1. Carry a wedge when you travel to put under the front door, no matter how nice or disgusting the place is.
2. Always carry you drink with your hand over it, no matter how nice the place you are.
3. Anyone can take a job away from you, but they can’t take away your profession.
4. You must keep walking in your old age, because once you stop your muscles stop and then you never get up. If you stop, you’ll get old and fat and sit around all day being lazy.
5. Go back to the Music Museum in Rüdesheim. It’s great.
6. Go to Remagen Bridge. It’s a famous WW2 bridge that was a big American offensive.
I was walking up the stairs to the lift that takes you on a tour of the vineyards and up to the monument with Germania. This older woman with a bright red jacket starts asking me questions in an English accent (phew! i can understand.). I’m getting the idea that we are taking the two person chair lift up the hill together. Pretty sweet, no biggie. Little did I know what was in store for the next few hours!
Paula was born in 1929 and raised in London. She’s been a ghostwriter for all sorts of famous, well-to-do sorts of people f couldn’t or the past 15 years. Don’t be confused, though. She writes everything shorthand, verbatim, and with pen and paper. She then goes home to one for her two London homes and types everything out on her 50+ year old typewriter. She’s very good at what she does, is well compensated for it, and is not afraid to say otherwise. Shit, I wouldn’t be either. This profession can after she retired from being a journalist focusing on international crime (no further details on that — I got the sense I stomach the stuff she’d say). Throughout school and into college she picked up about 7 languages. Russian, Latin, German, French, etc. I couldn’t remember them all. She’s a tricky one, too. Whenever in danger of being ‘found out’, she’s claim to be from Sweden, then listen and lip read as all different conversations were going on while people thought she was safe. She’s been to every single country, many of them she listed were communistic when she was there but not any longer. She’s also been to ever single state in the United States. Now that is what I call a well-traveled woman. Shoot! She said she’d been traveling alone since she was 21 years old. It was during those trips in foreign countries that she learned about having a wedge under the door. Once in Turkey she remembered waking up to the barman on top of her with he hand around her neck. She said she’d gone to bed, not drunk and not with him. The barmen held the keys to all the rooms, you know, in case of lock-out or attempted rape. WTF!? She said she brought her knee up real fast and hard. You could imagine he might have rolled over and she was able to get away. It certainly wasn’t the last time something like that happened. So, I’m going to buy a wedge!
Surprisingly to me, she’s Jewish. Her father and brother, along with about 29 (i think i heard this part correctly) other family members were killed under Hitler’s reign. She goes to Auschwitz every year to say prayers for all her family members who were killed at the camp. When she was a small child she remembered looking up at the sky and calling for her mom to explain what all the balls were doing in the air. Her mother came out, grabbed her my the hair and pulled her into the house, throwing her flat on the entry way floor. There they stayed for two days while their house collapsed around them from the bombs dropping. This was all in central London. After the second day, there were rescue people walking the streets calling for anyone alive. Her mother was able to call out. After all the rubble was pulled off of them, they went to the hospital. Paula said she still the scar running form the top of her head to the bottom.
Despite her lifestyle, she was able to squeeze in two children. They never were able to travel with her on location, so I’m not sure how that worked. Her daughter is a doctor. I believe her other child was also a daughter, but I’m not too sure. She has 5 grandkids who she proudly spoke of. All of them are in school to be lawyers or doctors. She has a sibling who is doctor on the east coast. They have about 4 or 5 houses across the states. Say what?!
What brought Paula to Rüdesheim was a boat tour of the Rhine river that takes her all the way back to London. I asked who she was with. “By myself!” I thought she said she travels one weekend a month, but she quickly corrected me that she travels one WEEK of every month to countless places and countries. She said she has the money so just goes! She was obviously not alone since she knew about 20-30 people by name as we passed by various couples who were also on the same tour as her. This includes the two drivers who were stopped for coffee. At first she introduced me as her new American friend. Then it progressed to her Granddaughter that she found. Haha, it was great. One man nudged me and said I better get her address. Covered and covered.
We went to a cafe where she said she’d love to treat me to coffee, which also means dessert as I learned. She didn’t want any, but she made sure I had some. We sat and talked about lots of stuff. Obama, her life, Germany, the American-Mexican boarder, WW2. Let me clarify, she talked and I listened. I have nothing to contribute to any conversation with an 80 year old woman who’s seen everything. I enjoyed myself. We took the lift back down, walked around the town, got water bottles (big ones, and her treat). I walked her to the bus she had to pick up. We hugged and exchanged addresses. I told her I’d love to mail her post cards while I travel around. She said she’d make sure to write as well. I headed to my train and promptly wrote down my entire experience so I wouldn’t forget!
Oh, days with Paula…