Tags " wine"
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 2, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

Paris, Day 2

We slept until 9 o’clock, had breakfast in our room and about 10:30 struck out with the Earlys. They met some friends from Dallas near the hotel on the Madelaine – the Ed Reeds – who will be in Baden Baden when we are.

Today we tackled the bus – from the Opera to the Pont Neuf – it was easy. We wanted to do the Ile de la CiteThe Île de la Cité (French pronunciation: il də la site) is one of two remaining natural islands in the Seine within the city of Paris. It is the center of Paris and the location where the medieval city was refounded. on foot and on our own. So we walked from one end to the other – went through St. Chapelle – which is hard to find but lovely when you do. Then – Notre Dame – I was unprepared for its elegance & beauty even tho’ I’d read so much. It is magnificent. Jeannette walked the 287 steps Interestingly, I found references to the '300 steps' to see the gargoyles, 'nearly 400 steps' and '383 steps'. I guess by the time you get to the top, you lose count! up to the level of the gargoyles but we couldn’t make it. Harry want to buy a candle and light it for the Tiltons – so we did and then walked across to the Left Bank and looked at the boats, stalls and bought cards. We wandered down the street to Place Maubert – past all sorts of food and drink shops. Sat and had an aperitif on the square – I had Pernod/perˈnō/ Noun An anise-flavored liqueur. out of curiosity – it’s like absinthe – & I won’t do that again.

We went to a restaurant behind Les Invalides, Chez les Anges, for lunch – again had a wonderful steak – and wine of course. Harry is a hog about the wine and we’ve developed a taste. However, this restaurant served water!

We met at the Place de Pyramides the tour to Versailles. Our guide had to direct in German & English & was the peppiest cutest one imaginable. It’s about 15 miles to Versailles and the drive & weather were both pretty. Versailles is quite a large town & has some lovely houses, gardens, avenues lined with trees. But Versailles was most impressive – we walked through several rooms & then in the gardens but oh – our feet were hurting. It was most memorable tho’ – very well worth it.

Upon returning, Harry and I went to the flower market at the Madelaine & picked out a bouquet for Mrs. Abeel. At the hotel when trying to arrange for them to be put in her room, we learned that, sure enough, they’d cancelled her room with bath. Harry stewed and argued & we finally moved out of our own and into hers.

We met the Earlys at les Deux Magots (St. Germain-de-Pru) – which Bill Abeel had recommended & had several apertifs. I was determined to go for dinner where there was French music and a chanteuseA female singer; often specifically a popular or cabaret singer. So turned and asked a girl at the next table. She spoke no English but gave me 2 names of places. The first was closed – many places are for August – the second had gendarmes, machine guns, paddy wagons & we thought the Tunisians were at it againThis probably referred to the Bizerte Crisis, which occurred in July 1961 when Tunisia imposed a blockade on the French naval base at Bizerte, Tunisia, hoping to force its evacuation. The crisis culminated in a three-day battle between French and Tunisian forces that left some 630 Tunisians and 24 French dead and eventually led to France ceding the city and naval base to Tunisia in 1963.. But all calmed down & we entered the cave – night club – Le Grand Severin. It was small but elegant. There was music and chanteurs (all Negro), and a tiny dance floor.

I started talking to the people at the next table & they helped us order and were tres amiable all night. The men kissed our hands when we left. We had another excellent meal with wine and were very festive. Harry and I had some kind of fowl in sauce – delicious, but A & J had kebabs and some very tasty rice. My desert was strawberries Alaska – also good. Came back to the hotel in a cab and found Mrs. Abeel already settled. It was so good to see her. We then woke Hugh up & while he dressed I went on down to the sidewalk cafe. I began talking to a young man to prove to Harry I could do all right on my own. The man was from Greece, spoke no English but we conversed in French. He was scared out of his wits when Harry and Hugh joined us but bravely stayed and we had a grand time.

Harry insisted I go on to bed while he & Hugh walked to Cafe de la Paix. He came in much later just delighted with himself – they had had two propositions.

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Aug 4, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

Paris to Avignon

This was one morning we both got up early to pack & dress & eat. I went down to the beauty parlor & had my hair brushed out and redone.

We four met and caught a bus to the Louvre and with the Holiday book in hand, took a very brief tour thru. Saw the Winged Victory, Venus, some frescos of Fra Angelio, Botticelli, the Grand Gallery- Raphael, da Vinci (Mona Lisa), Medici gallery. On our way out – after only an hour, I just happened on the 2 Slaves of Michelangelo – thrilled to pieces over seeing them.

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We had a hasty lunch at sidewalk cafe at hotel and left for Gare de Lyons. Had to carry our own bags halfway to train before getting a porter. Found our car (not a Pullman afterall) and had a restful trip (6 hours) to Avignon – lovely countryside again – fascinating to watch. Bill and JoannThis would be Bill Abeel and his wife. Bill was a childhood and lifelong friend of dad's. He lived in San Francisco and was very successful. His mother is the 'Mrs. Abeel' referred to in Paris.  met us in his Citroen, took us to Hotel d’Europe for an aperitif (vin blanc Chassis) and a brief tour of Avignon & a long drive thru countryside to Le Mas St. siste. We sat in the courtyard for drinks, had dinner upstairs in dining room (above kitchen) – many courses, much wine and conversation. Le Mas is charming – old and quaint – much is unfinished but much has been done.

To bed very late to the sound of Bill’s playing guitar – he’s very accomplished – the setting was very romantic.

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Aug 12, 1961 - Europe 1961    No Comments

Florence, Day 1

Our tour started at 9 and our  first stop was was at the Medici chapels. The chapel done by Michelango is very simple but handsome – the sculpture of course is wonderful. The room forms a perfect background for the tombs & the figures. Then to the Baptistry & Cathedral – the outside of both are sticking with green, red, white marble but the inside’s ornate & uninteresting. We found the Pieta in the Duomo – then left to get refreshments outside. Took a beautiful drive across the Arno up into the hills to Piazza Michelangelo and Pitti PalaceA vast mainly Renaissance palace, situated on the south side of the River Arno, a short distance from the Ponte Vecchio. The core of the present palazzo dates from 1458 and was originally the town residence of Luca Pitti, an ambitious Florentine banker. The palace was bought by the Medici family in 1549 and became the chief residence of the ruling families of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. It grew as a great treasure house as later generations amassed paintings, plates, jewelry and luxurious possessions.. The latter contains an art gallery with some very famous works – 2 of Raphael’s Madonnas, Titians, Van Dyck, too many to absorb properly. Walked thru some of the rooms on my own – very handsome, elaborate chandeliers, hangings, chests, vases, etc.

After lunch at the hotel, more touring. The Uffizi Gallery – a tremendous one – with a most comprehensive collection. Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Fra Angelico, Filippino Lippi, Michelangelo’s Family, Raphael, Titian’s two Venus’s Reclining – but my feet gave out – the gallery has marble floors – very hard on the feet.

A long drive to Fiezols restored us – it was lovely in the day time – and then Harry & I left the tour. Went to Piazza della Signoria where some vino blanco revived us. I went shopping – prowled many streets & into many stores. Bought Christmas cards at Dilta Frangini which the Joe Kendricks had recommended, and a blouse at Bellini. Everyone here wears the beautiful silk over-blouses with pleated or straight skirts – I couldn’t resist any longer.

After a bath & drinks, we went over to Piazza della Stazione for aperitifs at an open air cafe and then to a nearby cellar restaurant, Buca MarioThe Buca Mario Restaurant was founded 1886. This is when its first owner and founder Mario Corsini decided to house a place in the Palazzo Niccolini's cellars where soup and ribollita could be served, along with a wine cavern.. Another very good meal – we have yet to have a poor one in Italy. This time I had Ravioli stuffed with spinach.

Jeannette got sick & had to leave. Harry & I taxied to Piazza della Replublica and sat and listened to the music and singing over coffee & brandy. We made friends with the couple next to us – Italians on a holiday from Trenta. We had a lot of fun trying to converse – me with my Berlitz he with a few words he’d learned in “P.W.O” camp. We exchanged addresses, promised to write.

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