After watching "Once More" on the Discovery Channel I got a bad case of V W nostalgia. This show traces the history of a particular 1955 Volkswagen Beetle, it's owners and it's journeys. I'm sure that many of us counter culture/ baby boomers have stories to tell of adventures they've had in Volkswagens (travelling in them that is - not doing things in them!). Never the less, I was inspired to dig out the few poor quality photos that I have and remember my travels many moons ago in V Ws.
In January of 1975, my friend Diane and I headed off to Europe with a backpack and about $900.00 each in traveller's cheques. Our plan was ..... well we really didn't have a specific plan, we just knew that we wanted to have an adventure. The money we had saw us through about eight months of travel beginning in London and then to France, Spain, Morocco, Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia, Austria, Switzerland and Germany. We arrived in Germany in May in hope of finding work on the Canadian Forces Base in Lahr since our funds were down to about $100.00 between the two of us. We didn't find work that summer, but we did meet a couple of guys who helped us extend our stay .... and also who we ended up marrying (but that's another story).
This photo shows my first Volkswagen experience. Diane and I met a fellow Canadian at the American Express office in London who wanted to sell his VW. American Express offices were common places to post "for sale" signs or "looking for ride" signs, send and receive mail, and meet other travelers. While we were there we also befriended an American guy who, like us, was looking for a ride to France or Spain. In the end the three of us who were seeking transportation, managed to convince the Canadian guy, who wanted to sell his VW, to keep his vehicle and take us to the continent. So, we bought a roof rack and the four of us squeezed into the "bug" that took us to France, Spain, Portugal and Morocco. The photo (top left) is of Diane and our two travelling companions, Jack and Bert, enjoying a rest along a road in France with the "bug" in the background.
After spending three weeks in Morocco Diane and I parted ways with Jack and Bert. We took the Marrakesh Express out of Morocco and eventually found ourselves on the Island of Corfu in Greece. The photo above shows us with a group of other expats that we met, one of whom just happened to have a Volkswagen van. Once again we hitched ourselves to a wagon (Volks - that is) that took us from Greece to Germany via Yugoslavia (the former), Austria and Switzerland.
Shortly after our arrival in Germany I met the dashing young man in the photo below ..... and guess what? He had a Volkswagen van! This baby (the van, not the guy) was a camper with a fridge and a high top so you could stand up in it. After an appropriate courtship, I was off on another VW experience that took me and Ross (my husband since 1976) to Holland, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Berlin. To get to Berlin in those days you had to travel the "corridor" a highway that took you from West Germany, through East Germany to Berlin, which, was the capital of both East and West Germany. While we were in Berlin we went across the Berlin Wall at Check Point Charlie to visit East Germany. That was a pretty cool thing to do during Cold War times!
In August of 1975 I begrudgingly left my Volkswagen life behind and returned to Canada. Little did I know, however, that my VW experiences were not over. When Ross and I got married our first car was .... you guess it .... a baby blue Volkswagen Super Beetle that we paid $800.00 for. I quickly learned how to drive a standard since I would need it for my first year of teaching that took me to four different schools through all the one way streets and steep hills of the city of Saint John. That car transported all our worldly goods to our new apartment, carted scads of art supplies to various schools, and carried us through lots of snow storms during the first few years of our early married life. No wonder I can't help but have a soft spot for a VW!