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A day, a year: Denmark, Paris, Amsterdam

28 May

In 1982, at the age of 17, I left Canada to spend a year in Denmark as a Rotary exchange student. I lived  with three families in Rudkøbing, Nordenbro  and Tryggelev on the island of Langeland. It was an amazing year lived in a truly idyllic countryside. I started with my first family on a large, traditional farm, Nordenbrogård.

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Here’s a picture I found of my “counselor’s”farm and one of my friend Else’s family home & orchard.

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My last house was in Tryggelev, just south of Humble.

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My bus to school, crossed over three bridges and went past the place where Elvira Madigan  is buried on Tåsinge.

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I had other exchange student friends in Odense (home of Hans Christian Andersen) that I visited often. Because they didn’t want us getting Eurail passes and traveling on our own, the Danish Rotary club arranged an end of the year bus tour of Europe for us. We looped down through Germany and Austria, went across Italy Into France, then drove up to Paris, from which we went to Brussels & Amsterdam before retiring “home”. I have very fond memories of that year and that trip. Our “leaders”, Annie & Tommy, pretty much let us go where we wanted when a group activity was not planned,  and trusted us to make reasonable decisions.They were nothing like Ms. Foley, the leader of Allyson’s trip in Gayle Forman’s  Just One Day.

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I loved so much about this book.  It was like reliving my youth to some extent and I had actual pictures from my memory as Allyson went places with Willem, and looking for Willem. Forman creates a great story that captures the two characters and the places they visit.I must admit I read this in one day, I was so obsessed with the story.

The first half of the book tells about Allyson, who  is on the final leg of her graduation present from her parents; a teen tour of Europe. She is a careful girl, never deviating from the program, on this trip as well as in life. But everything changes in London. She meets a young man who convinces her to go to Paris where they share an amazing day. and then he leaves her. Devastated. How she rises from the devastation is the subject of the second half of the book.And I was right there with her all the way. To Paris & Amsterdam, all over again.

If you liked John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars (especially because of the trip to Amsterdam), or  the movie Before Sunrise, saw Before Sunset and plan to see  Before Midnight, just out now, you will love this book.

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