Our tour included a stop in Monte Carlo. Here I remember walking through a casino and being shown rooms where only the wealthiest of the wealthy could go.
I had a picture of the inside of one of those rooms, but I couldn’t find it. Just kidding! I have no idea of what the inside of one of those rooms looked like. We were only told about these very private rooms. The only place I’ve gone in a casino is the buffet, and that’s only if there’s a deal available.
Our next stop was France. Our border crossing into France was in stark contrast to when we entered East Germany and Czechoslovakia. Going into the eastern communist countries involved hours of waiting and being given serious instructions for when the border agents entered our bus.
Entering France felt like a party. It probably took two minutes – long enough for the border agent to enter our bus and look down the aisles at all the passengers. I remember the agent, who was male, saying, “There’s a lot of pretty girls on this bus. You’ll have to leave a couple of them here, and then you can continue on.” Then with a laugh and a wave, we were off. No one even looked at our passports.
In the morning when we woke up in Nice, we heard a lot of commotion. We looked out our hotel room window, and there was a fruit market! It only was there for the morning though. We hurried down and bought some fruit.
Whatever street our hotel was on led to the riviera. And whatever street that was, was lined with shops. For some reason, the “dress” shoes I had brought along on the trip had broken, and for some reason, I felt I needed to replace them – in France. I walked up and down that street going into various stores. Of course, the timing was tricky as many of the shops were closed during the traditional afternoon siesta. I shopped early in the afternoon, went to the beach, and went back to some shops later.
The price of a pair of shoes was exorbitant, but eventually I found a pair I could afford. Those shoes were just okay, but since they came from Nice, I kept them a long time after my trip, wearing them out, and getting my money’s worth.
Most of our group went to the beach in the afternoon. Of course, there was talk that women were allowed to go topless here. The riviera was crowded, and yes, there were some women who were topless while sunbathing on the beach. Later, talk on the bus was that some of our own had followed that famous saying, “When in Rome…”, except instead of Rome, it was Nice.
After Nice, we went to Paris. We visited the Palace of Versailles. According to Google, the Palace of Versailles started out as a hunting lodge, and became a true palace under Louis XIV. The purpose, back then, was to show off his wealth. I guess it is impressive, but opulence for opulence sake doesn’t impress me. I liked the gardens the best.
I’m not sure where we stayed in Paris, but the view out our hotel window was a train station.
We visited the Eiffel Tower, and I went all the way to the top.
We visited Notre Dame. The pictures I took attest to my love of stained glass as well as symmetry. I love how light shines through glass, and I love the calm order of symmetry. Even after 42 years, I still like the same things.
This next picture isn’t very good at all. However, it is the area damaged by the fire in April 2019. Here is an article about the fire. The article includes a much better before picture as well as pictures after the fire. The article also has a picture of the rose window lit up by the flames.
In the evening, we attended a show at the Moulan Rouge in Paris. There we saw an extravagant show with amazing sets and costumes. A few of the dancers were topless. I remember seeing a woman swinging on a vine in a jungle scene and thinking, “I think she’s topless.” Like the riviera in Nice, the show wasn’t bawdy or sexual at all. It was just that way.
After Paris, we headed back to Britain. Our last night was spent in Brighton. All I remember about Brighton is that we tried to stay up all night to savor every moment with the friends we had made on this wonderful tour of Europe.
I know there is much I have forgotten, and I know I don’t have the exact order of locations visited. A few memories didn’t quite fit in along the way.
Like the time in Germany when we were in a restaurant and no one spoke English. There I ordered a hamburger and was surprised when I got a ham sandwich.
Or the time we celebrated the 4th of July at the American Embassy in Vienna. There we had a free meal – maybe hot dogs and hamburgers – and most memorably – free soda! A can of soda cost $1 back then. We asked if we could take some with us when we left, and we were encouraged to do so – as there was plenty. I think we all stuffed as many cans of soda that we could into our pockets and purses if we had them. We felt like we were in one of the private rooms in Monte Carlo and had hit it big!
But you know. We had hit it big. We were young, college kids visiting Europe in 1979. How lucky we were to do and to see all that we did.
I am so glad I had you, my dear readers, along for my journey back. Like my first trip, I was a bit cautious. I wasn’t sure any of you would be interested in a trip I took way back in 1979! But you all added to my journey back with your comments and your insight. You made it fun and enjoyable. Plus, I learned a few things along the way. Thank you!