A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

In the Beginning

Projected Schedule

View 1964 Ship Follower on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

After the trip to Bermuda in 1963, I returned home and had my second child. Then in the summer of 1964, I made another solo trip to meet my husband's ship. He was a pilot and flew S2Fs (antisubmarine planes) off the aircraft carrier Intrepid
Partly done needlpoint of a plane landing on a carrier

Partly done needlpoint of a plane landing on a carrier



Aircraft carrier

Aircraft carrier

The Intrepid was supposed to have the following itinerary
11 June – Leave Norfolk
21 June – Arrive Med
23 June to 26 June – Palma Majorca
3 to 8 July – Cannes (refuel)
10 July to 15 July – Naples

(do sea maneuvers)

23 July – one day in Rota Spain
25-30 July – Valencia Spain
1 August – anchor off Majorca – no liberty
3 to 8 August – Toulon France
15 – 22 August – Naples
24 August – leave Med

Between 3rd and 5th of September – arrive home in Norfolk.

Aircraft carrier

Aircraft carrier

However this schedule was not kept – I think they skipped Cannes and were in Nice instead, and then they went to Cannes after the July visit to Naples. And they went to Marseilles instead of Toulon.

I was to meet him in Valencia at the end of July, and Toulon and Naples in August.

I stayed in six hotels on this trip. I found the ones in Madrid, Lisbon and Granada. I do not know the name of the hotel in Valencia. The hotel in Naples does not appear to exist anymore, and the site in Marseilles is no longer a hotel


Leaving Home July 14

Getting to Germany was a protracted trip. Early in the morning of the 14th, I packed up my children in Norfolk and drove three hours to Baltimore. There, I left my two children with my mom. My oldest daughter was almost 3 and my baby was 10 months old when I left the US. I wrote postcards throughout the trip to my three year old daughter.
Me holding the camera I used and my oldest in 1964

Me holding the camera I used and my oldest in 1964

From Baltimore I took a train to Philadelphia (a couple of hours) to meet the German Society group.

The group had a chartered bus which went to New York (another couple of hours), where we took a plane. This is what I wrote about it to my mom with also the postcards I wrote to my children. My mother retyped the letters (and added comments) to send to various family members (including my husband)


The car I boarded [in Baltimore] was a smoker, so I moved forward and this car is air-conditioned and is “No Smoking”. There was a little red headed boy here but his mother called him back to her so now I have a seat to myself. I bought a carton of milk to drink with my lunch, which is delicious (the lunch, the milk was Sealtest). Daddy’s sandwiches would have cost 85 cents to buy. I ate the pickles and the lettuce too, but I am saving the apple and cake for later.

We just stopped in Wilmington and I get off in about 15 more minutes. Excuse my writing as the train is very wiggly.


Now I’m on the bus which doesn’t sway as much but bounces.
Sketch of the original German Society building.

Sketch of the original German Society building.


The taxi fare from the bus to the German Society headquarters was only $1.25. It was 85 deg. F when I arrived and there was a Boy Scout Jamboree. One of the buses for the Jamboree had broken down and there were 3 men pushing it. They were having a hard time.

Greyhound Bus

The Greyhound driver doesn’t know Philadelphia or the way to the airport. I wanted to sit in front, and the Pastor is beside me to direct the driver. He is going to visit his 90 year old mother for the first time in 34 years. His wife is already over there. There are several couples, older ladies, a high school teacher and his class and a few families. There are a few women traveling with young children – their husbands saw them off.

I met an old lady at the rest stop who speaks five languages and has traveled a great deal. She didn’t know she was leaving until 10 days ago. The Pastor said he had invited her up to his house in Canada and he was taking boulders out of the lake and she went to join him.

The bus driver is following the travel agent’s blue VW to the airport and his wife is giving out tickets. It is flight 403 leaving NY for Cologne at 1900.

On the way out the turnpike, we saw the Worlds Fair. Went through it in fact. I didn’t take any pictures. [I had been the previous year.]

On the plane:

No stationary provided, only a burp bag. We are now aloft and it is much smoother than the bus, train or taxi. I am on the aisle which is just as well as I can now get out. It has been hot, but the cabin is cooling off. The pilot just told us to change our watches from 2003 to 0103 so we would be on Cologne time.

We have been handed our menus and maybe we will get dinner now. We are having filet mignon, which is the same name in all languages. Now they are coming through with the drinks cart, and before that they came through with the newspaper cart.

There is a lady with this group with a 17 month old baby which she says weighs 32 lbs. She also has one 12 and one 2.5, but their fares would have been so much that she left them home.

Have you received the travel insurance policy that I bought? If anything happens to me, you are supposed to institute proceedings, they told me. [in those days, it was common to buy an insurance policy so your family would have money if the plane crashed]


After dinner:

I‘m going to sleep now, it is 02:25. The steak was good, but the roll was tough and cold. The lights are off — beddy bye time.

July 15

Well that was a short night, but I did sleep and fairly soundly. We have had our orange juice and wash cloths and I have been to the WC and have asked twice for writing paper but no luck yet. [My mom commented that she was glad she had provided me with paper.]

Mr. W said to tell Mrs. S (the secretary to the German Society of MD) that he took good care of me — slept next to me all night!!. The sunset and sunrise are both on my side of the plane. Next to me are a mother and her 11 year old daughter Scarlett. The mother is a Berliner and went to medical school for three semesters. Her husband was in the AF and in NATO in Paris for two years and then in TX. He is out of the AF now. They are going to visit her mother in Berlin.

Mr. and Mrs W (President of the German Society of PA – I joined the German Society of MD last year so that I could go on this trip) and the Pastor are across the aisle.

This was a charter flight by the German Society for the same price for 5 weeks as it would normally be for three weeks.

There is another toddler besides the one I mentioned and a tiny baby and a blind woman. The plane is full up.

Over Europe


It is now 0530 — 1.5 hours from Cologne and we are south of Shannon. The sun has just come up. Breakfast is coming. We had no smoking over here because it bothers Scarlett, but Mrs. W. chain smoked all night. She doesn’t look well to me. I think flying makes her nervous. This has been a very smooth flight.

We are now over Lisbon. The clouds are so thick we can’t see much.

Posted by greatgrandmaR 11:26 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Breakfast at the Cathedral

View 1964 Ship Follower on greatgrandmaR's travel map.


We landed very early in the morning, and after we got through customs, there was a city tour scheduled. The letter I wrote to my mom about the tour either never arrived, or did not get put in the folder with the rest of them, so I have only my slides (or at the moment I just have my slide list because I haven't yet found these particular slides yet) to remind me what we saw 42+ years ago.

I wrote my daughter from the airport.
Dom, Rheinufer im Sonnenuntergoing, Hohnentor-card I sent to my daughter from the airport

Dom, Rheinufer im Sonnenuntergoing, Hohnentor-card I sent to my daughter from the airport

Dear Daughter

We are going to see this church this morning. So far we haven't left the airport. I was one of the first thru customs. I showed my passport, identified my bag and had nothing to declare. If the Poste opens before we leave, I'll mail this.

Love Mummy
The card had two 20 DM stamps.

City Tour of Cologne

We crossed the new Severns bridge which was built in 1959 as a single suspensions bridge. The Cathedral dominantes most of the landscape. There was a cardboard statue in 1964 taking the place of where a real statue would eventually be. We also saw St. Pantaleon, a church which my notes say was begun in 980.

View of the Cathedral and RR station from the bridge in 1964

View of the Cathedral and RR station from the bridge in 1964

They arranged for us to have "breakfast" (sandwiches on pumpernickel) at a cafe in front of the Cathedral. I was astonished to discover that the Germans eat their sandwiches with knives and forks - they apparently regarded those from North America as barbarians because we pick them up and eat them with our hands.

Opposite the Cathedral, I saw the Dom hotel where we stayed in 1950.
Dom Hotel in 1950

Dom Hotel in 1950

We saw St. Aposteln which was built about 1100, a Roman tower with a market underneath.

After that, we toured the cathedral. There was some scaffolding on the back tower.

We went into the Rathaus which on looking back on it seemed a strange place for a tour to go as municipal buildings are most often viewed from the outside unless one has some business there.
Stained glass in the Rathaus

Stained glass in the Rathaus

Inside was a modern stained glass window - "The Life of the Town" by Professor Georg Meistermann. It was a kind of timeline of history. The major figures in the city of Cologne are lined up along its abstracted Rhine in a window. These included historical figures such as Agrippina in addition to more modern people. The 13 x 9-meter window is in the stairwell of the recently renovated Town Hall.

I took a picture of it with Scarlett in front of it and it is one of the few photos of the first part of my 1964 trip that I have so far found. But when I looked on the internet I could find no mention of it whatever. The internet problem was solved when GrumpyDiver explained that I was misspelling his name - it isn't Meisterman as I had thought. Even with the correct spelling I can find only one photo on the internet (other than mine) and that is on Wikipedia, which says

George Champion Meistermann (b. June 16 1911 in Solingen, June 12th 1990 in Cologne) was a painter, illustrator and graphic designer, and created over a thousand glass window at about 250 locations throughout Europe.

It is certainly a contrast with the Cathedral. We also saw (according to my notes from 1964) the foundations of the Roman Praetorium (or palace) which was underneath the Rathaus. These ruins were discovered in 1953 when they were doing excavation for a new wing of the Town Hall. It turned out to be the Roman city headquarters. The remains still lie under the city hall and can be viewed. The picture that I took of this is still missing.

There is an information desk in the lobby of the Town Hall where one can enquire about viewing the excavations.

After the tour, I left the rest of the group and traveled on my own for the rest of the trip.

cathedral through the RR station roof in 1950

cathedral through the RR station roof in 1950

Train down the Rhine

I went to the railroad station and had "lunch" at a snackbar there. I remember having something like a bratwurst. At the station I got a train going down the Rhine to Frankfort. In 1950, we took a boat down the Rhine and my dad had taken many pictures of the castles on the way.
View from the river in 1950

View from the river in 1950

Next: Frankfurt

Posted by greatgrandmaR 17:52 Archived in Germany Comments (1)

Down the Rhine by train and a Missed Meeting

July 15, 1964

View 1964 Ship Follower on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

While I was traveling down the Rhine in the train, I got about an hour's nap. If you have followed this from the beginning, you know that, I left Norfolk on July 14th, drove to Baltimore, took the train to Philadelphia, got a bus to NYC, and took a plane to Cologne (with about a hour's sleep) arriving July 15th, had a tour of Cologne, had lunch in the train station before I got on the Frankfurt train.

Most of what follows is what I wrote to my mom.

I sent a card to my daughter in Cologne. In the rush and confusion I forgot to ask whether the stamps that the lady gave me were airmail or not. Also I gave that letter to a soldier in Frankfurt to mail APO, so I hope you get it. [My mom's note was that it had not arrived yet and it is not in the folder with the rest of the letters]

When we got to Frankfurt, it was 1808. I stood around looking for my cousin [whose husband was stationed there and I was supposed to get some things to take to my sister], and then checked my bag. She was looking for my blue suit (and I wasn't wearing that for travel),


and I apparently didn't recognize her. I stood and walked around the station for about a half an hour, and tried to phone, but got a busy signal as it was not a local call.

I finally left the station to look for somewhere it was cool. I guess I should have sat and looked lost, but I was beat and hungry and thirsty. So I looked at the posted menus in the restaurants on Kaiserstrasse and found one and ordered Hamburg steak, F.F. and a coke. The whole thing including tip was slightly under $1.00

Than I went back to the station to try to call her house again, and entered a different way and found the RTO (Railway Transportation Office) lounge. My cousin had made that her base of operations . She left about 10 minutes after I did and also left me a note. The [US] soldier there told me where I could make a long distance call, so I called my sister and let her know what happened. The call cost more than dinner - 5.76 DM.

I went to get my suitcase and to go back to the RTO lounge because it was cool there and the coke machine produced a reasonably cold Coke for 5 cents American money, but I saw that my train was being made up. I calculated that if it took her an hour to drive in, she might just barely make it back and call. She didn't, and I don't know if she tried.

I walked all the way back anyway to "check in" so to speak and a most helpful soldier carried my bag back for me to put me on the train. He was really very helpful and friendly. He said he had been here two years and they all knew him so well, he said that he could go through the gates in civilian clothes, without a pass.

My sister said that my cousin (whom I haven't seen in over 10 years) was dark, thin and short, and the soldier said she was dirty blonde and my height [5'7"].
her photo

her photo

The soldier got the train opened up (a bit early - it was still hot from where it had been sitting in the sun), and put my bag up in the rack for me. Both times after that I managed myself. It is a little like weight-lifting.

This part I did not write to my mom. The train was a French train with a French porter. After the soldier left, the porter came to my compartment and tried some conversation in broken English with a heavy French accent.

He asked me a question and I thought the question was "Do you want allez?" I knew enough French to know that "allez" in French was "To go", and that question made no sense whatsoever to me. So I was confused, plus hot, tired and a bit jet lagged too I guess.

It did not dawn on me until about three times through him asking me this question, that he was speaking all English, and that he was asking me if I wanted "a lay". I didn't of course and I didn't know how to answer him that wouldn't offend him or get me into more trouble, so I kept on acting like I didn't understand him. Eventually he left in disgust.

Back to my letter

I have a compartment [this was a couchette, as it was way cheaper to get a couchette for the night than to sleep in a hotel, and I would have also accomplished transportation] with two other single girls and a German family. I think one of the girls was Italian.

The German family was put on the train by Papa. It was Mama, daughter and a son about 10. Mama and I had the bottom racks. The daughter spoke English and we conversed a little. She had a transistor with an earplug which she listened to. She got into nightclothes, but kept her underwear on.

There's lots of hay and wheat in this country and some things that I guess are silos, made of cement and top heavy. Also there are cornfields and sunflower fields and I supposed those busy things are asparagras fields - bushy and about a foot high. When I said sunflower fields, I mean cultivated ones -- all in rows with their heads all dutifully turned to the sun.

We are now going along a flat broad river between high banks and I see a chateau.

During the night, about midnight, while it was still hot. I went to the WC (which is practically the only place you don't have to pay to go) and washed up and took off my dress and washed it out. I put it back on and stood in the corridor and a half hour later it was dry
. [I was traveling in a nylon knit dress - my mom's note said that this really floored her]

About halfway through the night, I had to put a blanket on because it was so cold.

In a subsequent letter in answer to her exclaimations about this dress washing, I wrote "I didn't really have the whole dress wringing wet -- just washed out some spots on the front and under the arms, but it got wetter than I intended"

When we got to Paris, I asked the little German girl if we should tip the porter, and she didn't know, but she gave him one franc and so I gave him one quarter as I didn't have any French change - only 5 and 10 franc notes.

In the morning I was in Paris.

Posted by greatgrandmaR 19:18 Archived in Germany Comments (2)

Climbing to the Top of the City of Paris

The First Day

View 1964 Ship Follower on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

Arrival - Thursday, July 16, 1964

We got to Paris about 0720. I was to leave on the afternoon train going to Spain, and I had to change train stations

Once in Paris, I kept having the feeling I ought to look under the bed and my Ventura [a large shoulder bag which held my camera, London Fog raincoat, toilet case etc, which my mom loaned me] seemed lighter, but the compartment was so crowded that I didn't.

Breakfast in the Station

I tried to go out to the subway, but they would not let me out without showing my ticket and it didn't dawn on me what they wanted. Besides the station was full of Parisiennes rushing from the suburbs to work like lemmings.

So I had two croissants and coffee in the station for 2.5 F including tip, and bought an orange for 1/2 F and a postcard and stamp (1.25 F). THEN I looked in my Ventura to put my orange into it and it suddenly dawned on me like a flash, that I had left my toilet case on the train.

SO I went rushing back for it and luckily the train was still there. The case had slipped behind the bunk and was hidden from the front by some kind of heater. My pocketbook was too big for that.

When I got off, I found out from the man at the gate where I had asked if it was the same train that I could check my suitcase to the other station for 2.6NF. So I did. I kept the Ventura with me. I'd be more mobile without it, but it won't lock.

Lost In Space

This was later in the letter.

The most hair-raising tale I have skipped.

I saw an SNCF hostess and asked about a tour of Paris ($3 plus and 3 hours) and a Wagon-Lits to Madrid. She said to go to the other end of the station. I did and the man there said to wait until 0900. So I went to a ticket window, and he pointed across the way. I went there, and they directed me back to the 0900 man.

At this time, a second man came in, shook hands with his co-workers and told me that the Wagon Lit were 45.9 F. Couchettes were back at the second place. There after a little consultation, I found that there were no couchettes, so I went to change a $10 travelers check to pay for the W-L.

THEN I discovered that my change purse was gone and with it my Eurail pass!! [Note: This was a pass to ride on the trains as much as I want for a month and it cost $130.00]

So thinking that I was either having a very unlucky morning or a real workout, I rushed to where I had been at the other end of the station. The man there told me that he had taken it to the hostess at the other end of the station..

I got it back intact, except that I am missing 10F and maybe that is where it went. I guess I'm lucky. I found I hadn't filled out the ID card and the only place my name was, was on the Eurail pass.

[My mom's comment was that she hoped these two incidents would really teach me a valuable lesson. I think I might has still been a little jet lagged.]

Morning Sightseeing

By now I had figured out how to get my Eurail pass out and display it and so was able to pass the barrier.

I bought a carnet of Metro tickets (3F) and went to Notre Dame. I walked around and then paid 1.15F to go up in the tower, which I found to my distress was STEPS [I don't know what I thought it would be]. I was so weak when I got down that I went to a nearby cafe and had a coke (1.5 F with tip).

Then I walked to another Metro station . I bought a package of airmail envelopes (0.9F) on the way.

I went to the Arc de Triomph and paid another 1.5F (in each case the 0.5F was the permission to take pictures), and waited in line for the elevator.

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

On the back of this card, I wrote to my daughter

Dear Daughter

I am now trying to get a Wagon-Lit from Irun to Madrid. I have had breakfast (2.50 F) and checked my luggage to the next station (2.60F) & found my toilette case which slipped behind my bunk & I had to go back to the train for it. I had a good night on the train. I missed our cousin in Frankfurt, but I talked to your aunt on the phone.

I didn't have any luck. No bookings from Iron at this end. I almost left my pocketbook in one of the inquiry places. I have climbed 400 steps to the top of Notre Dame (2.55) and am now on my way to Eiffel Tower.

Love Mummy.
The stamp said "Republique Francaise Postes" on the top, the price was 0.65. The bottom said "Dinan" and "Valle de la Rance". The picture included a bridge.

The postmark had a cross and an outline of a nurse on it and said "Devenez ....Des Horptaux__De Paris

By the time I got down it was noon, so I got a taxi (for speed) to the Eiffel Tower (3.7F tip included) and went up (5F) to the second stage.
Going up the Eiffel Tower in 1964 - France

Going up the Eiffel Tower in 1964 - France

The line for the 3rd stage was so long I knew I'd never make it, so I bought a popsicle and came down (1F). A waste of 2F.

Leaving Paris

I got a taxi to the station (5.6F plus tip), and secured my bag. The baggage clerk gave me a leer but he showed me where to mail my postcard. Then I panted out to the train. [Keep in mind that there were no wheeled bags in those days, and I was carrying all my luggage.]

I ate my orange (very good) and got a ham sandwich pus orange drink (2.7NF) for lunch as I was too slow on the draw for the dining car. [At that time there were about 5 NF to $1.00]

I am in a no smoking car and this train is really an express. It doesn't stop anywhere between 1345 and 1800. There are two Frenchmen in my compartment and a girl who smokes Viceroys. I think by that and her watch that she is an American, but she has only spoken French so far.

The Spanish Railroad has really managed to get everyone fouled up. No one could reserve a seat, and yet they are all reserved. I think I have sat in one that is not taken. If worst comes to worst, I will get a W-L for the rest of the trip. The later [farther along] it gets the lower the price gets.

Three Star Dinner

There is a hot breeze. The dining room steward came through and gave me my ticket. My eating today so far including tips has cost about $1.50. I ate dinner in the dining car and it was expensive because the chef was a three star cook, but it was good (18.5F)

The dinner started with noodle consume. I got a half liter bottle of mineral water which was halfway cold. I was so thirsty that I drank 2. Then we got fish, but I couldn't translate what kind. It was boneless and done in butter. Then we had jellied chicken and vichysoisse salad. The latter was boiled potatoes, stiring beans, tomatoes in quarters, black olives, lettuce and anchovies all done up in olive oil, vinegar and garlic. We had a hard roll of course.

Then they came around and offered yogurt with sugar, which I took to see what it was. If you didn't get yogurt, you got cheeses. I knew it was yoghurt because it wsa printed on the top. With sugar it looks like cream of wheat. A little anyway.

Then we got dessert, which was either brandied cherries in ice cream or fruit. I took the ice cream, as I am not up to peeling and eating a peach with my knife and fork in public yet. Then we got coffee plus liquor if we wanted, but I didn't as that was all extra.

As it was, with 2 bottles of water and service charge it came to 24.2F, and I only had about 16F left, so I had to use two $5.00 bills to round it out and got some change back. I felt I owed it to myself however to have something besides coke, coffee an orange and a train ham sandwich while in France.

All my compartment mates on the French part of the train got off in Bordeaux or Bayonne.

pond and sunset from train

pond and sunset from train

Next - traveling to Madrid

Posted by greatgrandmaR 19:33 Archived in France Comments (0)

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