Aug 16, 1961 - Europe 1961    2 Comments

Stresa

We slept late – it was a delightful change not to have to meet a schedule. Breakfasted in the room, wrote letters, did some washing. Met the Earlys & took a boat-taxi to Isola Bella, the island we can see most clearly from the hotel.

It was full of tourists but they seemed to be for the most part Europeans. Many bazaars & outdoor cafes but the most amazing thing was the Chateau Borromes and the gardens. The Chateau had only recently been re-decorated tho’ it belonged to the Duke of Milan in the 15th century & is quite old. We enjoyed seeing the rooms which tho’ elaborate  were more to our taste than the more garish decor we’d seen lately. The gardens were extensive – many levels, hundreds of varieties of flowers & trees, fountains, statues – just fabulous.

We returned to the hotel for lunch – there was a crowd this meal time outside on the patio – we saw more young people but still few Americans. After a brief rest, we sat on the hotel private waterfront (cabanas furnished free) and swam in the lake & sunned. The water was cold & had waves – felt good tho’. We all played a round of miniature golf in the hotel’s beautiful gardens. Had drinks in the room before going out. Found a clean-looking Ristorante and ate supper in the patio. Food & service only fair but the wine was good.

We strolled on the boulevard briefly – there was a wind off the lake & it was chilly. Stopped for coffee & brandy and to listen to some music, then went to the hotel and to bed.

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Aug 17, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

Stresa to Lucerne

Our last morning in Italy! How we’ll miss the noisy little cars & Vespas buzzing like hornets up & down the boulevard.

Our train left Stresa at 10:55 and as soon as we left the lake, we started seeing majestic mountains, some still with snow on the peaks, waterfalls, lovely villages. Allen & I played gin much to Harry’s disgust because he was getting such a kick out of the scenery. In France Harry called francs “pesos”, in Italy, he called lira “francs”. He learned to say “arrivederci” – and would lean out the window calling to no one in particular – “arrivederci, you-all!”

We had bought wine, cheese, salami and crackers for lunch on the train. At the conductor’s suggestion we changed our route & instead of going to Bern, we got on a narrow gauge train at InterlakenThe Brünig railway line (German: Brünigbahn) is a Swiss metre gauge rack railway line that links Interlaken, in the canton of Bern, with Lucerne, in the canton of Lucerne, via Brienz, Meiringen, Giswil and Alpnachstad. The line passes over the Brünigpass, using sections of the Riggenbach rack system to overcome the gradients, but with most of the line operated by normal adhesion methods. and rode over the mountain to Lucerne. It was breathtaking.

We arrived in Lucerne in a rain – our first in Europe & went to Hotel SchillerModern Day Marriott Renaissance Hotel. Nice room overlooking the street – no view of the lake or mountains. This time the bath has a shower & no bidet, there are 2 wash basins in the room, good lights, a radio, a feather quilt & 2 enormous square pillows on the bed. The toilet erupted at frequent intervals. It was dangerous to sit on it for any length of time.

Had dinner in the hotel dining room & then took a walk down to the lake. Stopped in a “kellerHer handwriting makes it difficult here. The word is in quotes and is either 'Killin' or 'Killir' or 'Killer'. I've looked online and am at a loss.” for a stinger – that is, we ordered brandy & creme de menthe & had to mix our own. We seemed to be the only tourists there – everyone else was speaking German. We haven’t decided what the official language is – we hear French & German but most Swiss, in the shops anyway, speak English too.

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Aug 19, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

Lucerne and Driving to Innsbruck

We awoke before 7 and at 7:15 the man called that he har our car ready – he’d left Weisbaden the night before! We were so tickled with it – a blue-green Opel, fairly new, plenty of room. We packed up and left about 8:30, making a slight detour to see the Lion of Lucerne – which was magnificent! With the help of two maps and the clearly marked roads (I can’t call them highways), we drove across Switzerland to the N.E. There were 2 or 3 mountain passes with beautiful views. We navigated pretty well in spite of the heavy traffic, bicycles, and narrow roads.

In Buchs on the border we stopped for gas just as a wedding procession passed. Several horse drawn carriages bedecked with flowers with wedding couple & guests in native costume. Such excitement!

We crossed the Rhine into Lichenstein where we had lunch at a place called Nendeln, just a couple of miles from Vaduz, the capital. Then on into Austria over more passes, the most interesting being St. Anton where there was still snow  from a recent storm. We got out and took pictures, threw snow balls & marveled at the numbers of German tourists who were running all over the slopes just as excited about the snow as if they’d never seen any.

We had lovely scenery all the way to Innsbruck which is in a valley by the River InnThe river is named Inn. Not to be confused with an inn on a river. with mountains all ’round. A fairly good hotel, the ArlberghofFirst time I have not been able to find an internet reference to a place they stayed. Definitely not one by this name in Innsbruck now., as usual, by the train station – it’s been that way in every town!

Had dinner at the hotel and then drove to the Maria Theresa hotel for a two hour program of folk music – very similar to the Swiss one the night before. We would have been bored if it had not been for the two Austrian men at the table where we were seated. The younger was a medical student at the University here & could speak very good English but it was the older one who amused us as much as the floor show. He was quite a character – laughing, winking, leering & drinking his special wine.

Harry & I dropped the night owl Earlys off at another place so we could get some rest – Harry says he can’t take much more of this night life – but I’ve been holding up pretty well – not getting over tired and as yet, feeling fine.

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Aug 20, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

Innsbruck

We slept late – tho’ it was difficult with the noise of Vespas, buses, trolleys, etc. and with the sun blaring into the room – first place we haven’t had shutters.

The Early’s went on a guided tour but we took our own self-conducted walking tour, guide books in hand. The “old town” is so picturesque & not very large so we saw all we wanted to included [sic] Maximillian’s tomb with the 28 life size bronze statues. Had coffee on a balcony overlooking Rennweg Square with the fountain, Leopoldsbrunnes, right under us. In walking home through the streets near the station, we saw many buildings which had been damaged during the air raids in 1944. All the buildings around the station and the depot itself are new, so presumably all this area was destroyed & has been rebuilt.

Harry says he hasn’t seen a pretty girl since arriving in Innsbruck & doesn’t like their hair-do’s – surprisingly enough there is a “Friseur” (barber shop & beauty salon) in every block. He does, however, admire their short skirts (above the knees at times) & their figures (sometimes) in sweaters & pants. Roaring through all the little towns yesterday, he swore there was always a pretty girl at an intersection to distract him.

After dinner in the hotel dining room & a rest, we and Jeannette got in the car & took a drive around the town. Harry stopped & investigated one of the many new apartment buildings going up to see their construction – he approved of everything but the plumbing and wiring. We went up to BergiselThe Bergisel is a hill (746 m) that lies to the south of Innsbruck, Austria, in the area of Wilten, where the Sill river meets the Inn Valley. In 1809, Bergisel was the site of the four Battles of Bergisel under the command of the freedom fighter Andreas Hofer. In 1892, the Andreas Hofer monument was erected in order to commemorate the battles., saw the Andreas-Hofer monument & had a good view of the city & valley from the observation platform.

We had supper at the Hockhaus (High bldg) on the top floor in a modern pretty room with large windows on all 4 sides. There was a combo playing American tunes and lots of young people jitterbugging. It must be a popular hangout for the young Austrians – the food & wine was good and inexpensive.

The Early’s again wanted to go to the Stiftskeller (they had been too late the night before) but we went on home to bed.

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