I'll bet this is just fascinating the hell out of you. But I can't stop now. In 1985, SWMBO and I decided the time was right for a long-desired trip to Europe. I took a month's vacation from work and away we went.
First stop, London.
Whew, they speak English there.
Differently, but understandable.
As is my wont, I immediately began collecting buttons.
They didn't even lock me up.
After an amazing airboat road across the English Channel, we found ourselves in Brugge, Belgium.
We actually disembarked at Oostende, on the coast, and then began using our handy-dandy Eurail railroad pass.
We liked Brugges, which is named the Venice of the North for its canals, so much that we stayed an extra day.
Then it was on to Germany.
In Cologne, you can still see bullet holes in the walls of the magnificent cathedral.
We missed the riverboat so continued down the Rhine by rail to visit Wiesbaden on Easter Sunday.
We listened to chiming bells from two churches perhaps a mile apart.
In my irreligious way I said it reminded me of Dueling Banjos.
After a brief mixup in changing trains we next got to the medieval walled city of Rothenberg.
Full name: Rothenberg ob der Tauber, which means it is on the banks of the Tauber River.
Another wonderful couple of days and a visit to the fabulous Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas shops.
Another trip took us to Munich.
Great (huge) steins of beer and German music at the Hofbrauhaus and a fantastic street market selling meats, cheeses and produce from all over the world.
We bought enough for a picnic in our room that night.
Next stop: Mozart Town.
Touring a museum dedicated to the great composer I disobeyed a sign and reached out to touch Mozart's piano.
Fleeing the museum police and those wonderfully rich pastries, we trained through beautiful vistas of the Alps before arriving at Innsbruck.
Wandering into a pub we encountered a group of happy, singing Austrians and joined them for way too much of the local suds.
Heading for Italy we had a marvelous meal with wine in a dining car on a train headed for Florence.
You will notice the local spellings of these cities' names.
The museums in Florence (Firenze) are to die for . . . Michelangelo's David and one of his Pietas . . . but it was rainy, very windy and raw.
We bought an International edition of USA Today, looked at the weather map and headed for the Ligurian coast and San Remo.
Shame on me note here: while waiting for a change of trains in Pisa, we skipped the Leaning Tower.
What can I say?
San Remo was warm.
We were warm for the first time on this trip.
The food was good, the young ladies sunbathing topless on the beach were stunning, and I think we stayed four days.
Oh, we had some laundry done at our hotel and my underwear came back ironed and folded!
Judy said that's the first and last time that will happen!
Acting on advice from an expatriate Texas lady at a cafe we took a bus to Monaco because, she said, the train goes through tunnels most of the way and we would have missed the views.
Just a quick stop for lunch (wonderful Escargot for the first and only time on our tour) and a stroll around the beautiful blue water marina there.
They were setting up monumental grandstands for the Monaco Grand Prix race.
We spent that night in Nice.
Wandered into what appeared to be a gay leather bar in the afternoon for a very quick beer.
The next day we took a TGV (high speed) train through yellow mustard fields of Dijon to our ultimate destination.
The first two days were irritating, the final two marvelous.
I had planned on spending my birthday dining in Paris (April in Paris, la-di-dah) but it was disappointing.
The next day, however, we had a great lunch on a riverboat restaurant on the Seine.
And we had mastered the Metro.
And we had shopped at several markets for yet another hotel room dinner that evening.
The next day we went to Orly Airport and before we knew it we were able to eavesdrop on other people once again at a bar in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport.
One more flight and home at last.
My button-collecting may seem silly but looking at them again has brought back wonderful memories of a trip 35 years ago.
Well, yes you do. Especially if you're one of those Running Dogs of the Media. (We used to be called "the Press" but somewhere along the way "Media" became the way to describe us. At least in polite company.) I spent a few decades in the Broadcast Journalism trade and, like all of my brethren, collected a lot of badges.
My first, though the fourth station I worked for, was a neat little doohickey that hooked over the pocket on the front of your suit coat.
That was in Bismarck, North Dakota.
The station sent me to the two national political conventions in Chicago and Miami Beach in 1968 but I strangely don't have any badges from either one.
Had a good time, though.
I also attended the first inauguration of this guy in Washington, D.C. in 1969
Soon after I moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, for a job at WIBC Radio.
I'm pretty sure this was Spiro Agnew.
Then I moved on again, to Phoenix, Arizona, to a television job at KTAR-TV and don't you know, this guy seemed to be following me.
I remember the night he went on television a few years later to announce that he would resign the Presidency the next day.
I hosted a party after work that went until 6 a.m.
I went to a mini-convention of Democrats in Kansas City in 1976 shortly after Mo Udall had announced he was running for the top job.
I don't seem to have any badges from that affair either.
But I did meet Sally Quinn and had a nice chat.
Before I knew it the calendar had turned to 1980 and The Big Apple.
The television station had changed ownership and call letters by this time . . becoming KPNX-TV.
I went to the Republican convention in Detroit, Michigan that year too but my father died back in Arizona and I came home after only the first couple of days.
1984 was my last "event" year and it was a big one.
First was the Democratic Convention in San Francisco, California.
Then the Republican Convention in Dallas, Texas.
But sandwiched in between them was the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
I attended those games too.
I never worked directly for Gannet News Service in Washington but I had to deal with them on a daily basis getting stories and live feeds for our Phoenix newscasts.
And now (no, I'm not done yet) here are a variety of my changing looks on press badges through the years.
They're all from Phoenix.
I'm thinking I need a badge now with my picture on it that says "RETIRED".