Thursday, March 30, 2017

Holiday in Italy

  1. Snapshot File - Holiday in Italy.

The UK joined the Common Market in 1972.  Six years earlier, we holidayed in Italy.  We went with Ann and Bryan Mercer.  This was quite a big step for all of us.  We and our friends didn’t usually go abroad to holiday; in fact, Mary and I didn’t holiday!  Brian and Ann usually went to her parents in Cornwall for their summer holidays.  We parked our young children (2 each) with our parents and went to Italy.

We went in Brian’s 6-month old Ford Cortina.  He was rather careful with this car, but he allowed Mary and I to share the driving.  The trip started out in Harwich, where Brian’s precious car was swung high into the air and down into the hold.  No drive on/off on this route.

Brian and I were both sergeants in the RAF; so we didn’t have much money.  There were no credit cards then, so we took cash.  Probably mainly Italian Lira plus some German Marks and Swiss Francs.  We also had BFG (British Forces Germany) tokens for fuel in Germany and Italian tourist tokens for fuel in Italy.  We crossed international borders ten times.  Each time, we drove up clutching our British passports; they waved us through.  The only time they inspected them was in the middle of the night crossing from Italy back into Switzerland.  The lonely Swiss soldier guarding his country, burst out laughing at the ladies’ passport photographs!

We first drove non-stop to Lake Garda in northern Italy.  This took about 18 hours and saved us a night in a hotel. We then drove into Venice.  We had a guide book, but chose the first hotel in the tourist bureau list - Academia.  A really good choice, right in the centre of Venice.  We stayed in Venice for 4 nights.  Ann, Mary and Bryan spent a day on the Lido beach, while I took in more of the sights, including the Doge’s palace.  Highlight of that was seeing a tryptich by H. Bosch.  Only 3 of them survive and I saw another one in Vienna many years later. 

We left Venice for a day on the beach at Rimini.  We had just rented loungers and sunshade on a beach, when the heavens opened up and we left.

We then drove down to Rome and did the sights there for several days.  Once again the other three spent a day on the beach; I went round the ruins of Ostia, the port for Rome.  We left Rome and drove overnight to Basle.  Stayed in a gasthof in the centre.  There we had our first encounter with a duvet; we didn’t have them in England.

And finally, overnight to the Hook of Holland and home.

The holiday was planned to cover long distances overnight.  Which meant we didn’t have to pay for hotels.  So, quite a lot of sleeping was done in the car, especially by Ann, who didn’t drive.  The holiday was planned by Ann and I, with little input by the other two.  They agreed to the holiday because they didn’t think we would go ahead.  But we did.  Interesting really, as Ann and I ended up married to each other