Travels Abroad, 1962-3, Chapter 1- Morocco, Spain, France and Germany


After spending the winter of 1961-2 ski-bumming in Stowe, Vermont, I returned home to New York with the intention of traveling to Europe, where I would spend the summer climbing in the Alps with David Hiser, afterward to travel south and east. At the passport office in Manhattan, I noticed some folks walking down the hall towards me, conspicuously arrayed in puffy light-blue down jackets. These unmistakeable items of apparel were Lionel Terray “duvets”, one of the few makes of down jacket then available to climbers in the US.

Moncler_Heritage_Nordstrom_Lionel_Terray_1964_alaska_color

Lionel Terray, in his down jacket, Alaska, 1964 (Moncler photo)

Sure enough, they were some California climbers of my acquaintance. As it turned out, we were all taking the same Yugoslavian freighter to Tangiers, Morocco – the S/S Srbija. This was the line used by Jack Kerouac and other beats to get to Morocco, where they could hang out and smoke all the dope they wanted.

My first passport, issued April 18, 1962

My first passport, issued April 18, 1962

A cable from a friend arrived as we steamed away from New York

A cable from a friend arrived as we steamed away from New York, May 1, 1962

We had a good time on the crossing, watching for dolphins and drinking slivovitz. We smoked hash in Tangiers, and then I went on to Ceuta, in Spanish Morocco, to catch a ferry to Spain.

Passport, entry to Morocco

Passport, entry to Morocco, May 8, 1962, exit May 10, 1962 and entry to Spanish Morocco, May 10, 1962. Also, Greece in 1963

Tangiers! This is the front side of a tourist map.

Tangiers! This is the front side of a tourist map.

From Algeciras, on the other side of the Straits of Gibraltar, I hitch-hiked north to Madrid, where I visited the Prado art museum, and bought a used bike and a fishing license. Earlier, I had asked my folks to save my postcards, to serve as a record of my travels. Here are the first of those:

At the Prado, Goya's painting

At the Prado, Goya’s “Aqualarre” (postcard)

GoyaSaturnoDevorandoAUnHijoThePrado

At the Prado, Goya’s “Saturno devorando a un Hijo”  (postcard)

At the Prado, Brueghels

At the Prado, Brueghel’s “Triunfo de la Muerte” (postcard)

Backside of above postcard, 6-29-62

Backside of above postcard, 6-29-62

At the Prado, Bosco's

At the Prado, Bosco’s “El Jardin de Las Delicias”

Backside of above postcard, mailed 6-6-62, from Germany

Backside of above postcard, mailed 6-6-62, from Germany

My Spanish fishing license

My Spanish fishing license

I left Madrid, now on the trail of Hemingway, who had written about parts of Spain that I wanted to visit – especially the Sierra de Gredos and the Rio Tormes, where he had fly fished for trout. I first pedaled south to Toledo. After obtaining lodging, I walked along the neck of land that connects the hill of Toledo to the adjoining mesa. To my right, the sun was setting. To my left, the full moon was rising. And both were positioned exactly on the horizon, 180 degrees apart. It was an unforgettable moment. A band was playing in the Plaza and I savored some of the local delicacy – marzipan. The following day I cycled to the west and arrived at the Parador de Gredos, housed in an elegant old stone building. There, I applied to fish on the Rio Tormes and, like Hemingway, caught some brown trout. As one might imagine, this pleased me no end!

Biking to Sierra de Gredos

Approaching the Puerto Pico, “Gateway to the Sierra de Gredos”, May 22, 1962

Approaching the Puerto Pico,

Approaching the Puerto Pico, “Gateway to the Sierra de Gredos”, May 22, 1962

Biking to Sierra de Gredos

A “truchas” stream alongside the road

The Sierra de Gredos in the distance

The Sierra de Gredos in the distance

The valley of the Rio Tormes and the Sierra de Gredos

The valley of the Rio Tormes and the Sierra de Gredos

Rio Tormes Permiso Para Pescar

Rio Tormes Permiso Para Pescar

The Rio Tormes

The Rio Tormes

The bike was requiring constant repair, so I sold it to an employee at the parador and continued north by thumb and rail. My next destination was a river located along the north coast of Spain, the Rio Ason.

Fishing map of the Rio Ason

Fishing map of the Rio Ason

The Rio Ason

The Rio Ason

The Rio Ason

The Rio Ason,. with the railroad bridge seen upstream

The Rio Ason

The Rio Ason

The Rio Ason was a salmon river, but I caught no salmon. It was probably the wrong time of year. I continued north into France, and on to Germany (as recounted on the postcard of June 6, above). There I met David Hiser, who was staying with his sister Marilyn and her husband, John Staples. John was a US Army chaplain, stationed at a base in Mainz. David’s girlfriend, Sara Jean Rittenhouse, was also around.

Me, Sara Jean and David Hiser, Mainz, Germany, June '62

Left to right: Me, Sara Jean and David Hiser, Mainz, Germany, June ’62

The next chapter concerns the beginning of my alpine summer, with some solo climbs in the western end of the Bernese Oberland:

https://believesteve.org/2015/08/08/travels-abroad-1962-3-chapter-2-the-bernese-oberland/

About believesteve

I am a photographer and have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-grand/id672492447?ls=1
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5 Responses to Travels Abroad, 1962-3, Chapter 1- Morocco, Spain, France and Germany

  1. David Doty says:

    Your Puerto Pico photos are dated my 12th birthday.

    Like

  2. Britt Runyon says:

    OH MAN! YOUR THE DUDE!

    Like

  3. rdbach315 says:

    I’m looking forward to the next episodes.

    Like

  4. Ethan Miller says:

    Nice work, pops! You da man!

    Like

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