Many many years ago, 45 to be exact, I was fresh out of college and on my way to my first real job, in Germany. A cheap flight brought me first to Ireland, where I spent two weeks of August 1968 in a student hotel on the west coast, in the village of Lisdoonvarna. What fun I had! Together with a bunch of young people from all over the world, we spent our days being bussed around to the local sights, such as castle ruins and the famous Cliffs of Moher.
Nights were spent pubbing, which is a national pastime in Ireland. Young and old gathered for self-improvised entertainment, from children dancing the jig to grandpas sawing on fiddles or playing the spoons, with everyone singing folk songs while someone accompanied on the piano. I fondly remember being serenaded with one of Frank Sinatra's hits, Nancy with the Laughing Face
What does this have to do with our sailing trip, you ask? Patience ...
Some of my new-found friends back then decided that their next destination after Ireland would be Torremolinos, a budding resort town in southern Spain. "Come along with us," they cajoled. "But I have a job waiting in Berlin," I replied. "Ah, forget Berlin, who wants to go there? Those boring Germans, they wait till the light turns green to cross even if there's no traffic. They always obey the 'don't walk on the grass' signs. Come along with us instead!"
But being the responsible young person that I was, driven by my family's mantra, common sense, I bid them farewell and flew on to Germany. Where, six months later, I met my Schatzi, Burger. I think I made the better choice!
A couple of years later James Mitchener published The Drifters
, a novel set in the late 60's about a group of young people from different parts of the world, on a trip of self-discovery during troubling times that brought them together in, among other places, Torremolinos. Where would I be today had I followed my Lisdoonvarna friends in 1968??
What's it like here in Torremolinos today? Right now in high season August, it's a hot and crowded beach town. High-rises and a Disneyesque marina center (Benalmadana) and mostly British and Spanish tourists. Restaurants and pubs and shops and rows and rows of plastic "flesh benches," as Burger calls the sun beds you can rent on the beach.
We searched the crowds for remnants from the 60's, but those who looked our age were prim and proper-looking Brits, no sign of aging hippies.
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