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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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Aug 30, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

London, Day 3

We awoke feeling much less tired & after breakfast struck out for Harrod’s. Harry wanted to look at the Sports Dept & I looked at china. It’s a marvelous store – we must have spent an hour looking – and buying – a few odds & ends. Went over to Beauchamp St. and found an antique silver shop where we spent another hour. This man turned out to be a brother of the man we bought from in the silver vaults. Found a tray for Mrs. Spurgin and the flat silver Bud & Nelwyn want – in case they’d like to order it.

Dropped our packages by the hotel & then went to the Old Chessire Cheese for a lunch. It was ‘steeped’ in atmosphere. Dr. Johnson & Dickens had frequented it. We had to wait & in the 3rd floor bar met a family from Newton, Mass – the Sylvesters – who are also going on the Queen Elizabeth. We ate with them – I finally had a kidney pie – it also had beef, mushrooms & venison.

Harry wanted to go to Lillywhite – a sporting goods store at Piccadilly – but we didn’t find anything there – went across the street to a tiny store & found a cute plaid skirt for Serena.

Back to Charing Cross to meet the Early’s & catch a commuter train for Blackheath, near Greenwich, to see JoBetsy’s cousin, Susan Corner Cotton. He is a retired Army Colonel & the only child at home is a 15-year old daughter, Sally. They were so nice – took us to their house for tea & a very pleasant visit.

We got back to town at the peak of the rush hour but managed to get on a bus. The people ‘queue’ up here for buses – and at the rush hours, the sidewalks are lined with long lines. Traffic is heavy at all times. We enjoyed our bus rides, particularly when on the top deck from where you could see more.

After a couple hours rest, Harry & I went to Simpsons on the Strand. The Early’s weren’t feeling up to going with us – and they missed the best meal we had in London – with the best service – and in the nicest atmosphere. The close at 10 so we were home early and got our packing behind us, watching Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. in a movie on TV.

I’ve so enjoyed London – it’s a pity to have had such a brief stay. The people were friendly and helpful & it was relaxing not to have to struggle with a foreign language. We saw such attractive people – tho still plenty of wild hair do’s , as in France & Italy – and some very stylish women. The skirts are as short as on the Continent. I suppose the dowdiest we saw were in Germany – the hats were comical!

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