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Aug 1, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

Paris, Day 1

Our hotel room overlooked Rue Faubourg St. Honore – there was so much traffic I didn’t see how we’d sleep but I slept like a baby. While having our Continental breakfast in the room, we dressed and packed as we were being moved back to the Hotel de ParisI contacted the current-day Hotel de Paris to see if they were the same one that mother would have mentioned. They replied, 'in reply to your mail , we are pleased to inform you that our establishment was HOTEL DE PARIS since 1837 .'. The tour picked us up at the hotel and we got on a bus and saw “Moderne Paris” – some of the things dated from Napolean’s time. Place Vendome, Place de la Concorde, Champs Elysees, Bois du Boulogne, Palais de Chaillot, Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, Quai D’Orsay, etc. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed every minute.

After returning to L’Opera, we sat at La Cafe de la PaixCafé de la Paix (French pronunciation: kafe də la pɛ) is a famous café in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, France. It was designed by Charles Garnier, the architect of the Paris Opéra (located across the plaza). It is said that if one sits at the café, one is bound to run into a friend or acquaintance due to the café's popularity and reputation. – on the sidewalk naturally – had beer and sandwiches. Our hotel is just a short walk and we found our rooms (unmade) adjoining and overlooking Blvd. de la Madelaine. French doors onto a small balcony right over a sidewalk cafe. We are well-pleased with the view and the location and the room is fairly large & comfortable. The bath is enormous & includes a bidet – no soap and terrible toilet paper but…

After a little rest & unpacking, Jeannette and I window shopped for about an hour, meeting Harry at Cafe de la Paix & later going to the one at the hotel. It is delightful just to sit and watch the people.

Allen had bought himself a beret and looked very French tho’ actually we have seen very few of them and he had a hard time finding it.

Allen and I figured out the Metro (subway) – we had only a block to walk to catch it at the Madelaine church and without any trouble arrived at our stop at Montmartre. We rode the funicular up to the Sacre Couer and the view was superb – overlooking all of Paris. We walked on to the Place de TertreThe Place du Tertre is a square in Paris' XVIIIe arrondissement. Only a few streets away from Montmartre's Basilica of the Sacré Cœur and the Lapin Agile, it is the heart of the city's elevated Montmartre quarter. With its many artists setting up their easels each day for the tourists, the Place du Tertre is a reminder of the time when Montmartre was the mecca of modern art. At the beginning of the 20th century, many penniless painters including Picasso and Utrillo were living there. and it was very gay. We sat outside and saw more goings on – artists, musicians, many odd characters – it was simply fascinating. Allen had his silhouette cut – in 1 1/2 minutes. We ate dinner at a little place, Le Vieux Chalet, in a little patio. It was delightful – inexpensive and good steaks. Afterwards, we wandered all through the district looking at art stores and watching people. We found our way down to the Moulin Rouge, had a drink across from it. Then on the Pigalle where there are many girlie shows. But we resisted, caught the metro back to the Madelaine.

Harry used the street “W.C.” – Jeannette and I earlier (in the Vieux Chalet) had an interesting time in the W.C. there. We sat at the sidewalk cafe again before going upstairs to bed.

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Aug 9, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

Rome, Day 2

Jeannette and I had breakfast together early & taxied to the Vatican – she went to St. Peters, I got in line before the doors opened at 9 and toured myself thru. Spent quite a while in the Sistine Chapel and went thru many other rooms. Saw many sculptures – it was wonderful.

Taxied to Via CondottiVia Condotti (officially Via dei Condotti) is a busy and fashionable street of Rome, Italy. In Roman times it was one of the streets that crossed the ancient Via Flaminia and enabled people who transversed the Tiber to reach the Pincio hill. and spent 1 1/2 hours looking in the shops – many good ones there. Bought scarves at Arnoboldi’s.

Back to the hotel to meet Harry and the Earlys for beer in the bar. We decided to meet the tour at Cook’s so went on to Plaza Barbirini and lunched outdoors. My rice & chicken curry was very good.

We had our best tour in the afternoon tho’ it was dreadfully hot. Saw the facades that Michelangelo designed on the 3 buildings above the Roman Forum (right behind the Victor Emmanuel monument). Then the Roman Forum ruins, the Coliseum, St. Peter in Chains – (Michelangelo’s Moses), St. Paul outside the walls (comparatively new but lovely columns & patio by the old Benedictine monastery). Went up on Janiculum hill from which you have a marvelous view of the city and where Garibaldi’s statue is.

Back at the hotel, we bathed, rested, had drinks, washed clothes. Ate dinner at the hotel – I had a marvelous appetizer – meat rolled in spaghetti-covered with cheese and tomato sauce – canneloni – then chicken cacciatore. Nightcap in bar across the street & to bed at a decent hour for a change.

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Aug 11, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

Rome to Florence

We walked to the train station – only a block away – and found our seats on the train. It looked like a new one – air-conditioned – swankier than the Mistral – but much rougher. Harry said it was much lighter weight. Had an excellent meal, arrived Florence at around 2 – it was hot there also.

Can’t say much for the Hotel Astoria – also near the station – but we did get an air-conditioned room. We all slept or rested until 4, then got out and walked.

It was such a contrast with Rome – much more informal – small townish but completely charming. We easily found our way to the Duomo, Piazza della Republica, Piazza della Signoria, and then to Ponte Vechio. I went directly to Biagini which Becky had recommended and bought a bracelet for Serena and some charms. Harry and I wandered around & I found a sweet dress for Fay & bought some handkerchiefs at the same time.

We had a beer in the Piazza della Signoria – where there are many famous statues – and a copy of Michelangelo’s David. Harry got our courier to interpret for him and bought a “Tappatrice”, an instrument to cork wine bottles, and the corks. He was so pleased with his purchase – his first in EuropeThis must have been during the wine-making phase that he and Bud went through. Not to be confused with the still they had in the basement 30 years earlier or the beer-making phase or the bread-making phase..

With the Earlys, we walked to Piazza S. Marco and caught the trolley bus to Fiezols. It was dark so all we cold see were the lights of Florence but we were high above it. Ate dinner at Hotel Aurora – outside  in a patio – where we could look down over the city.

Back down by trolley bus and back to the hotel by taxi. I was dead tired & sleepy & ready for bed. Allen & J walked to Piazza della Republica to listen to the music.

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Aug 15, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

Florence to Venice

The weather today was much better – more like Paris. Jeannette was still shaky so Allen, Harry & I left her at the hotel and went on a tour. We caught a bus for Piazza de Marco and in the Academy of Fine Arts, saw the “David”. It is beautifully displayed in a gallery along with several other works of Michelangelo – mostly unfinished – but still very gripping & impressive.

We taxied to the Bargello or National MuseumThe Bargello, also known as the Bargello Palace, Museo Nazionale del Bargello, or Palazzo del Popolo (Palace of the People) is a former barracks and prison, now an art museum, in Florence, Italy. where there is another room of Michelangelo’s works – the Bacchus, David – Apollo, a Madonna with Child, bust of Brutus. This museum too was fascinating – many sculptures, armor, guns, etc. Hard to leave.

We went to Pza. d. Signoria and had a beer – the crowd there is always interesting. Then went to Ponte Vecchio looking at the shops, made a couple of small purchases, and walked back to the hotel.

Jeannette was much better – in fact, had done some shopping. We ate, rested, packed and left on the train at around 4:30, arriving Venice at around 7:20. Allen & I played gin almost the whole way. The countryside was lovely as usual – vineyards, olive groves, peach orchards. Sometimes we went thru miles of tunnels thru mountains.

We arrived just at sunset & went to the Hotel Luna by a long gondola trip. The absence of traffic noises was amazing – but to see how the gondolier maneuvered was equally amazing.

We found our hotel right off the Grand Canal and only a few steps from St. Mark’s square. Our room was disappointingly modern – not atmospheric as you might suspect. But I’m only kidding – it was air-conditioned & fully furnished – even to a large piece of porcelain in each bedside table we didn’t know what to do with. Our bathrooms look European – completely marble, the bidet (of course) a sky light, and a towel as large as a sheet.

We had drinks in the hotel bar and ate outside – the walk outside our our patio seemed to be a a main thoroughfare. After dinner we joined the traffic to St. Mark’s Square. We had heard music coming from there during dinner – to our amazement, there was a huge symphony orchestra, hundreds of people milling around, tables set up out around the square. We sat for awhile – I had coffee then Tchaikovsky’s 4th lulled Harry to sleep so we folded.

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