Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Mother traveled to Europe in the mid 1960s, she was the talk of the town!

Mother traveled to Europe in the mid 1960s, she was the talk of the town!

Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 12:29 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 25
Mother traveled to Europe in the mid 1960s, she was the talk of the town!

I was just going through some of my Mothers scrap books and enjoyed reading about her trip to Europe in the mid 1960s. She reported she was the talk of the town we lived in at that time because no one else in town went to Europe, especially without their husbands. When she decided to go without my father, everyone was acting like it was a scandal.

It cost her about $400 to fly to Paris and Rome in mid April but her Hotels were dirt cheap. They looked nice and cost only about $20 a night. The American dollar was king back then. I looked up the hotels she stayed at and many are still in business and costs about $250 a night now. I am sure they have been remodeled.

Anyone with a story of traveling to Europe in the 50s or 60s?
distant_traveler is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 12:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 41,927
Yes, I travelled without my husband to France in the 60's. Interesting thing is that some of my friends were members of women's Lib. and they voiced the most surprise? disapproval? who cares, tant pis!
cigalechanta is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 12:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,313

My mom's trip actually started with a ride with a friend of a friend out to San Francisco (from Wash DC). She couldn't drive, but she did keep the driver awake, she said. Once out there, she lived in Haight-Ashbury area (circa 1967), and hired on as a nanny/au pair for a woman who was in Scientology.

After a couple months, the woman moved to Spain and then England, taking mom with her. Mom took some classes in Scientology during this time, and then met my dad (he taught some classes) in Saint Hill near London. They had a torrid affair (mom mentioned the only place they had that was private was the B&B bathroom, tiny!) and I was conceived - then dad returned to Minnesota and his wife. He didn't know about me.

Mom lived in Edinburgh for about 6 months with friends, then went to stay in Copenhagen with more friends, had me, and moved back to Dearborn, MI, baby in tow. Needless to say my grandparents were QUITE surprised!!! (and a bit miffed about the surprise!)

Mom raised me with their help, and I searched for dad for many years - finally found him about 7 years ago (I was 30). He was divorced, he and mom got back together, and got married 4 years ago. Mom had never even dated anyone else. They got married on the Starship Enterprise in Las Vegas - complete with a Klingon witness.

They are now living happily ever after with us in Florida.

For the full story with pics, go here:

GreenDragon is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 12:39 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,357
Not personally as I didn't arrive til the mid 60's But my grandparents went on quite the adventure in 1970. They went around the world for 2 years solid...with my aunt who was a paraplegic. After our European travels, I am in awe of how they did this. Plus, my aunt stayed in Germany for a while and earned another degree. I loved hearing their stories, but also the inspiration that it gives to this day.
mms is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 12:44 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,247
We first traveled to Europe in 1966 and have been fortunater enough to be able to go back at least once a year ever since and ttwice a year for the last 15 years.

I know our whole 2 weeks in London , staying on Russell Square and eating well did not cost as much as I just paid for 2 airline tickets for next month.It was the first time I'd ever encountered using the tube and I thought it was the greatest thing in the world!

We were lucky to meet some family members who were getting on in years and my DH had heard about but never met.
jody is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 01:08 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,525
My wife, with 3 sorority sisters, drove all over Europe in 1957 for 12 weeks. Now that was gutsy. We went back in 1961.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 01:11 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 20
I,too, enjoyed Europe in the summer of 1959 along with 5 other singles ladies from ages 16-50. We were a group that left Louisiana, flew to NY, and then boarded the SS Independence headed for Spain. We were met by our 26 year old Austria guide with a Volkswagen bus. We spent more than 6 weeks traveling to 10 countries. I was a first year teacher who borrowed the money from my Dad to make the trip. Yes, then the dollar was really king. It was an experience of a lifetime. Our 3 children have spent summers studyng in Italy and exploring other countries. My husband and I continue travel to Europe and this year we marked our 50th visit and I finally got to see the Pyrmaids! At our age we can't put travel off!!!
ktravels is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 01:38 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 250
I went to Europe for the first time in the mid 60's. It was a magical trip. A college friend and I had small suitcases ( a couple changes of underwear, a shirtwaist dress(does anyone remember those?), two tops and a skirt, spare shoes, a nightgown, sweater, raincoat and toothbrush) for two months. We had Frommers (sorry!) Europe on $5 a Day and really did it on that budget. For us $5 included room, meals, and sights and local transportation( busses, trams and the tube in London). Our rooms never cost us more than $2.80 a night, usually in the $.75 to 1.50 range. Of course shower and toilet were down the hall or even down a flight or two of stairs, but always clean (well pretty much) and safe. The matresses may have been a bit lumpy, but at that age, one can sleep on anything. The rooms were tiny, as in two narrow beds or narrow double, straight chair, maybe a sink, and no room for suitcases. We put them in front of the door at bedtime and when we got up, put them on the bed.

I was fortunate to be able to go back in the late 60's when I had a job teaching in a boarding school in Ireland. I lived in as house mother, but when I got out, a blowout special meal at the Shelburne Hotel and train into Dublin only cost $3 or less! Of course I was only making a thousand dollars for the year.

I am glad to be able to have an ensuite room these days and afford a good meal once in a while.
teacher33 is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 01:54 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 12,188
teacher33, that's an interesting point about your salary and the meal cost. If someone had a modest $30,000 salary today, the equivalent meal cost would be $90.

I have a travel book from 1972 (or actually the library has it) which listed the cost of luxury 5* Rome hotels like the Hassler as about $25 USD/night.
WillTravel is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 02:03 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 22,067
My French grandmother, who didn't speak English and who lived in a village of fewer than 1000 people, came to the United States alone by ship and train, to visit her only daughter (my mother) in Mississippi in 1949, 1952, 1960, 1965. In 1970 she dragged my grandfather onto a plane to visit us (now in California). No trips to the U.S. from 1972 to 1981 when my parents moved to France, but she was off to Florida (where my parents had moved) in 1986 and 1990 (age 88 at that time). Truly a determined woman, yet who served my grandfather like a slave until the day she died -- except when she decided that it was time to visit her daughter.
kerouac is online now  
Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 02:41 PM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 2,850
GreenDragon -

What an amazing story! It's almost like that TV show on PBS "As Time Goes By" except they did not have a child. Your story is even better!
LCBoniti is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 02:44 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 2,238
Wow, Green Dragon, I must admit that is QUITE the story! Particularly the last part, with the Kling-on witnesses at the wedding-don't believe you could make that one up!
Girlspytravel is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 02:48 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 12,073
I too had Frommer's "Europe on $5 a Day," and then a couple of years later--on "$10 a Day." I went to Europe for the first time in 1965, when I began teaching for the Dept. of Defense.

I remember the first very daring woman I saw get on a plane in slacks/pants. Back then we traveled in dresses, nylons, the whole works.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 02:58 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,247
a shirtwaist dress

Of course we remember that ..it was a Villager!
jody is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 03:25 PM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 3,221
What a coincidence. This subject came up indirectly in the airlines forum when a poster brought up the subject of the increasing use of 757s to Europe these days. I mentioned I didn't like them because, in part, they reminded me of the 707s and DC8s that we flew in the 1960s. Of couse, back then they were the only and best way to go.

I first went to Europe the summer of 1969 during college. Air fare was $350 (RT from Houston to London with refueling stops in Bangor, ME). Got the tickets through my college's travel agency and was considered a huge bargain. Hate to think what that translates to in today's dollars.

Went with my best friend from high school and got a 3 month Eurail Pass. Spent plenty of nights on the train to save on hotel bills. We used Frommer's Europe on $5 a day as a guide, but decided to really splurge and budgeted for $10 a day. Was amazing what we did for that - included all meals, hotels, local transportation, museums, art galleries, gifts, etc. And we really didn't go super low budget - no hostels, no skipping meals, etc. The only place we couldn't manage was Paris - it was $20 a day. What a budget breaker! But even there we had a very decent hotel on the Seine across from Notre Dame with private bath for $20. Still hard to believe.

I had just had 2 yrs of Italian in college and my friend had 3 yrs of French (and my father was of German heritage) so we had no major language probems - except for a few embarassing moments I'm not even going to mention).

I remember being in Rome in July 1969 when we landed on the moon. Still have Rome's newspaper which had only one word on the entire front page: "LUNA" ("moon" in Italian). After dozens of trips to Europe since, I still don't remember being as befriended by total strangers as an American as that week. [Things really do change].

The visits to places in what was then the Eastern Block at the time was an experience that still shapes some of my perceptions and ideas.

I still consider it one of the most amazing, mind-expanding, culturally edifying, enjoyable trips I've ever taken, and credit it with my and DW's attitude of taking our daughter to as many places around the world as we can - and sending her to some places we haven't been.
dfr4848 is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 03:52 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 5,130
Thanks, all. What lovely stories.
stokebailey is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 05:30 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,428
My 2 sisters and I sailed on the Statendam out of NYC in 1965 and off to Europe for the summer. My sister bought a new VW bug for $1500. We drove all over Europe without hotel reservations. We went into cities, through the country side and drove to Prague, behind the iron curtain. We put the car on the S.S. Statendam in Rotterdam and sailed back to NYC at the end of August. The car came off the ship and off we drove home to upstate NY. I was in college at the time and I think the other students were envious because I did not have to work that summer. What a great Dad I had. That is the trip that got my travel bug going.
yipper is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 09:35 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 250
Jody, Yes it was a Villager--found it at a secondhand shop near campus. In those days all my clothes were secondhand (thrift shop or handmedowns from a welltodo cousin) or sewn by me on an old singer treadle machine. I remember being particularly delighted with that find.

Recently my niece was looking at my scrapbook and asked, "Are you sure you really went to Europe? You and your friend have the same clothes on in all the pictures. I bet you just stood in front of pictures of famous places."

Green Dragon has the best story of all on this thread. I just read the complete version on her website. It made me cry. Thank you, Green dragon, for sharing.
teacher33 is offline  
Old Oct 4th, 2007, 03:05 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,604
In 1966 my family flew to Scotland on a charter flight on Air Scotia. My father had been downsized from his job at an ad agency in NYC and decided we would take his severance money and fly to Europe for the summer. I was 12 and while I was very excited about going to Europe, I was less than excited about being with my parents for 2 months in a VW Squareback (that we bought in Brussels). It turned out to be a fantastic experience and I still have the home movies of our travels.

We had to join the "Scotia Club" to get in on the plane tickets via Scotia Air to Glasgow. The plane took off from a off airport runway at JFK. It was a big old propjet. It took 12 hours to get to Glasgow. We circled continuously over JFK on departure because the jet was so loaded with fuel and luggage and we needed to reach altitude. The cabin air system failed and it was suffocating and the teenage girls behind us were both airsick and using their "barf bags". The plane was loaded with old Scottish women flying home to visit relatives.

Eventually we landed and made our way down through Scotland and England, across the Channel on the slow ferry (that's all there was then) and trained over to Brussels where we purchased a VW squareback. We drove through Belgium to Germany to Switzerland where we rented an apartment in Meyrin, Switzerland, outside of Geneva. We made the apartment our base for a month. From there we traveled to Italy and parts of France before heading South through France and back up to Paris. The car was shipped back to the USA from Le Harvre and we flew back to London and then up to Edinburgh and finally back to Glasgow to fly back on Scotia Air (same plane. My memories of departing the airport in Glasgow are of a mad, tired, mass of old Scottish ladies running on the tarmack in a driving rain storm to make it to the plane stairs to claim a seat as we had been told, after a long delay that some of the seats had been removed from the plane and it was every "man or woman for themselves". I ended up in a seat that didn't recline at all and slept in a dramamine induced sleep almost all the way home. It was a trip to remember.

My next trip to Europe was 32 years later and I haven't stopped traveling since.
opaldog is offline  
Old Oct 4th, 2007, 03:43 AM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 760
Not sure how accurate they are, but I checked a couple of websites that convert currencies replaced by the Euro to today's values. In the 1960s, you got about 4.9 francs to the dollar. According to these websites you'd get about 4.7 to the dollar today--only a 4% drop in the dollar value.
Jake1 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information