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Iceland Airlines: Frozen in Memory

"Quick, where's Joyce's phone number? Joyce, turn on WHYY RIGHT NOW. They're doing a thing on Icelandic Airlines in the 60's. BYE."

The story brought back a lot of memories, and I'm really sad to hear that Luxembourg is being given short shrift. It's really worth visiting. Here are a few of the highlights of what Icelandic gave me.

In 1971 Joyce and I found out that we could get International Student ID cards that would give us access to cheap transportation all over Europe. I still have the picture from mine. Aviator glasses, hair parted in the middle, practically waist length. And the best part was that we could fly over there for ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIVE DOLLARS. It was incredibly cheap compared to anything else, but even that was a lot of money for me at the time, Joyce really wanted to go, so somehow I scraped it together.

It was a wonderful experience, and if it hadn't been for Icelandic, I would never have been able to go. A hundred and sixty-five dollars, I always tell people. Can you imagine? Round trip! It wasn't so much that we were blissed out and looking for Nirvana, but we did think we were pretty hip and adventurous. And we had to do SOMETHING in between marches on Washington.

Your commentator wasn't kidding about that late-night stop in Reykjavik. I had been asleep; it was dark, and we had to get off the plane and go into the terminal while the plane refueled. I don't know how long it lasted, but we weren't allowed to go anywhere. So we trooped back on, and morning landed us in Luxembourg. It wouldn't have been on my itinerary if I had been choosing my destination, but I'm glad I got there. It was my first view of Europe, and it was beautiful.

My first impression was awe at the age of the buildings we were seeing on our bus ride into town from the airport. I remember saying to Joyce, "Just think, most of these buildings are older than the oldest building we've ever seen at home." That still hits me often when thinking of differences between American culture and anyplace over there -- that sudden awareness of how young a country we are.

We did a lot of train travel and a lot of hitchhiking. One young French guy in a microbus kind of thing insisted on taking us home to meet his wife and having something to eat, even though our ability to communicate was largely gesture. Boy, were we living!

We had a copy of "Europe on $5.00 a day", which came in handy in more than one way. We were coming out of the train station in Luzern, Switzerland, feeling like Sherpas with our thousand- pound backpacks strapped on so we could keep our hands free, when I realized that Joyce wasn't walking alongside me. I turned around to see her standing several yards behind me with a stunned expression on her face.

"This guy just came walking right up to me, ran his hands up my breasts and kept going." "WHAT MAN? WHERE?" "Him, the one with the raincoat, heading to the train." Now, I'm about 5'2", but don't get me mad. I strode up to and past this creep, turned to come towards him, and whacked him with that thick guidebook I had been consulting to find someplace cheap to eat. "DON'T YOU EVER DO ANYTHING LIKE THAT AGAIN." And I just kept going and didn't look back.

The cheapest joint we could find for dinner was called the SANS ALCOOL, which we somehow deduced while dining was some kind of mission to alcoholics. The spaghetti wasn't bad anyway.

We took a lift partway up the Matterhorn, we eventually made it to Paris, which is another whole story, and then we hooked up with people we had been corresponding with who lived in London.

I could keep going on, but the real point is that a lot of us shared adventures in those times that we owe to Icelandic. My memories of that trip are always accompanied by thanks to the airline for allowing me to do things that I loved and still reminisce about. Obviously, I'm not alone.



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