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Share your memories of travel in days gone by

Share your memories of travel in days gone by

Aug 27th, 2001, 05:27 AM
  #21  
Ben Haines
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The Golden Arrow Pullman service from Dover to Victoria in 1950. An examinee had shot at my father (professor of anatomy) during a viva, and broken his upper arm. A nurse, he and I took ship to Venice, sleeper to Calais, the Channel ferry, and the Golden Arrow. The nurse had whispered in the ear of the uniformed Pullman waiters, my father lay sleeping painfully in the central aisle, and they stepped over him as they served afternoon tea from silver trays.

In 1957 there was a night boat from Vienna to Melk, very slow indeed, and after a sound sleep and good coffee at breakfast I landed in front of the splendid abbey.

In 1965 the land journey from London via Baku and Kabul to Karachi had much to remember. I'll select the inspector in the sleeper at the Soviet frontier at two in the morning who checked every book I had, in case it was a Bible, and the inspector at the port of the Shah's Iran who checked every book I had, in case it was Communist. Also, the transit from easternmost Iran to Herat in the cab of an oil tanker, for which I waited 14 hours at the frontier, on the floor.

In 1967 or so I took my second train from Zahedan in Iran to Quetta in Pakistan, the weekly passenger train. At the Pakistani frontier, as I strolled one way along the platform, two staff of Pakistani Railways, in starched and spotless whites with polished brass buttons, strolled in the opposite direction. As we came face to face the senior man said "Mr Haines, welcome to my train". It had been two years since my previous journey on his train.

But enough nostalgia. Plenty is new to charm us, including fine new hotel trains, with showers and restaurant cars, from Paris to Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Venice, Florence, and Rome, and the beautiful and cheap Baroque cities and towns of the Hapsburg empire, from Prague to Lviv, from Krakow to Cluj Napoca. And not all the old charmers are gone: I think of the slow boats on the Thames, the Rhine from Koblenz to Mainz, and the Danube from Passau to Vienna (though not all that length of Danube in a day, of course).

Ben Haines, London
 
Aug 27th, 2001, 05:48 AM
  #22  
ilisa
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Escritora and kimbuys, you make me laugh. We used to travel all the time from NY and NJ to Florida. Stuckey's and South of the Border bring back fond memories. I used to think it was the funniest thing to drive through Pedro's neon legs. And those billboards!
 
Aug 27th, 2001, 07:38 AM
  #23  
SFE
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Escritoria - Thanks for your explanation of what a White Russian really is. I appreciate your clarification.
 
Aug 27th, 2001, 09:12 AM
  #24  
John
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Not Euro memories but it sure feels like another era –

First, riding a DC-6B from LAX (which my dad still occasionally called "Miles Field") to Idyllwild Airport (aka JFK) via this godforsaken patch of prairie in the Illinois boonies called "O'Hara" Field by the flight attendant, who was actually still called a stewardess. Really I think the only purpose for O’Hare then was to refuel cross-country United flights, everything else still went through Midway. Traveling with my folks, (Pop was on a business trip) we stayed at some Plaza or other in Midtown, did all the touristy things, and actually saw three plays, “My Fair Lady,” “West Side Story” and one other, but were those the days on Broadway or what? Plus it was cold (we lived in LA so everything was cold) and people talked funny, and we went to the automat. O Brave New World…

Second, riding the AT&SF Super Chief from Chicago to LA in the dead of winter. Sheets in the sleeping compartment and table cloths in the diner with so much starch they felt like china, roses in bud vases and a starched (always African-American) steward walking through the train with a set of chimes announcing meals. Cocktails in the lounge car, man, that was travel.
 
Aug 27th, 2001, 11:04 AM
  #25  
Neal Sanders
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Escritora, change s. fowler’s 1958 robin’s-egg-blue Ford to a green 1955 Pontiac (un-air-conditioned, of course) and you have the annual Sanders family summer sojourns between Miami, Florida and the cooler climes of Augusta, Georgia circa 1955-60. Imagine carrying a huge round Scotch cooler with you, jammed with a three-day supply of bologna sandwiches on white bread, wrapped in wax paper; thermoses of lukewarm iced tea; and homemade sugar cookies, soggy from the humidity. Stop at a motel? Not as long as there were relatives spaced every two hundred miles (which is why it took three days to travel 600 miles). To this day I still haven’t a clue as to who those relatives were.

As to European travel, Elvira and I probably spied one another across some piazza that summer of 1969, when I made my first trip to Europe. I flew the “hippie express” aka Icelandic Airways for $199 and spent those three weeks filching rolls from the dining cars of trains, when I wasn’t getting lost on the streets of every country where a student Eurail pass was valid. I remember wonderful people who were friendly to me even though they had no reason to be. Mostly, though, I remember seeing in person those places that had been only photos in books and magazines; an experience that transcends the decades for any first-time traveler.

Have we lost what you called "charms" along the way? We roamed a less crowded planet, certainly. The Cote d'Azur of 1954's "To Catch a Thief" bears little resemblance to the cheek-by-jowl vacation "villas" that line the Mediterranean today. But I'll take my sleeper seat getting there, thank you; and a hotel with bathroom "en suite" with water pressure sufficient to ease my aching muscles after a long day exploring.
 
Aug 27th, 2001, 11:28 AM
  #26  
Ruth
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Family holidays in Ireland, 1960s.
Taking the car ferry from Liverpool to Dublin - no such thing as drive-on drive-off then - I remember seeing our family car being driven on to nets, then winched off the quay into the hold of the ship! We would be allowed to board some time later.
 
Aug 27th, 2001, 12:24 PM
  #27  
Merilee
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My mother was a Pan Am employee for over 35 years...I can remember when people "dressed up" to travel and being an airline pilot or stewardess (please forgive the politically incorrect term) were considered very respectable and glamorous careers. Now it's comparable to riding a city bus. Anyway, this a memory I have of flying during the '60's.
 
Aug 27th, 2001, 02:29 PM
  #28  
Bob
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My wife and I lived in Germany in 1970-1971...not that long ago. We still get back to Europe frequently and have noticed the changes through the years:

In 70/71 you could not find a fast food burger joint in Germany. Now they are everywhere.

We stayed in a very nice room in Paris for $12.00 per night. London was also $12.00 per night and the plays all ran about $5.00 for a good seat. Try that today.

Telephone calls home very very expensive. No cell phones or email made communication to the States more difficult.

Our first visit to Rome was July 1971. We could walk up to the statue of Mary holding Jesus as it was placed at the entrance to St Peter's. It was attacked by a madman in 1974 and now must be viewed behind glass for protection. That is a simple commentary on life in 2001 versus 1971.

You could walk up into the leaning Tower of Pisa and take pictures.

You did not see as many tourists as you do today and the ones you did see were dressed much better. Today they all look as if they worked hard to look bad.The word comfortable always seems to come up on this site as if people have not figured out that good quality clothes will always last longer and be more comfortable than the cheap stuff. Plus quality costs less in the long run.

The German autobahn system continued to get better. We had to drive small country roads from Stuttgart to Rothenburg. Now it is all autobahn.

English is spoken just about everywhere. This was not the case in 1971.

We still enjoy Europe and enjoy seeing the changes. The funny thing in 1970 is that we both thought it would stay the same for us always. It makes you wonder what the next 30 years will bring.
 
Aug 27th, 2001, 04:18 PM
  #29  
Al
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My Dad bought a used 1936 Chevy in 1937 and we set out that year to see "The East Coast." From Chicago, via Detroit, Toronto, Niagara, Montreal, Boston, NYC, Washington, and home. We did it in 14 days. He did all the driving (my mother never learned to drive!) and the cost was...$100. She kept a daily journal, we stayed in what were called "tourist homes" (no motels then) and packed our stuff into suitcases that were slung on the car's runningboards behind a steel fence-like gizmo. Great memories. Then we headed west in '38 but that was another story.
 
Aug 27th, 2001, 08:33 PM
  #30  
Anikaspapa
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Escritora and SFE:
The term "White Russian" is used to describe BOTH those from Belarus and the loyalist (i.e. monarchist) during the revolution. The usages are independent of one another, but I feel certain that SFE's interpretation was correct as it relates to Nicholas, the Steward.
 
Aug 27th, 2001, 11:01 PM
  #31  
Karen
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We have a 1969 pattern here. That was also the summer of my first trip to Italy, in the company of the Italian grad student I would marry the year afterwards. We flew on a charter crammed full of other Columbia students. It left from a place called the North Terminal at JFK, a crowded and amenity-free place as I remember it, where hours of waiting seemed to be one of the prices we paid (gladly) for the cheap tickets. Certainly no one was dressed up, and the smell of pungent smoke from funny cigarettes was heavy in the cabin air. I remember arriving in Rome, by car, from Tuscany where his family lived and driving right up to the obelisk in St. Peter's square, parking the car right there (illegally, I am sure, but hey, the driver was Italian), and taking my first look at the Vatican and Rome. I think I still have a photo of me in my mini-skirt, leaning on his mother's Fiat 850 in front of that obelisk. After we moved to Rome in 1970, I had many flights home, including a most memorable one at Christmas time. Someone got me a super cheap ticket on Olympic Airways which involved a stopover in Paris. When I got to Paris from Rome, I found that the flight had been severely overbooked, and the only way to get to New York by Christmas (I think it was December 23, 1973) was on an El Al flight. This was during the days when El Al flights were being bombed and/or hijacked pretty regularly, but I was young, foolish, and homesick, so I signed on. Twelve hours later, I had gotten to know the Paris airport really well, purchased my first and only Hermes scarf, and gone through the most incredible security check I have ever, or probably will ever, experience. The El Al staff asked my to undress down to my underwear, examined the photos in my wallet, unwrapped each bar of the torrone I was bringing home to Mom, unpacked and re-packed every single item in every bag and suitcase, and asked me more times than I could believe "Why are you flying on El Al?" Anyway, I got to New York on an almost empty 747, sleeping across a row of four or five seats, in the company of a few Israeli families and many large muscular young Israeli men travelling alone and clearly friends with the stewardesses. Do you think they were security people? By then I felt perfectly safe!
 
Aug 28th, 2001, 12:34 AM
  #32  
Rhonda
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Imagine travelling from Australia back to the "old country" (UK) by ship. That was my first taste of travel in '66. To fly was prohibitively expensive! So much so my father didn't come with my mother, sister and brother. It was Mum's first trip 'home'.

People travelled with trunks; no such thing as a backpack in the 60s or earlier. The more stickers the better travelled. What fun trying to figure out where people had been to.

It took just under 4 weeks to get to the UK from Australia via the Suez Canal on P & O's Oriana. Just over 4 weeks return on the Oronsay (a slower ship).

I was 8 years old and will never forget the strange smells and my first view of poverty in Bombay, how exotic were the camels and people along the Suez, it was scarry to see men carrying guns in Aden, and froze climbing Mt Versuvius in a thin cotton dress and sandals with snow on the ground.

I saw my first ever submarine come to the surface on a grey day in the Red Sea. The lowest decks of the ship were filled coming home with immigrants from England and Italy. Every meal was in the dining room with a printed menu. This was definately slow travel.

The speed of travel today is supersonic and the time taken far shorter than in the past but perhaps that's the price we pay for travel being accessible to many many more people.
 
Aug 28th, 2001, 02:20 AM
  #33  
Rhonda
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Oops, to be pedantic, it took under 4 weeks Melbourne, Aus, to UK on Oriana and just over 4 weeks on Oronsay from Southhampton, UK back to Melbourne.

Thanks Escritora for this posting. It's brought so many deeply hidden memories to the surface. Oh yes, I remember seeing the Parthenon on a stinking hot day dressed in sailor dress matching my sister's, seeing snow falling for the first time in my life in Edinburgh,...etc etc.

I remember my Mum pannicking when my 4 year old brother couldn't be found on ship. No-one, staff nor my family could find him. The stuff nightmares are made of. Only now, as a parent, I realize how dangerous it was. We could have fallen over board SO MANY times doing what we weren't supposed to. My brother appeared later in the day having fallen asleep in the First Class cinema.

Thanks again. I now, finally, realize why travel has always been such a lure for me.
 
Aug 28th, 2001, 09:57 AM
  #34  
wes fowler
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Good lord, what memories you've resurrected! My first travel adventure in 1951 involved hitchhiking from Long Island, New York THROUGH New York City, up Rte 22 to Quebec and Montreal, west via the northern shore of Lake Ontario to Toronto, east on the Niagara peninsula to New York (picked peaches for a couple of days in Grimbsby, Ontario). Rode across upper New York in a panel truck with an Oklahoman family of cherry picking migrant workers. In appreciation for the ride, I filled their near empty gas tank at a cost of $3.00. Stayed a night in a flop house on Drummond Street, Montreal. Slept on a park bench in Tonawanda, New York. Met an extraordinary assortment of people from traveling salesmen driving 1946 Chevy coupes to long haul truckers, migrant workers, farmers and a few kind hearted though thoroughly eccentric little old ladies. Never rode or trod on a highway with more than two lanes; never stayed in a hotel, opting instead for "Rooms to let". Stopped in dozens of small town Carnegie libraries and history centers (usually white clapboard cottages just off a main street or town square)and usually staffed by some of those eccentric old ladies referred to earlier. Returned home after weeks on the road with a thirst for travel and an intense curiosity about the world and its peoples.

 
Aug 28th, 2001, 10:06 AM
  #35  
wes fowler
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As I was saying...I satisfied my thirst for travel with my first trip to Europe in 1960. KLM Super Constellation a propeller driven plane, from Idlewild airport in New York to Orly, Paris, via Shannon Ireland and Amsterdam. Stayed in the Hotel Palace Moderne, now a Holiday Inn on the Place de Republique and walked the city for three weeks. One late afternoon, I rented a chair from one of Paris' eccentric little old ladies and sat at the parapet by the Jeu de Palme and Orangerie on the western end of the Tuileries to watch the lights of Paris come on. Curbside, just at the base of the steps leading to the Tuileries, an elderly woman sold ice cream (glaces) from an immaculate, canary yellow push cart. Seven years later, with a new wife in tow, we sat on chairs (now no longer rented from eccentric little old ladies) near the same spot. Lo and behold..below us was the same woman, same immaculate yellow push cart, same sign indicating "Glaces" that I'd seen seven years prior.
 
Aug 28th, 2001, 10:14 AM
  #36  
sandi
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We've got boxes of Super 8mm movie film from the 50's thru the 80's of family vacations. I love watching us in the late 60's in Mexico (I was about 5 or 6) My older sister and brother bought sombreros (sp?) while the oldest brother bought a whip! He tormented us with that for years to come.
 
Aug 28th, 2001, 10:16 AM
  #37  
Mel
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Oh, South of the Border!!
My parents took all five of us kids from South Jersey to Florida in 1961 to visit my grandmother in West Palm Beach. Since all our previous vacations had consisted of the shore, the Poconos and my aunt's place in Ohio, this was a HUGE deal! Loaded us up in the 1957 Ford wagon (with wood on the sides) and took three days to get there! My teen-aged brothers were in the back of the wagon and my dad would yell back "Don't make me stop this car and bang your heads together!" (yes, Elvira, us, too!) every half hour or so. South of the Border was SO wonderful! I remember turning red at the risque items in the back and I kept watching to see if my mother would catch me looking!
When we got to WPB, my dad's left arm was so sunburned from leaning it out the windwow it blistered and he complained the entire time. On the way back, in Delaware (about 50 miles from home) he'd finally had it, stopped the car and DID bang my brother's heads together!

Thanks for the memories!
 
Aug 28th, 2001, 05:03 PM
  #38  
imaginaryfriends
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re: those parental threats to kids fighting in the back seat of the station wagon on long family-vacation drives brought back a memory of an early come-uppance I received:

When I was young, in the 1950's, my family went on many long driving vacations. At the time, my little sister had an "imaginary friend" that went with her everywhere. Once, after too many long days in the back of the car listening to her talk to her imaginary friend, I, as an obnoxious big brother, "threw" her imaginary friend out the window and laughed uproariously about it while she cried (hey, I said I was obnoxious).

Well my sister had the last laugh: my mother pulled the car over to the side of the highway and made me get out to go find and pick up the imaginary friend! I have never felt quite so ridiculous in my life, wandering down the side of the highway, pretending to pick up the imaginary friend and bring her back to my sister's arms. It was a valuable lesson I must say, and I have never again thrown any person, real or imaginary, from a moving vehicle.

 
Aug 28th, 2001, 05:32 PM
  #39  
Linda
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Oh, the laughs and memories. My family had 9 kids and every time we went anywhere it was a major production--even to the supermarket. Our vacations usually meant a trip to Michigan from western NY to visit close relatives there. As you can imagine with 9 kids, the number of times my father said, "If I have to stop this car I'm going to . . ." were many. And what he was going to do changed every time. The one that really got us to quiet down (for at least 5 minutes) was that he was going to make us walk to Michigan. I remember stopping at a roadside diner (they DID have them in those days) out in the middle of nowhere, about 7 at night and all 11 of us trooping in for a meal. Talk about scared looks on the faces of the cook and the waitress!

How many remember the pinatas and velvet pictures everybody brought back from Mexican border towns in the 60s? Now that was chic to the nth degree!
 
Aug 28th, 2001, 06:54 PM
  #40  
anna
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7 kids ages infant to 10 in a VW microbus in the early 60's headed south on camping vacations to Kentucky. Bathroom breaks were at the edge of a cornfield. Dad hollered Everybody out! Girls down one row, boys down another row. We fertilized a lot of Southern Illinois corn in our day.
 

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