Profuse thanks

4 Jun

While there is really no way to thank all of the people who made our 9-month tour so rewarding, I am going to try to name many of the wonderful people, old friends and new, who have confirmed our opinion that the world is a nice and generous place:


Hildur Elísabet Þorgrímsdóttir and her family Þorgrím, Asdis, and sister Hrönn:  they welcomed us into their Keflavik home in Iceland, introducing us to a real Icelandic family, in a beautiful house that her father helped build. We saw the Northern Lights here, and Þorgrím showed us one of the geothermal plants for which Iceland is so famous. Hildur now works permanently on the cabin crew of Icelandair! We met Hildur through Dottie; she was an exchange student in Austin. The entire family came to Max & Dottie’s wedding, driving from the East Coast to Austin; we met them there.


Henry and Val Kitchener are among our oldest friends. We met Henry in 1974, when he was at the end of a summer internship in Wisconsin and had come out to California to get some sun. It turned out to be one of the foggiest summers on record, and Henry looked so forlorn in the airport where I was flying from Portland to Santa Barbara to meet George before I flew off for my Fulbright year that I told him to get off the plane with me and I would promise him good weather! It worked, the sun shone brightly, but it must have been a bit of a shock for poor G. when I got off the plane with another guy!!! We subsequently visited Henry & his family in Glasgow on our honeymoon. Henry went on to marry Val, and become a leading gynecological oncologist in the U.K. They visited us in California and Australia over the years, and we have stayed in touch over all these 40 years or more. They have a pied-a-terre in London, near Regents Park, which they let us stay in. A free room in London cannot be passed up, and we are infinitely grateful to them for allowing us to experience a side of London that we would never have been able to afford otherwise.


Wolfgang and Nora Petritsch. Oh, my, where do I begin with our thanks? I met Wolfgang in 1969, waiting in line at the Vienna State Opera for standing room tickets. He and my roommate Celine became an item for many years. Wolfgang then went on to an illustrious career, first as Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky’s assistant, then as a diplomat and High Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina at the height of the Balkan Wars. He has only recently officially retired, but seems as busy and as engaged now as ever. We only met Nora when we arrived in Vienna this time; they had offered us the apartment that she lived in before she married Wolfgang.  We like Nora very much! Artistic, fun, and helpful–and she cooks well, too! Her Sigmundsgasse place was just perfect for us.  But that’s not all from these good folks: they also own the gorgeous house in Mlini, Croatia, on the Dubrovnik Riviera, and they let us stay there for as long as we wanted to be there.  Without their generosity, our journey would have been far less rewarding, indeed.


Edith and Hans Walder, our wonderful Viennese friends who now live out in Hart, a small village in the Waldviertel countryside,  in a beautiful renovated Hof. It is now hard to reconstruct how we met them back in the 80s, but it had something to do with a Bryn Mawr connection.  We re-established contact with them when we first returned to Vienna back in 2009, when they let us stay at their Vienna apartment. This is where we stayed, after some restful stays in their Hart house, in our last days in Vienna. Danke, Edith and Hans!



Evy Styliaria-Karetzas allowed us to experience Greece in ways that few tourists get to see it. We have known Evy since we all lived in International House in Philadelphia, when she and George were studying at Penn and I was at Bryn Mawr–that was nearly 40 years ago! We were chaperones for a bus tour that we took to Florida. We had kept in touch sporadically, but hadn’t seen each other since then.  She is such a booster of traditional Greek culture and knows so many people and knows so much about her culture that we had a real inside view.  We were so depleted by the time we got to Athens after our Barcelona theft that we needed a good place to recuperate, and Evy’s wonderful house on Andros Island was ideal.  Evaristo, Evy!

Mitch Bernard and Jayne Edmonds (for whom I can’t find any photos, I don’t know why) we have known since we both lived in faculty housing at the ANU in Canberra, in 1990-91. They were there for a year’s research position, and we had just arrived for my teaching post. They had one son then, and had another while in Australia. Once they moved back home to Toronto and we were back in California, we did see them sometimes in Pasadena. WE were so happy that they offered us a place to stay for our Toronto weekend, even though, alas, they were in Japan at the time. Aragato!

These are the OLD FRIENDS. The next blog will pay homage to the many new friends we made along the way, who made our stays so enjoyable and adventurous.  Stay tuned!



2 Responses to “Profuse thanks”

  1. Albert Brancato and Michael von Selle June 4, 2016 at 4:20 pm #

    Very interesting reading, Erika. BTW, I saw AirBnB Robert standing on the bus stop today and talked to him a bit.

  2. Peter Detwiler June 4, 2016 at 9:49 pm #

    And thanks to Erika & George for sharing their travel adventures (and mis-adventures) with all of us for the last several months. Vicarious pleasures! Peter & Carrie

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