Posted by: gibralter62 | June 23, 2013

Madrid-NYC Dec.’61-Jan.’62 Trip Wrapup

After Madrid, ceased letters – figured I’d be home before they arrived. Notes in my travel diary. Itinerary as follows:Spain railroad lines

Dec. 29 en route Madrid-Cordoba
Dec. 30 Cordoba
Dec. 31 Cordoba to Algeciras
Jan. 1 Algeciras/Tangiers/Algeciras

Jan. 2 Algeciras to Gibraltar/depart Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci
Jan. 8, 1962 arrival NYC

Posted by: gibralter62 | June 23, 2013

Madrid, Dec. 28, 1961

I feel human, and even feminine – finally. After weeks of “semi-orphanism”. Reason: I have a beautiful new suit and lovely dress both from Anne Lise; had the “works” at Fortes, an excellent Madrid hairdresser, bought some Spanish cologne (you’ll like it) and a new pair of shoes! Am becoming increasingly poorer, as you can well imagine, but it’s worth every cent (and the hairdresser was extremely inexpensive – $2.00 for work that would cost at least $8.00 in NYC). It’s a pleasure and a relief to splurge after 3 months of penny pinching (with all the beautiful European merchandise I’ve seen) and how many more months spend saving and practicing self-denial – guess I’m not the ascetic type, for long, at least. I’m very pleased with my investment in Anne Lise – but I shall appreciate your critical opinion. With all these shopping excursions I’ve even had time to do more sightseeing. Yesterday – El Escorial (monastery) and Valle de los Caidos (try your Spanish on that). Had the best guide so far – he felt very intensely about all he was showing us – a philosophy lecture as well as history. The monastery has 250 old tapestries – marvelously preserved, and a wonderful church; Valle de los Caidos is Franco’s monument to the men killed in the Spanish Civil Was (1936) – conflicting views about the war – I would like to read more about it; church is gigantic, set into a mountain and topped with a 500 ft. cross weighing 20,000 tons. Have heard it said that it’s Franco’s monument to himself.

I went to the Prado MuseumMadrid Prado twice today – there is so much to see. Before making this trip I was quite ignorant about many areas of art history, but even seeing briefly all the great works has opened my mind and eyes to so much more. Europeans certainly live more closely to great art than do Americans, despite the fact that we have some good museums. I’ll be up “at the crack…” of again tomorrow – train for Cordoba leaves at 8:30. If I find comfortable accommodations there I shall probably stay thru’ Sunday night and then go directly to Gibraltar. Am really tired of lugging suitcases. Was mistaken for an Australian by 2 Australians. Is that good or bad? People also think that I’m: English, German, French (very seldom American)

Posted by: gibralter62 | June 23, 2013

Madrid, Dec. 25, 1961, Christmas Night

Glorious Christmas season – it has rained every day since Friday. Usually starts about 1 pm and lasts till 5-6. Today it has continued all evening. Rather depressing. Despite the adverse weather, I’ve managed to see some of Madrid since my last letter. I usually wander up and down streets that look interesting and stop in at art museums, etc. on the way. While searching out a source of hand embroidered linen (for my mother) I visited a new museum containing beautiful silver, gold, wooden work of Italy and Spain. Also found some acabo (holly) to accompany the big red balloon. Visited the most beautiful palace so far – Royal Palace of Madrid. It’s still used several times a year by Franco and thus kept in good condition, marvelous tapestries, silk wall coverings (centuries old), chandeliers, furniture. 2,800 rooms of which I saw 27!!!

Whatever Spain thinks about US/foreign policy the people flock to American films – I saw “Pepe” and “Can Can” this weekend, was very excited about the latter, despite dubbing, and would like to see it at home. Sunday morning provided a suitable opportunity to visit some churches. They are not so beautiful as in Munich nor so impressive as in France, but they have individual items which are worth seeing. More fun is to walk thru the busy produce area – fantastic! Big, matchstick building filled with stalls selling fruits, vegetables, meats – great if you can stand the smell! Down the same street: El Rastro, or Thieves Market; everything imaginable is sold here, new or used (mostly used) and jammed with people, despite the rain. Quite a sight,  all open air. Bought some white wine for my Christmas eve (and successive) meals, but so dry that my tongue is protesting! Tonight I stopped for Pernod at the Madrilenian equivalent of the Figaro. I hesitate about going into most bars of nightclubs because the Spaniards have very strict ideas about the freedom of the fair sex. But the Gijon is OK.  I shall thumb my nose at the weather, at least on Wednesday and make a trip to El Escorial. I hear that the weather down south is excellent, am anxious to see for myself. Phones to US are tied up for two days.Madrid Cafe Gijon

Posted by: gibralter62 | June 16, 2013

Madrid, Dec. 22, 1961

Good grief! I haven’t celebrated Christmas yet and here I am, wishing you “Happy New Year” . Will I ever be able to adjust to thinking in the present, rather than  2-3 days hence – when you receive my letter! When I last left you, we were preparing to land at the rather “primitive” Madrid airport (as described by my seat companion.) And primitive it is, for an international airport – a bit like the old terminal at Idlewild, and probably smaller. But a new one is under construction. The beautiful weather continued into Madrid and thru’ the afternoon and evening – but I awoke today to the patter of….! Before getting my luggage at the in-town terminal I whizzed over to nearby AmX to collect your darling card (displayed on my night table for quick reference), one from Lyn S. and Grandma Mudry. Along with this collection was an extremely unobtrusive slip of paper which I deciphered hours later to discover that you had sent the $30 via AmX, (I collected the money and noted your message before the clerk had time to bring it to my attention). I hope this didn’t interfere with your Christmas budget. (I’m doing quite well myself and won’t be as close to the line as I had anticipated.)

I’m staying in a deluxe pension ($2.00 with 3 meals) recommended by the Tourist Bureau – fine, except their idea of “deluxe”  doesn’t coincide with mine – all relative, I guess. Excellent location – on one of the most imp’t streets, clean, practically empty (I have seen one other guest – in the dining room) and with extremely nice help. Changed my mind about dining out in Madrid – pension is less exhausting, less uncertain and less expensive. Unfortunately the food is only slightly more interesting than at my Barcelona “Residenzia”. Per instructions from T. Fielding, I made a bee-line for Senora Anna Lise (couturier), admittedly a bit apprehensive considering her clientele (members of the American and French “diplomatic colonies”). I made myself as presentable as possible (my wardrobe is beginning to resemble a Salvation Army Christmas donation) and found Sra. Lise to be very charming, down-to-earth and certainly “”approachable” (quote – Fielding’s: …she is a gifted Madrid society lady…married to one of Spain’s most cosmopolitan figures…extremely exclusive…) I’ve already had two fittings and the suit will be ready Wednesday pm – the color’s not red, as I’d planned, but the styling is simple.  I hope to avoid declaring it ($85.00) so don’t breathe a word about it when I see you. Anna Lise’s assistant offered to call me if anything exciting developed during the Christmas holidays and Sra. suggested a good hairdresser to whom I might introduce myself as a friend of hers. In addition (!) Sra. suggested that if I wanted anything else made, I can send her a check in payment when I return to the U. S. Good public relations, I’d say. (Am considering a dress.)

What have I said of significance about Madrid – I like it very much – the kind of spontaneous response as in Florence. Christmas atmosphere helps, of course, but the city is not so big as to be overwhelming, filled with lovely shops, museums (visited the Prado, perhaps the world’s best) and many as yet unexplored streets. The cold is bearable, esp. when the sun shines. Went treasure hunting at Festival (collection of Spanish handicrafts, run by an American) and bought a wine-skin – shades of E. Hemingway – for Pop, wood-carved bookends (Don Quixote and Sancho P. ) for Ken, and little odds and ends for others. Was served a glass of sherry in the midst of my selecting. Prado Museum

One slight drawback to the pension – my room adjoins the tv room – and the damned set is on from noon till midnight. Think I’ll sabotage it some am, about 4:00. Lots of American music, however; esp. Christmas-type songs. Bought a gigantic red balloon, on a wild impulse, to give a festive air to “ma chambre”. I’ve read about the flood and terrible air mishap at Seville and think I’ll avoid the city this trip. If the weather is nice in Madrid I’ll stay another day. I plan to visit Toledo tomorrow (excellent example of Spanish civilization) and perhaps El Escorial and Valle de los Caidos on Tuesday. But I’ve hardly scratched the surface of Madrid proper. In reference to your remark about the sparrows, my digestion wasn’t hampered, but one girl tried (“I don’t see why they have to kill all these sparrows”). Some of these Spanish concoctions are harder to take. Lots of fried foods – I’ve begun refusing them, for the sake of my complexion and digestive tract. Have no fear about sending letters to Madrid – I’m having the excess forwarded to Gibraltar. Must get to bed and (hopefully) ignore the one-eyed monster.

Posted by: gibralter62 | June 16, 2013

Barcelona, Dec. 18, 1961

I’m slowly recovering from a close call with an ulcer, i. e., I almost developed one when I tried to get rail accommodations to Madrid. I had planned to depart Wednesday, with a one-night stopover in Saragossa, as you remember. Remembering a Fielding’s suggestion, I dropped in at a travel agent to purchase my ticket in advance, to avoid lines at the rr station. Answer: completely booked till January 8th! Planes: one evening arrival, 1st class only; no bus service. RR station sells only on the day of departure. Added to this, I had just purchased an all-day excursion ticket to nearby Montserrat, for tomorrow. Thomas Cooke & Sons – even more discouraging. By this time I was seeing red! After looking forward to spending Christmas in Madrid, I hated to have the plan spoiled. Stopped at the rr station to double check and found my fears confirmed: in order to attempt a 12:30 (noon) boarding, I would have to get in line at 8:00 am. Primitive facilities, to say the least. The tourist attendant helpfully suggested a travel office nearby – and success! Have a ticket for a Thurs. morning flight (much preferable to pm) for $13.00. Couldn’t have worked out better. (At my “reddest moment I had vowed to find a way out – and I did). This gives me a much-needed extra day in Barcelona and cuts travel time by hours.

I had intended this letter to be a substitute Christmas card, but it has begun as a gripe session. but I feel better for having “vented my spleen”. Now comes to bothersome task of cutting down my suitcase weight to 20 kilos. In case you’re wondering, as I was, Iberia Airlines is technically excellent, according to Temple Fielding.Iberia airlines

Posted by: gibralter62 | June 9, 2013

Enroute from Barcelona to Madrid Dec. 21, 1961

How nice of Iberia to handle postage and mailing of this letter. And how nice of my seat companion, a priest from Washington, D. C., to lend me his pen. Flight time 1 hour, 20 minutes. Can see the ground clearly – red-brown color, small hills, mountains in the distance, sun is shining. About that bullfight – Father tells me he thinks tickets begin at $10.00 – just changed my mind. Expect Madrid to be cold, but I hope to put away most woolens as I head south. I did such a good job of shifting my heavy belongings to a hand satchel that my luggage weighs 10 kilos (max: 20 kilos).Barcelona Pueblo Espagnol

Visited Pueblo Espagnol yesterday – faithful reproductions of all types of Spanish architecture – lovely streets which twist and turn every which way, stairs climbing up and down; sun shining on white facades with brown or black balconies. Fun to wander through and visit the craft shops – men and women creating and selling their wares on the premises: glass, wood, straw, metal. Unfortunately a busload of American tourists were there -they really are obnoxious (one lady insisted in trading in American dollars; she didn’t want “their money”  – I felt like eradicating her.) I sat in the warm sun of the courtyard, wrote postcards and I watched men decorating the big Christmas tree. Iberia doesn’t give the smiling, cheerful service that you find on most U. S. flights. Efficient, mais c’est tout. Refreshments served: candy. Plane is not filled to capacity. Must return the pen. He may want to write a note also. Again – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Posted by: gibralter62 | June 9, 2013

Barcelona, Dec. 18, 1961

Mom and Dad: First of all – Merry Christmas. Am having 5:00 coffee (expresso) in a “swish” looking place on the Calle des Gracias (5th Avenue of Barcelona.) Nobody eats before 9 PM. Christmas is coming – green boughs and red bows everywhere. Christmas trees and decorations being sold in profusion in Plaza Nueva in front of the cathedral. No snow, of course, nor even hint of it. Read a Time magazine article about Christmas in America and was terribly nostalgic. You’ll never believe the price I’m paying for room and 3 meals – $1.50. Safe location, extremely nice people, nourishing food (and plenty of it). Not the Ritz, but a good bargain! I hadn’t imagined that I could live so cheaply in Barcelona.Barcelona Christmas

The little narrow streets are wonderful for wandering and fruit market filled with cheese, oranges, etc. Usually nibble. Two American girls at the hotel touring as I am. Last night we saw the illuminated fountains, multi-colored and an endless variety of water patterns. The Spanish are exciting to watch, attractive, lively people, and generally helpful and polite. I’m beginning to feel like “rag-bag Annie”  with the poor state my clothes are in. Hope to splurge in Madrid on an Elizabeth Arden hair styling. Will toast you all at Christmas dinner in Madrid.

Posted by: gibralter62 | June 9, 2013

Barcelona, Dec. 16, 1961

After a slightly grueling prelude, I’m settled in Barcelona for four nights. To explain: firstly, my room in Cerbère was close to the railroad station so I was awakened at 6 AM by the resumption of train service. Slept fitfully till 8 when I prepared to catch the 9:15, what is called a “rapide” to Port-Bou, stop for customs inspection and catch the Paris express to Barcelona. If you check a map, you’ll see that Cerbère and Port-Bou face each other across the Spanish-French border. And neither is very far from Barcelona. Well, I was forewarned about Spanish train service, but…the train to Port-Bou left about 9:30 and we hopped off for customs inspection about 9:50 – mobs of people. The connection began rolling between 11:30-12 and we reached Barcelona about 3:30. A fitting introduction to the typical casual Spanish attitude – we must have stopped at every village. Shared a compartment with an obnoxious American serviceman (bad grammar, completely insensitive, and only interested in whopping it up in Barcelona on his leave.) I shuddered every time he opened his mouth. Unlike most other stations I’ve seen in Europe, Barcelona’s crowded, has poor facilities (baggage check, tourist bureau) but so colorful. I was so excited about being here that I didn’t mind. I asked for a room with pension (two meals) “pas cher” and that’s what I’ve got. The price is so low that I’m embarrassed to quote it. But it’s on a main street, near the station and people are very sweet. So I’ll save money here and splurge in Madrid. I chose full pension so I can become acquainted with Spanish food before I strike out on my own in Madrid restaurants.Barcelona Las Ramblas

I’m always a bit anxious when I arrive in a new country, especially when I don’t speak the language, but I just flung myself into the middle of things – climbed aboard a crowded bus, not really knowing where I was going, and left myself to the mercy of the collector. And the Spanish are so cheerful, helpful and polite – so it worked. The conductor told me when to get off and a young English-speaking Spaniard aided him. I finally found what I was looking for – a guidebook to Barcelona – on one of the “Ramblas” the colorful avenues of Barcelona; crowded, glittering with Christmas lights, split down the middle with book stalls, flower stalls and trees (filled with noisy birds.) Sat over coffee and was delighted watching the passersby. Before finding the bus I wandered down a side street near the hotel and came upon many small cheese and fruit shops, bought a hunk of fresh bread, some cheese, oranges and fruit juice. This is in the market area. Again, my French is practically indispensable. Dinner is served late in Spain – 9-10 and later – this is why I bought some fruit, to help me live until mealtime. (And Spain has some of the best oranges.)

Posted by: gibralter62 | June 9, 2013

Marseilles, Dec. 14, 1961

Just sampled for the first time bouillabaisse. Brief description: saffron – yellow broth, of medium consistency, highly seasoned. Platter containing variety of cooked fish, incl. shrimp. Combine the two along with hunks of French bread. Give yourself time enough to finish 3/4. And don’t nibble beforehand. Sound delicious? Hope so. That’s not all. Salade Niçoise. And the service was excellent – two very nice waiters who were delighted to serve me my first bouillabaisse. And two minutes after I expressed a mental wish for a cigarette, a hostess popped up with two brands!! Marseilles is uninteresting except for the old port and harbor filled with an assortment of boats, fishing and pleasure craft, beautiful ones too; took some photos, as the sun was shining helpfully. Marseilles port

After an initially unpleasant experience in the tourist office, I found a lovely man in the information office who took me, in person, to a hotel since I knew of none in Marseilles. Rather exceptional service, I’d say. I’ve met no one who speaks English. Marseilles has some of the finest restaurants in France, I understand. Would love to sample some others but I’m bursting at the seams now (not fat, just full.)

Posted by: gibralter62 | May 26, 2013

Nice, Dec. 13, 1961

Nice is lovely and peaceful. I had dinner at a small restaurant on a side street near the harbor, then walked along the Boulevard des Anglais. The small towns along the Italian and French Rivieras are aptly described ad “jewels” in one travel brochure. Each nestled around a harbor, with homes reaching up into nearby hills.Nice France Some are more elegant than others – Portofino, San Remo, Monte Carlo, Monaco. Cannes is supposedly superior to Nice but also more expensive. The train ride from Rome to Santa Margherita was incomparably beautiful, rocky, barren coastline (between towns) blue water, the time passed quickly with scenery like that. And on the Rome-S. Mar. leg I had two very sweet Italians as companions – Aldo and Antonio. Aldo spoke no English, Antonio a little, so I still don’t know why they were going to Genoa, but they were fun, they shared their fruit, pointed out interesting things, helped me off the train. And completely unlecherous! They were fascinated because I didn’t smoke, own a car, or have a husband (and they thought I was French, at first.)

This a. m. I rose at 6:40 to catch the train to Genoa and saw the fish market opening up in the square by the church. And from the train I saw the fishermen set out in their small boats. No good sunrise, tho’, that would be magnificent on the water. Perhaps tomorrow. Am anxious to sample bouillabaisse in Marseilles.

***** continuée jeudi matin á huit heures dix – after 17 days in Paris I find useful phrases coming easily. After sleeping till 10-11 in Rome, this early bird bit is refreshing. Your question about cigarette prices: one of the Italians I met complained that the state monopoly on cigarette mfg. caused mediocre brands to cost the Italian more than Viceroy or Winston cost the American. I see a little pink glow on one of the hills. Perhaps I’ll have some sun after all. Yesterday, at the last Italian stop, a customs inspector said he’d mail my letters, but in case he’s still carrying them – I checked the arrival, at headquarters, of the L. da V.- January 8 (I think I wrote Dec. in the last letter) at 9 a.m.

Last year there was an excellent article in Harper’s Magazine about the “Revolution in Kentucky” – economic, that is, Seems that the principal “rulers of the realm” (Gov. and and can’t remember who) make a good pair – the qualities of one supplement the other (imagination plus sound business thinking). Check Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature under “Kentucky” if you want to read it.

Sun shining in earnest, on the sea to my left. Beautiful! Gads, the water is so close, stone’s throw away, literally. Have reached a small harbor, Antibes,  with boats at anchor. Juan les Pins. Cannes, a few rowboats with fishers. Now the travel poster scenery. The clear sky makes the water very blue and the sun intensifies each color in the landscape. St. Raphael, harbor filled with whitecaps. Frejus. Les Arcs. Carnoules (we’ve left the coast damn!). Toulon (back on the sea). Checked with “Shoestring” about towns west of Marseilles for overnight before Barcelona. Recommends Argeles and Cerbere, near Spanish border and Plage de St. Pierre, near Narbonne. Will pick one of these rather than the afore-mentioned Perpignan. No ferry to Barcelona (or plane). I love train-riding Europeans. At each station, and in between, they hang out the windows (me too) to see what’s going on. If I still have enough money, I’d like to take advantage of shipboard prices on liquor – 5 bottles, I think. If you have any strong preferences I’d appreciate a suggested list. Will also pick up some Viceroys at about 20 cents per pack.

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