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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Throwback Thursday

My father worked a sabbatical year at the University of Heidelberg from August 1976 to July 1977. And I have so many neat memories from that year, starting with the boat that we took to get there.

It was a cruise-liner running under the Polish flag called the Stephan Batory (and I can't believe I found a wiki-link for it!)

I remember so many things about being on the boat and it was an amazing way to start this adventure. We went from Montreal to Southampton to Hannover in twelve days. I was ten at the time and from the moment we stepped on the boat, I had a freedom I'd never had before. Because there was nowhere to go but the boat, my folks had no problem letting me go off and do stuff on my own.

There were only two other children among the passengers, but I had plenty of fun with them, and without them.

Before we'd even left port, I discovered the ping pong table on the uppermost deck and was playing ping pong against one of the other kids. We got to do that for a while because we were three hours late in leaving. It turned out we were so late because the queen's ship was coming in, bringing her to Montreal for the summer Olympics and we had to wait for her to pass because, you know, the queen.

When we finally did get underway, I was leaning over the rail on that uppermost deck and wow, it was high. The boat's horn went off right behind me and I nearly went over the rail I jumped so hard at the sound. I then plastered myself to the wall behind me and wouldn't go near the railings until the next day.

My father got seasick right from the start and it didn't let go until he was back on dry land. He spent most of his days in a deck chair under a blanket and will tell you he loved every moment of it. It was fresh and clean and relaxing.

We saw an iceberg on our way out of the St-Laurence gulf and it was really close. 

There were several bars and everything non-alcoholic was free, so I would go and ask for a coke and get a bottle to drink whenever I wanted. I could sit and drink it there, or take it with me.

There were movies every night in their large cinema and the only night I missed was the first night we hit the ocean - I was sick that evening, but soon got my sea legs.

There was a pool that the weather was only nice enough for them to fill a few times. The most fun time was actually when they'd only filled it about a foot or so. The water would splash from one side to the other with the movement of the ship and you could sit on the bottom (it was about ten feet deep) and one moment there'd be no water where you were, then it would all come rushing and smash against you, be up to your neck, and then rush away again.

I played a lot of chess during those ten days. There was a chess room with twenty or so chess boards and I'd play against the grown-ups because my father had taught me how to play once checkers had grown boring. For hours I'd sit and play with one opponent after another - whoever won would stay at their table and everyone else would move around. 

The dining room had two sittings and we were at the first for all three meals. For a ten year old who'd rarely got to go to a restaurant, this was an amazing experience. There were choices for all three meals and I could pick anything I wanted from the menu. I had my first bilini on the boat, and I had it most days for breakfast. Pancakes were a special occasion meal and I was getting it every day! 

Even just sitting on the deck with my father was fun. It was a grand experience.

smut fixes everything


  1. Thank you for taking us with you on this remarkable journey! What Great memories!

  2. OH WOW! that sounds like such an amazing trip and what a great memory you have of it! That is so awesome. Thanks for sharing it!