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Jul 31, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

By Ship, By Train and By Taxi

This was Monday, exactly a week after leaving Waco, and it was a long day. We packed our bags before breakfast, it taking one hour – we’ll have to do better than that. By breakfast I was already tired – wrote letters afterwards – then played gin with Allen and watched the boat dock at Cherbourg. It was very interesting. We were met by a travel agent who had put our bags in the train compartment. He couldn’t understand our French – how discouraging! For lunch we ordered special – escargot (in butter and garlic), chocolate souffle which they serve with cream & chocolate sauce.

The train ride was delightful. In our compartment an Austrian lady (Vienna) Mme. Henn, and her daughter who had spent a year at the University of Colorado as a Fulbright student – a KKG! Both were lovely, tho’ we couldn’t converse with the mother. Their troubles locating their baggage and making their train connection in Paris became ours.

Also on the train, a very nice Dutchman, Max Drukker, and a Canadian girl, Martha Nempton [Mempton?]., who had been on the ship, visited with us. We shared our drinks and cheese with them all and Mr. Drukker treated us to wine in the dining car.

The countryside was lovely. Most of the passengers hung out the windows at first waving at the people by the wayside who all looked as if the train came thru once a month instead of once a week. Flowers in windows, baby prams, bicycles, workers in fields mowing and baling – all very colorful and pretty. Little red houses, church spires, hedge rows, cows, etc. – you couldn’t get enough of looking.

It is a 5-hour train ride, putting us in Paris at 8:30, just at dusk. We followed the Seine for awhile and when I saw the Eiffel Tower, I recognized it with a yelp. We saw the Sacre Couer too before the train stopped at Gare LazareParis Saint-Lazare is one of the six large terminus train stations of Paris. It is the second busiest train station in Europe with 100,000,000 passengers transiting every year, also second station in Paris, behind the Gare du Nord. It handles 450,000 passengers each day... Wikipedia.

We were met promptly by the courier but then our troubles began. The porter took our bags and disappeared, we waiting in long lines, there being only an occasional taxi for hundreds of people. We finally got the Austrians into a taxi with about 5 minutes to catch their train. Later, we finally climbed into a taxi (the courier and bags in another) and whirled the few blocks to the Hotel de Paris, only to find that we had no rooms. We had loads of mail from Waco but no rooms. After much haranguing, we taxied (2 cars again) to the Hotel Castiglione, arriving about 10:30, tired, upset, hungry and thirsty.

But it was a relief to read the letters – from Serena, Bud & Nelwyn, Kacka, Mrs. Bartley, Bill Abeel. And it was more relaxing and cheerful to have some drinks in the Early’s room. We walked to the Rond-Point on the Champs Elysees, found a sidewalk cafe open and had sandwiches & wine. We tried to bargain with the driver of a horse & carriage for a ride to the hotel but he wouldn’t come down from 2,000 francs and we caught a taxi for 300 francs.

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Aug 3, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

Paris, Day 3

I got up and dressed and left Harry sleeping while I went to the breakfast room for the usual coffee & rolls. Sat with a young Spanish woman with 6-year-old daughter. We conversed in French – it was hysterical.

I had my hair done in the beauty parlor near the hotel, Joffo’s, & came out looking very odd, but very Parisienne. Harry was still abed, mal a tete from too much wine so I went on to the Champs Elysees by bus. I walked from the Rond Poinit clear to the Arch de Triomphe – quite a way. Met the South African (Britishers) couple, the Barries, and they walked part way with me. I crossed the Etoile – quite an accomplishment with all that traffic, bought a tickets, went by elevator to the top. It was a beautiful day & tho’ I wasn’t familiar enough with the landmarks to pick out many, it was a gorgeous sight – especially the 12 boulevards which come into the Arch – Etoile.

I walked to Forquet’s & met Allen & Jeannette for drinks & lunch. Harry found us in a little while. We all had cheese omelets & mixed green salad. Saw Red Buttons at an adjoining table but didn’t recognize anyone else – it’s supposed to be a fashionable spot for celebrities, business men, etc.

We returned to the hotel by cab and we were moved to still another room – the fourth we’d been in in Paris – a different one each night.

The bus for the tour picked us up – this was “Old Paris” – the Louvre, Ile de Cite, Latin Quarter, Luxenbourg, Sorbonne, Place de Bastille & Montmartre. We (J & I) enjoyed Notre Dame again with a guide. Harry and Allen were enjoying a bar. We were glad to go again to Montmartre & sit in the square. We were all dead tired and rested before meeting in Allen’s room for drinks. Mrs. Abeel & Hugh joined us. After looking forward to Le Petet Bedon (Bill Abeel’s suggestion) the concierge hadn’t made reservations. We returned to Fouquet’s, had a very elegant meal upstairs and only had to cross the Champs Elysees to the Lido. The place was packed but the show began immediately. I was very good – many bare breasts, beautiful costumes & elaborate staging – in sequence – stairs, an ice rink, a pool for a seal, revolving trapezes, even horses. Drank champagne – we had more than we could finish. Enjoyed a British couple sitting next to us from Birmingham.

Late as we were getting home, the men wanted to prowl the streets. Harry said later that business must have been poor that night ’cause they had many solicitations.

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Aug 5, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

Avignon to Cannes

We slept late, had coffee & rolls in our robes in the courtyard – very leisurely & lazed the morning away taking pictures, talk, talk, talking. Toured the grounds – beautiful tress, vineyards, Alpines in every direction. Became very fond of Claude-Jones (the dog), Henri (the 15-yr-old who helps out), Irienne (the maid), Jeanne-Luke (her son) – also cats, doves, ducks! Gave Irienne a pair of stockings, Henri – cigarettes, Jeanne-Luke – American coins.

Lunched very late in courtyard & all took naps. Bill & JoAnn couldn’t have been nicer hosts – everything was just delightful.

We went into Avignon in time to have an aperitif before the train arrived. We only had time to say hello to Mrs. Abeel and Hugh before we boarded. This time there was a Pullman – tables were set up for dinner and we were served in rapid succession a very good 7-course dinner. Harry and I playing gin rummy until we got to Cannes. Harry didn’t think the Pullman chairs as comfortable as the others but I was very comfortable.

At the train station, we found a porter and a station wagon from the Martinez, so had no trouble getting to the hotel. Allen & J were in the bar so we had some drinks with them and a young girl from California and read our letters from Serena, Bud, Kacka and Jesse.

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Aug 15, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

Venice, Day 1

Harry & I had breakfast in our room, joined the tour downstairs outside the hotel. It was a ‘walking’ tour of St. Marks Square, the Cathedral & the Doge’s Palace. But to our surprise, it was much easier on the feet than we had expected – benches in every room of the Palace. The last part of the tour was a motor ride to Murano to see how the Venetian glass is blown. It was fascinating to watch and to do! Harry pushed me up to volunteer first to blow some glass; naturally I did itMy kingdom for a picture!! – and after you blow & blow – the strike the glass & break it. All this is a come-on to buy – so I did – a dozen gobletsWish I knew where these are/if she liked them/if we still have them!! I do hope I like them when they get to Waco – some several weeks hence. All are hand-made (or hand blown) of course and etched.

Back in Venice we bought some beads for Willie MaeOur housekeeper and one of my keepers while they were on this trip. Family will know this, because I harp on it, but I was only 2 when they went on this 6 week journey. in a store – then around the corner found the same for about 1/2 as much at the stand outside our hotel. After having some drinks, we decided to go to St. Mark’s at 2 for the pigeons. It was wild – the air was thick with them and like the tourists we are, we bought grain and fed them & took pictures.

Had light lunch at the hotel, then a gondola tour along the grand canal with a stop at one old palace – Rozzonico – wehre Robert Browning had stayed and died.

We walked back thru St. Mark’s Square – such commotion – hundreds of tourists, bands playing. I believe there are more tourists here than any place we’ve been – or else it seems that way because they’re all concentrated in or near the Square. And what an assortment of people – all nationalities , all kinds of dress – it defies description.

We changed clothes and caught a bus (motor boat) to Lido just at sunset – we had a lovely view of both Venice & Lido. We looked at the beach with its hundreds of cabanas, had a drink in the Excelsior bar, went thru the Casino, then motored back to Venice. A French couple sat with us and we made friends with them on the way back – they spoke a little English. He was a surgeon in Paris.

We had dinner at the hotel – 4 courses leaving us miserably stuffed. Desert was “Doge’s Kirsch” a specialty, fixed at the table & lighted. Harry & I took a couple of turns around St. Mark’s to walk some off & to hear the orchestra – the music was so good. But we were too tired for anything else & retired early.

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