Note: This is the seventh installment of Europe on Five Dollars a Day which I began in February (in case you’re new to the site and wondering. By the way – welcome and thanks for stopping by.)
We arrived on the outskirts of Ostende fifteen minutes after the last ferry to Dover was scheduled to depart thus we almost didn’t bother to drive down to the docks. But we took a chance figuring it might have been delayed by the rain or the wind or the rough seas. Surprisingly we were right. It had been delayed. But not by the weather.
It had been delayed by three wildly gesturing Italians, who stood at the gates with the very irate captain as we arrived. Quickly they scurried us onboard where, as soon as we parked, the boys escorted us upstairs to a dimly-lit smoke filled cabin whose large windows were fogged over by the soggy crowds trapped inside.
They were an odd trio. Pier Andrei was the “wealthy playboy,” Massimo explained with a slight whiffle of disdain, while he and Alberto were serious college students. They were on their way to study English in a town north of London.
I don’t remember how long the ferry ride took but it was around midnight when we finally docked. The full moon shown down the famous white cliffs of Dover which stirred a strange swelling of pride in me. I’m not sure why – my Puritan ancestors left England in the late 1600s and never went back. Perhaps it’s in the DNA. At any rate the streets
were unwelcoming and we had no place to spend the night. So, Carolyn pulled out her Europe on Five Dollars book and found a cheap bed and breakfast not too far from the center of town. Luckily the proprietor was still awake and had rooms for all of us. However he and his wife were anxious to turn in, thus we were mindful to go to our rooms immediately and remain quiet. Carolyn and I were on the second floor and the boys directly above us. In the middle of the night we heard footsteps coming down the stairs and then a gentle rapping on the door.
“I am a Latin Lover, non? Por favora, Carolina, una momenta.”
It was Pier Andrei pleading for “Carolina” to join him. We giggled quietly in bed until he finally went away. In the morning the boys pretended to be confused by our breakfast of cornflakes in milk. They shook their heads at the oddity and then took forks and knives and pretended to cut into the mush while we laughed.
As we were leaving Massimo said we should follow them as Pier Andrei claimed to know his way around London. It was – shall we say? – a slight exaggeration.
Readers – I regret that we ran out of film in Spain so I have no photos of Massimo, Pier-Andrei, Alberto and their fabulous ferrari; however, Massimo did send me a couple of letters back in Gunthersblum which reveal his poetic, sensitive nature. They also reveal that the yearnings for peace and brotherhood are universal among the young and idealistic all over the world, then and hopefully now.
Next – We finally get to London.