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May 27 Salzburg
Accommodation: Hotel Stein

Austria: Salzburg was the scene of our first car malfunction when one of our tyres burst! We stayed the night in a hotel overlooking the castle and took in the city while waiting a replacement.

Dhahran to London, May 1978

We really only had time to visit the Cathedral and gardens and to marvel at the statue of the Horse Tamer (Rossbändiger) in Herbert von Karajan Platz (formerly the Sigismund Square) in the centre of the city. The statue is set in the middle of a horse pond or horse wash (Hofmarstallschwemme) designed and constructed by Bernhard Fischer von Erlach as part of the façade of the Royal Stables. Equine-themed frescoes by artist Josef Ebner adorn the façade, in particular one from Greek mythology portraying Bellerophon who tried to reach Mt. Olympus by riding on Pegasus. The old city of Salzburg was recognised as a World Heritage site in 1996.

Dhahran to London, May 1978
Dhahran to London, May 1978


May 28
Route A1/A8/A5 Salzburg - Heidelberg 5 hrs.
Route A6/A61/A4/E40 Heidelberg - Brussels 5 hrs.
Accommodation: Friends, Avenue Winston Churchill

Germany: Collecting the car we left Salzburg and drove through Heidelberg, stopping to have a look at Heidelberg Castle, whose ruins are among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps and dominate the old city. The earliest castle structure was built before 1214 and later expanded into two castles. Fires, wars and lightning had taken their toll.

Dhahran to London, May 1978
Dhahran to London, May 1978
Dhahran to London, May 1978

Belgium: From Heidelberg, we drove onto Brussels where we stayed with friends for the night. They took us out to an average restaurant where the hefty bill probably reflected the quantity of slivovitz we drank.


May 29
Route A2/A29 Brussels to Dieppe 4 hrs.
Ferry Dieppe to Newhaven 5 hrs.
Route A27/A23/A3/ Weybridge 2 hrs.
Walton on Thames 5 mins!
Accommodation: Home

France: From Brussels, we crossed from Dieppe to Newhaven on the car ferry. Once in England, we drove to Weybridge where my parents lived, only to find they had moved to Walton on Thames but had failed to pass on their new address. Nevertheless, the new owners had their address, and we arrived safe and sound for our first English beer for a year!

A great adventure.


Dhahran to London, May 1978

The Travellers
Richard, Stan, Graham

© Words Richard Thom
Credits: Stan Peters and Graham Edgson

© Richard Thom

*Original article edited for cultural and geopolitical sensitivities.

Part 6

Life after Aramco: Dance in the Desert

About the Author

Richard Thom grew up in Ahmadi, Kuwait 1954 – 1969 where his dad was Chief Health Officer for the Kuwait Oil Co. He worked in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia between 1976 and 1980 for Aramco’s Internal Audit and Contract Cost Compliance departments. He undertook this journey halfway between two contracts.

When not working, playing rugby, squash or trying his hand at amateur dramatics, he used his organising skills on the Aramco Employees Association and was Treasurer 1976/77 - 1978/79 and Chairman 1979/80 for the Dhahran Rugby Union Football Club (DRUFC).

He continued with a varied finance career in shipping (Japan) automobiles (Guam) and dance education (UK), before finally retiring in 2015.

Richard has contributed a number of articles to AramcoExpats including a review of Not the May Ball 3 in September 2022; a 10-part serialization of the unofficial history of the Dhahran Rugby Union Football Club; a look back on life after Aramco “Dance in the Desert” and “Jimmy Abdul McGregor, and Other Stories: Tales from the Yemen”.

Richard published his book Dance into Business in 2018 a how-to guide for dance students, teachers and professionals wishing to start up a dance studio or go freelance. It contains helpful tips, practical examples, and points to consider whether just starting out or already in business. It is available from Amazon websites as a printed book, or an e-book priced locally.

Life After Aramco: Dance in the Desert

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