YHA Trav­eller

This England - - Nelson's Column -

Sir: “YHA Memories” (“Post Box”, Au­tumn 2016) re­minded me of sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences. In 1961 I left Cape Town, South Africa, for Lon­don on an Aus­tralian liner South­ern Cross (some peo­ple called it the “Suf­fer­ing Cross”).

Af­ter a very ex­cit­ing two weeks we ar­rived in Eng­land when a South African citizen was still ac­cepted on a work­ing hol­i­day. Be­tween var­i­ous jobs, a South-african friend and I de­cided to hitch-hike through Europe, Eng­land, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. This took us seven months and I still pos­sess my two YHA cards.

Car­ry­ing a ruck­sack each we went through France, Hol­land, Den­mark, Nor­way and Swe­den, down to Switzer­land, Aus­tria and Ger­many and con­tin­ued down south to Turkey, Greece, Spain and Italy. It was a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence never to be for­got­ten.

Hitch-hik­ing was rea­son­ably easy and safe. I re­turned to Eng­land in 1964/65 when I had to ob­tain a work per­mit. I then spent another two years in Lon­don. From the time I ar­rived I fell in love with the coun­try and have re­turned on hol­i­day a fur­ther seven times. I have a son who lives in the UK, he sends me air tick­ets and I stay with him.

I am now 78 and un­til last year my son still took the two of us to Europe for 10 days at a time (with ruck­sacks). See­ing the coun­tries again made me feel very nos­tal­gic and I have memories I shall never let go of. I still re­main in con­stant contact with friends from those trips more than 50 years ago. —


A reader’s first car was the source of poetic in­spi­ra­tion. See “Mo­tor­ing Verse”.

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