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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 8, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

Rome, Day 1

It looks as if we’ve had nothing but troubles with these travel agents. In Paris – the hotel reservations; to Avignon – no Pullman; in Cannes – the tour we missed wasn’t cancelled – the courier absolutely no help at the airport; and now this morning, the tour we were ready to take at 9 o’clock passed us up & after several buses, we arrived at the Vatican at something like 10:30 to see a line of thousands.

Harry and I left the tour & went to St. Peter’s which we toured by ourselves, for over an hour. It was thoroughly enjoyable – really uplifting – saw the Pieta by Michelangelo – it was lovely. Went on a wild goose chase around the Vatican to try to see the Sistine Chapel but the crowd was still thick & we were advised against it. Went by bus to Piazza de Popolo, walked to Spanish Plaza. By then we were so hot & tired, we caught a cab to the hotel. Incidentally, we were told later the Vatican was overly crowded today due to being closed on Sunday & a funeral Monday for a Cardinal.

Lunched and set out on afternoon tour which was not too interesting. Church of St. Mary Maggiore (Major), St. John of the Lateran, the Catacombs, Appian Way & past a number of other points of interest.

Harry wanted to look again at some wine presses he happened to see yesterday. We found them and with the Berlitz & much gesticulation, learned that we could buy one in Milano & have it shipped – but not from here.

Drinks at the hotel with A & J and supper at Borghese Palace at a restaurant Casina ValadierEvery Hollywood movie from 'Three Coins in the Fountain' to the 'Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone' had a scene set here: a splendid pavilion set in the Villa Borghese park and designed by the great neoclassical architect Giuseppe Valadier. Fronted by an Empire-elegant portico and home to grand salons that once welcomed King Farouk of Egypt, Richard Strauss, Gandhi, and Mussolini. Ate a good meal on a balcony overlooking the city – the park all around very lovely.

Went on another wild goose chase in a cab – first to Basilica Ulpia, which was closed, then across town towards Belvedere della Rome. But it was too far & looked as if it would have taken all night so we returned to Doney’s for a nightcap.

 

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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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