After arriving in France they hitchhiked to Paris, ending up in the Etoile district close to the Arc de Triomphe where they secured an inexpensive room for a couple of nights. There were a lot of new things to discover, like the bidet in the bathroom, (what the heck was that?) for these wet behind the ears young men from Glad Tidings Church in Vancouver. From the balcony of the room they had rented they noticed a lot of comings and goings on the street below and stayed up half the night intrigued by it all. They soon found out they were in the red light district!
Next Danny tried to find a pen pal he had been introduced to in French class at school. She lived in a town called Navarre. Traveling on the subway, they made it to the south of Paris and from there tried hitchhiking and got as far as Fontainebleau.With the little money they had left, they bought some bread and jam and slept on a park bench for the night, waking up in the morning cold and covered in ants because of the jam! The pen pal would have to wait for another trip, time to head home.
The nearest port was Hamburg where they were hoping to find a ship to work on and get home. Buying a train ticket to Hamburg from France gave them a place to stay for the night as well.
Germany was a shock. Thirteen years after the war and still so much work to be done to rebuild, such devastation! The Seaman’s Mission in Hamburg provided a small room for the night and the next day they began the search for a ship to work on, but there was nothing. Better to go back to England where they at least spoke English. Hitchhiking also proved fruitless so the only alternative was to keep walking. John had bought a pair of winkle-pickers (long pointed shoes) in Paris which were the latest fashion, but by the end of the day his feet were bleeding. I got this picture from the internet, a sample of 1950’s winkle-pickers. I wonder which style John chose?
He couldn’t go another step so they decided to sleep in the wheat field by the side of the road that night. Mom had bought Danny a substantial pair of walking shoes and these served him well the entire trip. Comfort over fashion was the way to go in this situation!
Just over the hill was a little town about ten miles out of Hamburg. Since hitchhiking was useless here, and walking was so painful, what were they going to do? Then John pulled out a fifty-dollar bill tucked deep in his wallet, money given to him for a rainy day, and this was his rainy day.
They were able to buy a train ticket to Belgium, some bread and cheese, a ferry ticket to Dover and ended up back at Cecil’s house on Old Park Avenue at 5:00 a.m. They waited for some movement in the house and finally were able to knock on the door at 7:00. After a week, that felt like a months worth of adventures, it was good to be back in England. Cecil welcomed them, fed them, gave them ten pounds each and after two nights sent them on their way to find a job. John and Danny both found jobs, paid Cecil back, and saved up enough money to buy passage on a boat back to Canada. Landing in Montreal, they hitchhiked home. Total time away: five months – and many life experiences. This trip served only to whet Danny’s appetite for more travel and adventure.