March 29 ~ left Hong Kong
We boarded the s/s Antilochus, a ship in the Blue Funnel Line stable, in the afternoon.
These ships used to unload at Holt’s Wharf, which was up along Salisbury Road, past the Peninsula on the harbour side of the Kowloon Canton railway line when they were outward bound.
However when they were homeward bound, as the Antilochus was, the ship was moored on a buoy in the harbour so it must have been fun to have boarded a company launch to take us out to the ship.
And to think about all the family and friends who braved the trip to come on board to farewell us!
Balia came with the Yatskins, David and Naomi Hills, the McKenzies, Miriam and Jack Bowen, Eva Mills (both Miriam and Eva worked for mom in Paquerette), Doris Chan and her sister Virginia, Lindy’s friends, as well as our servants – Ah Pah (my lovely baby amah), Ah Mee (who was our general amah before she started working at Paquerette), Ah Sam (our cookboy) and Ah Lai.
I don’t know how the Antilochus made visitors aware that the ship was about to depart but on the Lloyd Triestino ships we were on, they used to blow the horn and then the Purser used to say the ship is departing, please would visitors start leaving the ship (la nave in partenza, i visitatori si prega di lasciare la nave). I don’t know if I recall the exact words correctly but it always sounds so glamorous to hear over the ship’s tannoy:D
Anyway, all our friends left and the ship left at 6pm and as we headed out of Lyemun Channel and headed into the South China Sea, the waves were large and the ship was bouncing around the rough seas!
Lyemun Channel was the main thoroughfare for ships entering and leaving Hong Kong in those days.
The next morning apparently we were the only family who went to breakfast and lunch, as the rocking and rolling kept a lot of people in their cabins feeling sorry for themselves!
The sea seemed a bit calmer in the afternoon so people started coming out and catching the rays on the deck but by 10pm, the sea was terribly rough again and dad said that our suitcases and other objects which weren’t nailed down were sliding all over the cabin.
Listening to the sound of the ship creaking and groaning under stress made mom frightened and she was wailing that she wanted to go back home 😮 However the ship, a freighter, was built in 1949 so it would have been a fairly new vessel and certainly wouldn’t have broken up in rough seas, or at least we would have hoped that 😉
Mom told me that we were seated at the Chief Engineer’s table and she had reassured the staff that I was a very mature little girl who’d be very well behaved and not cause any problems by sitting with the adults.
The first time we sat down for dinner after leaving HK, the ship was pitching and rolling around so much that I promptly threw up over the table! 😮 Oooops! 😀
March 31 ~ Manila
Dad said that the ship passed Corregidor and arrived at Manila Bay at 10.15am.
Corregidor is an island situated at the entrance of Manila Bay and in 1942, there was a fierce battle fought by the invading Japanese Army and the defenders of Manila on the island. The Japanese had to overcome the American fortification, which they did on May 5. The Americans regained Corregidor in 1945.
Antilochus dropped anchor inside the typhoon shelter and mom and dad had a big surprise when Sam Cameron came on board with his wife, Ann 🙂
They had lunch with us on board and then we all went ashore.
The Camerons took us to the Manila Polo Club and mom, Lindy and I all had a swim but dad said he didn’t go into the water, he just relaxed by the pool sipping on a Coke. He also said that he looked like a bum sitting there! A bum? 😮 What on earth did he mean by that? I’m sure he didn’t look bumish … LOL! 😀
From the Polo Club’s website, «The Club was established on November 27, 1909 in Calle Real, Pasay. The original clubhouse was burned to the ground during the war. In the 1950s, the Club was rebuilt where it currently stands,» which is McKinley Road, Forbes Park, Makati City.
Now I don’t know if we were there before the clubhouse burned to the ground or after :/
More information about the Manila Polo Club’s story on this very interesting site 🙂
The above photos were taken on our drive around Manila with the Camerons. The lady with us in the photos was Sam’s wife, Ann.
The buildings of various countries and areas were built for the International Fair – the world’s first fair ever to be held in the Orient.
«Nueva Ecija» is the largest province in the Central Luzon area and is known as the “Rice Bowl of the Philippines” as it’s also the country’s biggest rice producer. No doubt it was at the Fair hawking its wares to the public and rice buyers!
From what dad said in his diary, Manila was not his favourite city 😮 He grumbled that the city was dusty, full of litter and filth, had chaotic traffic and no sidewalks! He noticed that there were no tall buildings in the city centre either!
He liked the Spanish-style residencies, like the house the Camerons were living in, and we were all pretty amazed when we saw that there was a machine gun in their garden! That certainly beats garden gnomes! Hahahaha 😉
Had a lovely dinner with Sam and Ann and then we were taken back to the typhoon shelter to get on board the Antilochus by 8:45pm.
The ship left Manila at 2:15 on April 1 and dad commented on how many sunken ships he saw in the Bay – both warships and merchant ones 🙁
New passengers boarded the ship and apparently I made friends with some new kids called Susan and Michael Pipe, who were going to Singapore with their parents.
It would seem we were upgraded to sitting at the Captain’s table, together with Mr & Mrs Pipe after Manila.
I wonder if their children were there too – or when did the kids on the ship eat? An earlier sitting? Why wasn’t I sitting with the kids, or had I been demoted to eating with them after disgracing myself at the Chief Engineer’s table? Daddy didn’t say in his diary! 😀
The thing with me being so tall was that everyone assumed I was older than I was and people thought I was “simple” as I didn’t know more than a 5 year old would know! Hopeless to grow up with people thinking I was a simpleton 😮
There was a boat drill on April 4 and two boats were lowered into the sea and back up again, just to make sure that everything worked in case we crashed into an ice berg or something 😉
April 5-9 ~ Singapore
The ship arrived at the island of Singapore at 6am on April 5 and we went ashore at 10am, meeting a friend of my folks called Dick.
He drove us to the Raffles Hotel, where we all had a drink. The Raffles Hotel in Singapore is like the Peninsula in Hong Kong! Legendary 😉
It opened its doors in 1887 and, according to Wikipedia … «It was established by Armenian hoteliers, the Sarkies Brothers. The hotel was named after British statesman Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore.»
It’s one of the few remaining great 19th century hotels in the world, according to the Raffles Hotel website! In 1915, the head bartender of the Raffles’ Long Bar – Ngiam Tong Boon – invented the Singapore Sling. There are some really great photos of the Raffles on the Daily Mail site!!
Then we went to the Sea View Hotel to have lunch with more ex-HK friends – Messrs Olofinsky and Koodiaroff. Dad said that the hotel was in a beautiful location and that the lunch was pretty fabulous 🙂
The Sea View Hotel was first built in 1906 on Meyer Road, which was right on the edge of the sea and was a popular area for people to swim during the 1950s and 1960s.
We got back on board the ship at 2:30 and everyone had a snooze, and overslept tea being served. Mr & Mrs Ling and their son came at 4:30 then Gabbi and Willie Keyland came on board with their children. No memory of who those people were but they must have been good friends of my parents as dad made arrangements to catch up with them the next day.
On April 6 the Keylands collected us and took us to Pasir Ris Hotel. Apparently it was a very long drive through beautiful palm groves and rubber plantations.
When we got to the hotel, us kids had a swim then we all had a very enjoyable lunch 🙂
Pasir Ris was originally a low-lying, undeveloped area with kampongs and villages like Kampong Pasir Ris, Kampong Bahru and the various Chinese kampongs along Elias Road. The area was well-known for its many plantation estates including the Singapore United Plantations, Loh Lam Estate, Hun Yeang and Thai Min Estates. The beach was a popular resort for water skiing in the 1950s. There was also the Pasir Ris Hotel, venue of many memorable parties and picnic gatherings in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. [Source : Singapore Infopedia]
On the way back to the ship, the Keylands took us to their house for tea and dad was raving about how beautiful their place and their garden was, and commented about how many different types of palms were around the house.
The next couple of days were just mooching around Singapore and then, on April 9, we set sail at 4pm. Slowly sailing through a narrow pass, we saw lots of tiny islands full of palms and Malayan villages on stilts, then we went through the Malacca Straits. There were a lot of small canoes with outboard motors on their way to or from various islands, which dad thought were very quaint.
April 10-11 ~ Port Swettenham
Arrived at daybreak – dad was on deck and he saw the ship moving up the narrow Klang River with low houses on either side with thick trees around them. The air was thick with the smell of grass trees and eventually we docked at a well equipped wharf.
Port Swettenham was named after Frank Swettenham, who was an English administrator back in the late 1800s and was considered the one of the architects of British Malaya. The town came into being in 1901 so was only 52 years old when we visited 🙂
Dad went ashore after breakfast and didn’t get very far as he said the heavens opened and the rain came down so hard it was difficult to see in front of him so he hurried back to the ship.
It was after tea when we all went ashore and found the town to be a nice, quiet place. Wide roads but without sidewalks, green lawns, lots of trees and palms, houses without fences and cows grazing near the houses 😮
The houses were on stilts, had shady verandahs enclosed with latticework. The population was mainly made up of Tamils. Poor old dad, after walking around a bit he got drenched by another heavy shower and arrived back on board soaking wet 😀
This video was taken in 1960, 7 years later, but it doesn’t look like Port Swettenham had changed much during that time!
The next day dad headed out on his own again, going to the Post Office and just mooching around before returning for lunch then, at 3:30pm, the ship set sail for Penang.
April 12 ~ Penang
The Antilochus arrived at the island of Penang early in the morning and, after picking up the pilot, the ship dropped anchor at 7am.
Way back in the mists of time, Penang was part of the sultanate of Kedang but the sultan ceded the island to the English in exchange for protection against the warring Siamese and Burmese armies. In 1786, the Union Jack was hoisted by Captain Francis Light, known as the founder of Penang, and the island’s name changed to “Prince of Wales Island” in honour of the heir to the British throne, until 1867 when it was changed back.
We took the company’s launch to Weld Quay at 9:30 and dad mentioned that the railway station there reminded him a lot of the Kowloon-Canton station back home. He said it was really odd that there isn’t a railway in Penang. Passengers had to buy tickets at that station then take a ferry to the mainland (Perak).
When researching about Penang in the 1950s, I was amused to see that the EMS Railway Station was often called «the railway station without a rail»!
We wandered along the streets and found that the town was dead, being a Sunday, so we made our way to the E&O (Eastern & Oriental) Hotel oh Farquhar Street. We girls went in and ordered a drink while dad popped into the barber’s for a haircut.
The E&O was founded by 3 Armenian brothers, Tigram, Arshak and Martin Sarkies, who also were involved with the Raffles in Singapore and the Sea View Hotel until 1931! I laughed when I read that the hotel was known as the «Eat & Owe» by the regular expats 😀
We took a taxi to the Penang Hill Railway, about 6 miles from the E&O, and wandered through George Town. This town was gorgeous with its broad avenues, bungalows with huge green lawns, no fences, just green hedges separating the houses. There were big rain trees and palms all around, and the air was full of scent.
There was also a funicular which climbs up Penang Hill. It was split into two sections – passengers go halfway up the hill, then get out and change over to another funicular, The one way trip cost 1.20 Singapore dollars (S$).
Apparently this was only overhauled in 2010 😮
We had ice cream from a kiosk, then only managed to walk halfway to the Crag Hotel. This place started off as a bungalow built by an employee of the East India Company, Capt John W Kerr in 1885.
As Penang Hill was a favoured spot for Europeans who lived on Penang to come to to escape the intense heat and humidity of the lower locations, the place brought a sparkle to the Sarkies brothers eyes. They bought the bungalow and developed it into a hotel in 1894.
Boy, these guys were very busy wheeling and dealing during the late part of the 1800s/early 1900s 😮 Typical Armenians ….!!!!! 😀
We grabbed a taxi and went back to the E&O Hotel, where we stopped for lunch. Daddy said that it cost him S$14 so at least we ate and went and didn’t «eat and owe»! LOL 😀
Got back to the ship at 3:15 and we sailed from Penang at 6:30pm.
A clip of Penang in the 1950s …
The next two days – April 13 to 15 – we were on the high seas, watching porpoises following the ship, playing quoits, deck golf and turning the clocks back at night to set the right time as we headed west.
April 16-17 ~ Colombo
Ceylon is an island the shape of a tear drop at the bottom right of India when looking at the map. Back in my day, the country was known as Ceylon but now it’s called Sri Lanka.
The ship entered Colombo harbour at 7am and we went ashore after lunch in a boat which was like a sampan. I think daddy got his haircut during the morning as the photo is dated April 16 and there wouldn’t have been any time after our exploration of the city 😉
We walked along a beautiful praya to Galle Face Hotel.
This hotel is one of the oldest hotel east of Suez, having opened in 1864 but the building started out originally as Galle Face House, a Dutch villa. Between 1870 and 1894 land was purchased so that the hotel could expand and in 1894 the South wing was completed and the hotel remained largely unchanged up into the 21st Century!
Dad organised a guide to take us around the city and the first place he took us to was the Hindu Buddhist temple and, after we took our shoes off, a Hindu priest showed us around the temple.
The next stop was Mount Lavinia Hotel, where we had tea. Daddy was very impressed with the hotel and surrounds, saying it was just a really beautiful place.
We had tea there and watched a snake charmer with his cobra, then we were taken to the zoo.
We saw all kinds of animals there – snakes, birds, monkeys, tigers, lions, hyenas and the rest. Dad said we got there too late for the elephant ride, but he did say we managed to see an elephant show with a crowd of Sengalese women dressed in colourful saris and men crowded on the slope of a hill.
We were driven back to the jetty at 6:15pm and made our way back onto the ship.
The next day, the 17th, mom and dad went ashore after breakfast and went looking at jewellery stores for a special topaz stone, cut like an emerald. They saw some beautiful stones but nothing that they wanted to buy for the ring which mom had in mind.
They stopped for tea at the Pagoda Tea Room and dad remarked that the waiters wore white sarongs, jackets with purple collars, cuffs and sashes and no shoes.
My parents headed back to the ship then at 8:30pm the ship left Colombo, heading for Aden.
A video of Colombo in the 1950s …
April 18-22 was spent bobbing on the Arabian Sea as we steamed towards Aden. The only exciting moment in dad’s diary was on the 22nd, when the Chief Engineer took us around the engine room at 6:30am.
Coming back on deck, dad saw the easternmost tip of Africa and Italian Somaliland (part of the Horn of Africa) before heading to the breakfast table. After we’d all eaten, the Captain invited all the passengers to the Bridge.
I was allowed to steer the ship for a teensy bit and then was allowed to blow the ship’s horn once! Such excitement in our lives on board 😀
April 23 ~ Aden
Arrived during the morning but hung around outside the breakwater to allow another ship, the P&O passenger liner «Carthage», to go first.
The «Carthage» had been following us from HK, arriving at the other ports like Singapore and Colombo after us but for some reason, she was allowed to tie up to a buoy before us at Aden. Hrumph! 🙁
After our lunch we all went ashore, landing on the Prince of Wales pier on Steamer Point, and dad wrote down his first impressions … «goats wandering around in the streets, stopping the traffic; houses that looked uninhabited, with all the windows and doors closed; drab looking stores which sold soft drinks on the verandah or inside; women in purdah and the merciless heat, which was 101°F (38-ish°C) that afternoon.»
We walked along Steamer Point to the Crescent Hotel. This place was built in 1931 and opened a year later.
Since Aden was a British colony, the buildings would have been built in a similar style to those in the Far East and the Crescent Hotel was definitely one of those. A large and spacious, colonial style building, it had high ceilings and deep verandahs against the heat.
There is a story about the Crescent and Queen Elizabeth II’s visit there in 1954 …
Queen Elisabeth [sic] II visited Aden in 1954 and stayed in the Crescent hotel. She was supposed to have brought a piano and various other equipment with her which the staff and management of the hotel seem to have misplaced (no one could figure out where it was, although some were quite sure that they had it laying around somewhere).
While the Hotel might not be clean enough for Her Majesty these days, the old colonial style building has a distinct character to it. If you decide to stay here, you might as well stay in the Queen’s room 121. US$ 40,00.
[The Most Famous Hotels in the World]
When we got to the hotel, we didn’t get a drink or sit under a shower to cool off. Dad said all we did there was buy a guide book 😮
Dad said we walked along the Crescent visiting every shop and that he managed to buy two Kodakchrome films. No child born in the 1980s onwards would understand how great it was for people to buy the right type of films for their cameras!
With digital cameras such a thing isn’t a problem and I must say that I think it’s great that people can take photos and videos with their phones!
Back in my father’s and even my day, he had two different cameras around his neck – an 8mm movie camera and a Rolleiflex camera for either black & white or colour photos, depending on which film was in there!
And the Rolleiflex was a very big and clunky piece of equipment, so it must have hurt dad’s neck hanging on it. Oh, and I just thought … what about black and white films? Did dad take some in colour and then swop to the black and white film or did he have a 3rd camera?
Arrrgh!! So many things to cart around on a touristy visit to places 😛
Then the movie and film stills had to be developed before you could see if your photos came out or not, and if they didn’t come out, the ship had long sailed from the port so one couldn’t go back and retake the photos!
Anyway, back to 1953 … daddy said that cameras were cheaper in Aden than in HK but perfumes were more expensive!
We went to the Marina Hotel’s first floor for drinks. What kind of drinks? Alcoholic or soft drinks … perhaps both? Dad said that the drinks, locally made, were lousy, however the surroundings and the crowd there looked like something out of a Hollywood movie!
When we finally left the hotel, dad actually accepted a tour from a Somali Arab pimping from the taxi rank! I was amazed when I read that he did, as I would have been terrified to accept tours from “strangers” but that is my 2016-thinking!
It was different in the middle of the 20th Century and I remembered that there were similar types in Hong Kong who offered to take tourists around the Colony. Some were shonky but for the most part, they were honest citizens just out to make a buck!
So … this driver took us to the GPO to mail letters and on the way to the GPO, dad said that the driver made a U-turn and stopped the car by an Indian. He started haranguing the Indian in Arabic while we sat in the taxi, wondering what was going to happen next!
After about 5 minutes, our driver started the car and drove off, saying very solemnly “That was my friend! I wanted some money from him!”
He took us to the GPO and once the mail was sent, we went to Sheihk Othman Gardens, which was a beautiful oasis north of the Crescent. The taxi passed through a lot of police posts, drove past the aerodrome, which was RAF Khormaksar, saw salt pans and then turned left by the border barrier.
Daddy said we passed a camel station with hundreds of camels resting after a 20-day trek from Mocha (aka Mokha or Mukha or their Arabic name, Al-Mukhā).
The driver took us through the Gardens and back then he took us up a winding road to the Main Pass (1750ft = 533m) leading to the Crater (aka Kraytar).
We were apparently very impressed with the view. The Turkish Fort was still in a very good state of preservation at the time! We were driven through the Crater and then were driven back to the jetty.
Dad had a lot of arguing with our Somali driver about how much the trip cost but they finally agreed on £3.00 Sterling.
Back on board and at 6:30 the ship left Aden 🙂
Video clip of how Aden was back in the 1950s …
April 24-26 ~ The Red Sea
Dad asked in his diary, why is the Red Sea called the Red Sea when it looks blue?
The Red Sea got its name because of a type of algae called «Trichodesmium erythraeum», which is found in the sea. When these blooms of algae die off they appear to turn the blue-green color of the ocean to a reddish-brown.
He also said there was an occasional yellow haze on the sea, which he found fascinating!
This gives you more information about the Red Sea …
The Red Sea is an extension (or inlet) of the Indian Ocean, located between Africa and Asia.
Entrance to the sea in the south is through the Gulf of Aden and the somewhat narrow Bab el Mandeb (strait).
In the north the sea is accessed from Middle Eastern countries via the Gulf of Aqaba (or Gulf of Eilat.) The Mediterranean Sea provides a conduit south through the Suez Canal and Gulf of Suez.
This salty sea is just over 190 miles (300 km) across at its widest point, and about 1,200 miles (1,900 km) in length.
There’s a measured maximum depth of 8,200 feet (2,500 m), and an estimated average depth of 1,640 feet (500 m). Much of the immediate shoreline is quite shallow.
With hot sunny days, and the lack of any significant rainfall, desert dust storms are known to sweep across the sea. High heat combined with the lack of precipitation facilitates high levels of evaporation – thus the sea’s high salinity.
[Source: World Atlas]
It took a couple of days to slowly head up the Red Sea and dad said that the weather got noticeably cooler as they headed west. However he did say that there was a fabulous sunset that evening and mom said that we’d be seeing a lot more of those great sunsets 😉
On the 26th it was very windy and very cool in the Gulf of Suez; the sea was choppy but the ship didn’t roll. At 6pm the ship passed some islands and we could see Mt Sinai in the distance!
April 27 ~ Suez
The ship arrived at Suez at 6am and got into the queue to enter the Canal at 9am.
On the left side of the Canal there were nice houses, lots of trees and in the distance we could see a big town. It quite different on the right side – there was nothing but sand!
Arrived at the Great Bitter Lake at 1:30pm where the convoy stopped until 4, when all the ships started sailing again. At 6pm we passed Ismailia which my father said looked like a lovely place with many tall modern buildings and lots of trees.
Dad said that in the evening all the ships in the convoy had the way in front of them lit by search lights fixed on their bows and with the full moon and passing cars along the road made the night really beautiful.
This video gives you some idea of what it was like to go through the Suez Canal back in the early 1950s …
April 28 ~ Port Said
At midnight we reached Port Said and tied up to a buoy in the harbour. It was really busy at that time of night and dad stayed up thinking a barber was coming on board.
After waiting 3/4 of an hour, dad gave up and he and mom decided to call it a night. They had a rude awakening at 7 when the ship’s horn gave out a loud blast, so we all got up, dressed and headed for the deck to watch the ship leave Port Said.
Dad said that Port Said looked like a lovely town – he noted that all the houses were painted dark yellow and there were lots of minarets scattered about. There was an enormously long beach facing the Mediterranean and cute little motor boats buzzing around. He said he was sorry that we weren’t able to go ashore to check the town out.
The ship’s officers changed into their blue uniforms and we all put on winter clothes to keep warm!
April 28-May 1 – The Aegean & Mediterranean Seas
April 29 was our one month anniversary of being on board the «Antilochus» but there was no celebration put on by the crew! Shame 😉
The day was spent heading up the Aegean Sea.
We could see Mount Ida’s snow clad peak on Crete and there is an interesting bit of mythology attached to the mountain …
«Mt Ida used to be a holy mountain in Minoan Crete and many myths were strongly attached to it. In Idaion Antron (a big cave at 1,495m) Zeus was brought up by Kourites and the nymph Amaltheia. In the woods of Psiloritis also lived Daktyloi, a group of good demons.»
Passing Crete on the starboard (right) bow we also passed close to the island of Gavdos on the port (left) bow. This small island, opposite Sfakia, is the southern-most border of Greece and Europe. It’s 22 nautical miles away from Loutro, right in the middle of the south Cretan sea. According to Callimachus, this is the ancient isle of Ogygia where, as Homer claims in “Odyssey”, the nymph Calypso lived.
According to Wiki … «Gavdos has been known by a wide variety of names. For example, it appears in the biblical account of Paul’s journey to Rome in Acts 27 as “Clauda” (Κλαῦδα) or “Cauda” (Καῦδα). The island was also referred to as “Cauda” by Roman geographer Pomponius Mela, and as “Gaudos” by Pliny. Ptolemy called Gavdos “Claudos” (Κλαῦδος).»
The next day, April 30, the captain showed the passengers around the galley and stores (such excitement 😀 ) after breakfast. Around 1pm the ship got to the “toe” of Italy’s boot and went through the Strait of Messina at 4pm.
The Strait of Messina, (Stretto di Messina in Italian, Fretum Siculum in Latin, is the channel in the Mediterranean Sea separating Sicily (west) and Italy (east) and linking the Tyrrhenian and Ionian seas. The Strait is 20 miles (32km) long, 2 miles (3km) wide in the north (between Faro Point and the Rock of Scylla), and 10 miles (16km) wide in the south (between Capes Alì and Pellaro); it’s 300 feet (90 m) deep at the northern end.
Steaming through the Strait dad said that we were able to see towns and even Mount Etna – on the east coast of Sicily – spewing flames. Dad mentioned that the narrow part of the Strait reminded me of Lyemun Pass!
As the evening progressed, dad said we saw Stromboli – a volcano on the island of the same name off the north coast of Sicily – spewing flames! Two volcanoes in one day – amazing 😀
May 1 was fine and not too cold and after breakfast, we saw a large whale blowing water out of its blowhole, It occasionally showed its back which looked like steel in the bright light.
Had another boat drill in the afternoon … I know they had to make sure passengers were aware of where to go if the ship was sinking but seriously, if we all did hear the emergency klaxon sounding, we’d all be in such a panic that I reckon no one would remember what they learned during the drill!
By this stage we were sailing in the Tuscan Archipelago. We passed Montecristo, the setting for the Count of Montecristo, the book by Alexandre Dumas. The island had huge, snow covered mountains, looked barren, unloved and really quite spooky!
The next island we passed Pianosa, and then saw Elba, the largest island in the archipelago, ahead of us.
By this stage the weather turned pretty unpleasant, windy with overcast skies, so we all hurried back inside.
Before dinner there were drinks in the lounge in honour of all the passengers that were disembarking at Genoa the next day.
May 2 ~ Genova (Genoa)
The pilot came on board at 6:30am and after entering the harbour, the ship was towed by 2 tugs, stern first, towards the quayside. Strangely the ship moored about 20 yards away from the quay so we had to take a small rowboat to go ashore.
You can see how the port is set out in the map below, with all the quays built around the circular harbour …
Daddy grumbled that the traffic was very heavy and terribly noisy and he also said that one of the main streets by the docks was so narrow that he was worried that one of us would be hit by passing cars 😮
When we got to the nearby shopping area, we were all salivating at the sight of small stores full of glorious food! Mountains of cheese, salads, sausages and a huge selection of salami, pasta and wine in the windows, all asking us to buy them!
Then there were the shops full of a fantastic array of chocolates, the smells wafting out of them making us all swoon!
Bars with the strong smell of coffee from the espresso machines where people could also order a Campari soda, Negroni or Cinzano bianco, while other patrons sipped their cappuccino or espresso, standing up at the bar.
We went to Colombia Hotel – a beautiful hotel with marble floors and fabulous woven rugs covering some areas of the floor. It was also across the street from the huge statue of Cristoforo Colombo, known to us English speakers as Christopher Columbus, who was a son of Genova, born and bred.
After our drinks there, we wandered over the the railway station to mail our letters and then dad wanted to check out the Cooks and Lloyd Triestino offices and he was impressed by the Italian shipping company.
Took the No 70 bus to the central district and the folks were so impressed with the wide sidewalks, big old fashioned buildings, shops with beautiful clothes and other products, lots of archways, tunnels and monuments.
The buildings themselves breathed their ancient culture and dad said that he found Genova a very impressive city.
We had a meal at a cafe then mom bought Chianti, salame, tasty black olives and a mixed salad, as well as an almond cake and some chocolate. Dad remarked at how delicious everything was and so different from the food in HK!
Mom set out to buy some more sausages while dad, Lindy and I went to a bar to have hot chocolate and cakes while we waited for her return. Dad was ooching and aaching about both, saying to Lindy that that was like the stuff he used to have in China at some of the German cafes!
When mom returned, we wandered outside and she had to have a box of cherries which dad said looked so beautiful they could have been a painting!
We got back to the ship and at 8:30 that evening, it left Genova and daddy said he and mom were sorry we didn’t have more time to explore the city 🙁
May 3-7 ~ on the Mediterranean Sea & Atlantic Ocean
The next day the weather was foul and everyone stayed inside the ship. Dad remarked that I had “tummy trouble” and had to be put on a diet (?) while Lindy was kicking her heels in the passageway, waiting to see her boyfriends 😮 However the exciting news was that my parents could see Minorca in the distance 😀
May 4 was a much warmer day than the previous day and around 9am the ship passed along the coast of Spain but even with binoculars, we couldn’t see very much due to the ridge of mountains.
Poor mommy had to iron clothes in preparation of our arrival in London while we played games on deck 😀
My folks woke up at 1am to watch the ship passing Gibraltar – thankfully they let us sleep – and dad noted that they saw “the Rock” in the pale skies, the lights of Algerciras and the long line of lights of Ceuta.
Apparently the ship “picked up” three exhausted birds on the deck! I wonder where they were coming from and where they were going! The weather was cold and miserable as we approached England so no doubt the birds were relieved to hitch a ride with us 😉
May 8 – London
The clocks were put forward during the voyage and finally we were on GM Summer Time! Summer time! *Snort!* It was cold, windy and overcast – perfectly miserable weather 🙁
The pilot came on board at 3am and it was only at 1:30pm when Beachy Head came in sight. The prominence of Beachy Head has made it a landmark for sailors in the English Channel and all the English passengers got excited at their glimpse of good old Blighty 😀
The weather started clearing up as we passed Folkstone at 4pm, then the white cliffs of Dover with its castle standing proudly on the cliffs. The ship then sailed past Deal, Sandwich and Ramsgate.
There were several wrecks in the channel with masts sticking out, obviously ships sunk during WWII.
We went past Margate and headed up the mouth of the Thames at 6:30pm. Two hours later we saw Southend on our starboard side and arrived at KGV docks at 10pm.
By this time the weather was cold and crisp, the temperature dropping to 50°F. Lindy and I headed off to our bunks at 10:30, exhausted but excited!
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