The summer of 1972 had but one purpose! Meet the families and spend time together. Mona had heard me enough times talking about Portugal and the speculations about when getting back could become a reality. Her own curiosity was also there…If we bought an Interrail ticket in Finland we could use it from Sundsvall to very close to the Portuguese frontier. This would be an opportunity to meet my grandmother Bua, my parents, brother Pedro and sister Joana!
It was settled. The Inter rail ticket meant that we could travel throughout Europe without extra cost if travelling in second class and on ordinary trains. We left Scandinavia via Rödby in Denmark on the ferry to Germany on the 3rd august. Our first stop in Germany was in Hamburg. We did not stay in hotels if we could avoid them. But we had to eat.
Areas around central stations are unpleasant and sometimes dangerous. We looked for a place to eat not far from the station. This was before the times of fast food chains as we know them today. As we were eating and from nowhere a gang of thugs (young men, acting aggressively) approached our table and started to provoke me by taking chips off Mona’s plate and putting them near her mouth. I honestly did not know what to do, but felt I could not resolve the situation by any other means than getting beaten up. I chose not to and it bothered me for some time to think what a coward I was. Mona never mentioned and did not seem to think I should have acted in any other way! My first German experience was not very positive.
That night the trip continued towards Switzerland and the impecable city of Geneve. Even there my new leather jacket came to good use!