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John's Europa 1986



A Journal of my 1986 trip to Europe: I visited 12 countries in Europe from August 19, 1986 to October 27. 1986...


--In air -aug 19 m plane
My aunt Mikie dropped my brother Jim and i off at the train station where
we took a train from Boston to New York.
Jimmy was going to spend the first two weeks with me and I was going alone
the rest of the way.
On the train we did some more trip planning since very little of the
itininery was set in stone.
The train stopped in Manhattan so we had to work our way over to Jfk
airport via the subway.
On the way we stopped by the Empire state building to see if we could get
Jim a Eurail pass-but there was a line at the travel agency we went to. We
took a special six dollar airport subway.in time for our afternoon flight. It was a chartered Sabena Airlines flight that took us between NYC and Brussels, Belgium. For whatever reason we couldn't
sit together on the plane. So we had to get together on occasion in the
aisles. At one point the full moon was out in the sky-it was lovely.


Netherlands aug 20w Amsterdam
We arrived at the Brussels Airport , we exchanged a little money ,got
some coffee, I got Eurail pass validated, and decided to take the train to
The experiences in our first few minutes in Brussels were exotic. The
train station was right below the air terminal. I remember a travel poster
on the train and townhouses along the route. We arrived Central station
in Amsterdam, we went over to a long line in the tourist office to book a
room. They didn't book any B&B's so we stuck with booking a more
expensive hotel. I wish we had booked ahead. It was cool almost wintry
that day. The hotel was a a reasonably long distance from station- and we
actually walked it ,which was a stupid thing to do on jet lag. I made
some strange decisions some times because I was on a limited budget.It was
a typical smaller euro hotel. The man who ran it was not overly friendly.
Jimmy slept all evening .

Netherlands aug 21 t Amsterdam
Jimmy barely made it the next morning for breakfast-the next day we went
to a bed & breakfast which wasted a lot of the time that we could have
used touristing . We actually had to buy a guidebook, (frommers) cos Jim
had lost my Lets Go.We stayed at A Madam Schimochowa's who we referred to
by a lady named Ursula. Ursula was actually the person listed in the
Frommers guide book. Just figuring out the trams was hard-so I don't
think we did so much that day.
Although I loved Amsterdam -it could be a frustrating place. There were
scarcity of cheap places to buy groceries.Jimmy liked to go to the shops
and restaurants -he could get by without seeing the museums., A place
like Amsterdam was particularly distinctive.

*Netherlands aug 22 f Amsterdam
On Our last day in Amsterdam we went to the zoo. We got there via bikes.
We rented bikes at the railway station. Jimmy got pictures of me getting
mauled by goats
at the petting zoo. We then took independent bike rides. Jimmy's bike did
not work well and so he did not go too far. I attempted to bike to South
Flevoland -but only got as far as Diemen when it started to rain. I had
to turn back anyway,to meet up with Jim.. This was my first time biking in
the Netherlands and it was just a fabulous place to bike..I don't remember
what we did that evening..I do know we had some laundry done and ate
peanut butter and jelly and pickles and onions.


Sliver of the Pompideu Center in Paris

An original photo by James Bernhardt

France aug 23 s Paris
We got into Paris in the middle of the day...We had the not too fun
experience of trying to find accommodations-Jimmy wasn't feeling well. Just
working the phones was troublesome. Paris had a preponderance of credit
card phones and we didn't have the cards for them-so decided to go search
for accommodations by foot.(without our baggage) We still had trouble -but
ended up in hotel on the left bank-Near the Sorbonne and the Pantheon....

France aug 24 s Paris
Sunday morning, I booked us in another cheaper hotel.We stayed three days
in the same fleabag hotel on the left bank.It was located atop a movie
theater, I couldn't afford to break my bare bones budget by staying at
real hotels .It was rainy...That day or the next after we visited the
Louvre, cos it was the day that admission was free. Supposedly we also
went to Rodin Museum one of the better museums we visited.My wallet was
lost or stolen in a pet store. (why were browsing in a pet store in
Paris?)I lost something like 200 dollars in currency (American, French,
and Belgian)
France aug 25 m Paris
On this day we walked over to Notre Dame and the Pompeidiu Center,
something that I would repeat on October 22.
France aug 26 t Paris
We went to the Eiffel Tower in the evening...I think we went there

Pont Butin, Geneva

pont butin, geneva


Switz. aug 27 w Geneva
Jim was only going to be in Europe for two weeks, which meant that we
couldn't travel too great a
distance on his leg of the journey, so we decided not to go to Switzerland
instead of Scandinavia.
In a effort to save scarce funds we stayed in a actual youth hostel for
the first time. It was in what appeared to be a old school. Everything was
painted a sickly green. Geneva was a pretty town, though there was not
much to see.

Switz. aug 28 t Geneva
I took a long walk along the river and to the Pont Butin  bridge which was on the Rhone . Coming back I went by  by a field-and by a cemertary (cimitiere de Saint-georges) and it's associated   crematorium along the way. I also visited the Rousseau museum, the guide started to speak French and for some reason I let him till he realized I didn't understand him..

Switz. aug 29 f Zurich
The trip on the train from Geneva to Zurich was pleasantly pleasant-scenically scenic.
In Zurich we stayed at newer hostel slightly on the right side of the

*Switz. aug 30 s Zurich

Strangely, I went to a pool (trying to justify bringing my bathing
suit).Cool pool design well the locker room at least. Yes, -there wasn't
much to see in Zurich. I went to one end of the city to a overlook-where i
talked with a bird on a ledge.
It was one of those places I saw from a distance and said-"oh hey why don't
I go there". Jim cooked dinner for us in the member kitchen. I Climbed Utelberg a
foothill on the lower end of the city. It was the only mountain path that i have
been on that had streetlights. Somehow I ended up taking a bus to get back to the
hostel.Ultimately, we didn't do anything in the real Alps but we didn't have much
time or money. I Didn't really climb that many hills -the limitations of traveling mainly
in cities.

various aug 31 s Lucerne/night train-
We started the morning in Zurich -We played Chess three foot pieces at
the hostel. Jim took a picture of us. We took something of a day trip to
Lucerne, one of the prettier Swiss cities. Like the other two cities,
Lucerne was built on a river on the corner of a lake. There was a pretty
covered bridge crossing the river.In the afternoon We got separated by
mistake.I spent
much of the afternoon looking for Jim.How we found each other is beyond
me... At one point I sat by Lake Lucerne and wrote a poem..I went to
church in the late afternoon there. We went to dinner at the Massengill
restaurant-and then somehow found our way on the night train to Brussels.
The night train journey was rough. It seemed as if we might have gone
through Luxembourg,but I doubt it.

A hostel courtyard in Zurich
Photo by James Bernhardt

The covered bridge in Lucerne, Switzerland


Belgium sep 1 mon Brussels
We found our way sleepily to the modern Brussels hostel. It was a 1980's
building attractively situated next to a church.Jimmy was sleepy or sick
during much the trip.
We went to the Grand Place-Jim looked for lace for the Spillanes.
We had dinner at some restaurant. Brussels had some cool fudge

Netherlands sep 2 t amersfort
Jim and I switched our packs-I took Jim's backpack and he took my red
bag back home. I also had a second blue bag-that I used to drag around
pamphlets and raincoats etc. My packing job left something to be desired. It
isn't easy to tool around Europe for two months without a few things.
We went to Brussels airport-from there Jim went back to NYC. At that point
I was alone-Thousands of miles away from anybody I knew for this first
time in my life. I wanted to go back to Amsterdam to do some more biking,
but when I got there i found that it was hard
to book a spot in a hostel-so I decided to go outside of town. I ended up
spending two days in Amersfoort. Going from place to place can be time
consuming, by the time I was settled in Amersfoort most of the day was
gone. The hostel in Amersfoort was a bit out of the way. The hostel was
overrun by a school group- I spent part of my evening watching the film
they were watching. This was my first experience with a coed hostel dorm.

*Netherlands sep 3 w amersfort
This was the day of my fabulous bike journey from Amersfoort to Alesmere.
Annoyingly ,I didn't rent my bike till the middle of the day. It was a
sunny afternoon.
I biked through Eemes, Baarn and Hilversum. At one point in Eemnes I
stopped at a farm in Eemes and talked with the animals while looking
across a beautiful farm field. Since, Holland is flat there would often be
long long views of the horizon, At one point I tried to bike along a small
stretch of highway-cos that was the only quick way to Flevoland-but that
proved unworkable and so I followed along through the Gooi up past Naarden
to the the northeastern bridge between the mainland and Flevoland. By the
time I had gotten to Flevoland it was getting later in the day, and it was
getting overcast, and i was having problems with one of my peddles and so
decided to turn around . I decided once I got into Bussum to take the
the rest of the way back to Amersfoort. This journey and the prior
August 22 bike jaunt around Amsterdam- made a tremendous impact on me. But
for some reason, I went the next day to Scandinavia, and although I
returned to the Netherlands in late September-I did not do any biking in
September. After I got home I had a great desire to return to Holland and
do a independent bike tour, but I did not return for twelve years .

various-sep 4 t night train
On Thursday morning I took the train from Amsterdam to Copenhagen, a
train that would ultimately lead to Stockholm. The journey doesn't seem
like it should take that long -but it does...Sept 4 marked the first time
I had visited Germany or Denmark. It takes nearly 24 hours to get from
Amsterdam to Stockholm on the train,I believe I stopped at Hamburg on my
way to Copenhagen....Annoyingly, at one point along the journey I was
stopped by two undercover German custom police who wanted to search my
bags for drugs-perhaps because I came from Amsterdam. I asked them to get
the conductor -since I wanted to confirm they were legit. I have two other
distinctive memories of this leg of the journey. One, was crop burning in
the fields in Denmark, the other was sitting on the train in empty
compartment sort of planning my trip. I only had a limited amount of money.I
only had about 800 to 1000 dollars to cover the remaining 45 days , but I
was due to receive some money from Jim. I got to Copenhagen in the
evening. Strangely the train took a ferry that crossed to the east of the
Danish mainland. With the construction of bridges in the 1990's where
some of ferries used to be- there is no longer the necessity to use
these ferries. On the overnight journey to Stockholm-I was closeted
in a crowded compartment with four woman and strange young bald man. Three
of the woman were light haired Finns. One was middle aged and the other
two were younger-one had a fascinating lappish look about her.
The three ladies I saw later in the Stockholm train station and I saw the
bald guy in town.

IN SWEDEN September 1986

Sweden sep 5 f Stockholm
As often was the case, I was unable to book a space in any of the official
hostels. I ended up staying at the Zinkin Student Hotel. This was the only
accommodation that ended up returning to in 1998. It was in
Sodermalm-South of the Center of the town.-I took Stockholm's Tunnelbana
to get there. The Stockholm subway was interesting and colorful.I also
Visited the Katrina Elevator in Sodermalm as well as a church. It soon
became rainy and dreary... I took some pictures at a park near the
hostel-and ended up getting duck dung on my sweater....
Sweden sep 6 s Stockholm
Attempted rather strangely to visit ABBA's offices but they were not
located in Baldersgaten
I had forgotten about ABBA's offices being moved.I suppose I got to rather
dull excursion to the University Section of town out of it.It was kind of
silly to go there anyway. On this day in Horterget .my camera was stolen,
I also bought some Lp records-it was just amazing to look in the stores
with all these ABBA related records that I had never see, Supposedly this
day I also walked over to Gamla Stan,the old section of Stockholm.
Sweden sep 7 s Stockholm
I went to Skansen and to Grona Lund. Skansen had old structures moved to
the site such as farm structures and freaky looking churches. For
entertainment there was some Swedish folk dancing, Grona Lund is an
amusement park. These were located in the East side of town on the
peninsula of Djuragarden. So this would be the most eastern place I had
gone in the world.
various sep 8 m night train
I visited Stockholm City Hall and found where out where Polar Music.was.
I left Sweden kind of sooner than expected-I decided to devote some time
to traveling the railroads of Norway. With my unlimited Eurail Youth pass
it was economical to spend a lot of time on the train. I would save on
three nights of accommodations in the next eight days.
* * * *

Grefsen train station

Oslo Haraldshiem in Grefsen



Norway sep 9 t Oslo
I booked into the Grefsen Heraldsheim (Oslo's hostel) which was located a
few miles from the city center. However, I took the wrong train to get
there. I ended up somewhere in the countryside well to a place called
Arnes., indeed at one point
the passengers on the train were transferred to a bus, eventually -I
realized I was not on the proper line, and so I headed back to Oslo, to
find the correct line. When I got to the hostel -I spent some time
sitting on the hill outside overlooking the city..
Norway sep 10 w Oslo
Went into town tried to go parliament they were closed, and so went to
Military Museum.
I took a boat across Oslo harbor to the Bygdoy peninsula. I visited the
Fram Museum, but chose to forgo the Kon-tiki Museum. I walked up the
Bygdoy peninsula back to the closest railway station,but , I forgot to go
by the Vigland Park, a park with statues by famous Norwegian sculpture
which was sort of on the way.
Norway sep 11 t Trondheim
I got into Trondheim in the early evening after a long train journey from
Oslo. Somehow I was
able to stay at the hostel there. The Oslo and Trondheim hostel blur
together in my mind.
Both had windowed lounge areas near their respective entrances.
I didn't stay long in Trondheim-it was the only place that I slept in that
i did not stay long enough
to see some of the place. I saw some of the harbor-I remember the red
boat sheds and I saw
a beautiful view of the fjord from the high overlook of where the hostel
was located.
Norway sep 12 f Mo I rana

I Arrived in Mo I Rana in the afternoon after a long train ride from
Trondheim. The visitor office was closed. Mo is a small town located off
fjord about 100 miles south of the Artic Circle. It's just a stop along
the train line along the way to the Bodo. I went there cos there was
hostel located there. It was small town with a ore factory which for some
reason had a certain fascination for me ,even though i really didn't have
much a chance to see anything-the only real site to see was a nearby
glacier. Glaciers are good things but i didn't have the money or the time
to see them. The place was just far and away... off the beaten track.
Warmer than expected and sunnier. I had dinner at some place in town, and
i walked over to a subdivision and a ski-lift..In the evening i stayed in
a little cabin- the regular hostel building's accommodations were closed
for renovations. Being in the little cabin was somehow liberating...

Norway sep 13 s night train
Saturday I walked through town while waiting for the train to Bodo. I
walked through the town by a dirt road, a kid playing drums ,a fern
forest, by a town common... and near the water... The train then went up
the coast to Bodo via the Artic circle. I got to Bodo in the late
afternoon. The town had some fascinating rock patterns. I walked around
town for a couple hours whilst waiting for the long overnight return
journey to Trondheim.

Norway sep 14 s Oslo
I arrived in Trondheim in the morning, but did not stay. I returned to
Oslo after a day spent traveling back from Trondheim. I returned once
again to Oslo's hostel. I recall running into a fellow traveler who
noticed how well acquainted i was with the route to the hostel.. I
remember going to a small store near the hostel and buying TAB. You could
only get TAB in Norway or Ireland. By 1998 you could only get TAB in
Norway-and it tasted like Diet Coke.
various countries sep 15 m night train
I started the morning in Oslo-I think it was early in the morning-it felt
like a normal working day
in the downtown-they were reconstructing part of the train station-lots of
jackhammers .
One of the vendors in the new section of the station was playing Agnetha
Faltskog's -"The Angels Cry" which was on album I had bought in Stockholm
but not heard,. On the way South I stopped in Goteborg, Sweden -whilst
waiting for train-but didn't buy anything. I ended the day somewhere
in Denmark. I recall going to the top of one of the Kattgatt ferry boats
and dropping a coin.

A church in Bodo , Norway

View of Bodo at night


Germany sep 16 t Koln
I had no great affection for Germany, the people were not friendly and the
scenery was
had no particular appeal to me. But we had not visited there in 1975 and
so it was another new country to see.,a country that happened to be on the
way. On this day I visited Koln's Cathedral and a cool art Museum. The
hostel in Koln was actually located on the other side of the river in
Deutz near a Ford motor plant.
Germany sep 17 w Munich
This day I traveled from Koln to Munich. I took an attractive, newer
German train on a line that parallel the Rhine much of the way.
The Rhine had little castles on hills along the river.At one point I found
somebody's jewelry and was given a reward by the lady who lost it. I
stayed at a student hotel....I visited Olympic Park. At night I swam in
the pool in the basement of the student hotel.

abba the albums

PAGE 2 -John's Europa 1986, Part 2