top of page
  • Writer's pictureJane Ritzenthaler

Hitting the Road Again!


August 29, 2022


Yes, the travel bug has bitten me again. And the little critter has been dormant for a while. Between losing my husband and enduring the Pandemic, I've been sitting on the sidelines. But I've dusted off my passport, bought a new rolling backpack, and next month I'm off to England! Those of you who have known me for a while aren't surprised. You've probably heard tales of my three-month-long solo (most of the time, anyway) sojourn through Europe back in my youth. It was the year I turned 40, and I had won a sales contest from Lancôme Cosmetics. Two weeks in Paris! Other than a quick trip over the river from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, I had never traveled outside of the U.S. I saw this as perhaps my one and only chance, so I quit my job, planned to sell my RX-7 and travel until the money ran out. But my dear Daddy persuaded me not to sell my car, and instead gave me $2500.


But exactly where did I want to go? I found myself standing in the Travel section of Barnes & Noble, overwhelmed by the hundreds of guidebooks. But one unusual title caught my eye. "Europe Through the Back Door." Intrigued, I pulled it off the shelf. It was written by Rick Steves, at that time an unknown. But as I flipped through the chapters, I knew I'd found a gold mine. Oh yes, when in Rome, definitely see the Colosseum, but the real Italy was to be found in the small villages, and staying in someone's spare bedroom, not a sterile hotel.


It turned out to truly be the trip of a lifetime. This was pre-EU, and that summer the dollar was the strongest in quite some time against most European currencies. I purchased a Eurail Pass to take me along my planned route: from Paris to Chamonix, over Mont Blanc in a cable car to Italy, up into Austria, across through southern Germany and into Switzerland, circling southern France and up its west coast to Le Havre, and then a ferry across to Ireland where I dallied for three weeks, then another ferry to Scotland... and all without a single lodging reservation.


In those days, all the train stations had Travel Information booths that included not just brochures and maps, but lists of all the B&Bs and small hotels, plotted on a map of the town. I was able to select one in close proximity, make and pay for the reservation, and receive detailed instructions on how to get there. And with only one exception, they were fabulous. I picked figs in the backyard of a home in Tuscany, visited with a farmer in a small town perched on a mountainside ledge in Switzerland, practiced my French with a teenager learning English, and was rescued by a delightful family in Ireland when I became hopelessly lost riding my bike down the hedgerow-lined lanes in Ireland.


But why am I heading to England in September? Guess you'll have to check back and see!

66 views4 comments

Recent Posts

See All

4 Comments


Sue Hill
Sue Hill
Sep 22, 2022

Jane, how absolutely wonderful! I'll look forward to hearing more!

Like

carternjack
Sep 17, 2022

I feel like I will be right there with you this trip. But maybe next time, I will be.

Like

Yvonne Oldenburg
Yvonne Oldenburg
Sep 17, 2022

A Lancôme beauty!

Like

janbenson04
Aug 29, 2022

Wow! Have fun!!!

Like
bottom of page