Schottland 1974, Teil 1 … Scotland 1974, Part 1

Die deutsche Version findet ihr HIER. Ich teile die alten deutschen Beiträge wieder in jeweils zwei Teile, weil die sonst zu lang werden.

I had promised at some point to start with the second Scottish saga. It is in a total of 16 parts, as we were on the road twice as long.

So here is the start:

Hamburg, Landungsbrücken und Michaeliskirche
Hamburg, embarcation quays and St. Michael’s church

Scotland 1974, part 1, Hamburg-London

As you could read in the 1973 diary, I was very fond of Scotland. So I wanted to go back the following year, all  six weeks of the summer vacation. My best friend and I. We shared the pain of the actually quite useful foreign language school, and now we wanted to share the last opportunity to be on the road for six weeks in one go. Because from next year onwards we would have to work.

I did not mention any dates in the second diary, but my research showed that the summer vacation in 1974 for Hamburg took place from July 1st to August 10th.

As far as the ferry is concerned, there seem to have been two different ones in the two years, but they were both called „Prince Hamlet“. That makes sense because the cafeteria looked very different the second time around. There were no longer any padded benches on which one could sleep reasonably comfortable. The second Prince Hamlet was then replaced by the ’Hamburg’ and the ’Admiral of Scandinavia’. On February 28, 2002 the ferry service from Hamburg was stopped and moved to Cuxhaven. This ferry service was then discontinued on November 6, 2005. No more ferry to England from Germany. Since 2014 it has not been possible to sail to Newcastle from Esbjerg either. The flights and the rental cars have become too cheap. Well, that was a ferryology course. But you probably know how it is once you start doing research on the internet …

This diary also contains other gaps. It almost looks like I’ve been busy with other things than writing …

First of all, I will assume that we sailed on June 28th. I couldn’t find any old timetables. Perhaps on the way we will find some clues in the diary about days of the week or something that can give us information. There is a comment from a weekend on the 16th and 17th travel days (July), that would fit with departure on June 28th, because a departure on July 5th would not fit with a return trip within the summer vacation, which ended on the weekend 10th / 11th August.

June 28, 1974 (Friday)

The ’Prince Hamlet’ casts off in the most beautiful sunny weather. Both the ship deck and the St. Pauli Landungsbrücken are evenly overcrowded and offer a summery, colorful picture. My best friend and I don’t really feel like posing for my father’s film camera and we quickly disappear into the crowd. I don’t want to see anything anymore, because I’m actually already on the other side of the Channel.

Unfortunately, even my imagination cannot save me from the monotony of the crossing. But a silent observer can pass the time a little. There is for example the would-be bon vivant and his greasy friend, who chat up two girls and show off loudly on the deck. The better looking one of the two describes himself as ’a clever fox’ (he is German), orders champagne continuously, and is very surprised that the girls do not want to spend the next week in bed with him. The passengers on deck get their money’s worth in terms of entertainment.

In the course of the afternoon we met a very nice Irish woman, a woman from Berlin and two guys from Hamburg. Many of us spend a hard night on the canteen floor, a melting pot of all kinds of beliefs and social classes. For my girlfriend and me, the night is also relatively cold, because our incredibly warm, aluminum-lined (because it reflects one’s own body warmth), light, as without any eiderdown, space-tested astronaut sleeping bags prove to be an absolute disappointment. In plain language: we are freezing our asses off! After much deliberation, we come to the conclusion that we will probably not spend the nights outside, as originally planned.

June 29, 1974 (Saturday)

The weather the next morning is bad, cold and grumpy. I take my flute, which I have with me this time (a piccolo, fits in my jacket pocket) and sit on a rescue kit in a sheltered corner. „Are you Scottish?“ a man asks me. – „No.“ – But you play Scottish folk songs! “ – „Yes.“ That is maybe supposed to be male logic. My friend also comes over and sings on her guitar, which she is determined to drag around Scotland for six weeks. I long for activity, for the ’up and away’.

Once in Harwich we get lost on the way to the train station (that is some achievement in such a small town) and discover a sandwich shop! We buy a small supply to eat on the train. But, oh how deceptive is outward appearance! We find neatly placed thin slices of cheese and ham on the edge of the sandwich and the middle left bare! I feel cheated! Somebody later tells me that this is common in England. Not cheating, but this kind of bread! However, I never ate sandwiches like this again during the next six weeks. However, our trip goes mainly through Scotland, but does that mean that the English are more Scottish than the Scots?

After arriving in London we first go to the youth hostel, a ’summer hostel’ that is only open in the high season. The mall around St. Paul’s Cathedral is now completed and looks just as ugly as any other. By the way, it was the same youth hostel where Susi and I stayed the year before.

Summer hostel near St. Paul’s Cathedral

I call the brother-in-law of my African friend, with whom we have already agreed to meet, and we plan to meet at the underground station. While I am waiting for him, two English women ask me about the cathedral and I explain the way to them. I think they didn’t even notice that I was a foreigner. Then I notice an African who looks at me carefully as I at him, but then he speaks to a newspaper agent and then hurries away. I rush after him and catch up with him in the youth hostel canteen. It was indeed the brother-in-law. The three of us drive home to him and his wife. My friend’s sister is an extremely lovable creature. She welcomes us as warmly as if we were old friends. The brother-in-law gives me an African tie-dye shirt as welcome present and then we look at the inevitable family photos. All of my African friends have a passion for this. Unfortunately, they generally only take photos of family members and friends, and often not even very well. (I still have some particularly typical specimens.) [O.k., o.k., my family also had such family photo enthusiasts, I admit it. And I myself have a bad reputation for mainly photographing ’flowers in the wind’, more or less sharp, depending on the strength of the wind  So we have nothing to blame each other for. In the meantime, ’birds in the wind’ have been added to my photo passion. My husband even thinks that I should have more people on my photos, as I tend to take pictures of places and nature preferably without humans in them. Most Africans in my circle of friends were absolute people persons.]

Finally the brother-in-law brings us back to the bus. Some youngsters shout after us: „Badhe loves the white!“ He is embarrassed about this and asks us to ignore these stupid young people. Well, there are prejudices everywhere. Badhe invites us to eat and sleep with them on the way back. He also wants to help me buy the snakeskin boots that my friend wants so badly, with platform soles, which are all the rage at the moment.

June 30, 1974 (Sunday)

But the next day Badhe doesn’t have time and I can’t get the shoes. (That’s a good thing, as it turns out later.) My friend has the very clever idea of ​​buying them on the way back, then we could take them with us and save the postage, because I do not want to spend six weeks lugging around a pair of long boots. Surely one must be amazed at the problems civilized people have!

I can’t remember what else we did in London that day. I suppose sightseeing and ’lite bites’.

(To be continued)