Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tour Group as Interesting as Natives

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tour Group as Interesting as Natives

Article excerpt

Forty-two Americans met as strangers in an Amsterdam airport and

parted company with hugs of friendship in Paris after sharing

adversity, confusion, exhilaration, exhaustion and lots of

laughter as they crossed the heart of Europe.

The group learned about everything from calculating seven

different currencies against the dollar to how to operate

bidets. One Kentucky man in the group got squirted in the face

by one of the bathroom fixtures before he figured out what it

was. A Texas bachelor never did learn to pronounce the word for

the fixture. He called it a "barday," but then he also called

the gondolas of Venice "granolas."

Throughout the tour, the group was carefully shepherded,

advised and entertained by two kind, patient and professional

Dutch citizens: the guide, Martine Ravensbergen, an Amsterdam

resident, and the bus driver, Andre van Nieuw Amerongen.

The American characters on the tour were as interesting as the

native people.

The man from Texas drank his way through the tour, sampling

every local beer and wine he could get his hands on, at every

rest stop, at every village, at every hotel.

The bachelor from Kentucky seemed star-crossed from the start.

His luggage was lost for a day when he arrived in Amsterdam and

was lost again for a day in a huge Paris hotel.

The same Kentuckian climbed the worn stone stairs to the top of

the 600-foot spires of the Cathedral of Cologne, Germany, on the

fourth day and his ankles never stopped swelling. He was forced

to visit a doctor in a small Swiss village to get medication to

ease the swelling.

An 82-year-old man from Jacksonville, a seasoned traveler, left

a trail of tattered underwear behind. He told his new-found

friends that at home, he sets aside his worn underwear and uses

them as disposables when he travels. …

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