Die Deutsche Version findet ihr HIER (da ist Teil 1 länger, ich habe den hier in zwei geteilt, weil ich ihn zu lang fand).
I found a few, not so great, paper photos of that trip. The majority of the images exist in form of slides that were partially exposed to water damage. So I will use mainly photos from other people. The ones from London are from our 2018 trip.
Remarks that I cannot refrain from here and now, are in square brackets. Otherwise I have not revised the language of the text from then.
I went to Scotland for the first time in 1973 at the age of 18 together with my classmate Susi who, funnily enough, was born on the same day as I. Why Scotland? I can’t quite reconstruct it anymore, but I was taken with the Scottish legends and the landscape that I saw in pictures. I had read „The Highland Clearances“ and other books on Scottish history in novel form.
We were students (last year of Gymnasium [grammar school??] and had to keep our expenses to a minimum. A deck crossing on the ’Prince Hamlet’ was very cheap back then. You just slept somewhere on deck. Then there were the Interrail tickets for young people. We wanted to keep the option of taking the train now and then open, because we had no experience with hitchhiking. We approached the whole matter very naively. Maybe that was what made people feel protective, because most of them were really, really helpful. Maybe that’s just the Scots‘ nature. But that’s not entirely fair, because other nationalities were just as accommodating towards us. But the fact is, that the Scots were generally very helpful and hospitable. And at that time the North Sea oil had not yet been discovered …
All in all, the trip was a complete success, despite the criticism that an 18-year-old has to utter. We met a lot of nice people. We had contact with some of them for a long time after the trip. In any case, I went there again in 1974 with my best friend and for twice as long. I loved the gypsy life. In principle, I still do that, but now I want it to be a little bit more comfortable.
In October 2012, my husband and I were in Scotland for a quarter of an hour when we drove to Northumberland National Park, from the Scottish side. I really would like to show him all the places I have been back then. Some things will have changed a lot, others not at all.
But now to the diary of the first trip:
PART 1, Hamburg-London
3rd July 1973
The „Prince Hamlet“ is about to cast off. Mom and the little brother wave, moved. There is monkey heat on the deck, sultry under the roof and there are quite a few idiots on the ship. [Remember, I was 18!] The Elbe and later the English Channel are as smooth and shiny as a mirror. The sun is shining and it is lovely to stare at the water and look forward to Scotland.
In the evening Susi and I retreat to the cafeteria to secure sleeping places for the night. We get some friendly offers from crew members, asking if we don’t want a cabin, etc. We make do without and lie down on the benches. In the middle of the night a poor madman rattles on the jukebox. There is a draft from every corner, but finally tiredness wins and we fall asleep.
The next morning, July 4th, 1973, we arrive in Harwich. From there one can take the train to London. We save the 10 pence for the bus and walk the five minutes to the train station, with the result that we get there before everyone else and can still choose our seats. Storing the backpacks gives us difficulties until we finally put one of them on the table.
The train departs. It’s low tide. Boats lie scattered on the mudflats of the bay. Then we got in at low tide, how does that work? Or isn’t the tide out at all and the bay always looks like this?
We drive through a landscape that reminds me of Schleswig-Holstein. There are old, ornate wooden benches at the train stations, and the most beautiful roses are entwined around the fences on the platforms.
Little by little we see more houses and Susi informs me that we are already in London.
Liverpool Street Station: a terrible crowd. We squeeze through the crowd and manage to get into a bank where we want to exchange money. We were advised to do this in England, because we would get a better exchange course.
Then we fight our way back to the train station and go to Hyde Park. The march along the totally overcrowded Oxford Street is a nightmare. I run blindly after Susi, who clears the path. [If you have a rucksack on your back, you can quickly create space by simply spinning around a few times …] At that time, all I see of Hyde Park is a huge lawn and a few trees far back on the horizon. We lay down on the first stretch of lawn we meet, tired and hungry as we are, to eat something. We are actually on the way to the youth hostel, but we know that it is not open yet.
A little later we are on our way again. The youth hostel is close to St. Paul’s Cathedral. [A summer hostel, the same that my best friend and I stayed at the following year.] A swarm of international youth is already blocking the sidewalk and the street. Entry will be soon. We groan up the stairs, of course we have to go all the way up. Besides us, there are two very nice Italian girls in our room. I manage to annoy one of them by asking if they were Spaniards. [That wasn’t on purpose! Scout’s honor! It’s all Latin in the end!] She reports the terrible insult of the “Tedesca” to her friend, and I hear something like “scandalo” and have to laugh because I think that’s a bit exaggerated. Now they think we understand Italian. In revenge, they then ask us if we were English, which we vehemently protest against. [She had called me Tedesca, so she already knew I was German … haha]
5th July 1973
The next day we wander through the city for seven hours (breaks not counted). We start at Victoria Embankment, where I take some nice photos, which unfortunately all turn black. Only that one stupid picture of me on a bench turns out good. Big Ben** is a paragon of hideousness in my opinion (my honest opinion). I think Westminster Abbey is more beautiful [This I do not understand, as far as I can see, the style is quite similar]. Many interesting people are buried there, among others Darwin. Then we feel drawn to Regent’s Park, which we finally find with great effort. We lie down on the lawn, pretty much the only visitors at this point, and fall asleep. We wake up at 1 p.m. and are suddenly surrounded by English people. Lunch break?
Somehow, in mysterious ways, we get to Soho, where we come across a market in a small side street, where a one-man band is playing music (with a foot drum and the whole shebang). The boyo is a good guitarist. Soho has the most beautiful pubs with wooden facades and golden letters over the doors. Suddenly, I don’t know how (you’ve probably guessed by now that we don’t have a city map with us …), we’re in Piccadilly Circus, surrounded by crowds of tourists. It is similar on Carnaby Street; you hear almost only German.
The Italian restaurant disappoints me a little. I have never seen several Italians in a group together without either discussing with big arm movements or joking and laughing. But here only serious faces and unfriendly service. Has the English’s reserve rubbed off or is one not welcome here as a German?
What I like about London is that you can look how you want and do what you want without being stared at. But the hustle and bustle makes me nervous. You can’t stop anywhere without someone running into you.
(To be continued: Part 2, London – Leeds – Barnard Castle – Glasgow)
[**Wikipedia corrected me here: Big Ben is what is called the biggest bell in Westminster Palace in London. The name is often used incorrectly about the entire bell tower, which is located at the northeast end of the building and was called St. Stephen’s Tower, before it was renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012. The bell tower is more than 96 meters high, with 334 steps up to the clock and 399 steps if you want to reach the top.]