Our Trip Around the World
About the Book
A spirited 1950s travelogue that takes the reader around the world during a time when two independent young women travelling alone was considered almost revolutionary.
Renate Belczyk was born in Dresden, Germany, in 1932. When she was three years old her family moved to Berlin, where they settled into a small apartment building on the outskirts of the city. It was in this building that she met another adventurous girl, Sigrid, with whom she would travel around the world as young women after the Second World War.
Having spent most of their childhood and teenage years climbing trees, swimming, cycling, hiking, and adventuring around Germany the two young women attended a talk by the German writer Heinrich Böll. During his presentation the renowned author suggested to the crowd that they all travel to different countries and make friends with the locals whenever they could, as this would help prevent another war. Renate and Sigrid took this advice to heart, and from that point their adventures together took flight.
Starting in 1955 and travelling for three years to England, France, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Canada, Japan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Egypt, Turkey, Macedonia, and Greece, their adventures together culminated with their joint return to Germany in 1958. In 1959 Renate returned to the Canadian Rockies to work in the backcountry, and in 1960 she married mountaineer Felix Belczyk and settled in Castlegar, BC, where they raised three children.
Our Trip Around the World is an endearing snapshot of the postwar era when adventure travel – mountaineering, hiking, hitchhiking, and cycling – was enticing those with adventurous spirits to experience the world like never before.
“Renate Belczyk’s account of her travels around the world with her childhood friend Sigrid is nothing short of remarkable. Living through the dark days of the Second World War was enough to prompt such a journey, but it’s also clear that Belczyk possesses an extraordinarily adventurous spirit. Through her and Sigrid’s diaries, we have detailed accounts of their extensive travels, both abroad and throughout the Canadian Rockies. The result is an inspiring collection of stories translated for Belczyk’s grandchildren, but also a gift for anyone who reads them. The world may have changed since the 1950s, but Our Trip Around the World demonstrates that perhaps if we all embodied Belczyk’s pure thirst for adventure and her openness to connect with strangers, we might experience the world the way she once did.”—Meghan J. Ward, outdoor, travel and adventure writer
“Renate and Sigrid are like your cool cousins who write letters home from an incredible trip around the world. Written in journalistic style, the author has kept the integrity of the time and a daring young woman’s voice in the 1950s. This book allows us to travel with Renate and her long-time friend Sigrid to Mexico, Canada, Japan, India and Nepal. Many of the locals they befriend are now famous in history, such as Hans Gmoser and Lawrence Grassi from the Canadian Rockies and Peter Aufschnaiter of the film Seven Years in Tibet. The story of two women travelling alone, in a period when that was rarely done, opened up a crazy amount of experiences and even though those adventures intrigued the reporters who followed them, I don’t believe Renate or Sigrid realized just how cool they were. It’s about time this book came out.”—Katrina Rosen, author of With You By Bike: One Couple’s Life-Changing Journey Around the World