Blasts from the Past

For the next week my publisher is having a Valentine’s Day giveaway.  At first I didn’t think I should participate.  My characters are generally in such desperate plights that romance is the last thing on their mind.  However,  they are all young women and thus it is impossible to avoid clumsy flirtations, heart palpitations, despondency and yes, sex.  Particularly for my youngest, Riley O’Tannen of the Graduation Present, a self-proclaimed klutz who misinterprets a young man’s interest until it’s almost too late.

Riley’s exploits are very loosely based on my own goof-ball  adventures europe5dollars1in Europe 40 years ago. In 2014 I came clean in a series of posts listed here:


Three cute French guys and my traveling companion Carolyn from “Oeufs in a Van”

Fortunately I saved many of the letters and pictures from that time.


Carolyn gets carried out to sea by cute German guy in “The Samwitch Stand.”

Yes, as you can probably tell most of our time was spent hanging out with “cute” guys and trying not to get carried out to sea.


Letter from cute Italian guy in “Pierre Andrei Makes His Move”

Sigh. Do you have any embarrassing travel stories?  Fess up!

BTW:  Two other authors I’ve introduced you to on this blog are having give-aways:


Duke Miller’s unforgettable and poetic memoir of twenty-five years as a relief worker

Walking Home Front

Arleen William’s compelling glimpse into the lives of emigres in America


21 thoughts on “Blasts from the Past

  1. The only really embarrassing travel story that comes to mind is changing alongside the road when wanting to swim in the Firehole River. A semi-open car door does not cover up much when it comes to passersby 😉

  2. I’ve loved your Europe posts – just read them all. You did well t fend off the dodgy Europeans and then fell foul of incoherent English café owners. What a fab trip. Did you drive back to Germany to return the car or is it languishing somewhere in King’s Cross, probably now treated as art?

    1. We made it about thirty miles from my uncle’s house and then the car broke down, which considering what we put it through was amazing.

  3. I remember reading about the innocent Riley O’Tannen in The Graduation Present Jan. I think I was probably even more innocent on my early travels than she was! Honest!

  4. Um. Forcibly kissed by a dwarf after getting lost in Bucharest? 1973. Lived on green white peaches (white peaches that weren’t ripe) for a day or two because there were only two twenty dollar traveler’s checks left in the wallet

    Jan. “Cute” and “boy” don’t come close to the thighs, I mean man, carrying your friend into the sea.

    1. A dwarf, oh my! I imagine that must of soured you on peaches. As I remember Hans was in the army so you’re right – not much of a boy!

  5. Looks like you enjoyed your travels. I remember when I first went to Europe in the late 90s with a friend and we kept meeting young guys. In the name of romance, I kissed an Italian whose name was Guiseppe, and he sang to me in Italian through the streets of Florence. I have no idea what he was singing, could have been about the stupid American, but it sounded beautiful. LOL!

    1. Knowing Italian men, he was probably singing about how much you reminded him of his mother! What a great memory. I don’t think anyone sang to me – except my drunken Uncle Bob.

  6. I loved reading The Graduation Present because it felt so authentic. Having traveled in Europe around the same time as you, Jan, your novel brought back so many memories. I guess my most embarrassing–and potentially dangerous travel story–was when I missed the ferry to Athens and had to stay alone for a day in Brindisi, Italy. It was a charming town, but during siesta, everyone slept except some men and apparently “ladies of the night.” But I’d already checked out of my hotel and had no place to go, so a “kind” man found me wandering around and offered to cook me a meal at his place. It was a good meal, and there was plenty of his homemade wine too. And then, of course, he made his “big romantic” move. Luckily for me, he wasn’t very threatening, and I was able to let him know I wasn’t interested. But then I had to wander around for several more hours before I could board the ship, and I wasn’t feeling too well!

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