In 1967 and ’68 I boarded with an English family while studying history at University College in London. But mostly I traveled. I started out hiking the city, miles and miles a day, for London, with its crazy-quilt streets and magnificent Victorian neighborhoods, was a walker’s paradise. After I had London mapped out I took the train to Manchester to romance a girl I had met the year before in New Orleans, and when that didn’t work out I widened the circle, first to Paris over a long weekend in the fall, then to Germany, Russia and Poland over the long winter break. Swapping traveling for classes was just fine with me, as long as my draft board and my parents didn’t find out. After all, I figured, there’s no better education than wandering free, meeting people and seeing the world.
In March I caught a cheap flight to Chicago to reconnect with my family and re-enroll at the University of Illinois, then flew back to London, packed a backpack, took a train to the south coast, and crossed the English Channel on a boat from New Haven to Dieppe, a four-hour, 90-mile crossing.Continue reading →