Travel Log

All classmates and guests are invited to share their travel adventures and observations on this page. Many of us may never have the opportunity to visit some of these beautiful places. It is interesting to read about the impressions the landmarks, the attractions, the food and the people from other countries make on visitors. Please include photos, if possible. (If there's a way to give everyone access to this page to upload the story and pictures, then I will do that. For now, you will have to email your report and photos to me, and I will post them.)

The following is a travel log from Uta and her husband Klaus of their visit to the USA and our class reunion. Unfortunately I have not yet been able to figure out how to upload the text and photos together in a format that would allow you to increase the size of the font and would result in better quality pictures. My solution was to scan the pages of the log and upload them as photos. Sorry about the poor quality of the print and images.

Uta and Klaus obviously put much time and effort into this report, and I think that all who read it will appreciate their observations and impressions. You can use Uta's Classmates Profiles page, or the Message Forum page to share your rection to the log with her and her husband.

Thank you Uta and Klaus for sharing your adventure and your impressions with all of us.


The following is a travel report from classmate Robert Johnson (Franco). He visited France this summer and is sharing some of his experiences with all of us. His well written, interesting and humerous observations are fun to read. Thank you Robert for sharing your story with us.

I wanted to share with all of you some of my experiences on my recent trip to France. It was my first time to that beautiful country. My wife, Daliza, had been there before in her college heydays but she couldn’t remember most of it and I thought it best not to ask her why.

Anyway, it was a fifteen day vacation including four days in Paris and eleven days on a river cruise along the Rhone and Saone rivers between Dijon (home of the best mustard in the world) to Marseilles (home of the delicious bouillabaisse-fish soup). The cruise is 504 kilometers long (about 313 miles) and takes in unbelievably beautiful towns, hills, mountains, castles, vineyards, and colorful lush fields of lavender and sunflowers.

For those of you who have never taken a river cruise, it’s very different from an ocean cruise. On an ocean cruise you’re on a humongous ship and are among a cast of thousands and are lucky if you get to know more than one or two couples. On a river cruise, it’s virtually inpossible to be a loner. Our cruise had 170 people, which is 30 more than originally expected. By the time the cruise ended, I knew just about everyone and everyone’s business, including some business I’d rather they had not told me.

I lost six pounds on the cruise and ate very well. I also observed that there are no overweight people in France, Paris for sure. One of the main reasons is because they walk or bicycle almost everywhere they go. I estimate Daliza and I walked four to six miles a day on the various tours. Also, France is not just a country of cheese, wine, and perfume. It’s a country of steps, a gazilion of them and to go anywhere you have to climb every one of them (in case you’re wondering: There’s 289 steps from the ground floor to the roof of the Arch de Triomphe). Their idea of handicapped accessiblility is turning on the lights.

By the way, there are only three bathrooms in France, two in Paris and one somewhere else (I never found it but I did find one of the two in Paris). I think this explains the rather liberal attitude the French have about men’s and women’s toilets (pronounced twahlettes). They do have men’s and women’s toilets and family toilets. However, if there’s any kind of line (and there always is), it’s not uncommon for men and women to use each other’s toilet, especially women using men’s toilets. I remember one incident where I was innocently standing in front of a urinal admiring the quaint 11th century tiles on the wall when two women walked in the men’s room. One woman entered the toilet stall next to me and closed the door. The other woman remained standing behind me and waited for the woman to finish her business.

I don’t want to offend the delicate sensibilities of my female classmates, but all men engage in certain behaviors when facing the urinal wall. It is very unsettling to perform those tasks when a woman is standing right behind you. It’s best to cut it short (figuratively speaking), and get the hell out of there but not before you thoroughly wash your hands although most of the time there is no paper or the hand blower is broken. It’s worth noting for the benefit of most women and some men that some toilets have no seat which can provide a rather cold porcelain surprise if one is not paying attention. The upside is that most restrooms, even public ones, are very clean.

Okay enough with the toilets. Let’s get on with the food. There are about 400 different types of cheeses in France, which is why political rule in France is so unstable. The French also don’t pasteurize or add chemicals to their dairy products like we do. The same with their wine which is touted to be the best in the world. I have to take their word for it. I couldn’t tell the difference between a $250 bottle of Chateu LaFite 1963 and a $3 bottle of Ripple made last April (although I thought the screw type top had a nice bouquet but the clarity was a bit cloudy).

I had delicacies such as Beef Bourguignon, foie gras, snails, Coq a vin, Baked Alaska, and crepes suzette. I learned that foie gras is goose liver pate. I learned that the poor ducks are force fed corn boiled in fat so that its liver will produce the perfect kind of consistency. I didn’t know that and felt a little guilty afterwards. I vowed to eat liverwurst sandwiches in the future. As for the snails, I’ve had snails before so I passed. Personally I can’t imagine paying forty dollars for eating a slug considering I paid twenty dollars at Home Depot for a bag of slug bait to kill the damn things in my garden.

As for the highlights of the trip, well, standing at the top the Eiffel Tower was something else. From there you can appreciate what a beautiful city Paris truly is. I got to see Mona Lisa and I had to admit she was a bit mesmerizing. I also thought Winged Victory and the Venus de Milo were something to see as well. We also saw a special Van Gogh exhibit and after looking at his paintings with their riot of colors for a while I had this unexplicable urge to cut off someone’s ear.

One interesting experience. Underwear. My wife (in fact most wives) doesn’t understand the special relationship most men have with their underwear. No man ever throws his underwear away unless the fabric has completely loosened from the elastic unless it can be sewn back on somehow. When my wife discovered I had brought my tatttered underwear with me to Paris, she ordered me out of our hotel and told not to come back until I bought new underwear. I went to a men’s store in a French shopping mall and said ‘Bonjour, madame, come tale vous? and ‘Parlez-vous anglias?’, she flashed me a big smile and held up her forefinger and thumb almost together and said ‘leetle beet.’ I then asked her for underwear and she gave me a puzzled look. I carefully pulled a leetle beet of the top of my elastic of my underwear up so she could see it. She smiled and nodded. She quickly produced a package of three pair of black underwear. I asked her ‘Combien (how much)’ and she replied 65 Euros (about $88). I asked why so much and she pointed out that it was made with stretch cotton and made by Ralph Lauren. Still, I explained that’s about $30 a pair. I told her I could get a six pack at JC Penney’s on sale for $5.99 but she didn’t understand. So I had a tough choice to make: cough up the 65 Euros or face my wife without having bought any underwear. They’re very nice underwear except, well, they’re not built like American guy’s underwear, There’s no access in the front. But they’re very comfortable. I’d attach a picture of them but Daliza said that would be in poor taste.

Then there were the French themselves. Everything I had been told about them turned out to be false. They were not rude, pushy, or anti-American at all. In fact, they were friendly and helpful. I thought they were extremely handsome people. Must be from centuries of mixing it up with the Italians, Spanish, English, Germans, and of course Americans. Of course most of the French, especially in Paris, were gone to the beaches and the mountains when we were there. Holiday in France is from late July until the first of September. They have FIVE weeks of paid vacation compared to our two weeks, if we’re lucky.

We also went to Versailles. There are no words to describe the extravagance and beauty there. After the tour, I think I finally understood why the rioting peasants beheaded 13,000 nobles, including the king and queen, and members of the clergy. The crass opulence and style of living compared to the abject poverty and oppression of the peasants had me rooting for them during my entire visit.  

All in all, I’ve become a Francophile. I love everything French. I have been to all of the capitals of Western Europe and Paris is by far the most beautiful. I love that they take three hours to eat dinner; the server never bothers you unless you ask for him or her; and every meal has several courses. I love the long walks in the parks, kissing by a tree, and generally enjoying what they call the joie de vivre. If you don’t know what this means, then go to France, preferably Paris, and you’ll discover the meaning.

But check the condition of your underwear before you go.

Robrt Johnson (Franco)

(Robert, I had a similar toilet experience a few years ago in Berlin. The public restroom was under ground. Although most public restrooms in Germany are clean, in this one I couldn't hold my breath long enough to even attempt to use it. From then on I always tried to find a luxury hotel. There's always a restroom in or near the lobby, they are too polite to ask what you're doing, their soap is perfumed and they usually have linen towels. -Klaus)