IN 1988, I MADE MY FIRST TRIP ABROAD. I SPENT A MONTH IN FRANCE, A FORTNIGHT IN GERMANY, AND ABOUT 6 WEEKS IN THE UK.
|FRANCE. A French-South African cultural exchange programme got hold of me in 1988 and made it possible for me to spend a month in France. Being my first trip to Europe, I made sure that I got the chance to experience snow up close, rather than just stare at it on the mountains as we do in S.A. I went with a group of about 20 other South Africans, all white (things being as they were at the time).|
|The first week was spent as a group with host families in Paris and environs - I was in Versailles, just around the corner from that awesome palace - and then we travelled around the country. I spent a week in a beautiful village near Bordeaux, then another in an Eastern town called Chaumont. My host family was the Stephens. We spent Xmas together with their extended bunch and went to church on the day as a group. I got on very well with their son Phillipe, and we kept in touch for a long time afterwards.|
||L VISITS. While I was staying in Paris (in the Pont de Neuilly area), Laetitia - who had been working in Germany after finishing her first degree - came to visit me. She stayed for a few days in a tiny room in the Rue St. Honore lent to us by the tall bald guy you see in the picture of the Stephen family above. It was free, but dire nevertheless, and she moved to a hotel a few days later. We spent a very nice while in Paris, except for her last day which we'd earmarked for Versailles. That was the day I came down with a terrible 'flu and L spent it feeding me soup instead of wandering the palace of the Sun King. Then she went back to Germany. So we STILL have to see Versailles together.|
|GERMANY. After Xmas, I went to visit L where she was working at a Guesthouse in the Neustadt area of the Black Forest near Germany's border with Austria. I spent New Year's there and wandered around the area like the tourist I was, spending hours crunching my way through the snowy beauty of the Schwartzwald while my other half slaved over hot stoves and waited on tables. Hee hee hee. After that, I spent a week visiting friends in Hamburg and then swept through Holland by night train for a ferry to the UK. We went to Germany again in 1993 and 2002.|
|ENGLAND. I spent 6 weeks in the UK, staying with and visiting old friends from Zimbabwe. My first week or so was spent with the Skillicorns, friends of my parents from Bulawayo who'd moved to the village of Hayward's Heath near Brighton. After that, I went to stay with Catherine Taylor, sister of John (see pic) who'd been a good friend of mine at school and who was now in the British Army's Officer Corps.|
|HOME. After the UK, I spent another few days in Paris, courtesy of a missed plane (their fault, not mine) and had the chance to wander around and do my own thing. One of my lasting memories is strolling along the Boulevard De Gualle towards the Arc de Triomphe one evening, listening to the Style Council's 'Cafe Bleu' album and hearing Paul Weller (the lead singer) warble about the actual street I happened to be wandering down. Top. Two days later, I was back among the rolling hills of the Transkei, ready to begin another year at Rhodes while Laetitia was to stay in Europe for another 6 months.|
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