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Report 1316: European Travel Back When - 1964

By Marian from New Jersey, Summer 1995

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Page 3 of 20: Cambridge, and Then on to Paris

It's raining again (shocker, yes?) as I head for King's Cross and the train to Cambridge. I manage to find the brand new Chemistry building (replacing the Old Cavendish Laboratory where Watson and Crick had worked) and an amazingly helpful secretary and steward. The phone books had been useless, but the secretary was appalled at the idea that I could come all the way from New York and not be able to find my friends. "Hmmm," she said, "foreigners have to register with the local police." So she called the police, who contacted Deanna's husband Sam, who called me, and so on. We arrange that he will meet me later on, and I will have dinner at their place.

So I will have plenty of time to see the Cambridge University campus, scene of so many of the novels I have read. King’s Chapel is amazing (the dining room in my freshman dorm had been modeled after it, but somehow it wasn’t the same...) I go back to the laboratory building and the steward shows me around; in one of the labs I talk to a young graduate student who is working in a field close to my own dissertation topic (molten salts, possible a route to a new generation of batteries).

I speak with Deanna, and go to their nice modern house for dinner (roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, of course). Then we head to the molecular-biology lab where Sam works ---- he is actually in Crick’s group! Finally, they get me to the train station, I take the train to King’s Cross (where I AGAIN) get lost, and head back home on the tube.

Now it’s Friday, June 5, my last day in London, and I aim to squeeze in all that I’ve missed so far. The Changing of the Guard (not so impressive to me), the Oxford Street Shops ---- that’s about all I get to do. I buy a ticket on the 9am boat train (London-Dover, Dover-Calais, and Calais-Paris). In the evening, I have another lovely dinner with Stephen and his parents at a famous 18th-century pub in Southwark (The George). I come back and squeeze everything into my suitcase. Tomorrow, Paris!

London is one thing and Paris will be quite another. I don’t know anyone there! They speak French! I have studied French from junior high through college, and even won my high-school French medal. But being best in French in Newtown High School, Corona, Queens is not the same as being able to communicate with real Parisians. Will it be OK? Will I even be able to find a hotel? Am I nuts for coming all this way on my own?

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