Monday, 06 April 2015 21:56

2010-4. Europe- Madrid

 

High speed train to Madrid.

 

Milton at the back of the Royal Palace in Madrid.

 

At the Prado museum. Exhausting but wonderful.

 

Madrid's Royal Palace.

 

Me in front of the Royal Palace. The picture is taken from the steps of a huge cathedral but it was closed by the time we got out of the Royal Palace. It was Columbus Day weekend and they celebrate Columbus Day in Spain and everything closes early.

 

 

Published in Fifties
Monday, 06 April 2015 21:54

2010-3. Europe- Barcelona & Sitges

 

In Barcelona, we bought a Barcelona Card for unlimited rides on the metro system which we only used once to ride from the airport to Passing de Gracia station. From there we rolled our carry-on's the Axel Hotel that bills itself as "hetero-friendly." Although it is popular with gay people, there were plenty of straight people there as well. It is a very nice hotel. We were upgraded to a "superior" room.

The hotel is in a "gay" area of Barcelona and we did look at various gay bars in the neighborhood but didn't go in any of them. The dance clubs don't get started until about two in the morning and we just can't stay up that late anymore.

axelhotel"hetero-friendly" Axel Hotel

 

barcelonalaundryBarcelona street with laundry hanging out to dry. Actually, you really didn't see laundry hanging out to dry much in Barcelona because they have an ordinance against it, we were told at the hotel. Apparently the people on this street didn't get the memo.

 

lapedreraLa Pedrera (Catalan for 'The Quarry'), is a building designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí & built during the years 1905–1910, being considered officially completed in 1912

 

La Pedrera

 

BarcelonaBuildinAn interesting building in Barcelona. The city really has some nice buildings.

 

miltonBarcelonaStarbucksMilton at the Starbucks on La Rambles.

 

ramblastreetperformerA street artist on La Rambles. There were many.

 

From Barcelona, we took a train to Sitges, Spain. My friend, Kathleen, had told me about Sitges, otherwise I would have never heard of it.  It is a small, gay friendly, beach community about 45 miles outside Barcelona. We were using my iPhone GPS to tell us when to get off the train and we lost the signal and missed our stop. Others told us it was Sitges, but I deferred to my iPhone as these same people had told us other stops had been Sitges, too, and by the time we actually got to Sitges, I didn't think they knew what they were talking about. We went one stop too far and had to take the next train back.

sitgestrainstationTrain station in Sitges

 

miltonbalconysitgesMilton writing in his journal on the balcony of our room at Calopolis Hotel in Sitges.

 

sitgesbalconyviewView from our balcony at the Calipolis Hotel in Sitges.

 

miltonwaterMilton in the Mediterranean Sea.

 

sylsitges3Me sitting on a bench on the malecon in Sitges.

 

churchfromsitgesbalconyAnother view from our balcony in Sitges.

 

miltondinnersitgesMilton at dinner in Sitges

 

sylsitges4Sylvan in Sitges

 

miltonsitges

 

After spending the weekend in Sitges, we returned to Barcelona on Monday. 

 

See that huge tower way off in the distance? The tallest thing on the horizon? That is

 one of the towers for the cable cars that take you from the port to Montjuic, a small mountain with great views. That is where we are standing in this pic. I wanted to find the Funicular de Montjuïc to ride down the mountain, but we had got off the wrong metro stop for the cable car and had to walk a couple of miles around the harbor and Milton was exhausted and was drifting into cranky time, so we walked down the mountain and found a metro back to the hotel to take a nap.

 

BarcelonabeachesThis is a pic of the Barcelona beach from the cable car.

 

Batlios HouseCasa Batllo is a building restored by Antoni Gaudí and Josep Maria Jujol, built in the year 1877 and remodeled in the years 1904–1906.

 

MiltonAxelHotelMilton at the roof terrace bar at the Axel.

 

roofofLaPadreraOn the roof of La Pedrera in Barcelona. You can take a tour of the building and an apartment.

 

segradafamiliabarcelonaSegrada Famila.

 

 

Published in Fifties
Monday, 06 April 2015 21:53

2010-2. Europe- Paris

 CIMG9687

Video of our visit to Paris in 2010.

 

After a few days in Amsterdam, we took the high speed train to Paris. They had free wifi in first class on the train and served a meal and a snack. It was a very comfortable trip. We stayed at the Hotel Leveque, where we had stayed previously but this time we were very disappointed in the room. It was about half the size of the room we had before and looked much more shabby.

CIMG8952

When I complained, I was told that the previous time we had stayed here, we had been upgraded to a "triple" and that was why it was larger. We were told that no such rooms were available at this time as the hotel was full. We considered moving to another hotel but then decided that would take up a lot of time and energy and we didn't plan on spending much time in the hotel anyway. We surrendered to the situation and let go of our expectations and proceeded to have a wonderful time.

Although the room was much too small for two big, 6'4" men, with no place to put anything, there was a lovely view of the Rue Cler from our balcony.

CIMG8950

 

We visited the Arch Triumph again. We didn't go in it as we did the last time. We were hungry and looking for some fast food on the Champs Elysees. We found a place called Pans and Friends or Company or something that made great sandwiches and had tables on the sidewalk. We didn't realize that the metro line under the Champs Elysees was closing early due to construction and so we had to walk quite a ways to get back to where we could catch another line back to our hotel. We got pretty close to our hotel before the entire metro closed and we had to walk the last half mile or so. We felt safe everywhere we went in Paris, though, and everywhere we went in Europe for that matter. We did see a few indigent people sleeping on the street but nothing near the numbers of homeless 

CIMG8754

and indigent on the streets of San Francisco. We didn't see ANY indigent people in Amsterdam.

When we had visited Paris the last time, we did go up to he top of the Arch Triumph and way, far in the distance, we saw what looked like another, more modern arch and were interested in getting a closer look this time. We took the metro to "modern" Paris and were impressed with the wonderful architecture all around us and the huge plaza absent of automobiles. This arch is actually a 348 foot tall office building. There is an elevator that you can take to an observatory deck but the day we were there, it wasn't operational.

This was near Le Grande Arch. Milton standing in front of a thumb.

CIMG8756

Europeans don't tend to drink coffee in the same way that most Americans drink coffee. I like a big cup of coffee in the morning and a demi-cup of expresso does not satisfy my needs. And it is a rare thing to ever get a refill of coffee at a restaurant or sodas either. "Breakfast in America" turned out to be our favorite place to start the day as we could get American style coffee with all the refills we wanted. Their western omelette was wonderful. Near each table there was a fifties style toaster and you were brought the bread and made your own toast. It was in the gay neighborhood, too, which made it even more fun for us.

CIMG8740

This was my third time up the Eiffel Tower but I just couldn't see visiting Paris without another trip up. This time we went at night when there is a much shorter wait. In the day time you might stand in line for an hour but we went late enough that we walked right in and went straight away.

CIMG8815

We loved strolling in Les Halles and elsewhere in Paris or wherever we were in Europe. Maybe it is because of the density of population in the European cities we visited, or maybe it's the tourism, but it seems like there is much more "strolling" on the streets of Europe than you see here. 

miltonleshalles

New York's Time Square is the only place I can think of that might be comparable to Les Halles in Paris, or The Dam in Amsterdam or La Rambles in Barcelona or The Gran Via in Madrid. The last time we were in Europe, we noticed the same thing in Venice, Florence, Rome and Athens. People are in the streets in mass, taking the air and people watching and enjoying life. I think that might contribute to the relative lack of obesity? Maybe they don't have cable? I guess Americans are more spread out, too and mostly in cars? People do stroll in San Francisco, but no where near the numbers you see in European cities. If you have ever been in San Francisco on New Years Eve, that is kind of what it is like in Les Halles in Paris on a week night (without the goofy hats and noise makers).

meonSeineMe on a boat in the Seine.

symilonSeineMilton and I on the Seine in Paris

 

miltonnortredamMilton on a boat on the Seine with Nortre Dam in the background.

 

miltonVersaillesMilton at Château de Versailles

 

sylmiltVersaillesBoth us us at Château de Versailles

 

sylmilVersaillesChâteau de Versailles

 

VersaillesChâteau de Versailles gardens.

 

 

Published in Fifties
Thursday, 02 April 2015 17:53

2005-6. Europe- Athens

 

Sylvan and Miltons European Adventure 2005

ATHENS

9-19-05 Day 14

Milton got up first and showered and finsihed packing while Sylvan took a shower. We had a wake up call but we also had an alarm clock we carried with us and were awake before the wake-up call.

It was still raining when we left the hotel but barely enough to even get out the umbrella. We bought our one way metro tickets to the airport at the tobacco shop. We took the metro to the Termini station where we would catch the train to the Flumicino (Leonardo di Vinci) Airport. From there it takes about thirty minutes to get to the airport.

We had purchased "Europe by Air" vouchers and had made a reservation to go from Rome to Athens on Aegean Airlines. You must purchase these before leaving the states and they allow you to fly just about anywhere in Europe for only $99.00, but when we got to the airport, Aegean Airlines did not have our reservation! I showed her all the documentation I had from the internet interactions with Europe By Air. She asked for a "confirmation number" and I kept showing her various numbers on the printouts but she would say, "no, that's not it." Then she said that the plane was full! This was kind of stressful to say the least. Finally the lady said that she had two seats available (When we actually got on the plane though, we saw plenty of empty seats and have no idea why she had said it was full).

Once we got our boarding passes, boarding itself was pretty chaotic. We were sent to one gate but then after sitting there for a while, someone announced the plane would depart from a different gate. We went over to that gate but the monitor there said that the plane to Madrid was departing from that gate. It was a little confusing for everybody. Apparently nobody was able to change the monitor so it was consistent with the actual plane that was departing.. The plane to Paris left from the gate where the plane to Athens was supposed to leave from and the plane to Athens left at the gate that said Madrid which was actually where the plane to Paris was supposed to leave from. I would avoid Aegean Airlines in the future and clarify everything with Europe by Air if we every used them again. If you were to book with them, after booking and getting your confirmation from them, call the airline itself and make sure they have the reservation too!

Once we got to Athens, we asked directions for the metro that goes to downtown. Once we located it, we were impressed with how modern and clean it was, especially compared to some of the subways we had ridden elsewhere in Europe. We assumed it was newer because of the recent Olympic games that were held here. It took about 30 minutes to reach our stop at the end of the line, the Monastiraki station.

Click here for a site with 360 degree pic of the Monastiraki area or here for another view at night.

We easily found our hotel about two blocks from the metro station using the 3x5 card with directions.

We were pleased with the size of the room, # 413, and the included air conditioning and t.v. that had C.N.N. and another English speaking channel. It was a little odd to us that the bed was not made but during our whole stay there, housekeeping would only leave the sheets and blanket folded on the bed after cleaning the room. I guess a lot of people just sleep on top of the sheets in Athens because of the heat?

There is a good sized closet that is about three feet wide and almost two feet deep.

There is a wood laminate floor. .

The bathroom also had this soaking tub. It was not big enough to stretch out in but you could sit comfortably in it. There was also plenty of hot water. There is a nice sink in the bathroom with a well lit mirror.
The patio door opens onto a private balcony pm which there is a small table and two chairs.

There wasn't much to see from the balcony but you could see a benzantine church to one side and off in the distance on the other, you could see the Acropolis. It was also a great place to soak in the sun and to dry out some things we washed in the sink.

9-20-05 Day 15

We got up about nine this morning. They serve breakfasat until eleven on the second floor. Ours is included in the price of our room but otherwise they would charge eight euro. It is truly "all you can eat" and offers a selection of three cereals, a choice of fruit cocktail or peaches, ham, several kinds of cheese, pound cake, white or wheat toast, butter, jam, and even hard boiled eggs! There is also a coffee pot on every table with more coffee. It is really a great breakfast.

There is also a Subway sandwich store next door to the hotel. They have the menu in Greek and English.

One thing we noticed throughout our stay in Athens is that almost everyone spoke English, unlike Italy where communication was sometimes a problem. It is probably even less multi-cultural though. You see even less Black people or Asians here than we did in Italy. It did not appear that there were many African-American tourists or Asian tourists either. It seems like the further south you go in Europe, the less multicultural it is.

 

After breakfast, we set out for the Acropolis. On the way to the Acropolis, you go through the Plaka which was about two blocks from our hotel.

 

Click here for a site with 360 degree pic of the Plaka

Along the way, at the edge of the Plaka are a couple of churches next to each other, the more modern Cathedral of Athens and the smaller of the two called Panagia Gorgoepikoos, constructed at the end of the 12th century

As we continued on our way, we were distracted and stopped at Hadrien's Library built in A.D. 132 by emperor Hadrian. We looked around. it was free and you are just walking around on your own unrestricted for the most part. where people have been civilized and kept records and documents 2000 years previously.
We are excited as we are climbing up the hill to the Acropolis. At the top of the hill before getting to the ticket booth, there is a huge rock that people are climbing up on and we decide to climb up too to see the view. It is a little scary because of Sylvan't knee but we take it very slowy and get up to the top and take some pics.

After we carefully climb back down, we continue up to the ticket booth and we get our tickets which include entry to several archeological sites including the Acropolis, the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, the Zeus Temple, and several others.

Then we continue up the hill with hundreds of other tourists. Before you get to the top you see two theaters on the right of the pathway. One is the Odeion of Herodes Atticus built in about AD 160. It is an ancient theater but apparently they still have concerts here and people were working on the stage as we went by preparing for a performance.

Click here for a site with 360 degree view.

A little bit further up the path, you see the ruins of the Dionysus theater.

Click here for 360 degree view.

Finally the Parthenon comes into site.

Click here for a link to some history and 360 degree pics that you can zoom in on and zoom out to explore the Parthenon. (after clicking on the link, drag your mouse accross the pic that appears to move from left to right and look for the zoom in button which is tiny and on the lower left border of the pic. There is also a tiny "hot spot" button that gives some text info.

Click here for some additional 360 degree pics of the Acropolis.

We found somebody to take our picture with the Parthenon in the background.
We take pictures from different angles.

Athena Nike.

There are the ruins of several buildings on the acropolis. It is a large archeological site. There are people with whistles that will blow their whistle at you if you go anywhere that your not supposed to but otherwise you are allowed a lot of freedom to move about the site.

 

Click here for site with 360 degree interactive pic of the Erechtheion Temple.

Sylvan in front of Erechtheion Temple

A closeup of the columns at the Erechtheion Temple.

 

After wandering around the archeological site, we visit the Acropolis museum. We had read that there is supposed to be a new one opening in 2004 but I don't think it was open yet. I think the new one is in a different location. The one we saw is relatively small and actually there are probably more Acropolis artifacts located in the London British Museum which is where the Elgin marbles are located.

When we are finished at the Acropolis, we walk down the hill to the Ancient Agora.

This is the the Agii Apostoli which is one of the oldest Christian churches (early 11th century A.D.) in the area of the ancient Greek Agora.

Theseion Temple (449 BC) at Ancient Agora
Click here for a site with 360 degree view of Theseion Temple

We visit the Stoa of Attalos in the Ancient Agora which was originally built in 150 B.C. and has been reconstructed and is now a museum.

After leaving the Ancient Agora, we walked back through the Plaka and looked for a Souvalaki stand. When I had been there in 1974, I practically lived on these tasty sandwiches of lamb meat with tomato, yogurt, onion wrapped in pita bread. A lot has changed since 1974 and it is not as easy to find a stand but many of the restaurants are selling a more elaborate version of souvalaki served on a plate. We are starving and so we sit down at a restaurant and have their version which doesn't contain any lamb meat at all.

After lunch, we walked around the Plaka/Monistiraki area a little more and we got some grapes at a stand and looked for postcards. We finallly went back to the hotel and took a nap.

Sylvan got up and took a soak in the little soaking tub. After that, he went accross the street to the internet place while Milton rinsed out some things in the sink and watched cnn for a while.

After Sylvan returned from the internet place, we walked up to Omonia Square which is one of the modern centers of this city of 7 million.

From there we walked over to Syntagma Square. We did a LOT of walking but it was fun to see daily life in Athens outside the more touristy Plaka and archeological sites. Along the way we saw the Changing of the Guard in front of the Greek Parliament.

Then we walked back to Monistiraki and had dinner at a charming outside restaurant after wandering around looking at various menus. There are a lot of sidewalk cafes in the Monisteraki/Plaka area of Athens. None of the restaurants in Italy or Greece are like in America where we are usually in a hurry and want to sit down, be waited on, get served quickly, stuff our food down and run. In Italy and Greece, people sit for hours at these restaurants and just people watch and talk. If you are used to hurrying through everything, it takes a little effort to slow down.

At a lot of the restaurants we passed, there are waiters that try to get you to sit down. They are trying to get business for their restaurant but they remind me of used car salesmen. You feel like you are being hustled or something which I just did not like at all. The restaurant where we finally sat down was much more low key. We looked at the menu and they had an inclusive special that included a salad, drink and Mousaka.

While we were eating, a little Gypsy girl came by playing a harmonica and begging for money.

 

 

After dinner, we walked around looking at souveniers. It was a beautiful evening and like everywhere we visited in Europe, people are out on the streets and night enjoying themselves.

Then we went back to the hotel and watched t.v. We were shocked when we realized it was two in the morning by the time we turned off the light to go to sleep. Sylvan says "no more caffeine."

(we have been trying to drink less coke since it has too much caffeine)

9-21-05 Day 16

We got up around 9:30 am and went down to the breakfast room and after breakfast headed over to the Roman Agora.

One of the main sites here is the Tower of The Winds.

 

The Roman Agora is yet another archeological site in Athens. It is the ruins of buildings that were built by the Romans at a later time than the Ancient Agora.

As we wander around the Roman Agora, we see a little pack of dogs. We have noticed at various times in Athens that there are packs of wild dogs at various places. They are very passive and don't seem to bother anyone.

From the Roman Agora, we walked to Kerameikos, another archeological site. We are told that this is where Plato had his school. Our tickets we had bought for the Acropolis also get us into this site. There is a large ancient cemetary here with beautifully sculptured grave markers and monuments. There is also a museum here.

It was interesting that they told us that this entire area had been totally buried at one time up to the level of the street. The area you walk around in is about 20 feet lower than the level of the street and is several acres of ruins.

From here we walked back to the hotel for a brief rest.

After resting for an hour or so, we walked over to Hadrien's Gate.

From there we went on to the Olympian Zeus Temple.

In the background, to the side of the column in the center are the ruins of another column that we read was toppled by a storm some years ago.

It was another beautiful day in Athens.

Click here for some history about this temple.

Athens is amazing.

On our way back to the hotel from here, we find a souvalaki stand and have a more traditional souvalaki. Milton has a chicken gyro. We each got a soda. Lunch is a bargain at 4.80 euro.

We walked back to the hotel and took a nap. Sylvan got up and went over to the internet place. Milton washed out a few more items.

For dinner, we decided we were in the mood for American food, so we took the metro to the Alexandras station and went to the TGI Fridays there. It was also an opportunity to see another Athens neighborhood. This neighborhood was more modern and could be any American city. There was a Starbucks a couple doors up from the TGI Fridays and an Applebees a block away. A lot of young people were hanging around and we guessed that there was probably a University somewhere nearby.

We ask for a non-smoking section but that is meaningless since it is just two feet away from the smoking section and there is nothing separating the two. American rock music is playing. The American food is good for us. I guess we are just typical American tourists set in our ways... it is great to sample the local cuisine but then it is great to get something more familiar along the way too.

9-22-05 Day 17

Milton slept much better after laying off caffeinated coke the day before. We went down tot he breakfast room and had another great Attalos Hotel breakfast.

Then we went and caught the metro. It was Athen's "spare the air" day and riding the metro was free until 5pm. It was a great day to be adventurous on the metro and we decided to go the the city of Piraeus. It is a city about a thirty mile trip on the metro and goes past the stadiums that were built recently for the Olympic games. Pireaeus is where you would arrive if you were coming to Athens via a ferry boat from Italy or if you were arriving on a cruise ship. When I had come to Athens in 1974, I crossed the Mediterranean 4 times. I came accross once on the hyroplane and the other times on ferries. One of the ferries also went to the Island of Corfu where I spent a couple nights before going on to Italy.

 

We then took the train back to Omonia Square and walked from there to the National Archeological Museum. It started raining just as we reached the steps of the museum.

There is a slight fee.

 

There are a lot of artifacts from the various ruins we have been looking at the last few days in Athens and from elsewhere in Greece.
It is just amazing how wonderful the sculpture is from Ancient Greece.

Again, it is just too much to see. It is overwhelming. There is just so much to see in Athens.

We went back to our hotel and started packing for our flight back to London the next day.

 

9-23-05- Day 18

We had scheduled a wakeup call but as usual we were already awake by the time of the call. We went down to breakfast and then went back to get our luggage.

We had booked most of our rooms about eight months before our trip and Sylvan was keeping track of all the bills to make sure there had been no changes in the meantime. We always got the price quoted when booked.

We walked the two blocks to Monistraki station to go back to the airport. We got on the first train but that did not go all the way to the airport and we had to get off at another station and then waited for about twenty minutes for the next train. We were glad we always give ourselves plenty of time to get to airports and trains since often there are these little glitches.

After we check-in we head through security to our gate. We discover once we get to that area, there are no restaurants or magazine stores or anything but a bathroom unless you go back out where you have to go through security again.

We are flying with Easy Jet, a discount airline like Southwest in the States and which has "open" seating. You are assigned a "group." It is supposed to be first come, first serve and even though we appear to be at the gate before most everyone else, for some reason we are still in the third group that boards! We did get an exit row though which gives a couple more inches of leg room but the seats don't lean back and are pretty uncomfortable. The flight is about four hours. We were charged for drinks and snacks. A tiny coke cost 1 euro. On landing in London Gatwick, we disembarked via stairs to the tarmack.

Everyone was standing in the airport looking at the monitors to see which carousel their baggage would be but the monitors were not accurate and we finally just set out and found the right one. We got our bags and then got the trin into London.

 

Published in Fifties
Thursday, 02 April 2015 16:25

2005-5. Europe- Rome


Sylvan and Miltons European Adventure 2005

Rome

9-15-05- Day 9 (continued)

The train to Rome was supposed to leave at 12:25. We stood in the train station trying to figure out what track it was leaving from but apparently our train was delayed somewhere along the line. Finally our track number appeared on the large display we were watching. We ran to the platform and boarded. We finally pulled out of the station at 1:10pm.

The trip to Rome is about two and a half hours. We sat with an older couple who appeared to be American. They were not very friendly.

It was another warm beautiful day (Milton said "hot"). I love warm weather. Milton describes his first impression as "people moving at a frantic pace." We got of the train in the station and watched for the big orange letter "M" for Metro. We found our way but there was no kiosk to buy tickets as there had been in London and Paris. There were machines but we were too tired to figure those out. In Rome you can buy your tickets at tobacco shops. We found one nearby and got a three day pass.

 

We were going to the Spagna stop which is adjacent to the Spanish Steps. We walked out of the station and the "steps" were about a hundred steps to the right and we could see throngs of people gathered there.

In the 17th century Spain's Ambassador to the Holy See had his headquarters on the square, and the area around it was deemed to be Spanish territory.

 

 

 

We were looking for V. Della Croce, which was where our pensione would be located.

 

We found it pretty easily as it is only about a block from the Spanish Steps. The cobblestone streets here are also filled with people as they had been in Florence. Occasionally a scooter, motorcycle or car tries to squeeze by but Rome is another city in which a tourist should not try to drive. It would be crazy for an American to try to drive in ANY of the cities we visited. There are a lot of sidewalk cafes on our street.

The shops in the Spanish Steps area are upscale. All the famous designer's have shops here like Gucci and Prada. It is like the Rodeo Drive of Rome.

 

We find the doorway for Pensione Panda that opens to the street at 35 V. Della Croce. Our double room there will be about $126.00/night which seems like a pretty good deal for such a great location.

 

 

But first you have to climb a flight of stairs to the second floor of the building to find the Pensione and there is another door there. It appears there might be another pensione and some apartments located in the same building as had been the case in Florence.

.

 

Once entering our room, you had to put the key card into a slot to turn on the electricity. Without the card in the slot there was no power.

Then we had to climb a spiral staircase to our room which seemed to be in what was probably an attic at one time.

The room they have given us is actually a triple. There is a king size bed with two nightstands and then another single bed. The ceilings are open beam and slant down from about 16' over the king size bet to about 5'6" over where the single bed is and since we are both 6'4", we keep bumping our heads when we go to that side of the room. The floors are tile.

We notice there is no t.v. and it feels pretty warm in the room. It appears there is an air conditioner but we can't figure out how to turn it on. Finally I go down the front desk to ask and am told that the air conditioning costs an extra 6 euro/night. We gladly pay that as the room is still a great deal. The air conditioning is set up so that it goes off automatically if you open the window (we should have that at home since we often realize we have the air conditioning on when a window is open and just wasting energy).

 

You have to step down to get to the bathroom and the ceiling there is probably 6'. Neither of us can actually stand up straight in the bathroom. We notice the room has a bidet. This is the first bidet we have seen and are not really sure how it is used and so we never do use it.

One thing that is different here is that the towels are extremely thin, cirsp and white. They are more like tablecloth material than towel material- i.e. they are NOT terrycloth.

There is no counter space on which to put anything around the sink but we have a great little toiletry set that has a little hanger. That was a good investment as many place we stay have no counter space and the toiletry set pretty much holds everything we need.

Outside the bathroom is a tiny closet with a depth of about a foot.

 

The shower is tiny again with folding glass doors but there does seem to be plenty of hot water.

 

 

 

We took a brief nap and then decide to go for some fast food since we are too hungry to look for a sit-down restaurant. There is a McDonalds about a half a block to the right of the Spanish Steps as you are facing them.

 

I took a picture of Milton in front of the Spanish Steps. One thing we notice in the throngs of people in Rome is that there are very few black people. Rome is not as multicultural as Paris or London. In Venice, Florence and Rome, most of the black people you see are African men that sell counterfeit designer purses, posters, sunglasses and watches. Along with some Italians too, a group will suddenly appear on the street and lay our a blanket with the goods they are selling. They will haggle over prices. If a police car appears, everybody bundles their stuff up and then they disappear.

Occasionally you will see a few Asian tourists or what appears to be a African-American tourist but mostly you just see Italians.

 

 

After eating a couple of burgers, we walked to the Pantheon. It was rather late in the evening. We would visit a couple days later and actually go inside. It was built in 118-126 AD. That is old.

Click here for a site with a great Quicktime 360 degree pic. Just drag your mouse on the pic. Then click your "back" button to return here.

 

From there we walked on to Piazza Navona where there are a lot of street vendors and street entertainers. We sat on a bench for a while here and people watched. There was a group of fire dancers that were dancing with and juggling torches. It was a beautiful evening and we were in short sleeves as we had been every day and every evening on our trip for the most part.

9-16-05- Day 10

We asked at the front desk if breakfast was included with our room but were told it was not. We went out on V. Della Croce and stopped at a sidewalk cafe on the corner without looking at the menu or prices. It just didn't occur to us since we just planned to have a couple croissants, coffee and oj. We were shocked when we got the bill. It was a lovely setting though and I guess that was what we were paying for- expensive ambiance.

Today we were going to take the Green Line tour of Rome so we took the metro to the Roma Termini station to find the tour operator which was located a couple of blocks away from the station. Along the way we discovered that there was a MacDonalds across the street from the Roma Termini that had a big sign that said "American Breakfast." After our experience that morning, we would keep this in mind.

We found our tour operator and got our tickets which were 21 euro each (about $25.00). This is another hop-on, hop-off tour but it was not an open air bus as we had in London and Paris. There was a "hostess" on the bus but she was not actually a guide. I didn't really see the purpose of her other than to tell us to plug in our headphones. I think most of us could have figured that out.

Through our time in Rome, I saw that there were several other tour operators that had the open air buses and some seemed to have much longer hours as we would see people touring even after dark. The air conditioning on our bus was nice since it was warm, but I think I would have preferred the open air bus since it is easier to take pictures along the way and would have enjoyed touring in the evening too. I would not recommend Green Line Tours for those reasons..

 

I took this picture from the tourbus window of the Roman Wall. Some parts of the wall date from 378 B.C.. It is just amazing to us when we are seeing things that were built before Christ was even born.

 

You see ruins of the Roman Wall at various places in Rome. We took this picture when we were walking around a couple days later.

 

Here is another picture of the Roman Wall.

On our tour, we also saw the Circus Maximus and this was another picture I took from the bus.

We spent the morning on the air conditioned tour bus, listening through our earphones about the sites and history of Rome. Sometimes we got a pretty good view of the sites but sometimes the bus stop was away from the actual site and you had to walk from the stop. After the tour, we went to the "Ciao Autogrill" restaurant at Termini station. We liked the Autogrill chain of restaurants around Rome because you could put together a pretty good meal with a salad and could point at what you wanted and everything was fresh and it was relatively cheap. Like almost everywhere else in Europe though, the only salad dressing offered is oil and vinegar.

If you are interested in some of that kind of stuff, click here for a great website of links on Rome.

When we finished the tour, we took the metro back to the Colosseum stop.

Click here for a link to a site that has a Quicktime 360 degree picture of the area. Just move your mouse on the pic for the 360 degree view.

 

 

 

The emperor Titus opened the Coliseum in AD 80 with 100 days of games in which 9,000 animals died. For more history on the colossum, click here.

It is an amazing structure that that is almost 2000 years old!

 

We found somebody to take our picture.

Then we stood in line and bought our tickets to go inside. As you approach the colosseum there are tour hawkers trying to get you to take their tours and they will tell you that you will be standing in line for up to two hours if you don't take their tour. We only stood in line for about twenty minutes though. The colosseum itself had their own tours though and also self-guided audio tours. We opted just to look around on our own.

You could see slanting areas where the marble seats used to be but most of the seats were removed when the colosseum was turned into a quarry and was stripped of the marble.

 

 

From the second floor of the colosseum, from a balcony, we could see this arch and so I took a pic.

 

When we were done exploring the colosseum, we went down to take a closer look at the arch. The Arch of Constantine was built out of pre-existing materials in 315 AD.

From there, we wandered over to the nearby Roman Forum.

Click here for a great map of the forum I wish I had when we were there.

The ruins of the Roman Forum are scattered over a surprisingly large area.

Click here for another one of those great 360 degree pics.

These three columns from 7 BC and 6 A.D built for the Temple of Castor and Pollux are over forty-eight feet high.

The Arch of Septimius Severus, was built in 203 A.D

 

Click here for 360 degree pic.

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina which Antoninus pius erected in memory of his wife, Faustina, in 41 AD .

Click here for 360 degree pic and more info.

The Roman Forum is a huge area and is exhausting. It is exhausting. You just can not take in all of it in the short time that we had there. We had to move on.

 

After leaving the Roman Forum, we walked up the hill to the Victor Emmanuel Monument which was built relatively recently in 1885- 1911. Soldiers in WWII used to call it "the wedding cake" building. This is also where Italy's tomb of the unknown soldier is.

From there we walked back to our pensione. Milton stopped along the way to get a USA Today to see what was going on in the U.S.. Then we stopped at a little meat, bread and cheese store to get some bread and cheese. Sylvan asked the man behind the counter if they had cheddar cheese and he grumbled that they only had Italian cheeses. There was a discussion in Italian between the men there, and then we were offered a slice of white cheese. It wasn't exactly cheddar but it tasted good sow we got some of that and some bread to take back to the room with us.

After taking a nap, we headed out for Trevi Fountain. The pics we took are on the right but you can click here for a Quicktime 360 degree picture.

This is Milton in front of Trevi Fountain. Again, there were throngs of people out on the streets. There were a couple of hundred people hanging around the piazza where the fountain is located. Maybe that is another reason people in Italy look like they are in so much better shape than Americans- instead of being couch potato's sitting around eating in front of a t.v. set, they all seem to be out on the streets walking and hanging around socializing with each other. It felt as if instead of passively sitting in front of a t.v. Vicariously watching others live soap opera and sitcom lives, the Italians get out and live real life themselves... ?? or something like that anyway... everybody is out on the streets on these warm wonderful nights in Rome... and again, because of more sensible gun control laws, there is not the same kind of fear of crime as there is in the States...

This is me in front of Trevi fountain.

After leaving Trevi fountain we caught the metro to Cavor to street to try to find a gay bar we were going to check out but it was still pretty early and it had not opened yet. We took the metro back to the Termini station to transfer to the A line but discovered the A line closes at 9:30pm! We were told we could take some bus which we never could find but somebody else said we could take the #125. Without translation we were a bit lost. Of course we probably could have just got a cab but that would have been too easy and then we would have to deal with feeling like we were being ripped off by a cab driver. We found our way on the bus though and everything was fine.

 

We did have to walk a few blocks though and we stopped and got dessert along the way. We passed this Column of Marcus Aurelius along the way.

When we got back to the room, it seemed like there was a contest to see who could slam their room doors the loudest It was Friday night and apparently some rowdy young people had checked into the hotel to party. We couldn't hear them other than a lot of door slamming.

9-17-05- Day 11

Milton got up first and had trouble getting hot water although when Sylvan got up, he had no problem at all. We got dressed and headed for The Vatican.

Click here for another Quicktime 360 degree pic of St. Peter's Square. And then here or here for others.

 

It was Saturday and there were a lot of people and the line was very poorly organized. We had to go through metal detectors to get in to the basilica and they did not rope off the line in any organized fashion. It was just a mob of people pushing forward toward the metal detectors.
The sun was hot and there was no protection as we pushed forward through the crowd. I guess they want you to feel like you have had a religious experience here since getting through those metal detectors felt like a miracle and one felt like giving thanks you had survived this chaos.
Inside the church was breathtaking. It was beyond words. For pics taken by others at www.virtualtourist.com, and more information, click here.
Bernini's canopy. You see this on Christmas eve if you tune into the midnight mass from the Vatican. It is interesting to note that the alter is over the actual tomb of St. Peter.
Michelangelo's masterpiece "Pieta" is located inside the basilica. You can click the link I have provided for a better pic and more information.
   

Saint Peter was apparently crucified in what is now St. Peter's square.

The bronze cross on top of the obelisk in the center of St. Peter's square contains a "sliver" of the cross on which Christ was crucified which was brought back to Rome from Jerusalem by St. Helena.

After an hour or so looking around St. Peter's Basilica, we decided to look for the Sistine Chapel to see Michelangelo's masterpiece on it's ceiling. I had seen in it 1974 and was eager for Milton to see it to. Since 1974 it had been "restored" and there was some controversy about the intensity of the colors when they wiped away centuries worth of dust and grime.

We asked what of the Vatican guards how to get there but as it turned out, the Sistine Chapel closes at noon on Saturday! Of course we were disappointed but on the other hand, we had seen so many treasures on this trip all ready that most people will never see, we couldn't bring ourselves to complain much.

 

We took the metro back to Termini station for lunch. I noticed the metro train had a lot of graffiti on it. We had also seen a lot of graffiti when arriving in London and had seen quite a bit in Paris too and would later see it in Greece. I guess graffiti is universal? It had just never occurred to me. As we went through our trip though, on a couple of occasions, ancient graffiti was pointed out to us...so I guess it is both universal and timeless? It was just one of those things that I usually would have just attributed to inner city pubescent boys acting out... it is interesting how travel can change your perspective.

After lunch we went back to Spagna and we got some postcards and magazines and went back to our room for a siesta.

Sylvan't knee is bothering him and so we take it slow. When we walked outside we found it had been raining. We walked to the metro station and it seemed like a lot of people are getting off at the Spagna where we are getting on. People seem to linger everywhere in Rome.

The subways in Rome seemed more packed in the afternoons around 3pm and into the early evenings to about 8:30pm. I am not sure why this is. In San Francisco they would more likely be packed in the early am about 8am and in the afternoon around 5. Rome's are much more packed than anywhere else we have been though. They are hot and humid like the one's in Paris. Milton get's fed up with the heat and humidity on the trains and after dinner is ready to just go back to the room and rest.

9-18-05- Day 12

Milton did not sleep well. It rained off and on through the night. We have to get a one day metro pass because our three day pass is expired.

We had planned on taking the two hour train to Naples and then going to see Pompeii today but we were just too tired and Sylvan's knee was bothering him to do a lot of walking and so we just stayed in Rome and we did a little more exploring there. Along the way we saw this typical piazza.

 

 

We had seen a metro stop named "Pyramid" and we were curious to see what was there. At the Pyramid metro station, you find another part of the Roman wall with this pyramid built into it. This pyramid was built during the last years of the Republic (1st century BC).

From there we took the metro to the Circus Maximus station to explore that area some more.

The most popular events in ancient Rome were chariot races held in the Circus Maximus, an arena that held up to 300,000 spectators. Now the area that used to be the racetrack is filled in and there is a park there.

As we were walking up the street near hear, there was a little stand that was selling fresh slices of watermelon and we stopped and each got one.

After enjoying our slices of watermelon, we walked about two blocks to the Termi di Caracalla. This was a huge bathing facility built between 212 and 219 A.D. by the emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, better known by his nickname Caracalla.

In the summer, they do Opera here. When I had visited in 1974 and had more time in Rome, I had seen the opera Aida here. It was quite a spectacle with live elephants and camels on the stage between the two towers you see on the right. If we would have had more time, I would love to have seen another production here.

We saw the mosaic on the right.
After visiting the baths, we went back to Piazza Navona and looked for Souveniers.

Then we went back to the Pantheon and went inside. It is free.

We went for lunch at the Autogrill again and then went back to the room to prepare for departure from Rome the next morning.

After a little nap we decided that wanted some American food and went to the Rome Hard Rock. It is located on the Via Venato. There was about an 90 minute wait but they gave us pagers and so we could wander around a little. The Via Venato is famous from the movie La Dolce Vita.

In San Francisco we would never go to a Hard Rock cafe since we think of them as too "touristy." We also think of the food as being overpriced and mediocre. After days of overpriced mediocre Italian food, the Hard Rock was a welcome change for us. We really enjoyed it. Our waitress was Filipino and we enjoyed talking to her about her immigration to Italy. This was particularly interesting because there seemed to be such a lack of multiculturalism in Italy and there are many Filipino's in the S.F. Bay Area. She was very friendly and fun.

We had a flight to catch the next morning so we headed back to our room.

 

 

Published in Fifties
Wednesday, 01 April 2015 19:02

2005-3. Europe- Venice

Sylvan and Milton's European Adventure 2005

VENICE

We picked up our suitcases at the hotel and headed for the train station to catch the night train to Venice. Our train was to leave at about 8:30pm and arrive in Venice the next morning.

I was reading "What's the Matter With Kansas" an excellent book by Thomas Frank about the rise of conservatism in Kansas. 

venicesylvantraintovenice

We shared our compartment with an Italian man that had been in Paris for work and an old Arab man that didn't speak any English at all. 

The Italian's wife was also on the train but for some reason having to do with who booked the tickets, she was traveling second class which meant there were 6 people in her compartment rather than four in ours. 

Sylvan enjoyed talking with them and comparing a few things between the lifestyles of Europeans and Americans. The Italians said that American t.v. and movies are definately better. We talked about g

as prices (higher in Europe but goes to taxes to pay for better transportation and health care and not just profit for o

il companies); health care (America spends twice as much and covers only 40% of the population). We talked about how Europeans routinely get eight weeks vacation every year! The Italian man did not feel that this was a good thing though although 8 weeks vacation sounded pretty good to me at the time.

The conductor came around to check our tickets and he asked for our passports. I was a bit nervous giving up our passports but the Italian said that this was standard procedure and it was so that we would not need to be awakened in the middle of the night when we crossed through Switz

venicemiltontraintovenice2

erland. 

After a couple of hours of riding in our seats, we took the sheets and blankets that had been left in the compartment and made our own beds. There was a little ladder to get up to top berths. Milton and I took the top since we thought it would be easier for the old Arab man to sleep on the bottom and the Italian man could sleep on the bottom so he could take care of the old man as he had promised the old man's daughter. Even though we both took a sleeping pill, the old man must have had prostate problems as he was going in and out to the bathroom all night. When he was not opening the door of the compartment, he was rattling through some plastic bags. He was either eating or going to the bathroom all night long. 

It is interesting how many Europeans travel by train and seem perfectly comfortable sleeping in a compartment with five possible strangers or three other possible strangers. I don't thinkn the compartments were even separated by sex (we were all men in our compartment though). I wonder how many Americans would feel comfortable sleeping in a compartment with strangers? Why are we so much more fearful of one another? I am reminded of the book "The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things" by Barry Glassner.

At one point, the conductor came to our compartment and asked for everyone's passports. As Americans, we are constantly told never to let our passports get away from us and we were a little hesitant to give ours up but this is done as a courtesy to passengers because when the train crosses the border into Switzerland, it will be the middle of the night. By giving the conductor the passports, it is not necessary to wake all the passengers. The passports are returned the next morning. 

9-11-05 Day 6

The next morning we were still traveling along on the train to Venice. The old Arab man was getting off at a stop before Venice and before the Italian couple. He seemed kind of nervous. It seemed kind of scary for this old man to be traveling by himself in a foreign country and speaking a language that probably very few people spoke. He seemed kind of nervous. He seemed to be trying to ask us if the stop where he was getting off was the right place but we certainly had no idea. Shortly after he left, the Italian couple got off at another stop.

Our passports were returned to us before we reached Venice and I was relieved to have them.

venicesylvantraintovenice2

After arriving in Venice, our hotel was not hard to find. Sylvan had looked up directions to everything before leaving home and had put each day's information we would need on 3x5 cards. Each day he would put one or two cards in his shirt pocket and those would have all information we needed regarding directions and what we wanted to see. We followed the directions to the Ponte delle Guglie (a bridge) and then continued up Campo San Leonardo where they have fruit stands on some days...

venicegatetopensione

... and we looked for Calle dell 'Olo which was marked by a black gate...

venicemiltongateofpensione

...and then you walk down a very narrow little passageway to find the gate for the pensione itself, Foresteria di Palazzo Ducale. We rang the bell and an Italian man that spoke no English responded.

 

((Click here to read our Tripadvisor review of Pensione Foresteria di Palazzo Ducale)

He led us to a very sweet young women who spoke a tiny bit of English. We knew we had arrived much earlier than we had planned and was not sure if we could actually go to our room yet but just wanted to see if we could leave our bags until time that we could check in. In her broken English, she assured us that we could check in right then and she led us to our room on the second floor. This building must have been at the very least a couple of hundred years old. The heavy wooden door to our room opened with a skeleton key. A skeleton key is not very reassuring security but we felt trusting and we always kept our passports, airline tickets, etc. in money belts on our bodies when were out of our rooms anyway.

The room was extremely small. It had the standard two twin beds but even they seemed smaller than usual. We were disappointed to find there was no air conditioning but we were too tired to do anything about it, and would only be in Venice for a couple of nights, and all we could think about was resting. The room was warm but not intolerable.

There was a t.v. in the room but I never could get it to work... but we're in Venice- who has time to watch t.v?

The bathroom was the smallest I had ever seen. You had to really maneuver around the sink to get through the door. You also had to step up about eight inches into the bathroom. The shower was so small it was impossible not to get water all over the bathroom floor when you took a shower.

If you look at the picture on the right, you will see a small square "tank" in the upper left portion of the shower. This was the hot water tank which held about two gallons of hot water. I would get in and use enough water to get wet and then turn it off and soap up and then turn it back on to rinse off.

This was the only unacceptable room on our entire trip. We were paying about $100.00/night which included breakfast. That is not enough for Venice. I would recommend budgeting at least $150.00/ night here at the very least or as much as you can. We did notice that cruise ships dock in Venice. After our experiences here, I think a cruise would be a great way to visit since you would not have to worry about the room or food or packing and unpacking.

But Venice is worth all the inconveniences of the tiny room and the expensive mediocre food. It is worth it because it is absolutely exquisite. It is truly one of the most beautiful places you will ever see. Every turn of your head is rewarded with another incredible site. If you had to sleep on the street and go without food altogether, it would be worth it just to see Venice. Great authors like Shakespeare have written about it but no words can really articulate the beauty here.

We started out walking to Piazza San Marco and we followed the signs that are posted but then we saw a sign that would point to the Rialto Bridge and so we would start going in that direction which was not in the same direction and then we would see a sign that pointed to Piazza San Marco and change direction. This is really not the best way to get to a destination. We kept changing directions and walking along little passages along the canals or between the buildings. I am not sure you could really call them "roads" since they are so narrow. There are no cars in Venice. You get around on boats. The gondoliers were expensive and unnecessary for us. They were quite picturesque to look at though. We either walked where we wanted to go or took the vaperetto which is a water bus.

Mere photographs don't do Venice justice. You have to see the light playing on the water, reflecting off the pastel colored buildings. That just can not be captured in a still photograph... maybe not on film at all.

We finally arrived at Piazza San Marco. There are zillions of pigeons there and there are little stands where you can buy bird seed to feed them. A lot of the tourists seemed to enjoy having the pigeons feeding out of their hands and on their shoulders but we kind of think of pigeons as rodents with wings. You are discouraged from feeding them in San Francisco. I guess it has been drilled into me that these birds are not very clean.

After finding Piazza San Marco, we looked for the vaperetto and took it back to the Ponte Guglie stop in Cannaregio district where we were staying. This used to be the "Jewish ghetto." We had done our research and were looking for a restaurant called "Breck" that was supposed to be affordable. Food was very expensive in Venice. We would pay about $45.00 for our lunch of what appeared to be about two dollars worth of pasta, two small salads, a little bread each, a fruit torte each for dessert and a couple sodas.

Again, if you want good food, come to San Francisco. I can make better spaghetti than any I had in all of Italy. I discussed this with my sister Darlene after getting home and maybe, what we think of as "mediocre" food, is really more healthful? I put a lot of meat and vegetables in my spaghetti and besides being more flavorful, it probably also has more fat and calories and so possibly less healthful? Maybe one of the reasons the Italians looked so much thinner and healthier than Americans is because they DON'T put all the extra stuff in their food or serve the quantities we are used to- besides obviously doing a LOT more walking than we do and spending less time in front of a t.v.?

Rarely did any of the pasta I had have any meat in it. We probably should have looked more for the "tourist" menu's at the restaurants to save money. Those usually would be inclusive of salad, pasta and a meat dish. I can easily say though that I think just about any pizza joint in San Francisco makes better pizza than any you will get in Italy- again just because I am used to more ingredients and bigger quantities of those ingredients than what we had on pizza in Italy.. (when I traveled in Mexico, I often felt that we have better Mexican food in the Bay Area than any "authentic" Mexican food I had in Mexico).

...BeautifulVenice...

I imagine that part of the reason food is so expensive here is that it is labor intensive to make deliveries? You see little barges of goods on the canals and then those goods must be offloaded onto hand trucks and rolled through the little passageways and over lots of bridges.

The Grand Canal...

I kept saying to Milton, "Can you imagine little Milton Thomas from Richmond Texas in Venice Italy?" He would say the same back to me: "Imagine, Sylvan Rogers from Toppenish Washington that used to work in the Brunswick, here in Europe!" We just felt so lucky to be there and constantly reminded ourselves about how "blessed" we were.

After lunch at Breck, we went back to the Pensione.

At one point my sister, Darlene, had considered coming with us and I remembered thinking about that. We had really exhausted ourselves so far on our trip and we could barely keep up with our schedule of packing and unpacking at different hotels and then dashing off to see the sites. We are probably more adventurous than some people and Darlene probably would have been fine but it occurred to me how much easier it would be for most people (including us if we ever returned) to take a cruise ship here. No packing and unpacking or train schedules or dealing with high food prices and tiny rooms. You would probably save money on a cruise since they are all inclusive and you really only need a day or two to see the sights of Venice. It might not be quite as "authentic" or adventurous but we decided that if we were to ever come back to Venice, that a cruise was the way we would want to do it and we would recommend that to others.

Sublime...

After napping in the room for a while, we walked to the Roticceria San Bartolomeo which was a Frommer recommendation I think. It was convenient too since everything was under glass in a counter and you could just point at what looked good and not have to deal with names of things on a menu that you had no idea what it was. Sylvan had beef lasagna and Milton had eggplant lasagna. We both had a little salad and sodas. The bill came to 22 euro which is about $25.00, a real bargain for Venice!

From the restaurant we walked to the Rialto Bridge. This version was built 1588-1591. When did Shakespeare write "The Merchant of Venice?"

Although this picture here was taken the next day in the sunlight, that evening the sun was going down and there was a guy playing a violin. It was so incredibly romantic. Neither Milton or I are usually very romantic but I tell you, a violin at dusk on the Rialto bridge really does something to you... it just stirs the soul and you can't help but feeling romance.

Milton standing on the Rialto bridge that evening. Incredible. If anyone reading this feels their relationship could use a little romance, head to Venice! If you don't feel it there, you are dead.

Sylvan and Milton on the Rialto Bridge.

Looking out from the bridge you see gondoliers carrying couples but when we decided to go to San Marco, we looked for the vaparetto stop.

As I mentioned before, there are no cars in Venice. The vaparetto is a water bus system that will get you just about anywhere you want to go. We found the one that was going to Piazza San Marco but we were looking for the campanile and missed our stop because we didn't realize there are more than one campanile in Venice. We were looking off in a different direction across the water at a different campanile. We tried to get off but they had already untied the boat from the dock and so we had to go to the next stop and walk back.

Here is a pic of Milton on the vaperetto at a different time during the day when there was better light.

"Milton Thomas in Venice Italy!"

When we got back to Piazza San Marco that evening, there were five different bands playing at different outdoor restaurants around the square. You could sit down at one of the restaurants and have drinks and just watch one band through the evening but we did what many of the tourists did, we stood and watched one for a while and then moved to another and watch them. The evening was warm (we were in short sleeves), the music was excellent and we were in Venice! Did I mention romance?

After we left the square, we meandered.. yes, meandered... that is the only way to experience Venice-- meander... slowly stroll in whatever direction, whatever passageway...

along the way we stopped at an internet cafe so Sylvan could check and send emails. We each got a gelato from one of the many gelato stands between San Marco and the pensione.

Often in Venice, I felt like I had to pinch myself..."Is this just a dream?"

9-12-05- Day 7

Sylvan slept great but Milton was tossing and turning all night. We had seen a laundromat the day before near where we were staying so we decided that today was a good opportunity to wash.

Sylvan could not remember if breakfast was included in this hotel but when we went downstairs we were pleased to discover that breakfast was included. We had the usual pastries, cereal, oj and coffee out in the courtyard in front of the pensione. We seemed to be the only people staying there which was fine since it was very quiet. The receptionist and her husband (?) appeared to live downstairs.

After breakfast we took the vaperetto back to Piazza San Marco. We found the post office and got some stamps for postcards.

After returning from Europe, I discovered this site with some great 360 degree pics. You need to have Quicktime installed on your computer to look at them. Click here for the 360 degree pic of San Marco square and St. Marks.

We stood in a pretty fast little line and paid a little fee to take the elevator to the top of the campanile., the tower to the right of the church.

From the top of the campanile., there some incredible views of the piazza below...

... and the bay...

.. Santa Maria della Salute...

San Geiorgio Maggiore and the other campanile. that had confused us the night before.

... and the roof of Saint Mark's Basilica and rooftops of Venice.

When we came back down from the campanile., we decided to get in line to visit St. Mark's Basilica which is over a thousand years old. It is incredible inside but you are not allowed to take pictures. If is free to go into the main floor of the basilica but there is a slight fee to visit the museum on the second floor which we did do.

Although these bronze horses that are now on the balcony at the front of the church are only copies, the originals are inside the church museum. They were found in Constantinople and in 1204 were brought to Venice. In 1797, Napoleon apparently took them to Paris but in 1815 the horses were returned to Venice. This photograph does NOT do them justice. I wish we could have taken some pictures of the originals inside but there was an Italian man that guarded them and would come over to you if you even looked like you were going to take a picture... which of course I didn't but others did...

We asked someone on the balcony to take our pictures. Piazza San Marco is in the background.

This is another picture we took from the balcony at Saint Mark's. That is the Doge Palace on the left.

Here is another angle of the Doge Palace, with facades dating from 1309, was taken at another time.

Click here for another Quicktime 360 degree view.

This lion with wings is the symbol for Venice and you see them everywhere but this is probably the main one that is most famous. This picture was also taken from the balcony at Saint Marks.

Something else you see a lot of in Venice is the masks. They sell them every where. They are usually made of paper mache and are quite beautiful and are used during the annual carnival. That would be a great time to visit Venice.

After our visit to the basilica, we wandered about a little in the piazza. We wandered back to a restaurant we had seen near the Rialto bridge and had lunch. Milton used the bathroom at the restaurant and came out and told Sylvan how weird it was. Bathrooms in Europe can be an experience for Americans. We wandered back to the hotel, stopping at Bella Oggi, a small by American standards supermarket along the way. We got some bread and cheese. That was really not as simple as it sounds though since the cheeses have different names than what we were used to. Apparently they don't usually carry what we call "cheddar" cheese. Everything was white. We could figure out what was Swiss cheese from the holes and what was gouda from the red rind, but everything else was a mystery.

When we got back to our room we took a little nap.

When we awakened from our nap, we decided to go do our laundry at the laundromat we had seen earlier. Even that was an interesting experience for us even though they did have instructions in several languages. First you had to put your clothes in the machine and buy your detergent from a little vending machine. You did not put your money in the washing machine itself. Each machine had a number and you put the money in another place at the back of the building where the dryers were. It all went fine when we figured it out.

There was a weird guy in the laundromat though that was overly friendly with everyone. With Sylvan's experience working with psychiatric patients, Sylvan noticed him right away and notified Milton to avoid him. He put a lot of wet mildewed clothes in a machine but the whole time we were there, he never actually started the machine. He told someone that he was from "Pasadena" but then did not seem to know where Pasadena was. He also had an accent. Later when we were walking by the laundromat, he was still in there. We never did figure out what he was up to but others seemed to avoid him too. After we took the clothes back to our room, we went back to Brek for dinner.

After dinner, we walked back to Piazza San Marco and listened to the bands again. One band was playing classical music and another was playing showtunes.

Along one of the passageways on our way, there was a guy playing guitar and harmonica and was playing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." We sure felt like we were somewhere over the rainbow. It was poignant in that like Dorothy and Toto, we were definitely not in Kansas.

We looked for the bridge of sighs. The bridge of sighs connects the Palazzo Ducale, where prisoners were tried, to the prison across the canal and the "sighs" are those the prisoners felt when going to prison.

From San Marco square, we took the vaparetto back to the Rialto. Sylvan got another gelato.

9-13-05- Day 7

At 12:25 pm we got on the train to Florence.

The trains in Europe are amazing. They are high speed and very comfortable and go everywhere.

Also in this pic, you can see our luggage. As small as they are, we still found we brought unnecessary stuff! When you are traveling as much as we were, you want to travel as light as possible.

 

Published in Fifties
Tuesday, 31 March 2015 17:50

2005-1. Europe- London


Sylvan and Miltons European Adventure 2005

LONDON

9/5/05-

Well we made it to the airport.

We had set out that morning for the San Francisco airport and had got all the way accross the Bay Bridge when Sylvan started worrying about the location of a lamp that was on a timer. He was concerned that there was a possibility the lamp would burn the house down while we were gone, so we got off at the Fremont exit and went all tweny miles or so back to the house, to move the lamp (A nice start to our vacation). Once Sylvan was able to check everything in the house yet one more time, we headed to the airport for the second time that morning.

Check-in at SFO went smoothly. We got some sandwiches at Subway to tide us over to New York where we were to change planes. It took about four hours to get to New York. We then had to go from the national terminal to the international terminal and it was a bit of an ordeal to find our gate and go through security again. If you ever go, get a direct flight even if it costs a little more! We were going up and down the escalators and were thankful we had luggage with wheels. After finally getting to our gate it was freezing cold and we were hoping it would be warmer on the plane.

9/6/05- Day 1 in Europe-

After another five hour flight, we landed in London. The skies are overcast with a little rain. The breakfast on American Airlines consisted of fig newtons and wheat thins with an awful peanut butter tasting substance that contained no peanuts. The seats on the American Airlines 777 were comfortable although we did not have the individual seatback t.v. monitors that we were expecting on such long flights. Instead of having individual monitors in the seatbacks, we had the over the aisle monitors and the movies shown were Seabiscuit and the Lovebug remake, neither of which we were interested in. Upon landing at Heathrow airport, we had to wait ten minutes or so on the tarmac. Sylvan felt kind of ill at that point from the long flight and the imitation peanut butter for breakfast.

We got our luggage, & got directions to the subway "tube." We purchased a one day subway pass and took the blue line(Piccadilly Circus line) to Gloucester Road station. The Hotel Montana was half a block from the station. The elevator had only room for two people but we had read about hotels in Europe having very small elevators and so we were not entirely surprised but it would have been a problem for people with more luggage. Room 405 had two twin beds which were small for two guys over six feet tall. With the windows open, the room was very noisy since it faced Gloucester Road which is a very busy road. The windows were double paned windows but there was no air conditioning so that closing the window was not an option as it had become pretty warm. With the windows open, the room was very noisy since it faced Gloucester Road which is a very busy road. 

 

 

 

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The bathroom was very small but clean. You could barely turn around in the shower though and water pressure wasn't great.

 

We had dinner at "Garfunkels," a London chain, sit down restaurant, across the street from the hotel.

After dinner we took the tube to Piccadilly Circus which was a little like Times Square in New York with lots of neon and crowds of people. We walked up to Leicester Square. This area has a lot of restaurants, theaters and throngs of people. I think that London must have more live theater than New York.

We walked over to Old Compton St. to check out the "gay" district. We walked by a couple of bars but did not go in anywhere. We were more curious than anything but too exhausted and jet lagged to do much of anything. We took the subway back to Gloucester Rd. and stopped by this convenience store called Tesco which is a chain kind of like 7-11 in London and bought some snacks and went back to the room

 

Europe05Londonmontanabathroom.

9/7/05 - Day 2

We got up and went down for breakfast. We requested to be moved to a quieter room. The front desk told us to pack our bags and they would move them while we were out during the day. The breakfast was included in the hotel cost which is typical in Europe and consisted of toast, coffee and juice. Today we are still recovering from jet lag and wanted an activity where we could just relax and so we are taking the Big Bus hop-on-hop-off tour. We took the tube to Victoria Station and walked to the Big bus tour stop. There are two types of buses on the tour route. One has a live tour guide and the other just has headphones that you listen to. We had read the live guide was better and so we always took those buses.

 

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On the tour we went by 10 Downing Street which is where the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has his offices

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...and on the tour we saw "modern London." You don't see a lot of high-rises in London and I asked the tour guide if there was a "height limitation" but he said the reason that you don't see many high-rises is that the ground is made of clay and doesn't support highrises very well. We did see a few on the tour though. The bullet shaped building on the right is called 30 St. Mary Axe but also sometimes called Gherkin or the Erotic Gherkin.

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We went by Trafalger Square laid out in 1829 to 1841 to commemorate Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

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...and the Marble Arch which was designed by John Nash in 1828.

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We got off the tour at the Westminster Abbey/Parliament/Big Ben stop.

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We asked a passerby to take our picture in front of Parliament and Big Ben.

Europe05Londonbigben

 

 

 

 

 

Then we walked across the street to see Westminster Abbey. The church is huge and amazing. We are not including all the history here on the sites we saw but it was all very interesting. I am going to try to provide links to some of the sites for anyone that wants a little more information.

 

 

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Westminster Abbey was built between the 13th to 16th centuries A.D.and various kings and queens are entombed here. There is a slight admission charge.

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The inside of the church is really beautiful but they don't allow you to take pictures... but I did take one before I knew I wasn't supposed to. It is impossible to capture the immensity of it in a picture anyway. We spent an hour or so looking through this very interesting place.

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We got back on the tour bus took it to Saint Paul's Cathedral. We got directions to Pret-A-Manger which was a recommended chain of British sandwich shops. We thought about taking the tour of the cathedral but decided to take it another day since we were still pretty tired and did not get back to it until the end of our trip. Sylvan also had torn his meniscus, a cartilidge in his right knee, a couple of months before leaving on the trip and was not able to get scheduled for surgery until after the trip. His knee was bothering him when we were at St. Paul's and so we instead got back on the bus took it to the Tower of London where we could catch the River Thames Tour.

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We planned to actually go through the Tower of London at the end of our trip. We wanted to take the site-seeing cruise on the River Thames which was included in the price of the bus tour and would not require any walking and Sylvan could rest his knee. We took some pictures of the Tower Bridge from the tour boat. We kept expecting a "tour guide" to tell us what we were seeing but apparently the sound system malfunctioned and we didn't hear anything until the end when someone apologized for the malfunction and offered to let us stay on the boat. We didn't do that though. We had enjoyed the ride of the river even without the "guide." You definitely get a different view and perspective from the river. Sylvan's knee was still bothering him so we went back to the hotel so he could rest and elevate his leg for a while.. Europe05Londonbridge

 

After resting some, Sylvan felt better. We took the tube to Westminster Station to ride the London Eye. The London Eye is a giant ferris wheel with glass pods big enough for eight people to stand and slowly go around in. You get great views of the city from it. We took it after five in the evening and did not have to wait in a long line.

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This is a picture of Sylvan inside the pod we were in on the London Eye. By this time it was getting dark. You can see Parliament in the background.

 

 

A picture of Parliament and Big Ben from the London Eye.

When we got back to the hotel, they had moved us to room 203 in the back of the hotel. It is quieter and they also furnished us with a fan. The bathroom is still very small, only one person can be in there at one time.

While we had been out, we had passed the Park International Hotel about two blocks away and saw a sign that they had air conditioning. We asked to look at a room there and liked it much better than the Montana and so we canceled our reservation at the Montana for the end of our trip and booked a room at the Park International in the internet and got a better room for less money.

The rest of the London pics on this page are out of sequence. I am keeping all the London pics on one page but everything from here down was actually during the last three days of our trip. 

 

9-24-05- Day 17 in Europe at end of trip.

Upon our return to London from Athens, we landed at Gatwick airport which seems much smaller than Heathrow. We got a day pass that allowed us to ride the regular train into London and which was also good for the subway system. There is also an express train available but on this trip, we just took the regular one to Victoria Station and then the subway to Gloucester Square..

This was our room at the Park International. Although the floors were creaky and the carpet needed replacing, for London, this was a great place to stay. It was only two blocks from where the Montana hotel was and it cost less to stay there when booked on the internet. We would absolutely recommend this over the Montana. It had air conditioning, an elevator that more than two people could ride at the same time, a great breakfast and...

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...a huge bathtub! Where we could barely turn around in the shower at the Montana, this was luxury!

It was still a "European" hotel though and still probably not up to the standards many Americans would expect for the amount of money it cost. (Milton and I often book rooms through Priceline.com when we travel in the states and get some pretty good deals..i.e. The Grand Hyatt next to Grand Central Station in Manhatten for only $99.00- we love a bargain!).

There was a huge modern highrise Holiday Inn about a half a block away from the Park International which I would imagine would be closer to most American hotels but I believe it also cost quite a bit more. The Park Hotel was perfect for our budget.

As we were getting ready that morning, we were also watching C.N.N. and keeping track of what was going on with Hurricane Rita.

We went down to breakfast of all you could eat toast, a choice of pastries, coffee, OJ, cereal, ham, cheese, etc. .

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After breakfast we walked down to Gloucester Square and purchased our one day travel cards and took the tube to the Victoria station stop. I got a picture of Milton in a London phonebooth.

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We walked from Victoria station to Buckingham Palace.

 

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It was a little early for the changing of the guard so we walked up the road along St. James Park to see the lake in the park and to take a few pictures.

Here's one with the zoom across the lake...

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... and one without... I couldn't decide which one I liked better. It is a very pretty setting.

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Sylvan had read that the best view for the changing of the guard was from Victoria Monument. As you are facing Buckingham Palace, you want to be on the LEFT side of the monument.

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We were standing around for thirty minutes or so when we heard the band coming up the street. From where we were standing, we could see the band coming up the street.

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There was a huge crowd but we did have a good view of the entering and exiting of the Palace gates.

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It was all very exciting.

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From Buckingham Palace we walked to the Westminster station. They were preparing for the September 24th international protest against the Bush Administration's war in Iraq, which we knew was also taking place that same day in San Francisco, New York, Paris and elsewhere.

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We then took a train from Westminster to St. Paul's Cathedral. We had been here on the tour at the beginning of our trip but this time we paid the admission fee and looked around inside. Although it is impressive, we had by this time been to St. Peter's at the Vatican, San Marcus in Venice and the Duomo in Florence. It is hard to compare to those. I have included a link to the church's website if you want more information though. We were getting hungry by this time and although there was a cafeteria in the basement next to the crypt, we decided to eat elsewhere.

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After we left St. Paul's, we took the tube to Covent Garden and had fish and chips at Rock and Sole, a place recommended by our "London Top Ten" book. It came to $41.00 for a couple pieces of fried cod with some steak fries, sides of cole slaw and a couple sodas, but by this time we were more used to European food prices. It was tasty fish and chips. In San Francisco you can get comparable or maybe even better on Larkin street... can't think of the name of the place right now.. but when in London...

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After leaving the Rock and Sole, we went back to the hotel for a nap. We were pretty exhausted. We had been traveling and on the go about 19 days at that point. There had been another time change between Athens and London and it was getting late in the afternoon and we had been on the go that day from early morning. Milton took a nap and Sylvan ran across the street to the Internet cafe to check e-mail and send some off. When Milton woke up he was thankful for the big tub at the hotel and he took a good soak and it helped his sore legs.

We had read that the British Museum "grand court" was open until 11pm and were not sure what a "grand court" was but thought we would check it out since we wanted to go to the museum anyway. We set out for the nearest tube station which was Russel Square. It took us a while to find the museum but we enjoyed the search since it just gave us an opportunity to see another area of London.

 

After finding the museum and seeing what a "grand court" was, we went to Leicester Square. We had planned to eat at "Walkabout" which was recommended somewhere along the line but when we got there, we discovered that after 9pm, it becomes a nightclub. The doorman there recommended walking a block down to Chinatown to eat and pointed us in that direction. We wanted to see London's Chinatown anyway and so we headed off. It was interesting but relatively small if compared to Chinatown in San Francisco. We seemed unable to decide on a restaurant though and were concerned because the tube would close at 11:30. Europe05Londonchinatown
We decided to get back on the tube and go back to Gloucester and eat at a place we had seen previously called "Lone Star Restaurant." Country western music was playing and the smell of cigarette smoke was strong when we got there. Apparently London does not have smoking restrictions. There was not even a "nonsmoking" section. The food was pretty bad. The Spanish rice that Milton had was bland. The taco consisted of chile flavored beef with cheese on it in a fried tortilla shell- no lettuce or tomato. Sylvan ordered the bbq chicken and ribs. The boneless chicken was breaded and deep fried and NOT bbq. The ribs were way overcooked and barely edible. The best thing about the dinner for Sylvan was that they had blue cheese dressing for the salad. After 19 days of restaurants that only served oil and vinegar for salad dressing, blue cheese was delightful.

9-25-05

We got up around 9:30am and had another great breakfast at the hotel. Sylvan went to Gloucester Rd and Cromwell to the souvenir/post office to buy some postcards and souvenirs. We then took the tube to Tower Hill station and bought our tickets for the Tower of London. We had read that we should get there at 10am when it opens and then should go directly to see the crown jewels before a que forms. We did that and were among the first in to see the jewels and were able to take our time. Then we went back to the entrance where the actual tour would begin. The Tower of London is 900 years old. If you are interested, you can click on this link for a "virtual tour" of the tower.

 

 

 

Here is a picture of our "yeoman" or tour guide. He was humorous and interesting.

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One of the eight Raven's with clipped wings that are kept at the Tower (there is a whole story that goes along with the Raven's). I thought this one was going to attack us. He came running toward us and then jumped up on the fence in front of us and I snapped this picture... then he went past us and away... I think I heard him say "nevermore..."

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More pics of the Tower.

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And another...

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Traiters gate...

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A display of medieval armor

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Milton outside the Tower of London.

 

After we were done seeing the Tower of London, we headed back to Russel Square to go to the British museum, the oldest museum in the world, and this time we actually got in to see some of the exhibits.

They had several rooms of Egyptian mummies.

 

We saw the Rosetta stone which was a discovery that lead to the ability to read hieroglyphics. I thought it was interesting that the first word that was deciphered was the sound a cat makes: meow.

 

 

There were many treasures from Egypt.

 

 

I am not sure how the Egyptians feel about the British taking so many of their treasures.

 

 

There was an entire Greek temple in the museum. It was really incredible that the British had dismantled this entire temple and brought it back to London.

 

We had read about how the Greeks felt about the Elgin marbles that were taken from the Acropolis in Athens. They want them back. We also read that the Greeks had been allowing them to get destroyed though and some would say that Elgin rescued the marbles. This is only one segment in a huge room lined with these.

 

 

More Greek artifacts that the British took from Greece. We did not have time to see it all of course. There are many place in the world you can go and run out of interesting things to see or do but London is not one of them (or Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome or Athens for that matter).

 

After taking a nap, we set out to find Abbey Road. It was our last evening in London. According to what we had read, we needed to go to Baker Street station. We got as far as Edgewater station and the train we were on went out of service. Finally after some confusion, we got on another train and got to Baker street but then the attendant there told us that we really needed to go to Saint John's Wood station and that was not in walking distance and the train that normally would take us there was out of service and we would have to bus it. It was getting late and we were tired and were leaving in the morning and decided to go eat instead.

Coming out at the Picadilly station, I liked the look of this street... it seemed so typical London...

 

 

Here is my last look at Picadilly.

9/26-05

We both slept pretty well but were awakened by the creaking of the floor above us. It sounded like the guest above us was pacing. Although we had asked for a 7:30 am wakeup call, we were already awake by 7. We finished packing, took our showers, and went down and had breakfast.

Here is a pic of the houses along the train tracks on our way to Gatwick airport for our return flight home.


 

Published in Fifties
Wednesday, 18 March 2015 03:39

1975- First Trip to Europe

europe1975journal2

While I was having me affair with Albert Trevino, he told me about a trip he had taken to Europe. He had a lot of pictures of his travels and it looked very exciting to me. I had been at Saint Francis for almost a year by that time which had seemed like an eternity. I was going to get some money back on my income tax and I started making plans for spending the summer of 1974 traveling from London, to Amsterdam, to Berlin, Munich, Athens, Rome, and Paris. I was supposed to go to Spain and Morocco too but I thought I fell in love in Athens and I ended up going back to Athens and spending the time there that I would have in Spain and Morrocco. Altogether, I would spend about two and a half months in Europe. It was a great time but it never ocurred to me to take a camera!!

Before I left for Europe, I let David know that I was leaving and he was not going to be able to keep the apartment by himself on Larkin and so he went back to Washington State. A few weeks before leaving, I gave up the apartment and moved into a spare room with my old friend from San Diego, Leslie, at 1180 Sanchez Street. It was stressful staying with Leslie again but she was always very generous to me when I needed a place to stay. She had a new toy called "Pong" which connected to the television and was a rudimentary video game. I think it was either the first video game or one of the first. She also had something called a "blue box" for making long distance telephone calls for free. I am not sure where she got these devises at the time, but I learned some years later that these were some of the same devices that Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs of what would become Apple Computer eventually, were playing with around that same time. 

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Leslie was always the outlaw. By this time she had lost a hundred pounds and looked quite a bit different than when I had first met her. She had been strung out on heroin at one point and had decided if she could kick heroin, she could also lose weight. She actually told me that she kicked heroid by taking seconals for several days and sleeping through the withdrawals. She had also fallen in love by this time with John, a man that would later become her husband. 

When Mary heard that I was going to Europe, she wanted to go too but I had already made my reservations on a charter flight to London and so she booked a flight to Amsterdam and I was going to meet her there.

I had booked a bed and breakfast in Clapham Common outside of London which was pretty easily accessible by "the tube," London's subway system. The room was upstairs, in a family's home. I believe they had one other guest in another room at the time I stayed there. I remember that I had brought some marijuana joints with me, hidden in my suitcase. I don't think it was very much and when I reflect back on this, I can't imagine what I was thinking, going through customs in a foreign country. I was just young and foolish I guess. 

JimmyStewartautograph copyWhile in London, I went to a couple of plays. I saw James Stewart, a famous 

1974American actor, in one of his signature roles, "Harvey." I had always loved live theater. Although my seat was in a balcony, the theater was relatively small compared to some American theater's I had been in. After the show, I stood by the exit and waited to get Jimmy Stewart's autograph. That autograph has been one of my "treasures" ever since and one of the few souvenirs of my first trip to Europe.

Another night, I would attend a fairly new London hit, called "The Rocky Horror Show," starring an actor named Tim Curry at the Kings Road Theater. It had won the Evening Standard Award for Best Musical in 1973. A short time later, (1975), this musical would be made into a musical film, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." 

Rhs1974kingsrdI had a Eurail pass and which allowed you to travel with a group to Amsterdam. I met up with the group at Victoria Station and was told that I could sit anywhere on the train and they would let us know when to get off. An English guy and I ended up sitting together and no one came to tell us when to get off the train and we missed our stop and missed our ferry and had to find our own lodging for that night until we could catch the ferry the next day. 

I don't think that Mary had arrived yet in Amsterdam but I was going to initially stay in a youth hostel there to save money but it was way too youthful and loud and there was too much light to sleep. When I met up with Mary, we got ourselves a room at a little pensione on one of the canals. The stairs were very steep up to room. I don't remember very much about our room but we did see all the usual sites. I would also leave Mary in the room while I went out to the gay clubs. She was not particularly happy about this but her happiness was not my main concern as I would have been perfectly happy traveling by myself. She had actually intruded a bit on my freedom by insisting on coming on the trip. I met the d.j. at one of the clubs I went to and went home with him and it was interesting to see the inside of an Amsterdam apartment. I insisted on looking through all of his cabinets to see what products he purchased and to see if anything looked familiar. 

From Amsterdam, we travelled together to Berlin. The Berlin wall was still in existence and we went over to East Berlin. The thing that struck me about Berlin is how depressed everyone looked. It was what they called a "bummer" back then. East Berlin was especially depressing as all the buildings seemed to be the same shade of gray. In neither West nor East Berlin were there very many black people and it seemed like people were curious about Mary. Somehow we did wander off somewhere in East Berlin where we were not supposed to be and were corrected by a policeman. Although we had planned to stay in Berlin for a few days, I was ready to leave within about fortyeight hours. 

We travelled together to Munich and got another room in another pensione and here I would leave Mary and go out on my own seeking other gay men and it didn't take me long to find them. I met a guy in Munich and we panhandled for extra money so that we could get another room for him and I as I didn't want to take him to the room where Mary was and did not want to go too far off my budget for the trip either. I can't remember why it was that he didn't have any place to take me, but he didn't. My funds were pretty limited and I thought I knew how much to budget for each day. As it turned out, I would be way off on the budget anyway. Mary and I stayed a few days in Munich and saw the sights and visited the concentration camp at Dachau in between my having a torrid affair with the German I had met. At one point, on the train from Dachau back to Munich, I think Mary told me that she had terminated a pregnancy or was pregnant or something pertaining to gynecological problems. I don't remember exactly what it was now and it seems like she was a little faint or something but it didn't last long. 

For some reason, though, we did not travel together to Athens. It seems like it might have had something to do with the affair I was having in Munich. Maybe Mary wanted some time to herself. I traveled down through Italy to Brindizi and took a ferry from there, while Mary travelled an entirely different route down through Thessaloniki, Turkey. She had stopped along the way in Thessaloniki and had her own brief romance apparently but then the guy she had the tryst with, tried to steal her camera or did steal her camera. Mary was very interested in photography back then and was taking pictures on the trip although I don't remember ever seeing any of those photographs. I would like to have seen them or had copies as it hasn't even occured to me to bring a camera but I don't think Mary ever offered. 

Mary and I had arranged to meet up again in a hotel room in Athens. As it turned out, the hotel had no air conditioning and was stifling hot. From our window, we could see the police station where the young policeman would sit out on their balcony in tighty whitey underwear which I didn't mind at all. I found the local gay bars and met a young Greek man that didn't speak any English. I thought I fell in love but now couldn't even tell you what his name was. He had grown up in Athens and so he knew it well and we spent all of our time together for the most part. We communicated through an English to Greek dictionary. He considered himself a communist and thought America was a terrible place where everyone had guns and there were shootouts in the streets. He referred to Americans with the one word he seemed to know well, "gangsters." I tried to describe to him what Castro street looked like at two in the morning as the bars were closing with literally hundreds of hot, horny gay men lined up along the sidewalk looking for someone to go home with but he didn't believe that was possible and thought I was exaggerating. I wasn't. 

My young anti-American friend took me on a bus to a nude beach outside Athens one day and we rented on of those small paddle boats that you paddle with your feet. It was a beautiful day and the rocky beach was covered with Australian men in tiny speedos or entirely naked. We paddled out into what must have been the Aegean sea toward an island we could see from shore. It seemed the closer we got to the island, the further away it bacame. After paddling for quite a while, we stopped to have sex on the small paddle boat. When we were done, it looked like we were so far from where we had begun that we would never get back. We paddled and paddled and paddled some more. It was one of the craziest things I had ever done in my life. What did I know about currents in this sea? Had it even ocurred to me that one could drift out to sea and never be heard from again? We had no food or water on our little paddle boat. Who but the owner that had rented us the boat would even know we were out there? We paddled and we paddled. It was truly a miracle I think that we ever made it back to shore but we did. Miracles do happen. 

One day I noticed a discharge from my penis that by this time was not totally unfamiliar during the short era of "sexual freedom.". I told the Greek boy and he brought me to a Greek doctor that didn't speak English. I don't think that a prescription was even required in Greece for antibiotics but he did give me one anyway. He also sprayed my penis with some red stuff which was certainly not part of any treatment regimen I had experienced back in the states. Don't judge. If you didn't live during that period, it will be hard for you to relate to the sexual mores of the time for young men like me. 

For some reason, again which I don't remember, Mary and I traveled separately from Athens to Rome. The day I was leaving to go to Rome where I was to meet up with Mary again, there was a riot in Athens. I am not sure what the riot was about but my Greek friend and I got caught in it. We were just walking down the street when we came to an intersection. Looking one way was a mob of angry people coming toward us yelling in Greek. Looking the other way, there were small tanks heading toward the mob. A cannister was fired from the tank which went zipping across the pavement. We ran into a storefront just as they pulled down the metal door door behind us. I was worried about catching my ferry back to Italy and when it seemed a little quieter outside, we opened the metal door and ran through the streets for a couple of blocks and just that far away, you would never have known there was any protest going on that day at all. 

In Rome I met up with Mary and saw the ruins of the Roman Empire. I loved Rome but I could not find any gay activity there and this frustrated me. I went to Naples and Pompeii one day but nowhere I went did there seem to be gay men that were interested in gay tourists from America. One night while watching the opera Aida at the Baths of Caracalla. a beautiful Italian man of about twenty started talking to me. He was sitting next to an overweight, unattractive middle age Italian man. After the opera they offered me a ride back to the part of town where my hotel was and I took them up on it. I had been flirting with the young man and thought that we were going to hook up. They said that they needed to stop for something and so we stopped and went into an apartment. They young man disappeared and left me with the middle aged troll. I was not so naive that I didn't realize what was up. I went along with what they would call "mercy" sex, which is sexual activity but not necessarily intercourse you had when you were young and hot with someone that was not so young and hot and you just did it as a generous gesture to the "old toad." It really wasn't all that difficult or hard on me and sometimes it just seemed necessary. It was kind of like when I had to sell my body for money earlier in my life but now I wasn't getting paid. Charity work. 

Back at the pensione I had with Mary, I stepped out onto the balcony and romantically looked up at the moon, thinking that my communist boyfriend was looking at the same moon. Corney, I know. The next day I was supposed to meet Mary at the train station to catch the train to Paris... or was it Madrid? All I could think about was the young man in Athens that I had to communicate with through an English to Greek dictionary. I just wanted to get back to the communist boy that had given me an std. I did go to the train station. I did wait for Mary the time that I said that I would wait. While waiting, I noticed there wa another train leaving in the opposite direction, back to Brindizi. That train could take me back towards Greece and back towards romance. The minute Mary was late, it gave me the excuse to get on the train going back to Brindizi. I would feel guilty for this later and sorry to Mary as when she did arrive at the train station, she waited for me for an extended period of time. But I was selfish and didn't really consider her feelings at the time. I was young and thought I was in love with a communist boy in Athens. 

Back in Athens, I received my punishement for the way I had treated Mary- where it had been sunny and beautiful during my previous stay, it was now dark and raining. I found my infatuation and we continued our romance for another week or so but without the sun, there really wasn't much to do and I soon grew board with the inability to have conversation. Sex is great but even in one's twenties, you must take breaks in between sex. You can only say so much through an English to Greek dictionary. What once seemed romantic, now just felt strained and tiressome. . I had taken my antibiotic and had cured the clap that he had given me previously, but apparently he didn't get treated at all for some reason and so I got it again and had to get more antibiotic. He didn't seem to comprehend that just because he didn't have any obvious symptoms, he still required treatment. I finally realized that I must let it go and move on. He came with me again to Patreus to catch the ferry once again to cross the Ionian sea to Italy.

As the ferry was departing from Patreus, and I was waving goodbye for the final time to my little communist, I noticed a few feet down the railing, a young man on the deck with a group of friends. His eyes were dark and his hair was curly and wild. He smiled at me and had a beautiful smile. As soon as we pulled away from the dock and I was no longer waving goodbye to my friend, he asked me if I had a cigarette or maybe I asked him for one. His name was Xavier and we would travel together to Paris, London and Venice. And again, I was so in love! He would be the one I would remember for all time. All the others were just summer romances in comparison but Xavier was the name that I would remember from that summer. His is the picture I would carry with me the rest of my life. He is the one that I made contact with again over thirty years later through Facebook and it would turn out that he had saved a picture all those years of me too. 

xavierandi2Xavier was from Venezuela and had a beautiful Spanish accent. His was living in London and going to design and art school. His traveling companions didn't kow he was gay but by that time in my life, my "gaydar" was working very well and it only took a glance and the meeting of eyes that would set it off. I went to his cabin on the ferry that he shared with his companions and when we were alone, we made love and then one of them walked into the cabin and discovered us in a compromising position but by that time, I think Xavier was ready to come out to his friends or just didn't care in the throes of lust. We got off the ferry on the island of Corfu and slept in his sleeping bag on the beach. We frolicke in the crystal clear blue waters of Corfu before getting the next ferry and traveling to Paris and Venice and then on to London. I stayed in his apartment in London and he saw me to the bus that would take me to the airport for my departure. I swore I would be back to Europe the next year, but of course it was many, many years before I returned. Life happens. Other priorities take over.

From the journal I kept on my trip: 

 

europe1975journal3

6/6/75

I have been planning since February for my first trip to Europe. I am about ready to begin. My planed leaves on the 17th of this month. I am flying on Pan Am Fl. 0617 which I made reservations for through Char Tours. It is a chartered group flight and dost $439 round trip. I have my Eu-rail Pass which is good for 2 months of unlimited travel in 13 countries of Europe. I have my passport. I have my travelers checks. I am packed. I am ready.

I have to work until the 4th. I have a Psychology final at City College on the 11th. I'm going to take the midnight flyer to L.A. and a week with my Mother. I will return to San Francisco on the night of the 16th. I leave for London at 6am on the 17th.

At home:

I've been wanting to go to Europe for years. Many people I have meant have been there and related exciting experiences to me. So many people I have met have told me about their travels that it was becoming obnoxious and finally when my friend, Albert, would show me pictures of Europe to my brother and I and be rambling on about what a wonderful place it was, I became extremely agitated. I had heard enough. My brother would encourage Albert to tell him more and finally I would have to leave the room.

I began making realistic plans at that time. It was late February and I had estimated how much money I would be getting back from the Internal Revenue. I had not claimed myself until the end of the year so I figured that I would get over $400 back. (Later I discovered I would only get $360 plus a $100 rebate).

My brother, David, was paying me $90 a month which helped with the $230/month rentI had to pay.

My salary was approximately $600 per month and I figured if I saved and worked at it, I could actually have everything together by June.

In early March, I contacted several travel agencies and asked about low fares. I discovered Char Tours and their charter group flights for $439. I discovered Eu-rail Pass. I discovered Frommer's Europe on $10 a day.

With charter group flights, you must have your ticked completely pain for 60 days before your departure date. I had chosen a flight for June 17th which made my final payment day April 18th. I started payments in early March.

Several days before rent was due, my brother informed me that he was moving out. This threw me into a panic. It meant I would have to pay all the rent by myself. I paid the rent for March.

On the 12th, I told my landlord that we would have to wait until the 24th for the rent money. On the 25th of April, I moved in with a friend.

During the month of April, I discovered information about getting a passport. I had to sent away for my birth certificate.

I finished paying for my ticket by Friday the 18th.

I forced myself on a budget of $4 a day spending money.

The 1st of May, I bought a “fast pass” which would cover all bus rides in San Francisco for a month and help me stay on my budget. I was laid off from work on the 5th. Another panic.

I took my final paycheck and bought my Eu-rail Pass. It cost $270.

I filed for unemployment.

By the 26th they had called me back to work.

During this month, I wrote letters and made reservations at several hotels in Europe to avoid a frantic search once we get there.

Oh yes, I am now using the word “we” because my friend, Mary Jo, decided to meet me in Amsterdam.

ON June 3rd, I put most of my belongings in storage.

I bought $400 worth of American Express travelers checks on June 6th which brings us to today.

6/7/75- at home

I woke up late this morning and the mail had already arrived. I realized my tax rebate check means I can buy another $100 worth of travelers checks. That will give me $500 to spend until I get toRome.My regular tax check for $360 will be cabled to me there by my mother.

I tooth a bath and sitting here drinking coffee, thinking about my trip. Planning the last minute details. Obsessing over what to pack.

We are only taking back packs and want to travel very light.Besides the clothes I'll wear on the plane, I believe I will only take one other pair of pants- my green cords. I will take two other shirts- my Hawaiian and plain gold; on sweater; one long underwear t-shirt; one tank top; socks and three pairs of underwear. I want to buy those fancy kind of underwear which can double as bathing suits and which are light and will take up very little room. Also I'll be carrying one towel and miscellaneous toiletries. Also several books: “Let's Go Europe,” “Frommer's Europe on $10 a Day,” and a “Eu-rail Guide.”Also reservation confirmations and several pamphlets. \

It's already 2:30 and time to leave for work. I made my bed andI'm ready to go.

6/11/75- at home

I'm through with work. I got my final paycheck. I was surprised. I hadn't expected an extra $200. That will give me close to $700 to start my trip.

Yesterday, I went to Marin with Pat Holder to say goodbye to Larry Lewis. We had dinner and went out dancing. I got home sometime after 1am.

I was supposed to have taken my Psych final this morning at 8am. I didn't make it, soI called my instructor and was told I can take it Friday. I was very disappointed in myself, although it will give me more time to study and possibly pass the test. I haven't had much time or enthusiasm for study lately.

I called my Mother to tell her not to expect me until Friday night.

I attempted to call Mary, too, but she gave me the wrong number for her Mother and I was unable to a hold of her to tell her not to meet me at the airport tonight.

At this time, I am planning on taking the midnight flyer and returning Monday. I'm leaving for Europe on Tuesday. Six more days after today.

I wish I had some valium to relive the tension of waiting.

I continue to add and subtract from my pack. Obsessively.

6/12/75- at home

I continue with repacking.

Today I went and cashed my tax rebate check and my last pay check and bought $200 worth of travelers checks and $50 worth of English pounds. I also bought a pair of Boulet underwear which are suitable for beach wear.

Tonight, my brother,Jim Tarbert, is coming over from Hayward to pick up my stereo. That will leave me with a box of possessions and my pack.

Tomorrow I take my Psychology final and will probably leave for L.A. around noon. That will give me the 13th through the 16th to visit my Mother and everyone in Southern California.

At the moment, I am home by myself, laying on the waterbed. I don’t' know what to do with my time.I suppose I can watch t.v.. It seems I have no energy the past few days. I believe they tension of waiting zaps all my energy from me.

I called my dear, sweet, aunt Ole in Spokane to tell her to try and come down to Southern California while I am there. I hope she can make it.

I feel like calling people everywhere but really can't afford to.

I'm going to Europe. Hooray!

6/17/75

I was extremely anxious waiting for my plane to L.A.. I thought about taking a valium but decided against it. The night of the 12th I had gone out with my brother from Hayward for a drink which turned into several drinks. On the morning of the 18th, I took my hangover to school and had my Psychology final. I came home from school, packed for the final time and Louise and Paul drove me to the airport. On the plane I felt miserable.

I arrived in L.A. at approximately 2pm and still felt unrested. After some time period, I found Mary Jo or she found me and we went over to her sisters. We went and ate and I called my mom.

Mary Jo drove me to my Mother's house through heavy smog and L.A. traffic. I was exhausted when we arrived in Brea and my thoughts were scattered and I left my sweater in Mary Jo's car and she took it back to L.A. with her.

Mom had a good dinner prepared. We ate and socialized about my trip, psychology and my brother, Jim.

Mom and George went to bed early and my sister, Darlene, and I went out to Pamona for a few drinks and dancing. I saw an old acquaintance and asked him to give my regards to old friends.

Darlene and I got home at about 1am. We had an enjoyable evening. It was an exhausting day and I slept well that night.

My Mother is living in a suburban apartment complex with screaming kids everywhere. As I write this, I can hear everything the neighbors say. They plan on staying for another 10 months and they are hoping to go to Europe for 6 months shortly thereafter.

Darlene and I spend the day shopping for a bathing suit for her son Chris. I also bought some shaving cream and cologne- Jovan Musk Oil. We also bought a pecan pie for George and Fathers day cards.

I called my friend, Albert, this afternoon, who is staying with his mother in the city of Orange until summer school starts. He said he is returning to San Francisco Monday and offered me a ride which will save me plane fare.

George gave me $100 for my trip. It blew me away.

Ole should be arriving tomorrow at L.A. International Airport. I'm eager to see her.

Another day draws to a close.

6/17

On Plane

I enjoyed my stay in L.A. I went out with my sister Darlene although she wasn't feeling well. I saw old friends. We danced in Pamona.

I called Albert and arranged to fly back to San Francisco with him last night. I enjoyed his company immensely and enjoyed the opportunity to meet some of his friends upon arrival in San Francisco.

Today was hectic. Pat Holter brought me to the airport and I took a valium. I checked in early with Char Tours and Pat bought me lunch.

The plane departed late. WE waited and waited. And finally said goodbyes and I was loaded on the plane.

I had checked my bag and only took candy bars, books and magazines on the plane with me.

We flew over lakes, rivers, mountains and clouds at 37,000 feet. I read Norman Mailer's “Marilyn.” It became dark. We were served a fine but sparse dinner of steak and potatoes. There was much turbulence and my coffee spilled.

The woman sitting on my left, a teacher from Berkeley, who's name I can't remember, offered to buy me a drink but I declined, explaining to her my fears of air sickness. She is congenial and I enjoy her company.

The woman on my right is pleasant but quiet and is from Paris.

We landed in Duluth Minnesota for refueling. We are told we will not be allowed to leave the plane during this process, which many of us had hoped to do to buy cigarettes. This was at 10:30pm, San Francisco time. We have yet 4032 milted to London. People are taking sleeping pills and getting situated with blankets and pillows for the remaining 7.5 hours. I'm given a Dalmane. I'm told there will be no movie and I'm very disappointed.

A snack, another valium and a Dalmane to follow. Over Greenland, Iceland and Scotland. On to London.

At 1am in the morning, San Francisco time, and the sun is rising. I attempt to sleep. At 1am San Francisco time, I awake, turning and twisting, impossibly trying to find a comfortable position. I was extremely thirst and requested a can of 7up and inquired about the time to London. I supposed that I would be exhausted upon my arrival. There seemed to be others on the plane with the same problem. All I could see below were clouds. White billowing clouds. I wished that I could stretch out on one of them and take a nap. The aircraft has lurched forward in time and has left my body behind. It is approximately 10am in London. The sun was up. Were were served breakfast.

6/18- In London

I arrived in London and made it through the airport chaos. Char Tours had a bus waiting to whisk us to downtown.

I called about my reservations and am staying somewhere I hadn't anticipated but which is fine. I am exhausted and will write more about my arrival and accommodations later. Probably tomorrow. I'm suffering from jet lag I'm sure and my body doesn't quite know what to do. It's probably late at night in San Francisco. I hope I can sleep the night through. London time 7:40pm.

6/19- In London

Well I didn't sleep the whole night through. London time 3:15am.

More about my arrival- My flight had been a pleasant one. Upon arrival I heard my first English accents in England. It was quite exciting.

Upon arrival at Victoria Station, it seemed to be rush hour. About 4pm in the afternoon. Everyone was rushing about so much that I decided to wait before checking out my reservations. I also wanted to buy a pen and write a bit.

I asked directions and people were quite friendly. I found a local drug store and bought a pen and then went back across the street to a small cafe and ordered a cup of coffee and had my first opportunity to spend English money. I had not idea how much I was spending. I must start figuring that and keeping track.

Everyone is so kind. I called Mrs. Zurita, who told me that she wanted me at Mrs. Joan Moynihan's Guest House at 42 Francoina Rd in Clapham Common.

I walked across the street from the cafe to Victoria Station and took the tube (the subway) to Clapham Common. The ticket cost me 20p which is approximately 40 some odd cents.

I got lost in Clapham Common but soon found my way. It's a friendly neighborhood with children playing along the streets that gave me directions.

My first impression of London is that is's quite wonderful. The buildings are mostly brick and I passed many nice parks.

Mys. Monhiham is very nice and showed me to my room. It's a double room with tow beds but she said she will only charge me for a single. It is clean and pleasant and I shall probably remain here for my stay in London.

I was unpacked and hung my things in the closet and put things in one of the dressers. It is quite homey. Mrs. Moyniham told me she would wake me at a quarter to 9am for breakfast and that I should call her Joan.

I suppose I shall try and sleep until 9am. Tomorrow I shall see London.

6/19- In London

I awake at 7am. I can't sleep any longer so I get up, wash my face and shave. It’s a cold morning and I don't know how to work the heater in my room, so I get dressed, wearing my green cords and Nik Nik sweater. I make my bed.

I'm waiting for someone to come and get me for breakfast.I don't want to go wandering about this families home until I'm more oriented. I'm not sure, but I believe I may be the only paying guest at this time.

Outside my window, I hear the proprietress saying “naughty boy.” … “Your a bad boy,” to one of the children, a dog or something.

As I write, is is approaching 8:40am.

Today I will buy a tourist ticket for the tube and buses. Four consecutive days of unlimited travel will cost Pounds 2.90 or about $6.00. I am also planning on taking the “Round London” sightseeing tour which will be another 65 P. It's definitely difficult to keep track of how much money I am spending.

At a quarter to 9am, Jean called me for breakfast. I had a bowl of cornflakes, English bacon, sausage, an egg and toast and coffee and some very pleasant conversation with my hostess.

After breakfast I am started on my first day. I want to write about everything but probably wont' be able to get it all down.

I'm in a residential area on my way to the underground station. A milkman delivering quarts of milk with cream passes by. European small cars. A street sweeper. Brick houses. Black Austin cabs. Double decker red buses.

I have no problem reaching Victoria Station from Clapham Common and board the
“Round London” sightseeing bus. It is quite comfortable with ashtrays and adequate ventilation (little blowers from above).

The tour was com

europe1974StPauls

prehensive and our guided was quite good with a fine sense of humor. He gave us many interesting tidbits of information such as that it is a law in London that taxicabs be built so that gentleman can walk into it without knocking of his top hat.

We saw the Royal Hospital, h

ome of the aged, (pensioners) built by Wren between 1682-1692; Battersea Power Station which provides most of London't electric power, located on the Thames River and has chimneys over 300 feet hight; Tate Gallery of British Art; Lambeth Palace, dating from 1450 and which is the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury; Houses of Parliament, which architecturally is called “sham-gothic” designed by Barry and Dugin and opened in 1852; The Victoria Tower is the largest isolated tower in the world; the law courts; Saint Paul’s Cathedral which has the second largest dome in the world; The Parrish Church of the Commonwealth; Nelson and Wellington are entombed there; Central criminal court surmounted by Justice holding a sword and scales; Bank of England; Royal Exchange; The “Monument, 202 feet hight and commemorated the G

reat Fire of London of 1666- erected in 1671-1677; HMS Belfast- largest cruiser ever built for Royal Navy; Tower Bridge; Tower of London, “The City's ancient fortress built by William the Conquerer; Cleopatras Needle, from her city of Heliopolis and over 3,500 years old; Parliament Square' Westminster Abbey, founded by Edward the Confessor in 1065 and which has seen

every coronation since it's foundation; The National Gallery; Admiralty Arch; Piccadilly Circus; Speakers Corner- Hyde park; royal Albert Hall and many others all in about 2 hrs.

I spend the afternoon in Piccadilly Circus wandering about. I came back to the guest house and took a nap from about 6-10pm. Still suffering from jet lag. I went out for a bit by pubs are closed at about 11pm so I came back to the guest house. It is no 1:30am.

6/20- In London

I awake at 7am, unable to sleep any longer. I smoke a cigarette. I contemplate my day. I must call a “switchboard” and find out where I can get some tetracycline. I can't figure out where I picked up my present need for the medicine bu I know that definitely is a need.

I hear others awake in the guesthouse. Although I haven't seen the other guests, Joan has told me she has four at the moment. I hear a radio playing “rock and roll” or “pop” or whatever.

I get dressed. I walk out into the hall to see about taking a bath but someone is in there. I return to my room and get back into my bed with my clothes on. I smoke another cigarette.

Today I am wearing my green cords and Hawaiian print shirt. It looks as if it will be warm enough.

I am writing. I am passing time until I can use the bath. I am planning my day. I am waking up.

Things I must do today: see a doctor; exchange some money; make reservations or plan my trip to Amsterdam. I would like to see the Tower of London in depth and changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. I will probably do a lot of walking.

I eat breakfast with the other guests. There is a woman from West Africa and English gentleman who is on “Holiday.” I have a fine breakfast and after breakfast, I have a fine conversation with Joan's son of about 16 or 17 about rock music, school and tourist sights.

I'm on my way shortly thereafter and it's a beautiful day. Birds singing. Sun shining. Crossing Abbevilla Road, I am almost hit by a car. I walk up Elms Road to Clapham Common. I notice the red tubular mailboxes, the big red telephone booths. I sit for a minute at the corner of Elm and Clapham Common across the busy street of Clapham Common from a spacious park. I need to find a 2P piece to put in the telephone to call the switchboard.

I notice that many of the young boys wear black suites with emblems and ties.

I get change and call the switchboard and am told to go to Hyde Park Corner, Saint George's Hospital, but to call first being that I am an American.

I buy some mild in a strange, light, collapsable plastic bottle. It costs 7P for a quart. That's about twenty cents.

I call Saint George's but am told to call back later. I decide to wanter for a while. I exchange $53.00 for 14.22 pounds at the exchange rate of $2.32 per English pounds.

I try Saint George's again and am told to come into the outpatient department at 4:45pm.

I'm off to see the Tower of London.

After arriving at Tower Hill station, I went to a drug store and bought some air pillows for my shoes.

I went to “All Hollows By the Tower” built in A.D. 675. A collegiate foundation of Richard III (1483-1485). The Saxons built the 1st church over a Roman villa, the floor of which may still be seen. Kings and Queens of England from earliest times have worshipped here. The holy ground was the last resting place of many victims of the …. It looks very old, but the inside has been restored quite nicely. Organ music is playing as I enter through a revolving door. There are sculptures and museum pieces. Model ships. There is a tomb of George Snayh 1602-161 and Phillip Thomas Byard Clayton 1875-1972 and a lot of other commemorations to other Londoners. There is a plaque which says that this is the most ancient parish church in the City of London but was restored after being destroyed above ground by two air raids in December, 1940, and rededicated in the presence of Queen Elizabeth by the Lord Bishop of London in July, 1957.

There is a pleasant little plaza with benches, people sunning themselves and flowers in blood outside the church aND a few steps to the left as you go toward the Tower of London.

As you go out of the plaza, there are vendors selling soft drinks. I buy one.

The Tower of London is circled by a black iron fence. Taxi cabs line the street waiting to pick up tourists School children come and go in large groups.

I pay the entry fee and join a tour led by a “Beefeater,” who tells us many interesting stories. Many beheadings. The grounds are quite interesting and will take a while to assimilate. Very impressive.

After the tour, I pay 5P to see the Regimental Museum of the Royal Fusileers. I wander off to White Tower. Much too much to write about here. Armour dating from centuries ago. Weapons, spears and beautiful rifles. I saw the chopping block and other attractions and bought post cards and a pamphlet.

After the Tower of London, I wandered somewhat aimlessly until I came across the “Monument” commemorationg the Great Fire, previously seen on my tour yesterday.

I was becoming extremely hungry and shaky but went on.. I came to Saint Paul's. It was fantastically gigantic! I bought more post cards and another pamphlet.

I went on until I came to an ABC restaurant and ate some sort of strange food. It was cheap, though.

Then I just had time to make my appointment at Saint George's Hospital.

They did the usual routine of drawing blood except with different methods. It all came out the same and everyone was pleasant.

6/21

Yesterday was extremely busy and extremely exhausting. I certainly didn't get it all down in this book! I entirely forgot to mention the impressive “Crown Jewels.” I particularly liked the Star of Africa diamond.

After Saint George's Hospital, I went for a walk in Hyde Park and bought some juice to take the tetracycline which had been prescribed. I bought a copy of the magazine, “Time Out.”

I decided to go see a play and headed for Piccadilly Curcus on the “tube.” By the time I got there I was sneezing a lot and bought some Dristan.

I bought a ticket to “Harvey” with James Steward and wandered around waiting for 8:00pm. I continue to have a runny nose like hay fever.

James Steward was fantastic. Harvey was much fun and afterward I got James Stewars autograph and talked to some girls from Ohio.

I went home and fell into bed at about 12 midnight and immediately was sleeping. It is now another day.

I eat breakfast with an elderly lady and gentleman from Northern England. They seem to be good friends of Hoan's. Joan's younger son joins us.

After breakfast, I'm off. Wandering Clapham Common and I gointo a bit of sneezing. It's practically impossible or, rather, at this time IS impossible to find any real fresh orange juice. I take some dristan I have with me. I need to buy a handercheif!

I decide that if I'm going to actually spend money for a handkerchief, I might as well get one I like. I decide I want a red, Western type hankerchief which turns into a search of several hours taking me to Brixton and then to Bond Street and then to Carnaby.

Carnaby has a lot of street salesman and the street is actually for pedistrians only. I find a shop that has something like what I want.

I then went to the tube and went to Baker St. station whereafeter I walked a block to Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. It is better than any other was musems and was very interesting.

After Madam Tussauds, I went to Chelsea to buy tickets to “The Rocky Horror Show” for the evening.

I went and ate at a “Pot” and then went back to the guest hourse and took an hours nap. Went to the play-- went to a club, “The Napoleon (dull)-- came back to the guest house. Exhausted.

europe1974AthensPostcard I bought in Athens but never sent and kept for souvenir

parisFront of post card I wrote to Mom from Paris but never sent.

europe1974ParisbackBack of post card I wrote to my Mother from Paris but never sent.

europe1974MunichPostcard from Munich I never sent but kept as souvenir 

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Darlene Marries Chuck- Click for story.
5th Grade in Abilene Tx- Click for story
1970's Promiscuity- Click for story.
Me in first grade- Click for story.
Escondido 1960's- Click for story
Forbidden Dreams of Love- Click for story.
Palouse- Click for story
1973 "You have to be hurt..." Click to read the story.

Article

01. Introduction

03- Dads Family

03- Photos of my Father and his family

04- My Mother's Family

04- Photos of my Mom

04- Video of my Mom

04- Walling Family Reunions

04-Audio Files of My Mom

04. Billie

04. Ole

04.1. Forbidden Dreams of Love

04.2. Flames of Forbidden Love

04.3 Mom Writing Her Life Story

05- Jim Tarbert

05. Roger

1950's Grandview to Toppenish

1957-1958 1st Grade

1958-1959- Third Grade

1959- Palouse

1961- 4th Grade- Last time I wore a dress

1962- Abilene

1963- Escondido- Early 60's

1964- Darlene Marries Chuck

1964- My Beatle Haircut

1964-The Luv Please

1965 or 1966- Steve Castle

1965- In Foster Care

1966 Living with Darlene & Chuck in Seattle

1967- Juvenile Hall

1976- I Praise Thee (poem to Stanley)

1976- My Second Lover, Stanley Dunne

1976- Paul McCartney and Wings

1976-1330 Bush Street #9J

1977- 1667 Haight Street

1977- Trip to San Diego with Mary Jo

1977-1980- Tumultuous Relationship with John Perry

1978- 525 Haight Street

1979- September- Dad is Murdered

1980's- AIDS- Death and Dying

1980- Winter- First Trip to New York

1980- Word, Sound and Power

1981- Milton- Falling in Love

1982-1993 465 Waller Street

1982-1994 Computers to MacNursing

1984- 33rd Birthday

1985- Graduation from Nursing School

1985- Trip to Hawaii (Oahu)

1988- MIdnight Caller

1989- Earthquake!

1991- Aug 10th- Mom Passes Away

1991- Black Males in Oils

1991- Crack of My Life

1993- Move to Vallejo & Our First Home

1995-1. Road Trip to Washington

1995-2. Surprise Trip to Vegas

1995-3. Grandmother Rogers & Aunts Visit Darlene's

1995-4. Amber

1998- Camping at Russian River

2000 -Thoughts about Progressive Christians

2000- Resignation from John George

2001- April- Trip to Cancun

2001- Peace and Justice

2001- September 11th

2002- April-Puerto Vallarta & Blue Bay Getaway

2002- Nov 12th- My Stepfather, George McHenry Passes Away

2003- Trip to D.C. and N.Y.

2004- Feb- Road Trip to Baha Mexico

2004- Walling Family Reunion in Spokane

2005- Christmas Poem

2005- Darlene Visit for Pride Celebration

2005- Trip to Orlando

2005-1. Europe- London

2005-2. Europe- Paris

2005-3. Europe- Venice

2005-4. Europe- Florence

2005-5. Europe- Rome

2005-6. Europe- Athens

2005-7. Knee Surgery & Tongue Biopsy

2006 Christmas Poem

2006- February 23- Times Herald

2006- Palm Springs White Party

2006- Trip to Seattle

2006-July 8th Solano Peace and Justice Coalition BBQ

2007- Feb- Carnival Destiny- Our First Cruise

2007- Tre and Casey Visit

2008- Aug 15-18 Spokane Visit

2008- Psycho Song

2009- Honored by Vallejo Gay Network

2009- Women in Oils

2010 Christmas Poem

2010- Feb. R.C. Mariner of the Seas Mexican Riviera Cruise

2010- June 24- Badlands

2010- Trip to Seattle

2010-1. Europe- Amsterdam

2010-2. Europe- Paris

2010-3. Europe- Barcelona & Sitges

2010-4. Europe- Madrid

2011-1. Feb. My Fabulous 60th Birthday Weekend

2011-2. April- L.A., Palm Springs & "The White Party"

2011-3. Poem- Girl From Medical Lake

2011-4. Old Man Dancing

2011-5. May- Misty and Alex Visit

2011-6. August- Darlene and Sean's Visit

2011-7. Alex 16-18 & Pics

2012- March- Carnival Splendor Mexican Riviera with Family

2013- Wedding

2014- Christmas Poem

2014- First Gay Cruise

2014- September Road Trip to San Diego

2015- Seasonal Affective Blues

2015- Second Gay Cruise

2015- War on Christmas poem

2015-"Badlands" and Gay Bar Etiquette

2015-September 8. Political History

2016 Do Not Speak for Gay Males

2016- April- Palm Springs RV Adventure

4/4/2016- Not Going Along to Get Along

9/4/15- Liberals vs Conservatives

Cockettes & Angels of Light- Click for story
My Dad's Family- Click for story.
Summer of Love- Click to read story.
1964- Luv Please- Click for story.
Where I was born- Click for story.
2005 Darlene Visit for Gay Pride- Click for story.
Me in my 20's in 1970's- Click for story.
Second Gay Cruise- Click for story.
Click to read "Introduction."
Beatle haircut- Click for story.
Amber- Click to read story.
Gay Disco 70's- Click for story
My Mother- Click for more photos.
2014- Road trip to San Diego- Click for story.
Darlene Marries Chuck- Click for story.
The Psychedelic Experience- Click to read story.
Grandview- Click for story
Photos of Dad & His Family- Click for story.
1958-1959- 3rd Grade- Click to read story.
1957-1958 1st Grade- Click to read story.
2015- 2nd Gay Cruise- Click to read story.
2001 Trip to Cancun- Click to read story.
1973- Psych Tech Program- Click for story.
Palouse- Click for story
Women in Oils- Click for story
Black Men in Oils- Click to read story
1974- First Trip to Europe- Click to read story.
1973 "You have to be hurt..." Click to read the story.
2001 Trip to Cancun- Click to read story.
1970's Promiscuity- Click for story.
1967- Summer of Love- Click to read story.
2005- Darlene Visits for Gay Pride- Click to read story.
Earthquake! Click to read story.
1974- On Larkin Street- Click for story.
1982-1993 Waller Street- Click to read story.
Escondido 1960's- Click for story
Me in 3rd grade- Click for story.
4th Grade- Click for story.
Forbidden Dreams of Love- Click for story.
Me in first grade- Click for story.
5th Grade in Abilene Tx- Click for story
2015- 2nd Gay Cruise- Click for story.