(Part 1 1923 to 1988)
Helen and I have a number of friends who have retired to Florida: Margaret and Henry Raub (Englewood); Rita and Harold Hyde (Sun City), Dottie and Dick Black (Fort Lauderdale), Ann and George Robinson (Vero Beach), Betty and Bill Ward (Delray Beach), cousin Alma and Husband Hartz (Boynton Beach), cousin Virginia and her new husband (died in 1994), Hennie and Aaron Finger (Orlando, since moved to CA).
Sometime in the Fall we received the literature which offered 5 days and 3 nights in FL as a come-on for buying real estate. A number of these offers came in the mail, but this time we picked up the offer because the first site was on the West Coast near Fort Myers (and Englewood) and an alternative in Fort Lauderdale. Since we had so many friends there, we decided to go the end of February and combine visiting with friends and taking advantage of the offer.
There are a number of people we wanted to visit on the way. So we planned the trip accordingly. We decided to drive so we could see everyone and go at our own pace. Our itinerary would have us leave Philadelphia on February 20 and go as far as Chapel Hill, NC, on the first leg. We left Philadelphia under cloudy skies and encountered snow in VA. There were 6 inches on the ground in NC, where we stayed with Frances Dykes. She is a lovely person -- made us feel so welcome. She cooked us a meat loaf supper and we sipped sherry and cognac and finally retired. Helen was also actively launching her PJ ZEBRA sleep wear business; so she was busy making telephone calls at the time. We drove 420 miles that first day. Helen learned that most of the factories in the South had reps in NY; so there wasn't much advantage to visiting factories.
On the next day, with snow on the ground, we went to Frances' Country Club for a late lunch after driving through the UNC campus. I was experiencing a strange noise in the engine; so after lunch, I dropped the car at the local Chrysler dealer. It turned out to be a clicking noise from the defroster. At 1600 we decided to go see Emma Estes Cobb at Carroll Woods, a retirement center. We met her and her daughter Nancy (very attractive) and Emma had us stay for dinner. What a time! Emma must be nearly 90 -- Francis 81 and Helen and me all with slips in memory. Craziest conversation you ever heard. Emma was repeating herself and we couldn't remember things. We went to her apartment after dinner for a visit. She had all her own furniture. She had a copy of Helen's book, and a program from Rich's "Rights Crossing". I took some picture and straightened her carpet, then back to Frances' place.
On Feb. 22 we left before Frances was up at 0725. We stopped at 0800 for a questionable breakfast, then drove through Georgia to Athens. Harry Wooliver, Jr., my friend from the Sons of the American Revolution, had been inviting us for some time; so we accepted his invitation. We arrived at #175 Baxter Drive by 1430. A nice apartment building managed by his nephew, Shuford. We chatted for several ours and then went to Shu's for dinner at 1830. Harry is 86 and drives like crazy. Shuford's address is on Timothy Rd. We met his wife Betty -- very nice, very sweet, very friendly people.
Helen had quite a repartee with Shu. We enjoyed a delicious meal with lots of laughs. Harry had told them all about me and our activities with SAR and PSSR. We covered 320 miles this date.
On 23rd (Thursday), we were up at 0600 and on the road at 0725. Harry is quite a bright and sharp person. He likes people -- had had four wives and is lonely. it was snowing hard in Athens and most of the way to Americus, GA where we met Janet Meritt -- she had been on the Colonial Dames trip in 1988. She was interested in Helen's business and took her to a tog shop to talk PJ Zebra business. We all had lunch together and then we headed South. Trying to make Valdosta and Moody AFB. We checked in at Moody for a cold night. Winter in GA. We had a very nice room with refrigerator and laundry facilities -- $6/each.
After a good sleep we left at 0725 on the 24th. We drove a long 396 miles to Lehigh Acres and Resort -- this was the development we were to visit for a few days. Rather typically screwed up. Their "freebies" always leave something to be desired. Clerks and desk people don't know what is going on and everyone says something different. We finally got the book of instructions after an hour wait. We went to the resort restaurant for dinner ($27.80) good food. We watched some TV and then the resort host called to arrange for the next day. Breakfast at 0715. We had trouble with the heat. Or course, this was Florida and was supposed to be warm -- it wasn't!
I set up a golf tee time for Saturday afternoon -- only time available. On the 25th (Saturday) we were up at 0600, ate with the group and then took the tour on a bus at 0800. Not a bad investment -- they sell you a lot and then will build such and such for you when you are ready. The pitch was the investment value of appreciating property values. Boring area. I wouldn't live here on a bet. I canceled the golf date, we got a pizza at Dominoes and ate on the way to Sanibel Island. We went the long way through Fort Myers -- reminded us of Cape cod. We walked the beaches for sea shells -- not much luck -- you have to be there early before everything is picked up. it was very cold on the beach -- everyone in coats.
It crept up to 60 degrees but was still cool. We visited the various shops and spotted a Kiwanis spaghetti supper for the evening 1700 hours. It was fun -- met many locals and enjoyed the whole affair. She spotted a small repertory theater on the island (Pirate Theater). Thoroughly enjoyed the play (Table Manners) in a cozy theatre. We actually surrounded the actors -- seats for about 50-75. It was a British comedy. Drove bakc to Lehigh Acres.
The morning of Feb. 26, we were up early, ate breakfast, and left for Englewood and the Raubs. The accounts were fouled up -- one thing written and another said. We arrived in Englewood by 1330. It was a beautiful day. The Raubs took us to a nearby bird sanctuary. (They are very much into nature). It was a rookery where we observed the Great Blue Heron, Great White Egret, Aukinga, Greenback Heron, and Grebes. We later drove to Venice, FL and the beach where we picked up sharks' teeth (black). We returned to their hosue and enjoyed drinks and bridge -- the girls clobbered us! On the 27th we took it easy inthe AM and then drove to Sarasota and St. Armands Key. The weather warmed up but we still wore jackets. The tourist crowd was everywhere on St. Armands Key. THe girls went shopping and we had a later lunch at the Columbia -- an interesting fruit salad and stone crabs.
We picked up tickets at the Venice Theater for Wednesday eve. Quite a nice auditorium and cheaper than in Sanibel. We inched our way back to Englewood through the traffic. On the way, we stopped and bought some trout and oysters. After a leisurely supper we played bridge. The men recouped some respect this time. We called the Hydes in Sun City. They were all set for us, but I thought it was too far -- a couple hours each way to Sun City. They gave us the NH news over the phone. Dr. Salmons died. John Foley has Alzheimer's and doesn't know anyone.
The 28th brought warmer weather. We ate pool side. The rest of the country was still in deep freeze. Henry Raub has a pet white egret -- comes around every AM for a fish. Henry takes a fish to the bird, and the bird then swallows the thawed fish whole. Quite a sight for a wild bird.
We planned sightseeing for the day. We went to Gasparillo and Placido Wild Flower Golf Course, Grove City, Christian City. We observed "scrubjays" in the the wild. You hold out raw peanuts in your hand and the birds fly right to you and sit on your arm and eat or take the peanut in the shell from your hand. They fly into the bush and store the nuts away for later. They look like blue-jays without the comb. We each stood there with hands out full of peanuts and scrubjays came out of the bushes. Towhe and quail and small doves, a wood thrush and beautiful cardinal appeared. We spent an hour enjoying the experience. We drove on to Placido Fishery to get seafood for lunch and watch the pelicans. Tremendous wildlife available. We bought stone crab claws, clams, and shrimp for eating at home. It made a delicious lunch about 1500 hours. We then lounged around -- Helen went to the local K Mart and bought golf skirts and slacks which she had to exchange for a smaller size. It was warm enough to go into the pool. Helen went in with Margaret Ann. We ate boiled shrimp pool side and then had a nice steak dinner and plenty of talk. Helen was in seventh heaven. After supper we had another round of bridge and the men got off to a good start. I even made a couple of good hands -- then blew a "doubled" hand and the women caught us.
March 1 was Wednesday. Bacon and eggs. It was nice and warm like Florida should be. We even played an early round of Boggle which we had given to the Raubs. We then drove to the Sarasota area and to Spanish Pointe (the Oaks) Web_Palmeer_Patter (Matantee River). The first settlers homesteaded from Utica, NY on 160 acres. They had to live there for five years. Originally they paid $25/acre. It became a real power. The home was built in 1888. it is now being renovated. The "middlers" is a composite of compacted sea shells since 2500 BC. Calusa Indians settled here -- have since disappeared. In the crowd I met a former substitute teacher from Lower Moreland Joann Belfield -- knows Rob, Sam Clary, Ann, etc.
We returned home and changed clothes for the evening. We went to the Crows Nest in Venice for dinner. We treated the Raubs. I had Louisiana crab cakes, very good. Helen had scallops as usual. On to the Venice Little Theater to see Little Shop of Horrors. It was different -- outrageous really. About a man-eating plant. The theater was nice, and the show well done.
The next day, we lazed by the pool. It rained at night. Margaret Ann prepared a delightful picnic which we ate at Manastoga Beach. It started out as such a nice sunny, warm day. At 1700 we were eating a delicious crab casserole and suddenly the fog rolled in from the SW. We finally left in the fog and played bridge. It thundered that night. On the 3rd we were up at 0730 planning to leave at 1000. We drove an uneventful 200 miles to Lauderdale where we arrived at 1500. Here we stayed in the Days Inn for the second half of our real estate deal. The hotel was full of college kids (the beginning of spring break).
Low income couples, lots of kids, dirt, sand, bare feet, beer bottles. We rested a bit then walked up and down the waterfront. Dirty hippie types. We couldn't wait to get off the street. we decided to drive to Pampano to see the Irish Festival at the Municipal Stadium. $6/each to get in, Irish songs, ate Greek food for another $5/each. Spent over $20 for nothing. We listened to music under the big top for a while and then left. On the way back, we stopped on Las Olas Blvd. for a pizza nd beer. In our room we watched a little TV.
On March 4 (Saturday) it warmed up to 86 degrees. After breakfast, Helen called the Blacks at 1100 and visited them and had lunch at their yacht club. Very pleasant watching the boats go by and enjoying the breeze. We left at 1500 and went to Bill and Betty Wards in Delray Beach. They live in a life care community. Two other couples joined us for drinks and we all went to dinner in the institution dining room -- it was nice. Wards asked us to stay for their Saturday night entertainment (Helen wanted to leave). Bill WArd was in charge of the program -- a magician, so we stayed. We went back to Lauderdale where I spent half an hour driving around looking for a parking space.
On Sunday we left early (0800) and ate at a Denny's en route. We were looking for Vero Beach and George and Ann Robinson. We were happy to leave Lauderdale. I'd never live there. The drive was slow and easy to Vero Beach since we weren't supposed to be there until 1300. Rob and Ann live in a manufactured home. We found out that the Blacks had visited Lehigh Acres ten years ago and are still trying to sell their lot. An awful lot of screwy land deals going on.
We had a light lunch with Rob and ann -- they look well, but then looks are deceiving. Robert had cancer and lost an eye ten years ago. We went to an outdoor art show at the Riverside Center. HElen bought a painting of an egret for Margaret Ann. In April Robbie took a turn for the worse and cancer finally did him in. We went to his funeral in Ivyland (Bucks County).
We drove on to Patrick AFB (Cape Canaveral). it was warm and humid, but we managed to get quarters for the night at the base. The next day we planned to drive over to Orlando, so I was on the phone to Aaron Finger. I inquired into a golf tee time for the next day -- no luck, a tournament was on. What luck -- we brought our clubs to Florida nd we never played once.
After a nice supper at the Officers' Club we found the Base Exchange and bought some snacks. I forgot to mention that the Officers' Club was right on the beach -- beautiful view. On March 6 I got through to Finger and told him we would be in Orlando at 1500. We ate our breakfast in the room and then took Helen to the Base hairdresser at the other end of the air force base. After checking out, we had lunch at the officers' club. It was 12:30 when we drove past Cape Canaveral -- arrived orlando 14:30. Aaron and Hennie were very warm and pleasant. We had coffee and talked. Aaron retired from teaching in New York City. We really didn't know him very well and only saw him once since the war, although we exchanged Christmas cards for years. He always invited us to stay in orlando. After reminiscing, he drove me to AAA looking for discount tickets to EPCOT. No Luck. We went to a seafood restaurant for a good seafood meal. I had flounder Papilliote -- very good. We returned to their home and talked while playing bridge. They participate each year in the Elder Hostel program. They usually go to Minnesota.
The next morning, after a great breakfast by Hennie, we were off to EPCOT at 10:00. It was rainy and cool, so thought it would be a good day for visiting the tourist attraction. It cost $28/each for admission and the place was crowded -- even in the rain. Plastic panchos were selling like crazy. An interesting way to get a peak at different cultures. We took a boat ride to Germany where they were selling souvenirs. We walked to China -- this was well done. There was a particularly good 360 degree film presentation. We then rode the bus to italy -- not too good. Walked to USA, got a bowl of chili (everything expensive). I don't know where the families get all the money. The bus then took us to Canada where we saw as good a show as we saw in France. A short walk took us to Imagination, which I thought was childish and light. The crowd got bigger as the day wore on and even in the rain -- long lines. We finished up with Space Ship Earth, which was very good. By 17:30 we were back to Finger's for a nice roast chicken dinner and conversation. We had gotten our hands stamped at EPCOT in case we wanted to re-enter -- which we did at 19:30. The Exxon show Energy was excellent. The evening crowd was lighter. It was still raining, however. We saw the GE Future exhibit and then went to Mexico. We had an interesting boat ride and then we moved on to Norway. We ended at the GM exhibit which was the best of them all. There was an amazing use of technology in these displays. The place closed at 22:00 with daily fireworks display even in the rain. Back to Finger's for pie a la mode.
On the 8th we were up at 6:30 to try for Myrtle Beach, NC, Air Force Base. After a light breakfast with Hennie and Aaron, we left at 8:30 in the rain and cold. We followed Route 4 to 95, to Jacksonville. Helen tried to call her relative there but to no avail. We drove past Savannah to Charleston and then toward Myrtle Beach Air Force Base. We then ran into snow and sleet (freezing rain). Everything was turing to ice. The Air Force Base was closed because of the weather -- no Officers' Club or billet. We had a discount Econo Lodge nearby for $19.95 plus tax. It was cold and rainy. Caught a bite to eat at the Ponderosa. On the 9th we left Myrtle Beach and passed through Benson, NC, where Helen made a contact for her business. After an hour or two we proceeded to Fort Lee, VA -- reminded me of 46 years earlier on my first trip to Lee. Lots of changes at Lee although I did recognize some landmarks. New billets for distinguished visitors were very nice at $25 per suite. Full refrigerator and wet bar -- we walked to the Officers' Club for dinner -- excellent. Same building as in 1943, but modernized. We went to sleep early and next day had an uneventful trip home. The exception was that we stopped at the Virginia State Library (genealogy) in Richmond.
It was a part-time arrangement in which I would take charge of a group and supervise their trip. The office would schedule a trip and find out if I was available to lead the group. I would then meet the travelers at a designated site, e.g., the Holiday Inn or Travelodge in Cherry Hill. There were several locations depending on the direction of the trip. The arrangement sounded great to me -- pay was $6/hour plus tips. For a teacher, it was a natural -- like a field trip.
The first couple of trips I went with an experienced tour guide. The owner was George Guenther (a member of the Union League) and his wife Kathy. He was rather a figure head, whereas she was the real manager, doing the nuts and bolts jobs -- contracts, scheduling, advertising. Several other girls were in charge of providing information to the tour guides -- leaflets, favors, games, movies, tapes. Everything for the trip. Everything was based on turning a profit -- so when times were good, the travel agency flourished. When times were gad, many were laid off. The travel business is very competitive, so Talmage specialized in one and two day trips, only a few a week or longer. A few places required plane travel. As in everything else, the established guides got the "plums".
I started out on a Saturday one-day trip to the Harbor in Baltimore. Our uniform was a blue blazer with a Talmage patch. i was to accompany another guide, a woman. So I observed and tried to be helpful with seat assignments, passing out maps, and literature. The routine was 1) check everyone on board (most had made reservations and paid in advance), 2) assign seats, 3) make sure everyone was present (we would only wait 15 minutes for a late show). Once en route, we would work with the bus driver on where to stop and when to leave, where we would eat, etc. 4) assist passengers on and off the coach (we never called them "buses", 5) once at the destination we would make sure everyone had tickets for admission. On the Baltimore trip we would go to the Aquarium, then allow so much time for shopping. On this trip we always ate at the German restaurant (Hausners) on Eastern Ave. I had been there a number of times before. While on the road, the guide would tell jokes and stories, lead singing if the groups was so disposed. On this trip I led the singing and had fun.
From 1991-1994 I did this and had a wonderful time. it gave me a chance to do my acting/singing as well as to see some interesting places. Plus there was a little money coming my way. It was satisfying to me, but Helen didn't want me to do it.
Over the four years, I traveled to lake Placid, Tamiment, Washington DC, Baltimore, Shenandoah Valley, Williamsburg, Long Island (the Hamptons), St. Michaels MD, Annapolis, Gettysburg, Ocean City MD, New York City, Saratoga, New England.
It was fun for the most part. Sometimes there were unpleasantries. On the Lake Placid trip one of the ladies broke her leg swatting flies in her hotel room. I had to arrange the hospital visits and get her home when we left the Glen Falls NY area. Another time on the Long Island trip, an older man slipped and fell in the bathtub. His female companion quickly flew him home -- he was married to someone else. Then there was the trip to Salem MA for whale watching. The seas were too rough, so we didn't go whale watching -- had to create an alternate plan -- a boat ride up the river. You know the travelers weren't happy with that. Then there is always the problem with food. Someone is always unhappy. In Salem, the coach wouldn't start after a nice dinner and at 22:00 we were sitting in a deserted parking lot trying to get the passengers back to their hotel. At about midnight the town police were able to arrange for a school bus -- I was worried because a number of the older travelers needed their medication.
On one trip I took Helen along to Williamsburg VA. It was a "gala" with dancing and banquet. She was picked as "Queen" and got a free trip to Gettysburg the next year.
Everything came to a halt around January 1994 when I decided to take the role in Dear Ruth at the Rainbow Theater.
At any rate, in 1993 she wanted to use the "swap" arrangement so she proceeded to try to find a likely vacation spot abroad. As you might suspect the places you want are never available -- e.g., Riviera, Bavaria, etc. She finally ended up with a resort called Knokke Heist in Belgium. No American had ever heard of it. She made plans anyway, so on March 11 we drove to Boston, left the car with Rich, and he deposited us at Logan Airport.
The reservation was for a week at the Van Gogh in Knokke Heist, Belgium, for the 12th through the 19th -- a seaside (North Sea) resort. Being in march, there obviously were plenty of openings. Originally, we thought of flying Military Space Available, but the international situation was unsettled and a number of bases were closed, plus I didn't want to go through all the hassle with connections, etc. The resort was nowhere near any military installation, so we would have had to pay for train tickets, etc.
We flew out of Boston on Northwest Air to Brussels ($460). (Philadelphia to Boston would have been an additional $138 each, so I decided to drive to Boston and stay with Rich.) We didn't get to see Bob. he was visiting Harvard, Yale, and Princeton; or Heather who was in Florida with school friends. Mike was getting ready for an upper mandible surgery next week (Rich was giving blood this evening). Tim was in school and Barbara was working two jobs. We arrived in boston at 16:00 -- quick visit -- the plane left at 20:45.
The flight took us to Amsterdam where we changed to KLM for the hop to Brussels. The airport was crowded. In Brussels we picked up a Hertz car after customs (Peugeot 100 compact). it took a few minutes to figure out how to operate the car -- then looked over my maps and proceeded out on the highway. The ride to Knokke Heist took 1.5 hours. Entering town I stopped at the fire brigade for directions. Our hotel (Van Gogh) was at 209-211 St. Parmentierlaan. The area looked like Atlantic City in places, with all major roads leading to the North Sea. It was 48 degrees and sunny. Found the Van Gogh and parked in front. A small hotel between other buildings. It had just opened for business. We were early so the manager told us to come back at 15:00 and the apartment would be ready. So we left everything in the car and walked to the North Sea shore. Lots of people strolling along the promenade. Breathed the fresh sea air and visited a sidewalk tavern. Helen had a Coke and French fries. We were trying to figure out what language they were speaking -- Flemish. You could hear French, German, Spanish. All the waiters handled English well. On the return walk we came across a nice "super"market. We bought some basics -- bananas, bread.
Back at the hotel, they weren't ready until 16:00, so we had a mineral water in the lounge area. The apartment was a pleasant surprise -- new, 2 bedroom, alrge living room/diningroom/kitchen, with large TV. Each room had its own heat. Two baths -- shower and tub. We had bought some frozen Chinese take-out food which I heated up in the microwave. Watched local TV and flopped into bed. Everyhing was brand new. We slept well.
On the 13th we drove to Brugge. Interesting countryside. They drive on the right side of the road. Before we left, we had a meeting with Filip, the manager, and then bought a few items at the nearby grocery. I had lots of fun trying to understand the Flemish -- amazing how you can get along with hand signs and cognates. We had a reception for new residents with champagne -- Filip went over the rules, etc. Met others, including Vincent and Loret (Belgian) from along the French border. he is retiring from the wine business. He travels to Tennessee, kentucky and speaks English. His wife doesn't do English at all. Filip had his wife and children there and the hotel opened in July and they are waiting for a five-star rating. He lives in Ghent. Since this is Helen's vacation, I agreed to prepare our "budget" meals. The apartment is very comfortable -- spacious and private.
In Brugge, we enjoyed lots of quaint charm. Taking things easy, we had a rough time with directions. Things are never where they are supposed to be. There was underground parking advertised "T-Zand". Signs just disappeared so we made several circuits before we ended up parking in the city center. Local parking rules needed some study. Put coin in central meter which produces a ticket, which you place on the dash visible form the outside. 120 Belgian Francs for two hours. I didn't have enough coins and merchants wouldn't give you change, so went to Wissel (exchange) and it cost 5 francs for each 100 Belgian franc. One of the locals helped me operate the meter. Spent our time walking about the square. Helen was in every shop. Took lots of pictures and avoided buying a lot of things. Very quaint and old (1100 AD). I noted it somewhat better than Siena, Italy.
After two hours we drove back to the apartment and found our way without problem. Croci were in bloom and forsythia were coming out. Lots of canals and levees (low country). Countryside was quaint with farms and cattle, smell of manure (nitrogen) filled the air. many of the locals ride bicycles -- they have a special lane on the roadways. At the Van Gogh, we had tea and then ate and planned a visit to the casino -- three blocks away. We took a nap until 20:00 and walked to the casino. The streets are safe and there were other walkers as well as teen roller skaters. The casino was fascinating in the old world style -- elegant. Not like Atlantic City at all. Clients are the wealthy from Europe. Helen led the way -- you had to buy a membership for 300 Belgian Francs ($10) each.
We discovered that they were playing French and American roulette and one table of 21. Not many patrons, but very plush. Helen spoke with the cashier and bought $20 chips. Played roulette and lost. We wandered about watching the various games non-chalantly -- sat for a while and read about the casino (no slot machines). We were back in the apartment by 20:00 so we had a local beer and popcorn and watched TV, then to bed.
The hotel has an international flavor with Dutch and Canadian girls, an English family group from Brussels, and the couple from the Flemish part. On the 15h (sunday), we planned to explore the nearby bird sanctuary, on the Dutch border (the Zwin). Knokke Heist is a resort town and people from all over Europe come here to stroll and shop, eat, walk the Zwin. About two miles from the hotel. The fee was $4 each so we stayed outside the fenced area. However, the various birds didn't pay attention to the fence, so you could observe them quite well. We watched storks (noisy) build nests in trees. All kinds of marsh fowl. You need boots to go into the marsh area.
We ate our picnic lunch and then returned to town where we parked and walked. The town was crowded -- a bright warm day in the 50's. There were a number of antique shops which were open. Helen enjoyed telling the people her "dealer" story. A variety of shops were open which we enjoyed. Returned to the hotel by 17:30, had cokes and toasted cheese squares. Watched BBC, took nap, and had micro waved dinner. Turned in for a rest before Ghent tomorrow. On the 15th we were up at 0700 -- bright and clear. After breakfast w set out for Ghent. Distances are not great as in the US. Tried to follow the route which Filip gave me, but I made a wrong turn. In the town we went around and around looking for parking. Poor signs and maps. by the third time we parked, it was 12:30 and all the shops were closed as were the public buildings. The girl at the Tourist Office was of little help. No public toilets for free -- 7 francs. Went into Ratskeller. Walked around Grotenmarkt. We sat in the park and ate lunch. En route to hotel got lost, saw some unplanned sights. Stopped at roadside antique shop. Some spoke no English. Later on we discovered Antiek Replicas -- furniture made in Portugal, then aged and sold as antique replicas. Very nice work.
On the 16th we headed for Brussels. Helen thought her ancestors (Duke of Burgundy) came from Belgium in the 13th century. We were in Brussels by 10:30. Parked in garage near Grotenmarkt. Visited St. Catherine's -- pigeons flying around inside. Went to Tourist Office and tried to locate the Mergeay family -- Rich stayed with them in the 1960s. No luck. Brussels we observed was much cleaner than Ghent. Too many dogs and their dirt. Finally took a walking tour. Lots of construction going on. Belgians all seem to be doing very well -- dressed nicely. The only beggars were musicians -- student types. We found prices to be high. We located Manequin Pis -- famous small statue. We stopped in the National Bibliotheque -- nothing on Esteuse for Helen. it was built to honor King Leopold or Albert. Lots of old ruins. Also, NATO Headquarters. Helen bought a souvenir plate of M.P. and driving home I made a wrong turn and we saw some more of Brussels. All of this driving was done on half a tank of gas. Back in the hotel we rested and I made another visit to the grocery. Had fun with Flemish. We turned in early to be ready for the next day in Antwerp. We made this trip on the 17th. Antwerp means "throw the hand in the river." Located on the estuary that leads to the sea. All these Belgian towns have a Grotenmarkt. So on this cloudy day we proceeded to the center. The tourist office was stingy with information. Had a map for walking -- wanted to see the Art Museum. Helen wanted to see the diamond merchant section. She came with me and then we found the Art Museum closed for renovations. The tourist office could have told us this earlier. We were doing all of this on foot.
We did find several interesting antique and toy stops. But a couple of items for the grand children.
Walking again we found Museum Mayer where we paid 150 Belgian Francs each -- a rip off. The museum didn't have anything worthwhile. Back to the Markt where we ate French fries. When we returned to hotel we took a swim in their little pool for an hour. We were pinching pennies during the whole trip, but we still had fun.
The next day we decided to return to Brugge. It had been so nice before. This time I found the T-Zand parking under the town. Very convenient. We had hot chocolate and a croissant. A couple of school girls interviewed us for their school project. We walked around the canal in Brugge, very romantic. Helen had fun finding her zebra -- turned out to be an embroidered piece. It was cool this day. We drove to the town of Damme. Small, quaint shops. This was the port for Brugge, now the waterway was almost completely silted up. You can see Brugge from Danne. This was our last day -- it had been a short but pleasant week. Some place most people would not go -- we enjoyed the exclusive nature -- a secret for us.
So I met with David and Cindy Di Savino at the theater and read for them. David was directing and both like me for the part. So I said "yes". Rehearsals would start the last week of January and the show would open early February and runt through may. A long commitment. Helen griped all the while. She complains when I take on such things and then proceeds to show me off to her friends and family. Somewhat confusing.
of course, such a long run means that you are out of the lop for other better-paying acting/modeling. Pay $40/performance, $5 for each rehearsal per hour, reimburse for gas. This was the winter of bad weather -- lots of snow an dice. I drove back and forth each day -- on occasion I swapped rides with Ginny, but this was not satisfactory. First, I don't like to be responsible for another person. Amidst the snow and ice we started sharing on January 31. I thoroughly enjoyed the discipline. A great role as the father and judge. It was stimulating working with the excellent cast. Ginny played my wife. Ed Kemper played the Lieutenant, and Lyn Weiss played the love interest. The play was written by an award winner Norman Krasna. The show received good local reviews. We were hit by a blizzard which snowed us in for two nights -- so we were put up in a motel (Revere Inn).
Over the run, Helen had various family and friends attend. We could get a number of free comps for each show. I invited the Mables from Columbia, and Bill and Ronnie Walters and their friends. Several of the Glee Club also saw the show. Even folks from Huntingdon Valley showed up as part of their retirement village excursion. I located a Seltzer cousin in Exton -- Lucille Seltzer Garrison. Uncle John's only child. Never met him. He lived in Palmyra PA too. He was the brother of Gus and Grandpa Henry -- known as Harry to his friends. Lucille and her husband saw the show and later had Helen and me to dinner at their home in Exton. she had written to me re: genealogy. Found my address through the Historical Society in Palmyra. All in all, it was a great show and a great five months. David called me in 1995 to do "Nothing But the Truth" in 1996, but I declined. it wasn't until 1998 that I was in the mood to "stage it" again.
Nessie received us in her inimitable way. Talked till 1600 and took a nap until 1900. We enjoyed sherry before dinner. Talked in the library. She is so interesting. Made plans to go with Nessie to church -- the Oratorio -- next day (Sunday). We finally got to bed by 2415. On Sunday 9/25 I was up by 0800. Helen slept in. Nessie drove her sporty little car to church. Catholic service in a beautiful church. We were out at 1230 after coffee. Back to Kew. I then caught the train to Kings Cross to correct our 7 day passes. It was 1530 by the time I returned. Nessie's son, Paul, and grandson, Alexander, arrived at 1630. The young man is 8 years old. We gave him a Greek mythology book which he seemed to like. Looks like his mother, Isabel. Helen told him all about his Estes background. They left at 1900 and we continued talking and sipping sherry in the library. On Monday the 16th we went shopping in London. Used our weekly passes to go to Knightsbridge (Harrods) then on to Beauchamp St. at Caroline Charles. Helen bought a scarf for 45 pounds ($60) continued window shipping and had lunch on the sidewalk at Grove Tavern. We like fish and chips and potato shells. Helen was looking for needlework at Pasttimes. To liberty on Regent St. Wonderful stores -- the help are so professional (just like in the TV show "Are You Being Served?") Lots of walking. Returned to Kew at 1600. Bought some cards and had tea in a nice little shop. Back to Nessie's. We have such interesting chats with her. She is still active in the Catholic Actors Guild -- knows famous actors, e.g., Alec Guinness, Lawrence Olivier, John Gilgud. After a walk around Kew we had sherry and watched TV BBC "Coronation St." This was followed by "Eastenders" which we regularly watch at home. Of course we get it a year later. After a delightful dinner, Helen arranged to see Virginia Bradford on Thursday. She'll be 95 in November -- not in very good health at this time. She's married to a fellow in his 40's who takes care of her.
The Glee Club was planning to end its tour in London and I wanted to arrange for Nessie to see our program at the Carlton Club. Instead of doing this, the three of us visited Isabel's grave (Old Chiswick Cemetery. She died in 1987 at 39 years. We put potted roses on the grave. Took pictures and visited the church where we met the Vicar's Warden who gave us a tour. Cromwell is supposedly buried under the choir (headless of course -- good story anyway).
General Montgomery was married in this church (it is on the Thames River). Nessie took us to Chiswick House. A lovely park with beautiful flowers. We ate lunch on the grounds. It was 1600 by this time. Back at Nessie's I sketched her Egerton coat-of-arms for future reference.
Next morning Helen slept while I took a walk around Kew. I like to do this wherever I go -- one gets a feeling about the vicinity walking about -- not to mention exercise. I took the opportunity to arrange a cab for Monday when we sing at Carlton. Cab will pick us up at 1820 arriving at Carlton by 1900. Then the same cab will pick us up at 2200 -- I didn't want to take a chance on hailing a cab at that hour. (14 pounds each way). Back in Kew I stopped to help an Indian girl and her male friend who were hanging a door on their new restaurant. Walked along Kew Road to Liongate of the gardens -- the boundary of Richmond. later when Helen was up, we walked to the center of the small business section of Kew and had a snack. Then we took the train to Sloane Square. Here we caught the #11 bus to Westminster and the Strand to Covent Garden. Nessie had told us about this area -- the Actors Church (Episcopal). Victims of the plague are buried beneath -- eerie! A lady fixing flowers told us all about it. Felt like we ere in My Fair Lady. Corpus Christi (actors church), Maiden Lane. Fond the patron Saint of Actors -- St. Gen? I didn't have my camera so I have no visual record of this spot.
We stopped at the Anglesey Pub and had a Plowman's sandwich. Chatted with men from Birmingham -- the youngest was Royal Air Force. They gather once a year called "Brotherly Love". On the way back we passed the Strand Palace Hotel -- rode the top deck around Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, Parliament. We had to stop in Peter Jones for Helen -- luckily she couldn't find anything she wanted to buy. It was now rush hour, so we had a crowded ride on the Underground back to Kew. We had a shepherds pie at the tea house. We arrived at Nessie's as she was leaving for Alexander's school concert. We then relaxed with TV and Helen reading from Tolkien -- weird!
Thursday 9/29 (the Glee Club left Philly) I bought some wine for Nessie and changed some money at the bank. Friend of Nessie -- Alfred Jacobowski visited and we drank wine. He is 90 and was in the Merchant Marine during WW II -- sailed between Scotland and Halifax 12 times. We all enjoyed his stories.
At 1215 we met Grace Cannons on the Kew platform and then all took the bus to Virginia Bradford on Askew Crescent. En route, we stopped at a sandwich shop for cheese and coffee. We knew Virginia wasn't well -- Grace has been looking after her for some time. Once there, we met John (Virginia's seventh husband) very considerate chap. Virginia was still hamming it up even at her age. She likes me! She wanted to go to the park (Ravens Court). John pushed her in a wheelchair in the street -- Helen, Grace and I on the sidewalk. Virginia fed the swans, geese, ducks, and pigeons. Then to the tea house where she had her cup and carrot cake and special soup all the while flirting with the operator. We took Virginia home and then returned to Kew via Hammersmith and underground to Kew. I used up a whole roll of film which I took for development.
On Friday, Nessie guided us to Richmond. She knows the area so well. Elizabeth I house on the Thames, Richmond Hill overlooking London. We met Grace at a little restaurant and spent several hours over potato shells and tuna sandwich. Nessie went back to Kew and we walked up the hill with Grace. At the top a beautiful vista of the Thames. Mick Jagger's house is on the hill. Grace lives in a bed and sit at the park -- very small quarters. She put us on a bus #371 to the train station and then back to Kew. I picked up the developed pictures and Helen made a hair appointment for Monday.
This was our last day with Nessie. In the morning we leave for Cambridge. So on Saturday we proceeded to Liverpool Station and bought tickets for the 1110 to Cambridge.
This was the group's first attempt at a concert tour abroad. Paul Welde, conductor and lead tenor, was enthusiastic, as was Craig Hall, tenor. The latter was instrumental in making the travel arrangements. His wife, Alice, was a travel agent with Talmage Tours. Unfortunately, Craig died in July in the midst of our preparations. This was a real blow to all -- we missed his fine tenor singing. We had 13 singers who finally made the trip.
We met the Glee Club at the Holiday Inn on Downing St. in Cambridge. it was raining lightly. We immediately headed for the Castle Pub with Hal and Jean McGay. Instead of a coach to Mildenhall, the sponsoring group, Anglo-American Society, took us in cars. A Don (retired Air Force Colonel now teaching in Cambridge and at the U. of Maryland overseas). We stopped by billeting -- couldn't find my bag of gifts I had brought over. We went to Beckrow Community Center where the ladies had set up tea -- very enjoyable, everyone so warm and friendly. Following tea, we set up for a rehearsal in the meeting hall. We had time to visit with the local sponsors and get acquainted.
Our performance was a t1930. Two hundred people paid $8 each. Everything went well. We were dressed in black tie so we looked good. It was fun starting out with God Save the Queen and the The Star-Spangled Banner. My solo as "If I were a Rich Man" from Fiddler on the Roof. Event he town mayor and his wife were in the front row. We feasted on fish and chips after a very successful concert. Even the audience enjoyed the singing. We stayed with Joe and Sheila Herbert. He is 71 and retired form the super market business. Now they travel. They have a son in France and Bahrain. They have a lovely home -- we slept nicely. On Sunday, we all were up by 0800 and after breakfast the Glee Club was off to the local Methodist Church -- they have itinerant clergy. This Sunday, it was a female Anglican priest in an ancient church. 1829. We sang so as to shake the timbers -- everyone liked "When the Saints Come Marching In." Our "Battle Hymn of the Republic" really brought down the roof. We then traveled a short distance tot he Officer Club at Mildenhall where we enjoyed a sumptuous brunch. I still couldn't find my missing bag. Our coach arrived at the Hotel Strand Palace at 1745. Helen and I made our way to Kew and Nessies' warm home.
Monday was free until our rehearsal at 1730 in the Strand. Helen and Nessie were to come by taxi to the Carlton. It was rainy and humid. Lots of confusion getting to Carlton. Helen and Nessie arrived and I met them. This is where we had come with the Colonial Dames in 1986. Strictly a political club (Tory -- Conservative) -- they sponsor debates, never a music program. They didn't even have a piano in the building. We brought our own electric keyboard. The food was great. We sang well. The crowd was mostly young and the females were very rude, talking and drinking during the singing. Many oxford grads. A Mrs. John Price sat beside me -- plays golf.
doctor across from me and his wife don't like socialized medicine. Nessie sat on my left. She was in her element. I called the cab and changed the pick up time to 2315. We had a good driver and got home safely. The far was 28 pounds plus 3 pounds tip -- pricey but then the dinner was free since we were guests.
On Tuesday the Glee Club met at the Strand and then took the train to High Wycomb for a Rotary luncheon via Charing Cross and Marlebone. Beautiful day for a train ride. Passed William Penn's burial place. Rotarian Tony met us in High Wycomb and we walked a short distance to the Royal Legion Hall. Rotarians gathered at 130. I had a small lager and chatted with members. They had a real dinner of port, stuffing, veggies, greens. We sang for 30 minutes. That's nice about Rotary -- you know it will be short. They seemed to like us. We were back in London and hotel by 1700. We all sat around and had coffee and then took the #11 bus to Throgmorton Ave. for Carpenters Hall -- same society that sponsors in Philadelphia. Bill Hough in the Glee Club is an architect and arranged for this program. Beautiful building -- the group organized back in 1400 AD by carpenters guild -- lots of tradition. A wealthy group. They own most of downtown London. Members don't even pay dues. A fine meeting hall with grand piano -- cocktails at 1830. We met members and wives and then sang 30 minutes. Meanwhile Helen had visited with Grace and Nessie for the day.
Wednesday was an off-day, so I wrote cards and packed for Thursday. I read some on George V. Thursday, we had arranged for a taxi to get us to Heston Services on the M4. Here we waited till a little after 9000 for the coach, which brought the Glee Club from downtown. A great day for a ride. We passed Windsor/Eton to Newbury. We changed over to the A4 and Marlborough and stopped at Avebury, the site of monolithic stones and mounds. Took lots of picutres -- fascinating array of stones -- lots of conjecture how they got there. On to Philip St. Norton a wee bit of a village off the beaten path. We found the St. George Inn after narrow bridges and weight limits.
A delicious meal in a 1294 AD buildling. Beef kidney pie, lager, veggies, fruit dessert. We offered toasts to everybody and everything. Obviously enjoying the trip. We were late getting to Bath for a guided tour. Checked in the Hotel Bath and then took a bus tour of Bath. Paul Welde not feeling well, and Mather Lippincott was on the mend. Considering our ages it's a wonder more weren't ailing. Charles Nagle was the oldest member at 87.
The Friday trip is to Penzance. We were up at 0600 and met the coat at 0730. A bright day with everyone in good shape. We went through Wells with a brief visit tot he cathedral. On to Ancient Glastonbury. Made a toilet stop. We were now in King Arthur land. Lots of legends here. We were in Exet at 1115. Walked around till noon. Bought some crackers and went through the cathedral. Helen found Carey tomb. Archbishop of Canterbury is a Caery. We ate a sturdy English dinner at noon, then drove to Plymouth, past Liskeard (Annie Mae's town). Viewed the towers at the abandoned tin mines. Once very active. Now all quiet. Only one still active in Cornwalll.
We arrived in legendary Penzance at 1630. Met our hosts for home stay at a big parking lot. They held up an American flag to welcome us. Once again, Rotarians were hosting. Ours was Ian Halford, who drove us to St. Clare School for Girls. He is the headmaster. A lovely mansion on the hill -- 80 boarders, 160 enrollment. Boys up to 11 years. Met Jane Halford (wife) very hospitable. Had lovely tea. Chatted and got acquainted. We have a twin-beded guest room in the main stair case area. The headmaster's flat is adjacent. We used the bath down the hall -- girls aren't supposed to sue it on the weekend. Ian waited for us to change and then took us to St. John's Hall in town center where we gathered for rehearsal on stage. program started at 1900 instead of 1930. Great acoustics. There is a resident active music society which Ian and his son belong to. Ian here for 9 years. He taught French and German in Pakistan. The program included "With a Little Bit of Luck." Everything went well for the two hour concert. Annie Mae had come all the way down from Liskjeard for the evening. A great audience who loves to sing. They have a series of program like ours. Ian took us to the Meadary -- a medieval type restaurant -- you eat with your fingers. Finger bowls and napkins. I had shrimp scampi. Annie is vegetarian. Helen had prawns. Ian and Rotarians were all there -- didn't finish until 2330. Back to the school and bed. Here they had put hot watter bottles in the beds. Annie drove all the way home by herself.
On Saturday Jane brought us morning tea. We then had breakfast with about a dozen of the girls who were staying over for the weekend. members of Rotary met us and rode the coach around the area. UP the hill to a summer theater with view of the English Channel and then the Atlantic Ocean. On to Lands End -- the area is organized for tourists with audio and video shows of mean against the sea -- life saving examples, life boats, not like ours. We had lunch o our own. bus took us along the Cornish coast via St. Ives and Mt. St. Michael -- not enough time to walk there. We returned to the parking lot where our hosts met us. Back at the school, we discussed education. It seems the St. Clare School is in bad shape financially. Declining enrollment -- many oriental boarders. A shame because the facilities are great and Ian and Jane are wonderful. Ian thought the school might have to close. Only 28 boarders. The economy is still poor in England. Ian is 55 and Jane 57. He goes to numerous exhibitions advertising the school -- not much response. The author Le Carre lives nearby. We certainly had an enjoyable visit. Retired at 2130.
Sunday was a travel day. We had breakfast in the room and then assembled at the parking lot for our drive to Salisbury. All the hosts were there as we said our good-byes. Lunch was in Exeter at a road service facility (Burger King). Beautiful countryside. Stopped by Stonehenge. Admission 2.85 pounds. We didn't go through the fence. You can see everything from outside. A real tourist trap. Being Sunday, it was crowded. It was s short drive to Salisbury -- the cathedral has the tallest spire on any cathedral. Our overnight was at the Rose and Crown Hotel. very nice. King sized bed. We took a nap and then had supper at 2000.
Monday began with a full English breakfast. Then on the coach at 0715. Jolly time on the way with singing and chit-chat -- planning another trip. Ended at Heathrow. We picked up a Hertz rental while the Glee Club caught their flight home. The McGay's picked up a car for a side trip to Scotland. Monotones were going on to gReece. We drove a Fiat stick shift. I like being in control. Made some screwy turns and finally got on the M25 around London then to M11N. Stopped along A11 -- couldn't find "reverse" so just turned around. We arrived at Mildenhall at 1230 (1008 miles). There was nothing going out on this day. At this time Saddam Hussain was threatening in Iraq, so planes were all going West and South. This is a refueling base.
We signed up at billeting -- doesn't look good. Lots of people in the terminal since no planes are leaving Milled around the Officers' Club and Helen played the "fruit machines at 5 cents. I returned the car two blocks away, then stood in line for a billet. We got the last one, building 479 Room 6714. It turned out to be a nice suite. Had a nice steak dinner at the Officers' Club ($6.95 each). We found the lost bag at the taxi rank. Back to quarters. Terminal said call at 0230 to find out about possible 0400 show. It turned out that there was no flight.
On the 11th, we moved bags to the terminal and sat in the Distinguished Visitors Lounge. Walked to fast food breakfast. Signed up at billeting again. No flights scheduled, but you never know. Some planes left for Germany and ROTA. On the 12th we checked out -- no quarters tonight, base filled. One plane left for Andrews Air Force Base, but no seats. We though of alternative -- fly to Aviano Rhein Main and Pick up Dover flight. had bags ready and tickets when flight was diverted to Manchester because of fog. Back to the Distinguished Visitors Lounge. We noted a C141 scheduled for 1155. A 727 to Aviano/FRF pulled in at the same time. We were torn between the two. Our bags had already gone through and we were checked in. As it turned out the C141 only had 30 seats, so we would not have made it. So off we flew to Aviano and FRF.
A great flight -- wonderful geography lesson -- over France, Germany, Alps to Aviano on the 727. 1520 hours disembarked in Aviano for refueling then waiting on the runway from 1645 to 1715 while F14s took off. We flew west to Turin and north to France and then FRF. Arrived 1900. Checked for lights to Dover. One DC10 show time 0630 with 100 eats. So we went to the Distinguished Visitors Lounge (06 and above). the lounge was closed at 2200 so we had to sit in the terminal. Had to vacate at 0300 due to a bomb scare. We were hustled into a bus and taken to the base hotel where we sat in the lobby. Our flight first was called for 0840. While eating breakfast it was announced as 0720. We rushed like made back to the terminal. As it turned out, we waiting until 1100. A real mess, but that's Space Available. The plane was a big commercial charter direct to Philadelphia. Good flight -- comfortable trip landing in Philadelphia at 1420. After customers we took a cab to the apartment. I then took a shuttle to Dover the next day to pick up the car.
This time Helen and I flew with the group on British Air from Philadelphia. Took off on Oct. 2, 1997 at 1825 to London. A brand new 777 with individual TV. Service was grat -- all seats filled. The Glee Club had seats together so we had fun chatting. Lots of talking and excellent food. Changed watches as soon as we took off -- at 0300 lights were off and we got 40 winks.
We arrived on time at 0600 -- British Air is well known for punctuality. We sat in our coach for an hour while Bill Wynkeep went back to the plane for his raincoat. The coach moved out to Duford to the air museum. The American section was newly opened and contained examples of all WW II aircraft up to the present. the famous B17 Memphis Belle is there permanently. At 1330 we droveon to Milden Hall where we were met by Wayne Crandall from the Roary, who co-ordinated the homestays.
Eventrually, we met Peg Haylock (recent widow) who owns a chicken farm. We were all very tired. Peg had tea and chit-chat, then we dressed for our first program, at Tuddenham Church. I lost my voice ont he plane -- something int he air -- so I really didn't sing well. The church was quaint -- old, small. Could seat only 30, but they seemed to enjoy it. Afterwards we went to the sports hall for fish and hcips. Finally to bed about 2300 after a tour of Wayne's home. He is from NY -- married a Brit. Has a place in Florida.
On Saturday the 14th Peg prepared a fantastic breakfast. This is Helen's favorite meal. Cereal, sausage, bacon, eggs, etc. We then walked around the garden and farm buildlings. She runs a big egg business. We then drove to Smokehouse in Mildenhall for an AM rehearsal. Talked about going to Newmarket races -- Helen very much interested. A gruop decided to go, so we piled into several cars and took off. We rode with Davie Coates and family. Fred is a member at Newmarket, so we followed him in. He showed us around. Tide and jacket required in our area of the stands. Helen bet and won a couple of times. It was a straight-away track and we could only see the finish. Had to watch the race ont he big screen.
Back to Smokehouse, hwere Peg picked us up. We had tea and changed for the evening eprformance at Bekrow community center. We performed for an enthusiastic crowd of 130. Finally got to do our Barber Shop Lida Rose. ladies served us Shepherd's Pie after. Everyone was so gracious and hospitable. We were back at Peggy's by 2300 and packed up early to get up on Sunday. Peg has kept in tourch with us each Christmas since our visit.
Sunday October 6 we headed for the old Methodist Church that we performed in last time. Paul Welde did several religiuos solos. Even thoug the atendance was small, we made a "big" sound. Afterwards we adjourned to the Officers Club for burnch -- said our fairwellsa nd took coach to Southampton.
We settled in the Postehotel. Coates had arrived ahead of us by car. The hosts had come and gone -- we were late at 1700. So we hung out until 1900. It turned into a big Rotary evening with 200+. Lovely meal. Lots of wine. We shared the program with a singing group of amateurs -- mostly young and female. They sang first. We sang after the meal. Our hosts were Christopher and Wendy Cox. Lovely people. This Rotary was made up of many well-to-do business men. The program lasted until 2200 -- gave us a standing ovation. Helen won a bottle of port. We all received a basket of fruit from Rotary.
We went to Chris and Wendy's house nearby. Sat and talked until midnight. He's a retired estates auctioneer. She does photography and is a grandma with two children intheir 30's. I was still bothered by my throat -- some sort of allergy, I think. Used lots of throat lzenges.
On Monday we were off to Exeter. We left Southampton at 1000 and arrived Exeter 1230. Pretty Devon countryside even though heavy traffic and a brief shower. our hosts met us at 1700. Peter Evans is our host. As a gruop we walked up a hill past the cathedral and then down a little alley tot he wine bar run by one of the Rotaians named George. All veyr quaint. Everyone was hungry. We ate lots of cheese, all kinds. It was on water and orange juice. At 1430 we were on our own. We shopped High St. Helen was looking for Diana items. (Princess Diana was killed in a car accident in August). Nothing like stamps available for a year, we were told at the Post Office. Bought CD of "Wind Beneath My Wings" -- also a set of ear plugs and Nigroids recommended by locals for my voice (throat). Clerks in Boots pharmacy weaer uniforms and very professional int heir dealings with the public. Back to the hotel where Peter met us and drove his BMW to his suburban home. He's quite well off with his own constructino company. His wife Pat, by contrast, works at the local school. She couldn't make the concert but her daughter Penny and husband Steve (Canadian) and his parents (from Toronto) were there. We enjoyued talking in his conservatory. Helen had champagne. I had tea. Voice still in bad shape. They ahd three dogs. Nice property with gold fish ponds and palm trees. AT 1845 int he heavy rain we drove to the Deanery and the daughter et al. followed us.
We sang in an ancient hall (500 years old). It was crowded with Rotarians and guests. It was suppposed to be cocktails first, but we never managed that. We worked our way to a crowded table. The buffet was veyr complete -- tasty too. Some of it was catered by the wives. My voice was only slightly better. peter heads the Rotary Club fund raising and so he was busy. There was a silent auction and then we sang to raise money for charity. It was a amodified program until 2230. There were about 90 guests corwded into the samll room. Veyr appreciative. We made a good sound. By the time we cleared out it was 2330. The rain had stopped. We met Pat and talked for an hour before bed.
Tuesday the 7th I took a needed bath and packed again. Eveyrone assembled at the hotel at 1430. Yeswterday's little lunch (cheese and crakers) ened up costing $22 each, because they lumped everything together and divided it up among the Glee Club. We were under way at 1130 through more of Devon to Torquay on to Totnes at 1330. Hosts met ups. Terry Jayne (I ahd written to him before we left the US) a nice fellow, crippled -- he was in charge of the affair. His wife is in educatin and arrived later. Terry took us to Cott Inn for lager. We then drove in his car to the Great Hall at Darlington where we would sing in the evening. We had tea iwth Terry. Edith arrived at 1700. they planned a light supper before the program at Darlington. Their home was intersting -- set in among farm buildings -- veyr functional. Terry works out of his house, using his computer.
The program was a great success with the Mayor and his wife in the front row. A beautiful hall with great acoustics. A 30 man Barber Shop chorus also was on the bill. This was one of a numer of cultural programs they ahve during the year. I was fast losing my voice -- we didn't do our quartet number. After the program Terry and Edith had a number back to their home (not eveyrone) for wine and cheese. We met a lady who went to college in Brentwood and knew the headmaster there.
Bed by 2400 -- change int he weather -- windy and rainy. A note, by Christmas we learned that Terry had died. Sad day.
On Wednesday the 8th we left to go to the Seven Stars Hotel where we met the group and the coach. Terry took us there -- Edith ws off teaching.
Terry had had a number of heart operations and got around on crutches. He was an amazing host.
The coach took us to the Royal Air Museum. We lunched along the way -- lentil soup. Wind blowing. Rain falling. On to the Museum. British museums are outstanding. There were many WW II and WW I aircraft, also a helicopter ride to an aircraft carrier on water nearby. Helen and I didn't take the ride, however. Not enough time.
On we went to Malmesbury for dinner at Old Bell Inn -- excellent pork dinner. I should mention Mike Dillard of Squires TV1 planned most of this trip and did a fine job. We then proceeded to Marlborough and the Ivy House Hotel. Here we watched a little TV -- the ever-popular CNN -- and a little tea before bed.
Thursday Oct. 9 after a nice sleep and solid breakfast we walked around the town. This is where Cardinal Woolsey was ordained.
Changed some money at the bank. Helen found a nice thrift shop and bought a nice wool sweater wroth 100 pounds -- cost 5.99 pounds.
Our coach went via Windsor to Kew and left us off at Nessie's corner. Very convenent.
Had a delightful visit with Nessie, where she had lunch for us. I called the Sloane Club in London (a reciprocal with the Union League) for Saturday evening dinner reservations. Called dranddaughter Heather at BADA. She was in between blasses and will meet us at Sloane on Saturday at 1730. We then dressed and took the underground to Royal Hospital at Chelsea.
Quite an extensive set up for veterans. They call them "pensioners". Residents are retired Army primarily -- all men. They wore blue sweaters, shirts and slacks with a small pin showing their rank. Brigadier Ross (Commandant) welcomed us int he Refectory, where we started with tea, then fish and chips. Residents must be without spouse. Two were vets of WW I. Most were WW II, and of course all the other British campaigns.
We moved to their club which is a large pub. Here they drink and smoke. many are hard of hearing. We mingled as did the women. They loved this interaction. I even had a pint myself. We sat with vets and a number of employees. Tom was quartermaster and antoher Tom (Scot) who is their Sergeant Major and works with Bridagdier Ross. Chapain there too.
We began our program at about 1930. We warmed up as we went along. So did the audience. Then at 2030 we took a break and ate a curry meal (many of the men had served in India).
My voice ws still crakcing. By the second half, more vets came in and the place was crowded. There was Charlie the tailor whom Helen befriended. We did our sing along -- everyone joined in and had a ball. The vets usually go to bed at 2100 but they continued on until 2200. We got back to Nessie's by 2300.
On Friday the 10th we visited with Nessie and gave her the Snow Globe of Philadelphia. We mailed Helen's bok to Leslie Jones in Wales. Did some laundry, then arranged for cab for Saturday. We'll have Heather with us and drop her at her residence. She spent her junior year abroad at the British American drama Academy (BADA).
TAVERN in SOUTHWARK (Bridge on Thames). Coach took a short tour of London – past the TOWER and WESTMINSTER. Very nice dinner with wine (this was included in the trip expense). The ladies did a little number as did the Barbershop Quartet. The wine relaxed my vocal chords. We’ll try it again on Saturday. Sounded good. Left at 2015 and rode back to the hotel. Helen and I caught the underground to KEW. Back by 2130 so we had time to chat with Nessie. Looked at pictures of her daughter SHEILA’s manor house for sale CTRYLIFE (she’s asking $1 million – bought 3000 acres on COLL NW of Scotland. Isolated. Paul and Alexander are coming on Saturday. Bed by 2300.
Saturday, October 11 – up at 0800, showered. A
rainy day. Spent most of the day talking with Nessie – she is
such an interesting and charming perswon. In mid afternoon,
after we had dressed – PAUL and ALEXANDER dropped by. We visited
until the cab arrived at 1630. Gave mugs and Hershey kisses to
ALEXANDER and PAUL also Rich’s book. Alexander is no longer
taking violin lessons – he continues on the piano – her didn’t
want to play anything for us. I played the IRISH NAT’L ANTHEM as
practice for tonight. Took a couple of pictures. Cab was on
time. Drove us to SLOANE Club 52 Lower Sloane – arrived 1700
they were just ending tea. We went to the bar for a glass of
wine. HEATHER arrived at 1730 – so sweet, she looks very good
(age 20) is having an exciting time studying acting at BADA –
she gets to see many plays cheaply. Dinner was served at 1800.
Good service, excellent ambience. We were served quickly so we
could get to the IRISH CLUB 82 Eaton Sq. by 1730. Tuna steak.
Helen had Chicken. We walked a few blocks in light rain to the
Irish Club. Arrived in time to join the Glee Club in rehearsal.
Disappointing crowd – they said it was due to competition with a
football match in Italy. About 20 people. Started out slowly
then warmed up as we went on. Some sat on their hands. I did my
MASTER OF THE HOUSE and it went well. So glad Heather could be
there and meet Nessie. Nessie will help he meet theatre people.
We sang until after 2200. Glee Club members were upset by the
poor reception. The Glee Club gave them the UL Bowl- they
reciprocated with a WATERFORD glass bowl. It all ended on a good
note – several of the wives didn’t attend. Cab arrived on time
at 2030. Drove Heather to her flat at PARKWEST. She shares with
3 others and they cook on their own. Back home by 2300.
Sunday October 12 – we were up at 0700 waited for cab at 1100 – chatted with Nessie. Cab took us to Heathrow. Lunch at the airport. Plane loaded at 1400 but sat on the tarmac until 1545. Crowded 747 – good service but small seats – push and shove. Arrived NEWARK 1730. Got in a van to PHILADELPHIA airport and then to our apartment. Ate WOK Chinese then to bed.
Helen wanted to use her Interval International membership and I was ending my run as the Grandfather in YOU CANT TAKE IT WITH YOU – the Barrymore part -- At the RAINBOW DINNER THEATER in Lancaster County. I was burdened with acute prostititus. I was wearing a bag on my leg for the last month of the show. I needed a vacation. So Helen arranged for 2 weeks at the MARINA GOLF in BENALMEDINA, SPAIN. (Costa del Sol)
WE left on May 28 on NW DC10 from Philadelphia
to AMSTERDAM . Plane was late
And we missed our KLM connection to BARCELONA. We had to stand in a long line to be scheduled. Ending up on a waiting list for 1615. NW gave us comp meal chits and we ate seafood in the terminal. Too tired to know what I was ordering. We proceeded to ‘service’ for a ride to gate D84 at the opposite end of the airport. After waiting until 1700 we were the last to get seats on KLM 1673 to BARCELONA. So we were on our way. Not so quick! Once on the plane (separate seats) the pilot announced that the Spanish government only allows flights in and out of Spain at certain times – we have to wait until 1900 hrs to take off – unbelievable!
Finally in the air at 1915 – the 737 was crowded. Served sandwich and drink, then dinner with dessert. Landed BARCELONA 2130. Beautiful large airport. Built for the Olympics in ’92. Helen’s bag was lost – went through the claims procedure. Picked up limo to the Hotel GAUDI, in the center of the old city. Very nice at 9500 esp – cab was 3800 plus 200 tip = $28. We’ll find a cheaper way back via train or bus.
Registered for an afternoon 2-hour tour for Saturday. Our room overlooks the GAUDI MUSEUM.
Saturday, 30 May – Slept like a log – I was able to stretch out in bed all night without prostate problem. Shower and shaved, cleaned underwear, etc. Looking at maps and waiting for word re: Helen’s bag. Breakfast at 0730 – 1100 included. After breakfast we headed out on the RAMBIA – shops, lots of people. Helen bought a tee shirt with American $ - supposed to be $4. Pickpocket had his hand in my pocket trying to get my wallet. Four guys work together – one steps on your heel and pretends to clean it off while another tries the pocket. Great beginning! They were unsuccessful. I had on new trousers with a button pocket which was hard to unbutton. I called for police and pushed the thieves off. Of course the police were not around. At the square a couple of female gypsies were pawing over me. I pushed them off. We found a place to take the Aerobus to the Aeroporto. We stayed for a pizza lunch. 1300 pst. Had dessert while waiting for tour bus. 1230 hrs. Nice vehicle, lousy tour. Supposed to be English speaking – girl spoke mainly French and Spanish even though only a few on the bus needed it. A rip off at 9150 pst. Cost 10000 pst at the terminal. Saw a bit of GAUDI – ad nauseum! Done by 1900 hrs. Ate a late supper at the hotel. Still no luggage from KLM.
Sunday 31 May – Up at 0600 slept OK lots of reveling noise outside, fireworks. Checked out, breakfast and on to the aeroporto. Cab to aerobus – 865 pst – aerobus to airport 2 at 475 pst. Arrived 0930. Checked with KLM – no luggage found. Left address. Checked in for Air Europa to GRANADA at 1230. Bought water and ate banana and orange. Waited in M2 – studied maps and driving details. Helen looking around the terminal stores. BARCELONA aeroporto is beautiful, spacious, lots of marble – terrible acoustics. Time table kept changing. Finally at 1342 we took off in a jet stream prop-jet. Had to be bussed on to the tarmac. Satisfactory snack in the air. I had a Frankfurt back in the terminal. A 2 hr. flight arrived 1545. Hertz wasn’t on duty but showed up while I picked up luggage. Helen’s bag turned up – as KLM had said they put it on board another plane. It took a half hour to do Hertz paperwork. As usual there are always extras, e.g., gas at end, major damage collision, liability, etc. I think it cost another $70. Nice new car. The agent explained car locks, trunk, AC, etc. No problem getting out of the aeroporto to GRANADA on to the main highway to MALAGA. Map numbers don’t agree with road signs – kept on toward MALAGA. The fun began by passing MALAGA Signs are not the same as in directions, so we went on and off rte 340, stopped at a gas station. No one speaks English. After several stops in BENEMADENA asked police – we finally stopped at TORQUEBRADO casino. Beautiful hotel and attendant gave me good guidance. The MARINA GOLF resort is just a high rise apartment house. No marina, no golf – they are nearby.
Reception got us to 605 – he was very polite and helpful only works Doming so he couldn’t do anything about changing rooms. 605 is quite nice – breezy, good vistas. We were both dead tired. We didn’t unpack because Helen wants a lower floor. So we settled for eating in the restaurant. So for $13 Helen had beef and I had chicken. Not bad at all. We took a short walk afterwards. There is no indoor pool. Cool in the eve. Back to the apartment and bed by 2200.
This was a trip sponsored by the Parkway Senior group led by CORINN. We were scheduled to travel by coach at 0745 from West Roxbury but the coach was late so it was 0900 before we got underway. We enjoyed the ride; TOM AND MARGE sat in front of us and JACK and MARY DONELL sat behind. Our guide was BILL ALLEN. As we went out Rte 90 to Sturbridge for the first stop.... The group was friendly – some came from Salem and others from Wakefield. This coach was full. We traveled down Rte. 684 to NY – Tappan Zee – had lunch in E. Brunswick, NJ at the Marriott. Very good.
While enroute we viewed a 2 hr. video on the World War II Memorial Dedication – good to know what was coming. We passed Philadelphia via NJ Turnpike on to Baltimore. Bill Allen was lively with jokes and stories. Reminded me of my tenure with Talmadge Tours. We arrived at Tyson’s Corner, VA. Courtyard Marriott at 1900 hrs. Dinner at 2000 – nice buffet and then bed by 2100
Friday, May 20 – RAIN! Breakfast in the hotel was OK then we were on the coach by 0800 for a ride to Arlington National Cemetery. Lots of traffic. It was pouring rain. At the Visitor’s Center we got tickets for the tram tour of the cemetery. Couldn’t see much – got out at the JFK Memorial. I didn’t get off – everyone had to walk up the hill in the pouring rain and back again. Sat on the tram and then went to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A long walk in the driving rain. Helen stayed in the Visitor’s Center where it was dry. At the memorial we waited awhile in the rain for the hourly Changing of the Guard at 1000 hours. Soldiers performed.
More driving rain. Very impressive ceremony. Had to walk then wait in the rain for the tram. Everyone in our group was soaking wet. The rain did not deter hundreds of adult and school groups from viewing the memorial.
Didn’t get to see the Columberium where I plan to be interred. Tour Director changed the itinerary because of the rain – coach returned to the hotel by noon. Some went on to the Smithsonian. Helen and I decided to eat lunch at the hotel and then rest until we were to go to the Dinner Theatre at 1645. Coach left on time – in the middle of the rush hour – wall to wall cars via 495 to get to Columbia, MD – TOBY’s DINNER THEATER. Enroute we watched the video FAT GREEK WEDDING – funny. Passed Silver Spring and the new Montgomery Blair High School at Four Corners. At Toby’s, the theater building had us in the round. Crowded – 300 seating was inadequate; push and shove at the buffet; food only so-so. The show was BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. I must say it was an outstanding production. Lasted from 2000 to 2300 then back to the hotel in 30 minutes – no traffic. Bed by midnite.
April 3, 2006 – Sallie picked us up at 0500. She knows the way to Logan Airport. Unloaded at Delta curb. A young lady put Helen in a wheelchair. Had to go to the inside counter to rearrange the flight. Original flight to Atlanta was cancelled. New flight went to Orlando, FL, lleaves at 0800 then to Baton Rouge at 1300. We had a strange breakfast and a ‘wrap’ on the plane. It was a crowded B727. The wheelchair was helpful for the great distances involved at Logan and Orlando. From Orlando we flew a small EMBRE 145 to Baton Rouge. The flight was uneventful. We were an hour late for our connection with the coach to Natchez. Had fun spotting the Dames in the airport and on the plane. “There’s Nothing Like A Dame” – you can spot them anywhere! They look aristocratic – many are professionals or own their own businesses. Eight of us…
The van driven by WALT(a Natchez native who guides tours) 84 miles on rte 61. In the van: MARTIE FRITZ and BLANCHE SIEGFRIED (mother and daughter. Mother is Helen’s age – bride during WWII . MARTIE lives in Concord. BOBBIE DE MARNEFFE and LILLIE JOHNSON all very friendly and helpful. Helen did real well with all the climbing in and out and stairs. Arrived at MONMOUTH PLANTATION 1600 hrs. Got Rm. #22 – typical ante-bellum. Beautiful room with massive canopied bed, etc. Immediately got on the coach for ride to headquarters of the Natchez Historical Foundation for orientation talk by RON MILLER – very interesting – then wine and soda and talk. Busy getting names straight. Two other men along – JOHN TALBOT FROM California with daughter GINGER (young) a stock broker and then PETER GRANT and wife LIVINGSTON. ETHEL HAMAN (President of Dames) and KAREN MCFARLAND. She really looks like a dame. PRISCILLA MURPHY & VICTORIA BABCOCK – young sisters we met at the plantation;. With mother PEGGY PLIMPTON. After the talk we drove to LANSDOWNE – a private home in the Natchez style. Lovely old place. Dinner was excellent. Salad, pork, sweet potatoes, rice, peas, ice cream with raspberry pie. Followed by black ladies who sing Gospel. They also served the meal. Lots of old photos and paintings. At dinner we met DIANA WARD, BETTY PEARSON formerly of Atlanta and MADI GRANT, EDIE HUNNEWELL and of course our leader GINA WHITE. We sat with different folks each meal. Back to Monmouth by 2115. Tired bed and sleep. Helen was having trouble climbing the steps – arthritis!
Tuesday, April 4 – up at 0600. Helen up at 0700 then to breakfast. We have a full day of house visits. Nice warm but not hot. Sent cards to PENNY and to COLLEEN for her birthday. Our guide GAIL HENRY did a great job as we started with COTTAGE GARDENS – 18th Cent. ROCOCCO, AMER, IRISH and ENGLISH antiques. Beautiful weather. On to ELMS COURT. Gail spoke of Spanish. It is a live plantation and then there is the Resurrection fern which looks dead on the trees and then turns green when it rains. We had seafood lunch lat DUNLEIGH on the way to OAKLAND & MONTAIGNE. Helen stayed on the coach rather than walk to THE ELMS and HOPE FARM. All privately owned – all part of NATCHEZ Garden Club. Visitors on the Pilgrimage only at certain times of the year. This is one of the weeks. Azaleas, camelias – beautiful. We ended up at LONGWOOD, the most fantastic of all. NATCHEZ Indians worshipped the sun. Now extinct. Evening at BONTURA along the river. Miss DONES entertained our group. Finally to bed 2130.
Wednesday, April 5 – Up at 0600 Helen slept till 0700. I had the hotel bring her a breakfast tray. I don’t know if
On to GLENBURNIE (1833) in a park like setting. Local black ladies selling homemade pralines. We had lunch at STANTON HALL, Helen stayed on the coach most of the time but made all of the meal stops. We ate with ETHEL HAMAN and LINDA CULLAN. Helen had a Southern fried chicken – I had a salad. After lunch we went to ROSALIE on the river bank. Beautiful view of the Mississippi River. This home served as the Union Army Headquarters during the Yankee occupation of NATCHEZ from ’63 to ’65. Now owned by the Mississippi DAR. Lovely gardens: roses, azaleas, delphiniums, etc. Everyone was exhausted by this time and now 1600 back to MONMOUNTH for cocktails and fabulous meal. Our guide GAIL left us.
Took a group picture and presented gift to GINA WHITE who organized the trip. After dinner we rode to the Municipal Auditorium for the CONFEDERATE PAGENT. Everyone should see this! All local talent from age 3 – 60, depicting stages of NATCHEZ life in the antebellum period. All the ladies in beautiful hoop skirt gowns. At one point girls go into the seats and pick a dance partner – a cute little high school girl named MAYA asked me to waltz with her – a great affair. The Dames liked it. After an hour and a half of pageantry the program ended with the National Anthem.
Thursday, April 6 – Up early, bags out, etc. I had breakfast and the kitchen prepared a try for Helen in the room. Today we go to FRANCISVILLE, LA and then to the airport for 1330 flights. The ante-bellum house in ST. FRANCISVILLE is called ROSEDOWN. I got a nice booklet of the plantation with lots of pictures. A beautiful site. The ride to Baton Rouge was uneventful.
Box lunch enroute and we caught our flight to Atlanta airport the Delta hub is a monster. A van took Helen and me to the Boston connection Flight at 1730 and we landed in Boston at 2005. After a long walk to baggage. Chuck Hartley met us. Lots of goodbyes to the Dames on their flight. At home by 2130.
We were living in Wynnewood, PA, at the time so on 19 May we took a cab via Cobb’s Creek Parkway for $30. The airport was crowded on this Friday – one bag each and one carryon. It was cool and rainy when we left Wynnewood. We had a muffin and a coffee at 5 PM then to Gate 19. Our plane (flight 66) leaves at 1820 hrs. We left on time in a BA777 seats E & F 21 on the aisle. Awfully tight squeeze. The flight was uneventful – I watched a movie re: Gilbert and Sullivan – very good. Small screen on the seat back in front of me. We had a good supper – slept a couple of hours with eye shades on.
We arrived Heathrow on Saturday the 20th on schedule because of a strong tail wind. Helen took jet lag tabs which seemed to work. Called Nessie at 0700. Nice conversation after I figured out the pay – operator was helpful. A stewardess changed $2 for 200 pence pieces so I could call. Waited in the terminal for one hour for gate information. Flight BA500 to Lisbon was late – change of equipment because of bald tires. Left at 1000 instead of 0935. A 757 with crowded seat space – snack enroute. Arrived 1230 Lisbon – not a bad aero port. Chased all over for customs and baggage then check in again with AIR PORTUGAL
At 1615 940 min) flight to FARO. 500 Es tip to bell hop. A big mess at FARO trying to meet our service car. Finally found a girl with our sign “Seltzer” – drove like mad to resort Club; PRIAS de OURA on the ocean. Turned out to be a big ‘bait and switch’. All the brochures show a fabulous exotic building and we ended up in a dingy apartment – up and down little streets. Helen had a fit! After much bitching and complaining we had dinner in the restaurant – OK but nothing great – not too expensive. It was 2200 before we finished. Too late to buy any groceries. Only a couple of bottles of water. We unpacked, but with the plan of getting something better in the AM; We’ll see! Sunday, May 21 – slept well, good air, bed OK. Packed up for planned move. I wonder what will happen? About noon before we got going after “Charlie” an English lad cornered us on a gimmick “to sell Time Share”. He took us up the hill to his office – rode part way and then we went thru the spiel to sell – Helen wan a bottle of champagne. Had breakfast and then back to reception to get room change. Meanwhile, big black clouds came up fro the South across the water and it rained hard for over an hour. We sat in the lounge and watched one of the Jedi movies on the big screen.; Finally it stopped raining; and the manager had us look at 106 – at the end of the main complex overlooking the ocean. Helen bitching all the while. Didn’t like it after ups and downs; on lifts and back to the office. Showed us J15 up the hill above the main complex; and near the MERCADO. Waiting for bottled water – can’t drink the tap. Place crowded with all types, families, etc. Helen liked J15 – it would be ready by 1700 – went back to first room and packed. The J15 was ready by 1500. So a bell hop ( High school student who works weekends took bags to new location – bath and bed upstairs and LR and DR on first floor with patio overlooking garden with flowers and pond. Took a nap and good but no frozen entrees. So I think we’ll eat out in the eve. Bad night – bad bed – not much sleep.. Monday, May 22 – up at 0800 bad be d. Helen commenced to change rooms again. Much ado took us to a beautiful suite. Helen couldn’t stand the height – back to negotiations. They promised a new bed in the same room – we said go ahead and enjoy the vacation – bed will be adjusted. Had a breakfast of oatmeal, toast, coffee and orange juice. Then for lunch I figured out the stove and we had grilled cheese and soup. Ice cream bar. Signed up for a tour to PORTIMAO – on the coast for shopping; and wine tasting. Then to ALBUFEIRA ALL IN THE Algarve (Faro is the capitol – major wine country of Portugal. AL prefix came from the MOORS ALGARVE was the western zone of their empire.
We stopped at the waterfront of PORTIMAO and then to shopping along VASCO de GAMA st. Stopped for wine tasting – a real trap. Bought a small port wine. Back by 1900 hrs. had senior dinner before 1930 ‘goulash’. Back to the apartment. Bed seems OK now. This area is much like Spain – semi-prosperus. Good prices on everything. We plan to lounge tomorrow then tour on Wednesday. TV seems to be only Starwars in English. Bed by 2230. Slept well – cool in nights, warm days.
Tuesday 23 May – Slept late, breakfast in the
apt. Wore shorts for the first time in years – they fit. We plan
to loaf today at the resort CPO (Club Praice de Oura) Made
scrambled eggs. Shampooed Helen’s hair. Read some Chryanlbeim
and The Sword – Ruth Benedict. Sunned in front of the apartment.
Took pix and walked to reception and made reservations for
tomorrow’s shopping trip. Walked to beach and promenade area.
Sat at the outdoor café for a couple of hours watching beach
activities. Helen had beer and peanuts. Back to CPO watched
bowling on the green for awhile then on to the pool area. Under
umbrella rested an hour or so watching bathers. Back to
the apartment for ice cream bar which had melted in the
“freezer’ – WHAT A JOKE! Helen ddidn’t eat – I did. Back to bed
early. Up at 0700 for 0825 bus ride. Wednesday 24 May –
breakfast of oatmeal, toast and coffee. Bus at 0825. Cloudy –
showers in AM; Bus to QUATIERI MERCADO a gypsy flea market. You
haggle – don’t buy at the asking price. Helen almost suckered on
a table cloth. Crowds of tourists – pushing. Portugese seem
hospitable – let you cross the street. After a couple of hours
we sat at an outdoor ONDA MAR CAFÉ. I had coffee, Helen had
milkshake and crisps. She got diarrhea on the way home. I
reserved van for the airport on Friday at 1430. Bought a cotton
slouch hat in the hotel kiosk 1300 ES = $7. At the flea
market, I bought a small watercolor with sunflowers from a
German watercolorist – didn’t haggle. Back by 1300 made grilled
cheese. Helen was in the john and bed all afternoon – I read and
sunned – made a weird dinner. Helen didn’t eat much. No English
TV -- except sports – pretty sad. Thursday, 25 May – up at 0730
– both slept well – diarrhea seems to be cleared up. Helen on
immodium. Scrambled eggs for breakfast. Trip to FARO at 1345
from up the hill. Pleasant bus ride stopped at CARMELITE
church – 13th century andchapel of bones – took pix 12th and
13th centuries were out and graves were dug up, so they made the
chapel from skulls and bones. Into the old city and waterfront.
FARO is the capitol of the province ALGARVE. On to the
cathederal of FARO 12th century. Burned in earthquake of
1755 then became the seat of the bishop. Now being renovated
with carved wood and gilt paint. Organ showing Chinese influence
during the Portuguese impress period (MAGOA).Helen bought some
gifts and had gelato and then ride back with Annabella as
guide. Ate at Suzannes and back to the apartment to pack for
trip home tomorrow. Watched German TV, met a number of Welsh and
Cutch, no Americans.Friday, 26 May – up at 0730, packing, using
up food. Checked out at noon. Van to Aeroporto – 1430.
Uneventful flight left at 1750. Lisbon Aeroporto a mess – can’t
get to check in until 0615 tomorrow. Checked bags overnight $5.
Finally found a restaurant. Airport food. Played double
solitaire – will sit until kicked out. Sat up all night in the
restaurant. Sat. 27 May – 0600 picked up bags and checked in BA
at 0615. Tired – had tea and croissant while waiting. Security
people don’t know English – unaccommodating. Plane took off late
– 3hrs to LDN Heathrow back and forth customs. Plane 747 left
late (made up time enroute) Plane crowded. Too much to get
comfortable. Met a couple of Penn State girls back from Russia.
I put on eyeshade and slept a little of the way . Helen had all
kinds of trouble in and out of the seat. In PHL on time 1900
hrs. but no van to Wynnewood. Ended up taking airport shuttle to
Market East and then train to Wynnewood. Helen bitching – me
dragging luggage. Home by 2230 –read mail and then bed.