Our plan was to do the Bucket List thing for two months, touching down and hanging out in famous places in Europe that we’ve missed over the years. We’d travel pretty much on the cheap, half hostel-diving and half prowling by lazy seniors with time on their hands, and a modest amount of money.

Writing this, suddenly I am reminded of T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” I memorized a lot of stuff while in college, including that poem. Alfred wasn’t quite as old as I am now, but probably more screwed up:

Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells . . .

And so we did, the cheap hotels being hostels sometimes, over-rated 2-star joints at others,and an occasional 4-star hotel.

Travel writer Paul Theroux (also a RPCV — Africa) notes somewhere that “One of the excitements of travel is the chance to become acquainted with bizarre customs, unspeakable rituals and outlandish beliefs . . .”

This isn’t that kind of writing. No reports of isolated tribes “throwing excrement at their best friends while commenting on the genitals of their respective parents,” and certainly no reports of dining on “lightly cooked caribou droppings.”

Modern Europe’s bizarre enough, although not as bizarre as Southern California. Onward, with the World’s Oldest Living Backpackers.

SANTA BARBARA, CA, USA
March 31, 2009
Standing in my stockinged feet in the inspection line at the airport, I’m wondering if the Security People in Charge of Nonsensical Rules are aware that if our half a cup of coffee, a few ounces of toothpaste (in a plastic tube) and some hand lotion are actually dangerous, why are we ordered to throw them all together into a nearby wastebasket, where these powerful chemicals might combine and BLOW UP THE WHOLE AIRPORT???

Get me outa here. . .

Next stop: San Francisco, followed by Frankfurt, Germany.