Jolene, (who everyone called Jo) and I had been on most of our trek around the world by the time we got to Europe eight months after we started from
This German man was truly a nice person and spoke great English. It was a cold, rainy day sometime in June, and he offered to give us a ride somewhere in the direction we wanted to go, although now, the details escape me. We weren’t on a definite schedule and it was of little consequence when we got to our next destination. The order in which we arrived at these chosen places didn’t matter as much as any new adventure along the way. Our next destination was always only a matter of our own curiosity or a place that held some interest to us based on a travel book we carried, recommendations from others we had met or the fact that there was a youth hostel there. Youth hostels had proven the way to go in that they offer great prices and a host of other people traveling in the same shoestring manner for the same reasons. They were always a great place to meet lots of nice people, where good camaraderie and advice among the fellow travelers could always be found. We found these people offered great tips about places not to miss and it’s much better than sitting in a more expensive hotel room isolated from the world. The drawback is that they have a curfew, and most of them lock up at night at 9:00, as well as lock people out during the day from about 10:00 to 4:00.
This German man, however, offered to take us home to his wife to spend the night in their home. He said his wife spoke much better English than he did, though that seemed pretty impossible. He went to a restaurant pay phone to see if that would be okay with her, and returned to announce that she was anxious for our visit. So within the next half hour, we were greeting his wife and children in their home and being shown to wonderful comfortable beds, which were ours for the evening. That night they took us out for a meal and showed us a bit of their town.
The next morning, the wife cooked what she deemed the typical American breakfast for us, which included bacon, eggs, toast and coffee. She was very proud of this as she ushered us to the breakfast table, announcing that she had done this just for us. We never ate like that, especially on a shoestring, and we appreciated her devoted effort.
Her husband was leaving shortly for another town in
He didn’t just drop us off. He dropped us off and had us wait in the gas station where it was warm and away from the misty morning chill until he would tell us he found us a ride! Outside, he was “interviewing” everyone who stopped at the station to find out where they were going and if it included going as far as
When we arrived in
When I climbed into his car, I pointed out that his gas gauge registered near empty and that perhaps he should consider stopping and getting some ‘petrol.’ No, he assured me, it would be fine. We drove from pizza place to place, but no one wanted to sell a pizza to go. When yet another suggestion about the declining gas was refuted, I didn’t say any more, but now it was about 20 minutes to 9:00 and the youth hostel locked the gate at 9:00. We seemed about 20 minutes away. With this hostel being on top of a cliff, I knew there was no hope that I could even coax anyone to open a window, which we heard is a common practice by other hostellers when a fellow traveler gets back past curfew. These windows were high atop the cliff and no one inside the hostel could ever even see anyone or anything below the cliff. So I called the hostel, told them we had finally found our pizza to go, though I may be a few minutes late, so, could they leave the gate open until I got there and also pass this message along to Jo? The lady assured me that she would do this for me.
Now when we got back to the German’s car with our pizza, he didn’t have enough gas to get it started! I didn’t have time to waste. I had to get back immediately. I wondered if he had let that happen intentionally, knowing I would be stranded with him, but before he had a chance to try to convince me of anything, I thanked him and said I had to try to get back on my own, then took off on foot. I didn’t have much of an idea where it was, but I stuck my thumb out. A man stopped and took me almost there, stopping a block away where the road forked. He said he thought it was a better idea if we went dancing. I replied this was impossible, as I had to get to the hostel—they were waiting for me. And I pulled another hasty vanishing act, walking the block to the hostel. However, when I went up to the wrought iron gate, it was locked with no way to climb over the top of it. I walked around the side of the cliff to inspect feasibility, but the youth hostile was way too high up the cliff, impossible to reach short of the steps or helicopter. Also, t was a fairly isolated area with no businesses or phones anywhere around. I was most worried about Jo worrying about me, but there wasn’t any way to get word to her. All there was to offer a remote chance of entry was a light pole about 5 feet from the wall alongside the cliff. If I could get up to the top of it, perhaps I could transfer from it to the waist-high wall around the hostel’s patio. There was only one other soul around, and he was an armed guard across the street at the small and deserted-looking military base on the
Well, I bet he hadn’t! I evaluated it again. I had to try. With my left hand and foot on the light pole, and my right hand and foot against the wall, I started climbing. I surprised myself and made it all the way up to be equal to the top of the wall in relatively short time. Now I had a problem. I couldn’t let go of the pole long enough to grab the wall and the distance was too far between them to do so without falling. So now, here I am at the top of a light pole in
Now I saw three people come strolling down the sidewalk toward me at a leisurely pace, and it became funnier still. I’m sure the last thing they thought they’d ever encounter was seeing some maniac at the top of a light pole. I hoped they wouldn’t see me, but surely they had, and if not, at least, heard me. Sure enough, as they approached closer, they stopped and looked up at me. I was still laughing and gripping the pole.
“Are you okay?” one of the two men asked as the lady stood there gazing up with the other two. I’m sure this question was offered with a bit if trepidation, as they weren’t sure who or how sane a person they were dealing with.
“Yes, I’m fine. I’m locked out of the youth hostel,” I announced, but shocked too, that this was spoken in English and without any accent foreign to me.
“We thought that was the case. Can you get down?”
“Yes, I can slide down the pole,” I said, even though I sort of hated to give up all that hard work now that I had made it all the way up there.
The same man spoke up again. “You can stay with me and my wife. We have a beautiful place on the top of a building that overlooks all of
The wife encouraged me to take them up on their offer and said they had just eaten at a place down the road and were walking to their car. They would take their friend to his house, and then bring me home with them. This sounded wonderful and since I didn’t have a better plan, I took them up on their offer. I was hardly in a position to refuse.
Their dwelling was a spectacular penthouse. They were two Americans who had met in
The next morning, I called Jo, as it had been too late to call the night before. I told her I had mostly been worried about her worrying about me. She said she wasn’t a bit worried about me--that she knew I would be fine because I always seem to find a way to make things work and make everything all right. She just somehow knew I would have found a good situation. But she couldn’t have known how good. The lady of the house invited me to lunch and for her personal tour of