Tripping down memory lane

youth hostel image, 1981
my youth hostel pic, 1981

I have been threatening to do this for a while, but have finally gotten around to it, so prepare yourselves for a bit of a tale.

Many years ago – shockingly, it’s been 30 years! (where does the time go?!) – I treated myself to a trip to Europe as my college graduation present. I had saved – get this! – $1200 and planned on spending $25 or less a day and see how long the money would last. I had an open end ticket (that wasn’t part of the $1200) so knew I could always get home. My BFF and boon traveling companion Cheryl and I left the U.S. on Sep 26, 1981 and I came back two months later nearly broke, with a bad head cold and about 10 pounds lighter than when I left (Cheryl had to come back earlier than me) and a travel bug that to this day still grabs me and makes me just want to take off for .. somewhere that I’ve never been before. Oh, and I did in fact manage to stay on budget and spent on average about $22 a day!

Over the course of those two months lo these many years ago we saw Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, France, England and Scotland. We stayed in youth hostels, rundown hotels, trains, the odd ferry, and bed and breakfasts. While we were in France, we of course had to visit Versailles. By this time it was October and the temperature had dropped to cold fall weather, with a fair amount of rain. Given that we were on such a tight budget, we often opted not to do the expensive tours (ask Cheryl how I was too tight to spend the money to see the crown jewels in the Tower of London), and would just walk around and read our guide books – Frommer’s and Let’s Go. We actually did ante up for the tour of the palace of Versailles (seeing it in person makes the whole French Revolution so much more understandable), but figured we could handle the grounds on our own. We had read about, and were excited to see, the Petit Trianon, so we immediately struck out in search of it. ¬†We had only a very vague idea where it was relative to the palace, and the map of the grounds was in French. So we wandered, and wandered, and got colder and colder, and wetter and wetter, and finally found … the stupid palace again. Yes, we went in a circle. Argh!

versailles, oct 1981

I’d like to say that we courageously pushed on until we found the Petit Trianon, but, non. We gave up. But before we gave up, we immortalized our frustration in a picture that started a tradition (I didn’t realize it was the birth of a tradition then or might have thrown myself into it more) that I to this day love to indulge.

I call it the dead tourist pose, but as you can see from this early effort, it was more like the semi-dead, or totally exhausted and frustrated tourist. But it was so much fun, and so silly, that I started doing it whenever I went anywhere different, or went to a place that took a lot of effort to get to (long bike rides up mountains, for instance), or for no very good reason at all. As time passed, I took to playing dead, sprawling out in various dead-ish poses for maximum dramatic effect. Over time, I have regressed (the circle of life!) to being the semi-dead or at risk tourist again. This involves pretending to be in a dangerous situation and waving wildly. It’s basically a variation on the longtime tradition of going to Mt Rushmore and pretending to pick the nose of one or another of the presidents¬†or going to Washington DC and pretending to touch the tip of the Washington Monument. Fun!

So here you go, the Dead Tourist Flickr set!



  1. Om my God what memories this brought back!!! Not enough to ever stay at a youth hostel again, but that trip was one of the best experiences of my life! Love this post : )

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