogram, then Kirt’s (the younger’s) sweetheart turned up and we all had coffee and toast (10 pm). The funny thing to see, then, was that both women smoked while not a single male present did so – and one of the women, the mother, a cheroot at that!!
This morning, Paul (the elder brother) drove me to Viborg, where it came down pouring again. However, I saw the famous cathedral – seen alongside, gave three young boys my autograph (I’m quite a novelty here), hitched 20 km and then had to wait from 12 noon till 3 pm, before I was driven all the way to Aalborg, by a Dane who had just returned from a 2-year stay in India.
We stopped midtown in front of the impressive 5-story Jens Bang Stonehouse, which was built in the 17th century by a prosperous Renaissance merchant. The fourth largest city in Denmark, Aalborg is situated on a deep inlet of the Limfjord in northern Jutland, making it a central inland port with access to the North Sea and to the Kattegatt Sea between Denmark and Sweden.
By the way it only stopped raining half-an-hour ago. The Youth Hostel is a beautifully fitted building – in fact, most of Aalborg is very modern. That’s all for now – best of health!
10 August 1953
(Part II: Dateline – Copenhagen )