Youth Hostel, Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle),
Friday, June 1, 1973
Dear Father and Mother,

My days-old good intentions of writing home have received some encouragement this morning from the weather which is not behaving as well as it might. I plan if possible to hitch-hike today to Oostende and take the ferry across to the Mother Country tomorrow.

If memory serves, the last time I wrote to you was from Salzburg almost a week ago. Shortly thereafter I spent several hours on the Autobahn approaches waiting for a lift to München and was eventually picked up by an Austrian in a Volvo who drove at 150 KPH and got me to the outskirts of München in a hurry. The border formalities were laughable after the Yugoslavia-Austria turnout where the Austrians pulled everything out of the bus and had a dog sniff around for hash. On the German border they didn't even check our passports. The countryside in southern Bavaria is of course very beautiful.

After consuming my first German beer in München, I rang the parents of a young German I met in Bali and received a warm invitation to visit them. My first brush with German public transport was a surprise - everything is of the absolute best (buses, trams and trains). The Underground is new and sparkling and the trains have better acceleration than I would have believed. (Apparently they have already had to slow them down because so many people fell over.)

I have neither room nor time to recount details but, in short, I spent three most enjoyable days in München, sleeping on the floor of my friend's apartment, eating like a king at his parents' place (his mother insisted on giving me one of his father's shirts), looking around the town and the Olympic stadium etc., marvelling at the beauty of their pedestrian plazas (with the biggest tulips I have ever seen) and, of course, drinking beer.

On Tuesday morning it took me 5 minutes to get a lift in a van going past Frankfurt to the Ruhrgebiet. After taking a bus and two trams (all run by the same authority and you can travel for 1 hour for 80 Pf. after cancelling your own ticket), I arrived at the Youth Hostel and arranged to meet Henry Sherwood next day.

Frankfurt as a city doesn't appeal to me as much as München and if anything is more expensive - and that's saying something. The YH was run like a concentration camp - e.g. before you could pay for another night's stay, you had to work in the kitchen for 10 min. and have your ticket marked.

I got on quite well with Sherwood (relieved to find he wasn't wearing a tie either) and the interview concluded with a written offer of a job from mid-July (my choice) at a salary 10% above what I was earning at home (very comfortable). I told him I'd let him know by June 15 (reverse-charges telephone call) after seeing IBM UK. However, I've more or less set my heart on working there and I think I'd save myself some embarrassment by not interviewing IBM managers in the UK.

Yesterday (Ascension Day) was a holiday in Germany and I waited a couple of hours for a lift out of Frankfurt until a dandy picked me up in his Mercedes 250 and we raced along the Autobahn at up to 200 kph. He took me for a quick look around Bonn, then I took a lift in a Renault to Köln and a VW to Aachen. The YH is in a beautiful setting above the romantic old town. I keep expecting to hear Charlemagne's ghost or hear horsemen galloping into town with good news from Ghent.