There was a time I went to Amsterdam with one way ticket arriving with $220 in a variety of currencies and travellers checks plus an emergency (entirely useless) $100 Canadian bill tucked into my boot, a backpack with an inadequate sleeping bag, butane camp stove (somehow allowed on the plane), a cooking wok (surprisingly versatile), comically coloured outdoor gear purchased at various close-out sales and 2nd hand shops, and other sundry items, but deliberately did not take anything of value including a camera – instead took a sketchbook which is filled with poetry, doodles and other whatnots, and a watercolour pad in which I produced several paintings.
As you might expect, I got up to many adventures by sticking out my thumb and ending up coffee shops, barns filled with drying ganja, a Gwar concert, being a “roadie” who didn’t do anything whatsoever of usefulness for the Bad Yodeller’s ill-fated tour, got deathly ill at Oktoberfest in Munich and related ridiculous campground.
Then down to last few Deutsch Marks (noting pre-Euro), ended up meeting old pal Trevor in Rheinpfalz area where we embarked on fun nights in dungeons, bars and ruins, wandering forest with a giant dog called Bongo gathering chestnuts to sell in the endlessly adorable village of Rhod unter Rietburg and picking grapes – noting we were on different work crews and I fortunately got on the slacker team which included frequent breaks for wine and smokes and abundant cheese and bread and wine at the end of the day – including a couple of bottles to take back to stay warm in the tent/hayloft.
Then, after sleeping in haylofts and tents, partying at new wine festivals #secrets, a visit to hospital for a pal who couldn’t fly over ramparts and a ride with 7 crammed into a Citroen 2CV, we received our pay packets (after some trepidation thinking that any day we would be shook down by black-gloved immigration officials for illegal labor) came a hitchhike back to Amsterdam for usual unusualness, then a bus to Belgian for a ferry to England then a stretch in London which was cold wet and miserable, expensive and prone to bad decisions then via an dodgy credit card, somehow ended up in Miami in the wake of Hurricane Andrew. Following was even more ridiculous adventure of a drive-away car to Dallas, and rather shockingly we survived but, I digress…
All this is to tell you that: I have two photos and one wine label from Germany and one photo from London taken by a lovely Canadian girl we knew from “home”.
There are several wonderful watercolours you can find elsewhere in this archive, as well as a “static montage” collage of ephemera Trevor created for me.
Additional riff, some same as above, posted here anyhow:
Before I went on my first trip to Europe, I only looked at a 1972 version of “hitchhikers guide to Europe“ so everything would seem new and interesting and I could figure it out by myself. This was 1992 and I lamented I wasn’t there 20 years before. I’m no mathematician but a lot of time has passed since that first trip which was pre-Internet, pre-Eurozone, pre-ATM, pre-cell phone etc. etc. yet it all just sort of “worked“.
Worth noting that because I was a broke free-loading hippie rambler, I stayed away from the big cities aside from Oktoberfest in Munich and a couple stops in to Amsterdam (of course) as the countryside was much easier to meet friends, find a place to stay, have a good time with a few deutsche marks.
As it went, ended up in London which was gray, miserable and expensive but, due to a hurricane in Miami, was able to use a dodgy credit card to get a $70 flight to Miami which seems like a good idea at the time but turns out it was not. That’s a whole other story though.
My unsolicited advice: go to the third most famous place, possibly the fifth, make it awesome and weird. Make poems & paintings about it.
While I’m rambling, the most memorable segment of that whole trip (which included being a roadie for the Bad Yodelers, seeing a Gwar concert, the aforementioned Oktoberfest, all nighters in Amsterdam, sneaking onto a US military base, eating all the contraband en route to Belgium…) was time spent in a village called Rhodt unter Reisburg, living in a tent and later a hayloft, making friends with locals and working in the great fields and going home with a couple bottles of wine and a loaf of day-old bread at the end of it all. This was also the infamous “Chestnut gathering“ era #SideHustleOfASideHustle