Europe adventuring and Expo 88

This is the next instalment of my Special Moments, Magic Memories series for the 2022 A to Z Blog Challenge.

Back when we were mere youngsters in the early 1970s, we decided to use our biennial leave fares to travel to Europe from Papua New Guinea. Our initial intention was to take Miss 3 and Miss 1 with us. Miss 3 was very excited to “go Athens” “go Rome”. She was not a happy girl when my parents offered to mind them for an unconscionably long time. ”Go grandma’s”? ”No! Go Athens!” This could be called a negative wow moment, rather like her sister’s cold shoulder when I returned! Tears were not in short supply.

International travel was still expensive, though the Aussie dollar was strong (happy days!). Stocked up with our travel bible, Europe on $5 a day, we set forth with blissful faith in our ability to make the most of what we expected would be our first and last European adventure. It was to be one long WOW holiday.

No long haul jets then, our flight took us from Manila to Bangkok, to Karachi, on to Teheran and we landed in Athens before dawn had quite risen. We had left the Highlands of New Guinea, commonly referred to as a Stone Age society, and here we were in the Cradle of Civilisation. WOW! What a culture shock! That very first morning we walked up to Syntagma Square at dawn, saw the Evzone guards, and the bullet holes where there’d been riots not many years previously. “Funnily” enough, when we revisited 40 years later, the riot police were in nearby streets as another demonstration was afoot.

You might imagine our awe when we saw the Acropolis for the first time the next day. A memory we treasure is the people on the bus saying ”Acropolis, no” until we arrived at the correct stop and there was a collective cry of “Acropolis, yes!” In those far off days you could wander pretty freely among those ancient monuments whereas now its much more controlled. How could we have imagined then, that on our next visit we’d eat dinner on the verandah of our hotel, looking over the Acropolis draped in lights.

We had many adventures exploring all the must-see sights of Europe for first-time tourists. Without the internet, Instagram and Facebook, each iconic structure blew us away, so its hard to isolate specific wow moments though perhaps the Viking ship in Oslo was one.

if you’re curious about how different international travel was back 50 odd years ago, you might find this earlier blog post of interest.


With our family’s travel fetish, and Expo 88 being held in Brisbane where we lived, of course we had to buy season tickets. Yes, a bit of a budget buster, but for six months entertainment it was worth every dollar given we went at least twice or three times every week in combinations of different family members. Our eldest two daughters were old enough to venture forth on their own with friends quite safely as well as occasionally coming with us. Expo was six months of fun and wow moments as we travelled from country to country and learned more about each as well as getting to taste different foods. Some of the most fun was the various statues around the site that you’d come upon unexpectedly. We also experienced the start of a technological revolution that was on the way including the Irish government’s gift on a convict database. Having a sub-tropical climate, Brisbane is not usually very cold and the skies are typically clear and blue. Perfect for an event like Expo which changed the city permanently. We were there on Day 1 and the final day as well. So many memories!

Were you able to attend Expo 88 and did you enjoy your wow moments?

When did you first travel to Europe and were you with a partner, friends or family? What were your wow moments?

18 thoughts on “Europe adventuring and Expo 88

  1. I’m going to read your other travel post you mentioned above. I’m really enjoying your blog. Did you live in Papau New Guinea? The reason I’m asking is because I’m taking a sociology class (I’m 63 and back in college) and last week we watched three episodes of Jared Diamond on Nat Geo as an assignment. He talks about Papau New Guinea a lot. If you did live there, have you written posts about it? If so, I would love to read!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My one and only trip to Europe was in 1981 to Norway. My oldest daughter, then 11 accompanied me. I attended the summer school at Blinern and traveled around Norway with Sister Peg, a nun who traveled with me, although she didn’t attend the summer school.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. G’day Pauleen,

    My first trip to Europe was in 1990 and involved a 42 day bus tour of famous stones of Europe, so all those major cities and everything organized for me. But once I arrived in a big city, I would go off wandering while married couples waited for their luggage to arrive and to decide where they would go.

    I visited Expo 88 but only for a few days – loved the statues, Captain Cooks display and the multicultural aspects.


    1. There’s freedom in travelling solo sometimes and being able to just “do your thing”. I love pottering around now just getting a feel of the place. Glad you enjoyed Expo too. For people who didn’t live in Brisbane, a three day pass was often the preferred option.


  4. Apart from two earlier trips to NZ, my flight to the UK to be married involved first stop Port Moresby where I had a stopover for a few hours so a family friend picked me up and gave me a whistle stop tour. Then onto Hong Kong for 4 days stopping at the YMCA hostel (yes, YMCA) and onto Athens with like you, fuel stopovers in Karachi, then Tehran.
    I was blown away by the history in the five days I spent in Athens and the boat tour to one of the nearby islands and finally onto Heathrow where Chris picked me and my giant suitcases up in a mini! Now that was a challenge, but the travel bug had well & truly bitten. As always your blogs make great reading and bring back lots of memories. Bobbie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Bobbie, sorry to be so late replying…I’ve been in the run with my posts and comments. I was very impressed with your story – how brave you were to do that! You cheeky thing, staying in the YMCA!


  5. I’ve been to Europe but not to Greece so I enjoyed reading about your experiences. It must have been great to have the Expo in you home city. I remember watching the excitement from afar

    Liked by 1 person

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