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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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Aug 15, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

Venice to Stresa

We left the hotel about 9, rode in a gondola to the station. It’s best not to look at the water in the canal too closely -ugh! We had decided to take the train instead of the bus, a 6-hour ride vs. an 11-hour one. We bought wine & sandwiches at the terminal & ate them for lunch. Allen & I played gin & the trip was over quickly. Even so, I was pretty tired upon arrival.

Our hotel, was on the lakefront and our room on the 5th & top floor overlooked the water with mountains all around – surely must be the Alps in the distance. A beautiful sight – we could hardly leave the window. After resting & some drinks, we had dinner – practically alone – in the huge dining room. This is an Excelsior Hotel, the first we’ve stayed in, and tho’ our room is excellent, it seems a bit stuffy.

Harry and I walked on the wide promenade for quite a while by the waterfront. All the big hotels seemed deserted or just quiet, while further down, the cafes were jumping with music – both real & canned. The mountains in the distance with lights of villages were most interesting.

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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 26, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

Wiesbaden to Cologne

Our steamer left around 9 o’clock – it’s a big thing – holds 2,000 passengers. The trip from Wiesbaden to Koblenz takes 4 hours – and the sun was out, making it a thoroughly delightful, scenic & resful trip. We had a map of the Rhine so could identify most of the castles, ruins & towns we passed.

Harry got on the boat hungry – even tho’ we’d had the Continental breakfast – and immediately ordered a sandwich and wine. He ate again with the rest of us at noon.

We were met at Koblenz & rushed to the train station by one of the wildest drivers we’d had. The train was about 40 minutes late – the first time that had happened in Europe so I found a comfortable head rest on the luggage & in the middle of all crowds & trains, caught a few minutes’ nap.

Allen and I continued our gin game aboard the train. I’d gotten ahead of him so he was trying to catch up.

In Cologne (or Koln), we simply walked across the street to the hotel, we were so close to the station. Our room however had a view of the river but the Early’s was on the tracks.

We finally had news from home – Kacka wasn’t able to stay because of her father’s critical condition, so Mrs. Bartley is staying onMrs. Bartley was staying on to take care of ME. I was 2 1/2 years old when they took this trip.. I haven’t heard from Serena in ages but Bud & Nelwyn have been very good about writing. We also had letters from JoBetsy & Kathleen today & had heard from Rosie in Baden-Baden.

Our hotel, the Minerva, is around the block from the Cathedral. We went directly to it, found an outdoor cafe right in front of it & had refreshments & looked at it for a while.

Being so near the station, it had had a lot of damage & they were still repairing it. We walked through it & saw more evidence of damage – very few old stained glass windows.

After dinner, we walked back to see the lights on the Cathedral – very well done.

We went to bed early – we must be partied out – no one was in the mood to do anything.

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