The Continent ~ Sept 2 to Oct 30

The sea was pretty rough as we sailed across the Channel and the weather was grey and overcast, but we were happy being on that ship.

You can get an idea of what it was like from this YouTube clip …

Daddy asked Lindy how she felt and she said she was really excited; then he asked me and I said I couldn’t care less about going to France!  Well, at least I was honest 😉

The trip across only took 2 hours – we docked at Boulogne at 11:30, got through Customs without any hassles and then we were off, headed towards Paris.

Dad commented that the roads were straight but bumpy, the scenery similar to what we saw in England however the houses were quite different.  In one village we went through there was no one out on the street – all we saw was just one dog wandering around!

We stopped for lunch at a place called Chateau du Montreleux and dad said it was a lovely place and a beautifully served lunch but when the bill came, dad almost had a heart attack.  The total was £5.10.0!  Back in those days that would have been more than $1000 Australian now  😮

Poor old dad was in such a funk about the cost of that lunch!  He said he wasn’t going to eat for a week, mom suggested we drive straight to Paris but dad wasn’t keen to head into a strange city so close to the evening.

WWII ruins in Beauvais Click to enlarge

We arrived at Beauvais which looked like a small, dirty place with one awful looking hotel.  Fortunately that was just the outskirts of the city and after asking advice from a gas station, we got to Beauvais Hotel, a new building with clean and comfortable rooms.

Le pont de Paris, Beauvais Click to enlarge

After freshening up, we all went for a walk and wandered into a very old cathedral, where there was a young girl playing the organ.  Mom and dad lit candles and said some prayers before we went out.

The whole of Beauvais must have been devastated during WWII as it looked like everything had been built from scratch.  I researched the history of Beauvais and found that yes, it was bombed by the Luftwaffe and the RAF and the city was left in ruins 🙁

We had a great meal at a restaurant then headed back to the hotel.  Lindy said to mom and dad that she felt like our holiday had just begun and, as dad said, everything here is so different and so much nicer, especially the food 😀

Paris ~ September 2-12

«France’s chic, sexy capital has to be experienced at least once. Mix picture-postcard icons with simple Parisian moments and you’ll truly fall in love with the city. Scale the Eiffel Tower then walk or cycle along the Seine, or cruise down it on a bateau-mouche. Venerate Notre Dame then grab a post-cathedral café at Café Saint-Régis, ice-cream at Berthillon or super juice at literary café of mythical bookshop Shakespeare & Company. Hit the Louvre then collapse on a bench with a Pierre Hermé macaron in the Tuileries or Palais Royal gardens. Delve into hilltop Montmartre with a local Paris Greeter ( Escape to posh leafy Versailles and come back blown away by France’s most famous chateau.» [Source: The Lonely Planet]

Had a lovely, restful high and had our first French breakfast … tea (tea? I would have thought coffee would have been the preferred beverage 😉 ), croissants and marmalade!  Delicious!

Left Beauvais at 10:30 and an English porter gave dad a tip about how to get to rue Lauriston directly.  Halfway to Paris mom took over driving and had the honour of driving us into Paris and to the hotel recommended by friends in England, Hotel Cimarosa.

We were told that there were no rooms available there so the manager recommended we try Hotel Martha.  When we got to the Martha, we were told there were rooms available and my folks were very happy as this place looked a lot nicer and bigger than the Cimarosa.

Mom drove from rue de Seine along the Champs Élysées and around the Arc de Triomph almost turned mom’s hair white – so many cars (and this was in 1953!!) rushing at breakneck speed from all directions and wondering which way to look to avoid crashing into one or two of them!  PLUS driving in a car with the steering wheel on the opposite side to everyone else  🙁

We had lunch at the Cafe Cyprienne but for dinner we just bought baguettes, salami, olives and salt cucumbers washed down by Vichy water.  Mom and dad were really worried about how expensive everything was and fretted about seeing the money flowing out of their pockets so rapidly.

Dad also said rooms with a bath were rare and so expensive so we would probably have to just use the basin and bidet for the next two months  😮

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The next day, Friday September 4, we walked over to the Eiffel Tower and mom, Lindy and I went up to the top while dad stayed at the 1st level.  He was surprised to see that the men’s WCs just had shoulder-high screens separating them from the ladies’ WCs, which were individual cubicles.

Went back to the hotel for a siesta then in the evening, we went out again but without Lindy.  We had a long walk along the Champs Élysées – the street was swarming with people even though it was evening. The sidewalk cafes were full, there were 4 lanes of cars going up and down the avenue, beautiful shops with beautiful things for sale.  Daddy enjoyed it but mom got depressed seeing all the gorgeous things she wanted but which she couldn’t buy  🙁

Did more touristy things on the Saturday – went to the Louvre after walking all the way through the Jardin des Tuileries but as it was midday, we decided to return to the Louvre earlier on another day. Went back to the Martha for lunch and a siesta, then went to the Russian church at rue de Crimée.

The building started as a Lutheran church built around 1850 in order to serve the German community in Paris.  The French government seized the church after WWI and sold it to the Russian immigrants who had fled their country after the Revolution of 1917.

Euloge Gueorguievsky was the first Orthodox bishop in France.  He was also the spiritual leader of the Russian Orthodox community of Paris.

He founded Saint Serge de Radonege when the Alexandre Nevsky Cathedral (rue Daru – 17th district) became too small to accommodate the growing number of immigrants. [Source: Saint Serge de Radonege Church – rue de Crimée]

Saint Serge de Radonege Church Click to enlarge

What a shame we didn’t go inside the church as it looks like a beautiful place!  Daddy said that the district looked very shabby and he was advised to go to the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral instead.

We drove from rue de Crimée to rue Daru to the cathedral, which was completed in 1861 by Tsar Alexander II’s architect Roman Kouzmine.

It was a beautiful church service there, afterwards dad bought some Russian delicacies at a place called «A la ville de Petrograd» before heading back to the Martha.


A la ville de Petrograd Click to enlarge

The interior of A la ville de Petrograd Click to enlarge

On Sunday the 6th we headed off to the Louvre after breakfast and only managed to see one wing before lunchtime.  Went to A la ville de Petrograd for borsch and piroshki, had a rest at Martha then went back to the Louvre until it closed at 5pm.

Notre Dame Click to enlarge

We took a short walk along Boulevard Montmartre before getting back into the car and driving along Avenue Foch to Bois de Boulogne then back, and headed to Martha for our evening “Bohemian” meal of baguette), sausage, olives and cucumbers before crashing.

On Monday the 7th we went to look at Notre Dame and apparently were underwhelmed. According to our papa English churches were more impressive 😉

Drove to the Luxembourg Palace and had a walk around then went back to Martha for lunch.  When we finished eating, we drove to Versailles and strolled through the beautiful gardens full of stunning statues and the sheer grandeur of the place.

Had a lovely drive back to the Martha via the Bois de Boulogne and my parents were tempted to stop and enjoy a drink at the multitude of sidewalk cafes on the streets they drove along but they resisted. Had a Bohemian dinner then headed out again.  Parking in front of the Eiffel Tower, sat on the chairs in the garden then moved to the Champs Élysées for a walk before going back to the hotel.

On the following day, the 8th, dad had to arrange for the car to have a service and then we went to the Lloyd Triestino office to organise sending a suitcase to the “Victoria” to await our embarkation. From there we walked along the rue de la Paix and dad commented that we could smell all the perfumes from the swanky shops as we walked along there to Place Vendôme to get maps from the AA.

Had borsch and piroshki at A la ville de Petrograd for lunch, went back to the hotel to freshen up and then headed to Versailles.  We were taken through the palace in groups and, of course, every room was full of ornate objects and valuable paintings and everything else that one expects to see in palaces 😉

Statues at Versilles Click to enlarge

After wandering around, dad took us back to Paris via a new route – a wide fast road with a very long tunnel then through the Bois de Boulogne before stopping at a market on rue de Buci.  Mom bought a selection of sausages and salad, and our mouths were watering at the sight and smells of all the food!

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Had a drink at a sidewalk cafe on the Boulevard Saint-Germain before walking along it before getting in the car and heading back to the Martha.

On Wednesday the 9th we all went to Vauxhall to leave the car to be serviced then walked to the rue de Colisée.  Dad had a haircut then mom and I went upstairs to the ladies’ salon to get our hair done.  Dad and Lindy went for a stroll along the Champs Élysées, took a bunch of photos, had a drink at a sidewalk cafe before coming back to the hairdressing salon.

As mom and I had finished our hair cuts earlier, dad found us relaxing at a brasserie, enjoying the sights like true Parisiennes 😉  We walked back to the Martha and dad played the piano while we ladies went shopping.  Had a short siesta and then walked back to the garage to pick the car up.

Drove to Pont de Solférino to see if we could get on a bateau-mouche, but there were none available so we went for a walk along Quai d’Orsay. This is on the left bank of the Seine River, extending from the Eiffel Tower to the Palais Bourbon (housing the national assembly). Next to the Palais Bourbon stands the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a vast palatial building, which is often referred to as simply the Quai d’Orsay. [Source: Infoplease]  

On top of the Arc de Triomphe Click to enlarge

For the first time since arriving in Paris the next day, Thursday the 10th, dawned grey and cool.  We went up to the top of the Arc de Triomph and enjoyed the sights of Paris from that height.  Once that was over, we headed back to the bateaux-mouches and this time were lucky.

Dad ordered lunch on board and we went for a mooch (!) up and down the Seine for two-and-a-half hours.  Very boring scenery and the weather wasn’t nice so unfortunately it wasn’t the most pleasant experience we had in Paris.

After that we went to the Lloyd Triestino office and sent a suitcase off to the ship, then went to the Boulevard de la Madeleine where dad bought some sheets of music at Durand’s. Got back to the Martha and after our Bohemian dinner, Lindy and I crashed while dad and mom went for the stroll on the Champs Élysées, stopping for a coffee and liqueur at one of the cafes. It must have been nice for them to go out on their own in the world’s most romantic city instead of having their kids trailing around behind them  😀

Opera House behind us Click to enlarge

The next day was a pretty lazy one with dad going to various bureaux de change to convert his US dollars into franks and also pesetas, then we went to Boulevard Haussmann so that mom could order some beautiful artificial flowers for the Linen Chest.  Went to A la ville de Petrograd for provisions and collected the films dad left at Kodak earlier in the week, then returned to the Martha.

There was a newly installed shower in Lindy’s & my room so we all took turns in having a hot shower before our Bohemian dinner.  I went to bed but poor mom had to pack up everything as we were leaving Paris the next day!

Said goodbye to Hotel Martha at 10am and headed south, arriving at Tours at 4:30. We got a room at Hotel Gamruont – literally one room for the four of us! – and after a drink outside, we went for a walk and found a nice restaurant.  Lindy got her escargots with lots of garlic!  Lucky girl, why didn’t I eat escargots in those days?  YUM!

The next morning everyone woke up very early as there was such an enticing smell of freshly baked bread and cakes coming from the patisserie next door.  We were all up and dressed in a flash and we went next door for a lovely breakfast of coffee, tea and croissants.

Got some provisions for the next leg of the trip – milk, ham and batons – and then took off at 10. After going through Angoulême we stopped on the road and had our lunch,

September 13 – having our lunch by the side of the road! Click to enlarge

We entered Bordeaux just after 4pm and had to go over a long, high bridge into the town centre.

Took a double room with a bath at Hotel de Madrid and were relieved to have a bath after the dusty journey.  We wandered outside but it wasn’t very interesting so went back to the hotel for dinner and mom and dad tried both the red and white Bordeaux wine with their meals.  Lindy and I staggered upstairs as we were exhausted, but mom and dad stayed up, talking to the madam while having a coffee and a liqueur called Mardoc, before retiring.

San Sebastián ~ September 14-21

«San Sebastián has four main centres of action. The lively Parte Vieja (old town) lies across the neck of Monte Urgull, the bay’s eastern headland, and is where the most popular pintxo bars and many of the cheap lodgings are to be found. South of the Parte Vieja is the commercial and shopping district, the Área Romántica, its handsome grid of late-19th-century buildings extending from behind Playa de la Concha to the banks of Río Urumea. On the east side of the river is the district of Gros, a pleasant enclave that, with its relaxed ambience and the surfing beach of Playa de Gros, makes a cheerful alternative to the honeypots on the west side of the river. Right at the opposite, western end, of the city is Playa de Ondarreta (essentially a continuation of Playa de la Concha).» [Source: The Lonely Planet]

Got to the frontier and the police looked in our boot, asked about our cameras then told dad to carry on.  We had a wonderful view of the Pyrenees coming down from some hill before we arrived at San Sebastián.  When we arrived in the city, a terrific thunderstorm broke out and poor mom was driving in the pouring rain.  Dad had a recommendation to go to the Villa Eche Maite and dad thought it was amazing that mom found the way there in the lousy weather 😀

The Villa turned out to be a lovely pension so as mom and dad were very happy for us to stay there, we brought our suitcases in and mom unpacked a few things.  The maid who looked after our rooms came and introduced herself to us; her name was Rosita and I do have vague but fond memories of what a sweet person she was.

San Sebastián (called Donostia in Basque. I read a very interesting thing about the Basque language … “In the Basque language, which is called Euskera, there is no word for Basque. The only word to identify a member of their group is ‘Euskaldun’—Euskera speaker. Their land is called ‘Euskal Herria’ — the land of the Euskera speakers. It is language that defines a Basque.” ~Mark Kurlansky) is the capital of the Basque province of Gipuzkoa and the preferred summer resort of the Spanish aristocracy in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

San Sebastián is on a promontory between the Cantabrian Sea and Rio Urumea and the two parts of the town are joined by several bridges.

Isla de Santa Clara Click to enlarge

La Concha, the beautiful shell-shaped beach, forms a wide and sweeping semi-circle that ends in two mountains that guard the entrance to the bay, the Igueldo and Urugull.

Isla de Santa Clara, a wooded island in the middle of the bay forms a natural breakwater that protects the beach and the town from the rough waves of the Bay of Biscay.

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There is an old fishing port at the foot of Mount Urugull, which La Mota castle overlooks, and the José Antonio Avenue, which encircles the mountain, is a great place for those wanting a bracing walk.



For the sportsman, there are horse races in July, and car and yacht races during the summer months. Tennis matches are played at Ondarreta, golf tournaments at Lasarte and the bullfighting ring is often full of aficionados.

Walked in the rain to the centre of town and, with a policeman’s help, dad found Chez Vittorio, a neat little restaurant on Calle Manterola where we all had a fabulous dinner.

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Walked it off going back to the pension and we all crashed for the night!

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The next day we went into the centre of the city and daddy was just over-the-moon about the place. The beautiful U-shaped beach, a bay with hundreds of coloured sailboats at anchor, a gigantic statue of our Saviour on top of Monte Urgull, which is illuminated at night so that it looks like Jesus is up in the dark sky.

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The streets are clean, the people are clean, the policemen taking care of law and order, telling boisterous children to behave and even blowing the whistle at the family Parks for jay walking  😮 My folks were really enchanted with this place!

As the stores closed between 1:30-4pm, we had the streets to ourselves  Had a very good lunch at a sidewalk cafe, got ice creams and cassata at a heladeria which dad said were both better than we had in England! The oldies bought tickets for the Spanish Ballet, castañets, some sheets of music and then we walked back to the villa.  Had a siesta and then went to the Vittorio for dinner.  When we got back to the hotel, there was a terrific storm but it didn’t last long.

On Wednesday we had a fairly lazy day. We wandered around the centre of the city again then after lunch went up to the top of Monte Urgull and looked at the statue, as well as well as taking in the stunning panorama. Instead of going out for dinner, we had baths and had a Bohemian dinner before hitting the sack early!

Teatro Victoria Eugenia Click to enlarge

The next day, the 17th, we went driving up a windy road to the top of Mt Igueldo and looked at San Sebastián’s beautiful panorama from a different angle. We went to an amusement park  – I guess I must have whined about going there – before deciding to go back to the centre of the city and finding a new place to have lunch.

Rosario Click to enlarge

In the evening we went to Teatro Victoria Eugenia to see Rosario (aka Florencia Pérez Padilla) and her flamenco dancers.

Rosario used to partner her cousin, Antonio, during the dances but in 1953 the pair split up and Rosario went out on her own.  She opted for a more individualised work, with montages where she appeared as a star accompanied by impressive male dancers, among which were Juan Quintero, Juan Alba or Miguel Sandoval.

Saturday the 19th turned out to be a depressingly dismal day so we just went to the Banco de España where dad cashed some cheques, bought some souvenirs and then had lunch at a place in Parte Vieja (the old town) before taking the car to be serviced.  Dad was most impressed with the speed of the service – unlike in England, where it took days, here we just sat and waited for a couple of hours!

Going back to the villa and dad said he heard Señorita Lola (the owner?) having a temper tantrum upstairs and the result was one smashed vase on the porch  😮

We went back to Parte Vieja for dinner, this time trying new dishes out.  The result of our adventurous dinner was that my folks were awakened at 4am by me coming into their room and throwing up (!!) and Lindy being scared by something!  I ended up staying in their room with dad while mom went to our room to keep Lindy company!

Sunday dawned brighter and as we were planning to leave the next day, mom did a bit of packing while dad cleaned the car.  He also managed to get a picture of Señorita Lola but said he was disappointed that she wasn’t wearing her usual Spanish dress or holding a fan!

Had lunch at Vittorio’s then went home to get ready for the bullfight.  Dad followed all the cars heading to the bullring, he managed to park close to the entrance and in we went.

Photos of the bullfight 🙁 Click to enlarge

Our seats were in the front row, right opposite the matadors’ entrance and since they were just concrete benches, dad had to go and get 4 pillows for us to sit on.  Just after 4:30 the crowd began stamping their feet, whistling and shouting and moments later the band started playing, a trumpet sounded, the gates were thrown open wide and everyone taking part in the bullfight entered the arena, headed by the two picadors.  This is called a paseillo, where the participants enter the arena to salute the presiding dignitary.

One of the matadors saw Lindy so took his cape off and told his attendant to place it in front of us on the barrier.  Daddy said he was very flattered but didn’t think Lindy understood the significance of his gesture 😉

Daddy described the bullfight but I don’t want to write about it here as I think bullfighting is a disgusting sport.  Dad did say he couldn’t watch the picadors or the banderilleros as they tormented the bulls and I had my head in my hands as I found it so upsetting to watch the poor bull being treated in such a savage way.  Mom and Lindy were equally upset 🙁

So why did we go?  I guess we thought, “when in Spain …”  It was a national sport so we went to see what it was all about, and we all hated it.

We came back to the villa feeling queasy but after some drinks, we felt better. Rosita was amused when dad and I did a little bullfighting show for her.  Dad was the matador and I was the bull!

Had dinner at Vittorio’s then came back to the villa feeling quite sad about leaving the place the next day.

A short video of San Sebastián, or Donostia as it is also known, taken in 1950 😀



On Monday, September 21, we put all our bags in our car and bid our maid, Rosita, farewell.  I must admit I remember feeling a little blue about leaving as she was such a kind and lovely lady!

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Daddy stopped at Biarritz just to see how it compared to San Sebastián but my folks reckoned it didn’t come close.  I think they were very pleased they didn’t bother staying at Biarritz.

The next stop was Angoulême, where we found rooms at the Pigalle Hotel.  Had drinks at the bar then went for a walk up a hill where dad discovered the Mimosa Restaurant!  Fabulous place where we all had a fabulous meal so walked back to the hotel feeling very full and happy 😀

The centre of Angoulême was very much a medieval town in 1953 and had narrow, cobbled streets which looked so romantic in the moonlight!

Paris ~September 22-27

Left at 9am after a breakfast of coffee and croissants and had a break on the outskirts of Poitiers, more coffee and croissants.  Dad bought a bag of croissants for the rest of the journey and put it on the roof of the car when we were all getting in.

It was only after driving a mile or so that he remembered what he’d done but, of course, the bag had fallen off 🙁  Poor papa!!!

Got into Paris and finally, at 6.15pm we arrived at the Hotel Martha, tired but relieved.  We were all starving so ate a big dinner then we shuffled off to our beds exhausted!

The next day dad attended to some business then we all went to Les Invalides to check out Napoleon’s Tomb and then the Musée de l’Armée.

The facade of the Musée de l’Armée with the golden dome of the building holding Napoleon’s Tomb in the background Click to enlarge

They charged admission for entry into each room and the price was exorbitant so we just went into one room.  I mean, how many different types of helmets, cuirasses, swords and pikes can one look at  😉

The next couple of days we did boring things like taking films to Kodachrome to get them developed, took the car to Vauxhall for servicing, went to A la ville de Petrograd again to buy more Russian goodies, and have the odd drink at a cafe on the Champs Élysées.

On the Thursday night, after a bohemian dinner in our bedroom, mom and dad went to see the Folies Bergère. My parents thought it was all very glamorous and it made me laugh to read that daddy would have liked Lindy to see the show if only the dancers covered up their nudity more 😮

However dad did remark that he was fed up at all the hands out for tips – the usherette who showed them to their seats had her hand out, no way anyone could go to the loo without tipping the attendant who stood like a gargoyle outside with her hand out, and the rest who provided “service” (pronounced the French way serveees 😉 ).

In the evening of Friday the 25th mom and dad went to see Boris Christoff in “Boris Godunov” at the Opera House and they were absolutely enthralled by the performance.  Everything was sung in Russian, with beautiful costumes and sets, so they came back feeling extremely happy to have been able to see the production and have a memorable evening.

Boris Christoff in the opera Boris Godunov Click to enlarge

Mom and dad had planned to leave the next day but as they were both really tired, they decided to stay another day.  The Saturday was a very lazy day so I think my folks managed to recharge their batteries in advance of the next leg of our trip!

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Left Paris at 10 and carried on until we got to Nancy at 5.15pm.

We checked into the Crystal Hotel and I caused a lot of consternation as I broke out in red spots all over!  😮

Had dinner and everyone just crashed, as we were all feeling pretty tired after the trip.

Left Nancy at 10 and made our way to Strasbourg, where we stopped for lunch at an Alsace restaurant.

Got to the border with Germany at 2:30, had our passports checked and then we were on our way to Tübingen!


Tübingen ~ September 28-October 2

«Liberal students and deeply traditional Burschenschaften (fraternities) singing ditties for beloved Germania, eco-warriors, artists and punks – all have a soft spot for this bewitchingly pretty Swabian city, where cobbled lanes lined with half-timbered townhouses twist up to a turreted castle. It was here that Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, lectured on theology in the late 1960s; and here that Friedrich Hölderlin studied stanzas, Johannes Kepler planetary motions, and Goethe the bottom of a beer glass. The finest days unfold slowly in Tübingen: lingering in Altstadt cafes, punting on the plane-tree-lined Neckar River and pretending, as the students so diligently do, to work your brain cells in a chestnut-shaded beer garden.» [Source: The Lonely Planet]

It was obvious that we were in a different country as we drove into Germany! The road was narrow and windy, and the houses, countryside and people were all different too 🙂

We approached the Black Forest and the weather turned foggy, wet and cold. Poor mom was driving as we went up the pass and the visibility was terrible.  Everyone was tense and anxious, and dad had his head out of the window to make sure we weren’t going to tumble down the mountain 😮

It was such a pity that the weather was so bad as we couldn’t see the beautiful scenery when we got to the top of the pass. Made the descent gradually then got onto the plain when the heavens opened! The deluge continued all the way to Tübingen and the weather also turned bitterly cold 🙁

The university town of Tübingen has witnessed almost a millennium of history, with the castle, the historic Old Town and the medieval buildings of the different institutes.

Towards the end of the 15th century Count Eberhard im Barte founded the university with the slogan “attempto” («I will attempt it»).

We arrived at the Deutschhaus and unloaded the car. When the rain let up, we all went to find the Harms family to say hello.

Came back and had a great German dinner – lots of pork, mustard, sauerkraut and kartoffel (potatoes) then we all shuffled back to our rooms and collapsed in our bed under fat, warm quilts!

Mom, Lindy & me in Tubingen (I think) Click to enlarge

Professor Heinrich Harms was a very well known ophthalmologist who was born in Stralsund, the same place as Valia’s husband, Werner Krey. They must have been very good friends, perhaps even relatives (?), and when the Soviets took over the eastern part of Germany, the Kreys got stuck behind the Iron Curtain but the Harms were living in Tübingen so were safe.

We collected Prof Harms from his clinic and drove along narrow, tricky streets to Schlossbergstrasse where there was a boarding house for students.  The house was on the top of a hill with a fabulous view of Tübingen and it was empty of students at the time, so we had the whole house to ourselves!

We were invited to the Harms’ for dinner so rocked up there at 7:30.  Prof and Mrs Harms had NINE children, and one of their sons spoke excellent English so Lindy was chatting to him.

There were other friends there, including Mr & Mrs Androsch – Mrs Androsch was Heinrich’s sister – and after dinner daddy talked to them about the possibility of meeting up with Valia but everyone agreed it was much too risky with what was going on in East Germany.

I think because Heinrich Harms was born in Straslund and was such a famous ophthalmologist, he must have been allowed to go to Straslund to treat patients there and perhaps there was when he met up with Valia.  Certainly dad wrote in his diary that someone in that gathering had seen Valia just nine months previously!

Daughter of either Heinrich Harms or his sister, Mrs Androsch, Elsa Harms, me, Lindy, either Mrs Heinrich Harms or Mrs Androsch, and mom Click to enlarge

Anyway, by the time it was time to leave, daddy was feeling all down in the dumps about the fact that it didn’t look likely that he’d be able to see Valia during our stay in Tübingen 🙁

The next day mom and dad took me to the Kindern Klinik (child clinic) to get my spots checked out but the doctor said I was fine so no worries, mate!  The rest of the day was spent driving around and walking through the forest before getting back and having a German bohemian dinner in our rooms 😀

The next day, October 1, we went to meet Elsa Harms.  She was the matriarch of the family and dad mentioned that they found her to be far nicer and “softer” than they had imagined.

After chatting with her, we went to have a hearty Germanic lunch and mom said to dad that she thought it’d be best for us to leave Tübingen and go somewhere else to get Valia out of his mind and dad agreed.

We left Tübingen at 10 on October 2 and drove through picturesque countryside to Stuttgart, then got on the autobahn to drive at a steady 55mph (miles per hour). The scenery varied from beautiful forests but after getting up a long bridge to the Bavarian Alps and down again, it become boring.

We stopped for lunch at Augsburg and through a misunderstand, dad said that we were served six (SIX!!) weiner sausages EACH, however we ate them all up without a struggle 😀


München ~ October 2-4

«The natural habitat of well-heeled power dressers and Lederhosen-clad thigh-slappers, Mediterranean-style street cafes and Mitteleuropa beer halls, highbrow art and high-tech industry, Germany’s unofficial southern capital is a flourishing success story that revels in its own contradictions. If you’re looking for Alpine clichés, they’re all here, but the Bavarian metropolis has many an unexpected card down its Dirndl. But whatever else this city is, it’s popular. Statistics show Munich is enticing more visitors than ever, especially in summer and during Oktoberfest, when the entire planet seems to arrive to toast the town.» [Source: The Lonely Planet]

Arrived at München (Munich) at 4pm and, to our consternation dad found that most of the hotels were packed thanks to Octoberfest 😮

Thankfully the gods were smiling and we got two rooms by sheer fluke – was that another AirBnB experience?  I think so as dad didn’t mention the name of a hotel!  The guy, a Herr Anderer, turned out to be a really nice guy and got tickets for us all to see “Gräfin Mariza“, an operetta by Emmerich Kálmán, known in English as “Countess Maritza”.

After dinner at his restaurant, Herr Anderer drove us to the fair and then to the theatre to see the operetta.

It was very enjoyable even though I didn’t understand the language 🙂  I always enjoyed operettas but operas – ugh! The Contessa Maritza was such a great operetta with lovely costumes and gypsy music … it really was great to watch and I went to bed dreaming about all the dancing 🙂

Got back home at 11 and we all crashed!

On October 3 we had a late breakfast and then went for a walk, buying postcards and sending them off, before stopping for lunch at a crowded restaurant where the oldies drank “bier” and ate so much “schwein” that they couldn’t finish it while listening to 3 old musicians playing and yodelling away!

In the evening we all went to the Oktoberfest, enjoyed a lot of the rides, then went into a tent where the beer was flowing like water and two brass bands were playing oompah pah German songs  😀

Went for a couple more rides and then headed to Herr Anderer’s restaurant for beer, beer and then sausages, according to my father 😀

Munich to Innsbruck Click to enlarge

The next day we went to Austria and although the weather was miserable, cold and wet, and the road narrow, bumpy and winding, the scenery was beautiful!

The Bavarian Alps loomed up ahead and we started to go up a steep ascent and then saw a lake below which was as smooth as a mirror.  This was Kochelsee.

We made it to the summit then, as we headed back down, we found ourselves by the Waldensee. This lake is about 1136m above sea level on the Krantzberg, opposite the Karwendel mountain range in Oberbayern.

The road ran along the shore and the scenery was absolutely enchanting!  Soon afterwards the reached the frontier with Austria and after the usual short formalities, we were on our way The road started to descend sharply so dad took it in bottom gear and that took us down to Innsbruck.

Innsbruck ~ October 4-7

«Tyrol’s capital is a sight to behold. The jagged rock spires of the Nordkette range are so close that within minutes it’s possible to travel from the city’s heart to over 2000m above sea level and alpine pastures where cowbells chime. Summer and winter activities abound, and it’s understandable why some visitors only take a peek at Innsbruck proper before heading for the hills.» [Source: The Lonely Planet]

Dad said that the town was a lovely, quiet place on the plateau between towering mountains. Most of the houses had either a painting or mosaic on a wall depicting Biblical scenes and they also had marble arches on their property.

We found a neat little hotel, dumped our bags, then went for a walk. Discovered a lovely restaurant in a cellar where the oldies had sausages and beer and Lindy and I had sausages and water 😉  \

After having all that food, we went to a cafe where dad ordered hot chocolate for him and Lindy. He said the chocolate came in two pots and there was a pot of fresh cream for each of them.  They also had cake with it and … guess what … they couldn’t finish their portions!  LOL!

Mom and I were good little Vegemites – we had tea (me? tea?) and a slice of cake so polished off the lot! 😀

Strolled along Maria-Theresien Straße (Maria-Theresien Strasse), the main drag, looking at all the attractive Tyrolean products, then went back to the hotel.

For dinner, the folks decided to try a Tyrolean speciality called «Schweinfurter Schlachtschüssel».

This dish is referred to as a “battle plate” or “battle bowl” in German — «Schlachtplatte», a meat dish which usually consists of kesselfleisch (boiled belly pork) and fresh blood and liver sausage.

However the «Schweinfurter Schlachtschüssel» is not the usual “battle plate” but rather a celebration at a large, sociable table.

A minimum number of eaters is required, and the process is carried out according to traditional rituals. The most important peculiarity of a Schweinfurt dish is that it is not eaten on plates but on long wooden boards on the table.

The cooked pork is served, as the name implies, on bare boards that extend across the tables. The steaming sauerkraut, the fresh wood oven bread, salt, pepper and horseradish are also prepared on the boards. And when the meat comes on the table, or rather on the boards, everyone can cut themselves off as much pork as they want to eat.

© Schlurcher / , via Wikimedia Commons

The meat isn’t just bits of pork – it’s the whole pig, which was cooked then carved up on the boards. Everything was laid out for people to have – the pig’s belly, the joints, then the offal!  Kidneys, brain, liver, all the sweetbreads!  Akkkk!

I was not adventurous so just had wurst (sausage) for dinner but certainly mom, dad and Lindy went to town and had a really enjoyable experience with their battle plate 😮

We all staggered back to our rooms and crashed!

Looking down at Innsbruck from Hungerburg Click to enlarge

We had a very lazy sort of day on Monday, October 5th, with dad taking the car to be checked out by the mechanics but the next day was really an adventurous day

The weather was fine but cold so we piled on our sweaters and after breakfast, we headed off to Nordkettenbahn (the Nordkette cable car).

The first stop was Hungerburg (900m), where we got to see a bird’s eye view of Innsbruck. Then we got into a “helicopter cabin” (which took 25 people) and carried on over the tops of tall pine trees and up some steep, strong slopes to Seegrube (1900m). From that point, we could see fabulous views of Middle Inn Valley, Zillertal Valley Alps, the Stubai and the Wipptal Valley. In fact, from this vantage point, on a clear day one could actually see into Italy.

Lunch on the terrace at Hungerburg with the view of Innsbruck below Click to enlarge

We got into another helicopter cabin and it pulled us up to the highest point, which was Halefekar (2334m) after taking us through a thick layer of clouds. From the top we could see the whole ridge of alps, most of which were covered with snow. Dad said it was a marvellous experience, even though it was freezing cold.

We came down and got off at Hungerburg and had a lovely lunch on the terrace enjoying the panorama of Innsbruck below.

Before heading back we drove to Schwag, Europe’s Silver City (?) and back to Innsbruck where we had dinner and then crashed again from a very full-on day 😉

This collage of photos show our experience both at Hungerburg (first photo) and then the clouds and the tips of Alpine mountains when we got up to Halefekar. I must say I do remember it being bitterly cold 😮


We left Innsbruck at 10 on Wednesday the 7th and we followed the Inn River, crossing it many times on our route. The scenery was fabulous all the way to the frontier. Crossed over then drove for about 6km along a bumpy, dangerous road until we got to the Swiss border.

Mom, Lindy and me with the mighty River Inn in the background 😉 Click to enlarge

Once we crossed that border, the road was still awful so dad had to creep along in 2nd gear.  We stopped for lunch at Schuls (Scuol) then carried on to St Moritz,

Sleepy St Moritz Click to enlarge

Dad found it very tiring to drive along the narrow streets of Swiss villages and he said that cows had right of way, so he had to be extra vigilant 😉

St Moritz was a dead town, all the hotels closed until the winter season, however we did find an open one – the Metropole Hotel – and got rooms there.  Mom and dad went out for a walk then we all trooped down to have dinner in the hotel’s restaurant.

Headed out of St Moritz and the road took us up to Julier Pass (2284m), which dad had get up in 1st gear 😮  There was another ascent but not as steep and then we found ourselves at Bad Ragarz, where we stopped for lunch.

It was so very, very cold in the morning and the car wouldn’t start for quite some time in the morning. However once it did start, dad drove around the block to get it warmed up!


Zurich ~ October 8-10

«Culturally vibrant, efficiently run and attractively set at the meeting of river and lake, Zürich is regularly recognised as one of the world’s most liveable cities. Long known as a savvy, hard-working financial centre, Switzerland’s largest and wealthiest metropolis has also emerged in the 21st century as one of central Europe’s hippest destinations, with an artsy, post-industrial edge that is epitomised in its exuberant summer Street Parade. Much of the ancient centre, with its winding lanes and tall church steeples, has been kept lovingly intact. Yet Zürich has also wholeheartedly embraced contemporary trends, with the conversion of old factories into cultural centres and creative new living spaces. Nowhere is that clearer than in Züri-West, the epicentre of the city’s nightlife.» [Source: The Lonely Planet]

After that the road went along quite flat but when we reached the Walensee the road went up again and the scenery was absolutely magnificent.  On the other side there was a huge mountain rising straight from the lake.  Breathtaking 😀

When we got to Zurichsee the road was fast, with long stretches of good surface!  We got into Zurich at 4.20pm and found a decent hotel, the Central, where we offloaded our luggage, went for a walk and had dinner at some restaurant before coming back and crashing!

Swans, ducks and geese on Lake Zurich! Click to enlarge

The next day dad had to take the car to be serviced and check the gearbox as it had been making a lot of weird noises 🙁  We then just wandered around sightseeing.  Had lunch, then the folks dropped us off at the hotel and went window shopping on the way to get the car. Dad said that they saw a lot of beautiful, expensive stuff but didn’t say if they bought anything beautiful or expensive!  LOL 😀

After an initial scare about how much it would cost to fix the gearbox, the mechanics found the problem was that a screw came loose so the repairs didn’t cost an arm and a leg!  Phew!  I can imagine how relieved my folks were when they got the bill 😉

They drove back to the hotel and at 7, we all trooped out and found a great restaurant with musicians, to dad’s pleasure! Had a fabulous meal .. dad said that «the Swiss certainly can cook most delicious food and know how to serve it up


We left Zurich at 9am and the weather was brutal. Very windy, misty and oh-so-cold!  Brrrrrrr!  🙁  Mom was the only one in the family who didn’t have a cold so we were a pretty miserable bunch!

The car loaded onto the train at Göschenen Click to enlarge

The road from Zurich was fine and after we passed the first ridge of mountains, we saw sunshine! It made us all very happy to feel the warmth in the car  😀

Got to Göschenen and loaded the car onto a railway platform, had a snack at the station, got on the train and we chugged through a long tunnel under the St Gotthard Pass to Airolo.

From Airolo everything looked Italian and it got warmer, much to our relief 😀

Ascona ~ October 10-19

« If ever there was a prize for the ‘most perfect lake town’, Ascona would surely win hands-down. Palm trees and pristine houses in a fresco painter’s palette of pastels line the promenade, overlooking the glassy waters of Lago Maggiore to the rugged green mountains beyond. Michelin-starred restaurants, an 18-hole golf course and the Old Town’s boutiques, galleries and antique shops attract a good-living, big-spending crowd.» [Source: The Lonely Planet]

Hotel Schiff Click to enlarge

Arrived at Ascona at 4pm and we got rooms at Schiff Hotel.  This hotel was on Ascona’s lake promenade so had the most wonderful view.

Paid a visit to Mrs Haimovitch (I think a friend from China) and as mom and dad liked Ascona so much, they decided we’d spend a few days here.

The next day was a Sunday and we all took it easy, apart from daddy who gave the car a «lavabo»!  I cracked up when I read that as all lavabo means is wash basin, if you go the secular route  😀

After coffee we all went to the Seeschloss Hotel to book rooms for the next few days as it recommended for longer stays!

We picked up Mrs Haimovitch after lunch and drove her to Lugano, where we all caught the tail end of the Traubenfest – the yearly wine festival 🙂  Stopped for tea then took Mrs Haimovitch back home before heading back to the hotel.

October 17 at the Albergo Castello Seeschloss Click to enlarge

On Monday morning mom packed our bags and off we went to the Seeschloss Hotel.  Was quite an impressive place, with turrets like a castle, so far more exciting to stay there than the Schiff 😉

Had lunch and then we drove to Locarno, where dad hired a projector for the day so that we could show Mrs Haimovitch the slides dad had taken so far.

Went to Mrs H’s place and had tea/coffee together with “lepyoshkis” while we watched the slides.

Lepyoshki were blobs of donut-sized of dough deep fried in oil and my mother used to make them for  my father in HK.  I never enjoyed them but she made themfor my kids when they headed to their grandparents’ house after school. You can have them with jam or plain … always delicious  😀

After the slide show finished, we packed up, said goodbye to Mrs H and headed back to the Seeschloss.  After our dinner there, dad mentioned that the meals we had at the Seeschloss restaurant were absolutely delicious and so much better than we had at the Schiff.

Mrs Haimovitch and her Weimaraner with mom, Lindy and me

It seems to have been a set menu … hors d’oeuvres or soup, a meat dish (usually veal) with potatoes and cooked vegetables as well as lettuce, followed by a dessert.  The first dessert we were served was a disappointment as they were just grapes, however the following nights we had ice cream with glacé fruit (eech) or baked apple with jam and crushed walnuts!

The next day, Tuesday the 13th, we went to Locarno after breakfast and did some shopping and in the afternoon went to take Mrs Haimovitch out for a drive but her doctor arrived just as we got there so we had to go driving on our own.

We drove alongside the lake to the Italian border then turned back. Dad parked by the hotel and we walked to Ascona’s main street to have drinks at a cafe. The heavens opened when we started back for the hotel so we were soaked by the time we got back.  Dried off then went down for dinner.  Lindy and I came up afterwards to crash while mom and dad stayed downstairs and enjoyed having a DOM with their coffee.

Wednesday dawned grey and drizzly so we walked to the Lido then came back to the hotel. Had a lovely lunch then just took it easy in our rooms.  Dad and Lindy wrote letters, mom was lying on the bed reading and I was apparently cutting everyone’s hair!  😮

At 3 we drove to Mrs H’s place and took her to Locarno. Mom and I went shopping while dad, Lindy and Mrs H had tea at a cafe until we joined them.  Took Mrs H home and stayed with her for while before returning to the hotel.

Our dinner was a lovely schnitzel stuffed with ham and cheese – dad said that all our main courses were brought to the table on a heater and after we finish our meal, the waiter always asked us if we had enough.  Dad mused about what would happen if one of us said “no, we were still hungry”!  LOL!

Woke up on Thursday with it pouring and no sign of a break 🙁  Mom, dad and I went into town to mail the letters and also to buy some clothes, then we came back for lunch.  The rain didn’t stop so we went back to our rooms afterwards and mooched about until 3:30, when we went to Locarno to send a parcel off to Valia.

Got back to Ascona, tidied up and the picked up Mrs H and took her to the Aerodrome Cafe for their speciality BBQ chicken dinner.  I was amazed to see that the restaurant was still there and still specialising in grilled (alla griglia) meats!  It’s now Ristorante Da Nani on via Aerodrome in Ascona! It’s great to find somewhere which was around 64 years ago, when we were there!  Super cool  😀

After we finished, we took Mrs H home and got back to the hotel by 10pm.  The rain had stopped and the sky was clear and starry, promising good weather tomorrow!

Unfortunately Friday the 16th dawned wet and windy so poor daddy didn’t get as many photos taken as he had hoped 🙁

Did some shopping which included salted cucumbers and salami and we ate all of that before our lunch, which included ravioli, fried fish and apple frits for lunch!  All that rain makes for big appetites, methinks 😉

Had a siesta then picked up Mrs H and took her to Locarno, where mom went on another shopping spree.  Had tea afterwards then took Mrs H home.  Daddy was waxing eloquent about the food all around us … sighing about the varieties of sausages and other smoked goods, and all the tempting confectioneries.  He said it was a gourmet’s paradise 😀

There was a little bit of sunshine the next day so we went for a drive before lunch. After that we headed to Locarno for more shopping and at 4pm we went to Mrs H’s for tea. Back for dinner then poor mom had to start packing our bags in preparation of our departure on Monday.

When we all woke up on Sunday, we were disappointed to see rain splattering on the windows again but we managed to drive on the lake then rested after lunch. More driving after a siesta, this time we went to Bellinzola for afternoon tea, then we went to Mrs H’s for more tea and met Anna Petrovna.

Click to enlarge

Who is this Anna Petrovna?  I have no idea but dad said that she had been in Switzerland since before WWI!

More rain on Monday the 19th when my folks packed up the car and drove to Mrs H’s to say goodbye and by 10 we were on our way to Milan via Lugano and Chiasso.


Milano ~ October 19-21

« Ruled by the Caesars, Napoleon, the Austro-Hungarians and Mussolini, Milan has an ancient and fascinating cultural history. Mercantile Milan invented the idea of the city-state and the Edict of Milan (AD 313) ended the persecution of Christians. Art collections old and new mark the genius of Old Masters and provoke new conversations about where the world is headed. Prestigious nights at La Scala and an illustrious literary heritage are balanced by a diverse contemporary music and publishing scene.» [Source: The Lonely Planet]

Found rooms at the Hotel Colombia on Via Carlo Tenca and mom and dad got the room with the bath, while Lindy and my room was bath-less but no big deal, we could scurry from their room to ours all squeaky clean after having our bath!

Duomo di Milano Click to enlarge

Had lunch at a restaurant across the road then went for a walk to take in the sights of Milan. Unfortunately we all seemed to have come down with colds after the grotty weather in Ascona so we dragged our bodies back to the hotel, all had baths and then crashed!

Tuesday, October 20, was daddy’s 43 birthday!  We gave him a box of Cuban Coronas and cash 🙂  Then we headed to the Duomo di Milano (Milan’s cathedral) then took a look at Picasso’s exhibition, which dad said was a total waste of money!

Then we trudged over to La Scala Opera House and dad bought tickets for the concert that night so after dinner, he and mom said goodbye to us and trotted off to La Scala to see Respighli played by a 23 year-old, Finney’s cantata for choir and Kodály’s danzas Galánta.  My father said that the cantata was written in a modern style, which didn’t impress him at all, but Kodály’s danzas was most impressive.

Firenze ~ October 21-22

«Florence is made for walking, which suits me perfectly, but what never ceases to amaze me is its overwhelming beauty. It’s impossible not to be completely and utterly seduced by the sheer size and grandeur of Brunelleschi’s red cathedral dome on Piazza del Duomo; by the sensual beauty of a stash of lesser-known Michelangelo sculptures that no one really talks about (forget David – Dawn and Dusk sends shivers down my spine); by the hopelessly romantic city light that turns the Arno and its bridges into a portfolio of Turner canvases during my early-morning runs. Swoon.» [Source: The Lonely Planet]

Left Milan at 10 for Florence and the road was heavy with trucks. Ate lunch at an Auto Hotel just before Parma and then headed off, and just after Bologna the road went up to 3000 ft.  It was mom’s turn to drive and, of course, there had to be fog up there!  Poor mama – she always copped the lousy weather 😮

Daddy remarked that this part of Italy still showed the scars from the war 🙁

The going was slow and 10 miles before Florence, dad had to take over as it got dark, even though it was only 5:30pm.

Just before getting to the town on the via Bologna, we found the Villa Natalia and decided to stop there for the night. It was a most unusual place with huge rooms furnished in Chinese style and a beautiful garden.

Apparently in those days all hotels had to take the details of people’s passports, as well as when people cashed travellers’ cheques.

Roma ~ October 22-26

«Few cities can rival Rome’s astonishing artistic heritage. Throughout history, the city has starred in the great upheavals of Western art, drawing the top artists of the day and inspiring them to push the boundaries of creative achievement. The result is a city awash with priceless treasures. Ancient statues adorn world-class museums; Byzantine mosaics and Renaissance frescoes dazzle in the city’s art-rich churches; baroque facades flank medieval piazzas. Walk around the centre and without even trying you’ll come across masterpieces by the giants of Western art – sculptures by Michelangelo, canvases by Caravaggio, Raphael frescoes and fountains by Bernini.» [The Lonely Planet]

We left Villa Natalia at 9:45 and drove along a windy road which cut through high hills, passing through medieval towns.  Stopped for lunch at Albergo Roma then sped on to Rome.

The scenery changed and we drove past arid hills. After Viterbo the road straightened out and by 3:30 we approached Rome.  Dad directed mom towards the centre of the city and they stopped at the Hotel Alexandra, near the Piazza Barberini, where dad got rooms.

The same family has managed the Alexandra Hotel since 1910. It sits directly on the Via Veneto within walking distance of the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain.

Poor mom and dad were pretty tired after their day driving in Italian traffic so we just found a ristorante with a very absent minded waiter to have dinner after we had a little walk around, then we came back to the hotel and everyone crashed,

The next day we went to the Coliseum (aka Colosseum) and were overwhelmed with awe at the structure 😮   All those terraces and underground rooms – it was incredible!

Then we walked to the Forum and dad said we were talking about what life was like there when Caesar was emperor.

We had lunch at a trattoria then went to see the “wedding cake” … the nickname given to the Monument to Victor Emanuel II, which dad thought was a magnificent piece of architecture, before heading up to Capitoline Hill for a wander around.

To give our feet a rest, daddy hired a horse-driven carriage to take us down the Appian Way and we stopped at a chapel where there were a replica of Jesus Christ’s footprints, then carried on for a while more to the Domitilla catacombs.  These particular catacombs were, in 1953, in the process of being excavated but at that time, they were four storeys and 27m deep.  A priest escorted us through the catacombs and told us as much as he knew at the time about the place.

Got back to the hotel around 6pm and on the way back we saw people living in caves, similar to those we saw in caves when we drove to Rome from Florence. We all agreed that the carriage drive was fabulous and really enjoyed seeing all those ancient monuments!

The next day, Saturday the 24th, mom took us girls to get our hair done while dad took care of business before meeting up with us.  We all went to Thomas Cook’s office where dad reserved rooms at Albergo Colombia in Geneoa, a hotel we were very impressed with when in Genoa back in May, then had lunch at some new ristorante.  Got back to the hotel and were dismayed to hear that all museums in the Vatican closed at 2pm and all day on Sundays  😮

Even though the weather turned dull and drizzly, daddy decided we should go and have a look at the Basilica St Paul Outside the Walls by bus.  Daddy waxed eloquently about the beauty of the church and how the tranquility made it easy to sit and pray; however then a busload of noisy tourists came and were buying postcards and souvenirs from the priests, which spoiled the mood of the place.

By the time we got back to the hotel we were soaked so the folks left Lindy and me at the hotel to dry up while he and mom went back to Cook’s to get the confirmation of the hotel booking in Genoa. They came to get us and we had dinner at the same place as the last night, then we went back to the hotel to crash after a busy day!

Sunday saw us trekking to St Peter’s Basilica and dad remarked how the place looked less impressive in real life than in photos but the inside was amazing or, as my youngest girl would say, amazballs  😀  Beautiful mosaics, gold, marble, we walked around with our mouths open at the stunning interior and ornaments.

Lunched at a trattoria nearby then mom and dad took us back to the hotel before going to the Ponte Sant’Angelo where they visited the Castello Sant’Angelo, which they also enjoyed,

Got a bus back to Fontana di Trevi and both mom and dad threw coins into the fountain when they made their wishes. Got back to the hotel, rested then we all went out for dinner at our favourite ristorante with the forgetful waiter.  Apparently we were all laughing at the way our waiter was trying to understand the Japanese tourists who were ordering food from him!

The weather on Monday the 26th was hideous!  Thunder and lightning during the night made for a lousy night for all of us and when dad got the car out of the garage and brought it to the hotel entrance in the morning, the sky was black as night  🙁

Had breakfast, said goodbye to the staff and headed to the Vatican as dad wanted to see the Sistine Chapel.  Got soaking wet getting to the museum entrance but dad got to see what he wanted to see and I must say we were all in awe of the ceiling Michelangelo painted!

Headed out of Rome and found ourselves in a long queue of cars as the road was flooded 😮

The rain was pouring down, the sky was black as onyx, and dad was not happy about driving in those conditions but he carried on and after a few scares on the flooded road, we broke through and got onto a “dry” road.  After about an hour’s drive, the rain was behind us and mom and dad’s spirits improved!

We stopped for lunch at Grosseto and after that, the road went along the coast and we could see Elba. Mom wanted to carry on to Pisa but dad suggested we stopped in Livorno.

Found accommodation at the Palazzo Hotel, a luxurious hotel facing the Tyrrhenian Sea.  We went for a walk along the beautiful esplanade and took deep breaths of the bracing sea air! 🙂

Went back to the hotel and had a lovely dinner in the hotel before heading to our rooms to crash!

The next morning we had a very lazy start to the day and trotted down for breakfast around 9:30 then packed up the car and headed off to Pisa, only a short drive away.

Pisa ~ October 27

«Once a maritime power to rival Genoa and Venice, Pisa now draws its fame from an architectural project gone terribly wrong. But the world-famous Leaning Tower is just one of many noteworthy sights in this compelling city. Education has fuelled the local economy since the 1400s, and students from across Italy compete for places in its elite university.» [The Lonely Planet]

When we got there, dad took some photos of the leaning tower and we all marvelled at the architecture and construction of the tower and the surrounding buildings.  It was a dull day but no problems on the road so after mooching around Pisa, we headed to La Spezia for lunch.

Daddy said that the towns along the coast were much nicer than the ones we saw inland but after we left La Spezia with mom driving, the road took us to Passo del Bracco …

Up we went into the Appennine mountains and it was like we were back in Switzerland.  😮  We were up in the clouds but 30 miles before Genoa, dad took over driving as the road was narrow and windy.

It was quite something to think that the road we were on, SS1 also called Aurelia, was a coast road built by the Romans but it had to climb 600m up to the Passo del Bracco to get us to Genoa!

We passed landslides on the side of the road and we all were relieved that our driving in Italy was coming to an end as the weather really wasn’t that nice.

Genova ~ October 27-30

While Henry James described Genoa as ‘the most winding and incoherent of cities’, his French counterpart Gustav Flaubert declared it had ‘a beauty that tears the soul’. Italy‘s largest sea port is indefatigably contradictory, full at once of grandeur, squalor, sparkling light and deep shade. But a gateway to the Riviera for many travellers today, a weighty architectural heritage speaks of its former glory. The Most Serene Republic of Genoa ruled over the Mediterranean waves during the 12th to the 13th centuries and its emblematic flag, the red cross of St George, was greedily hijacked by the upstart English.

History feels alive in Genoa, and no more so in its extensive old city, a tightly twisting maze of narrow caruggi (laneways), largely intact and a compelling, if often confronting, reminder of pre-modern life. Emerge blinking from its dank heart to Via Garibaldi and the splendid Enlightment-era gold-leaf halls of the Unesco-annointed Palazzi dei Rolli.  [Source: The Lonely Planet]

Got into Genoa at 5pm, found our way to via Balbi 40 and by 6 we were installed in the Colombia Hotel.

This hotel was mighty swish – elegant and so gorgeous with the high ceilings, marble floors and sweeping staircase!

While researching it, I found out that Princess Grace and Prince Ranier of Monaco stayed there in 1957 and then the Beatles stayed there in 1965!  And, not to forget, the famous Parks family stayed there in 1953 – LOL!! 😀  Sadly the hotel closed but the building now holds the Biblioteca Universitaria di Genova – the University of Genoa’s library!

Had breakfast in our room then we all went to the Lloyd Triestino office to enquire about the embarkation times before heading back to the hotel before going out again for lunch at Ristorante Il Principe, an “osteria” opposite the old port in the fish market.

We toodled back to the hotel after lunch while mom and dad went shopping for Lindy’s brithday present.  Dad was musing in his diary that he wondered if the weather was bad since we arrived in Italy or if we brought it with us from Ascona!!  He also remarked he was extremely glad that our driving in Italy had come to the end 😀

The folks got back from their shopping session and, as the weather was so foul, dad said that we would have dinner at the restaurant in the hotel.  He didn’t comment if the meal was good but did comment on the cost of it!  LOL!  😀

October 29th was a Thursday and we all sang “Happy Birthday” to Lindy in the morning.  We got a beautiful ladybug brooch, a slip and mail from Hong Kong, which dad picked up at the Lloyd Triestino office.

During the morning mom and Lindy went shopping while dad and I went to the post office and did other mundane things.  We met up for lunch, which dad said was delicious with lobster and other shellfish, then we all went to see «Quo Vadis» at the movies.

After the movies we wandered around while dad bought pound sterling for the ship and did other last minute shopping before having a cheap but lousy meal at a trattoria and then came back to the hotel. Dad said he was anxious about the embarkation process but was relieved that our continental driving had come to an end!

Heading back to Hong Kong tomorrow!!  Ai yah!  😀

Dad was up early on Friday the 30th and after getting ready, he woke up us sleepy heads and then went off to get the car and pay all the bills at the hotel.

We left Albergo Colombia after breakfast and headed to the wharf to get the car and luggage cleared, went through passport control and were on board the Victoria by 10:30am.  There were a few tense sessions when dad had to get the rest of the fuel emptied from the car, then found the case of Chianti he’d ordered and paid hadn’t been delivered so he had to hightail it to the shop and carry it back to the ship but apart from those two incidents, the rest of the time was spent inspecting the ship.

The folks were very impressed with the ship and thought it was absolutely luxurious compared to the Antilochus!  Well it would have been – one being a freighter and the other a passenger ship 😀

October 30 ~ Arrivederci Italia, ciao la bella nave “Victoria”!

















Home » -- The Continent ~ Sept 2 to Oct 30 » 1953 September 2 to October 30 ~ The Continent

1953 September 2 to October 30 ~ The Continent

Photos of the various places we visited when driving around the Continent before we got on board the ship to head back to HK!
Nov 11 Bombay.2.jpg

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