I can - and do - write anywhere except on moving transit. That omits boats, trains and planes. And buses. I can barely even read when I travel. I have yet to discover if it is because I like watching the passing scene or that the passing scene makes me feel ill when concentrating on words. Perhaps it does not have to be either/or.
So, while busing and training in Europe I did not write. Which makes a backlog when an intent is to have a travel journal. I scribbled cryptic notes and odd directions and two word descriptions which I would not understand a few days later when so much else had been experienced. Thus, at the end of many meals in Youth Hostels, I would remain at table writing away and filling in the longer and longer blanks. Been there. Done that. Moving on.
I was at a court yard table in Munich as both dusk and meal settled. And scribbling away at those travel memoirs (no laptops then). Though I'd probably still scribble today. And as a scribbled I failed to note a buxom lass approaching me. I noticed her right quick enough when she spoke. I stopped my scribbling.
She assumed I was writing letters and wondered if I had a stamp she might be able to use. I did and was (happily) not churlish enough to accept payment. Nor did my dedication to my task get in the way of offering her a seat. Which she accepted. And then conversation ensued.
It's many a year and I will not try to reproduce dialogue (tempted though I am). In the course of twilight descending into darkness (and I think I remember some pop and sweets being consumed) we each described our so-far journey. Her name was Roberta and she was from Rhode Island and she was studying to become an air traffic controller. And she was Jewish. And - truth to tell - she was as interesting as all get out. The upshot was that, on the morrow, she was embarking on one of the most important parts of her trip. She was taking a pilgrimage to the Concentration Camp at Dachau, which was an hour or so outside of Munich. She did not go into any details of the importance of this to her (murdered family perhaps), and I did not ask anything which was not offered or implied. I did not suggest I might accompany her, which I might have done if she was going to a more touristy destination like Neuschwanstein Castle or some such. Handle with care, I did.
As it was, she had this set trip the next day, and the day after that I was heading to Britain to see slews of relatives. No further camaraderie was in the cards. So we exchanged addresses and an innocent kiss and parted.
Thus the power of places where you write. And not the end of the story, neither. We did write and telephone and the next summer she flew up and visited me in Canada. Stayed about a week and experienced a life somewhat more rural and rustic than what she was accustomed to. And we wrote some more (this was before email) but the communications eventually petered out. I have even, at this point, forgotten her last name. But if she might be reading these words . . .