Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Europe on $5 a day ?!?

Back in the 50's, in the years shortly after the end of WW2, North Americans were enticed to travel to Europe on the promise that it could be done as cheaply as $5.00 a day. This is when you had all those movies like Roman Holiday, where it was suggested a romance with Audrey Hepburn was possible as long as you travelled to Europe and looked like Gregory Peck. Now, I'm not sure how many people were able to do that, but a lot of people did have the chance to see a lot of Europe on relatively little money, including my own dear Mom in her pre-married-to-Dad days (a.k.a her "young hottie" days)

The other day we were looking through her album from that 5 month (wow!!) trip from small, provincial Winnipeg to big, bold Europe and had the chance to re-live some of those times. Here's some highlights and observattions!

-It took Mom seven days to cross the Atlantic on the CP ship Empress of France to get to Europe, and eight days to return. On the way, she played "quoits" and deck tennis, wagered on "horse races", read the on-board newspaper, watched first-run movies in the theatre, read, relaxed, and had the chance to eat up to eight times a day. Sigh. Things have certainly "improved" through air travel :(

-Mom actually saw Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh live on-stage in something called "The Sleeping Prince" in London. It was described as "an occasional fairly tale" and starred Olivier as "The Regent" and Leigh as "Mary". It was also directed by Olivier. Too cool!

-Ever have Fettucinne Alfredo? Mom actually met Alfredo! She and her tour group ate at his restaurant, were served personally by Alfredo di Lelio himself, with his set of golden fork and spoon, and still has a recipe signed by Alfredo. Best meal ever!

-Remember those great stickers you always saw stuck on the sides of suitcases on old movies? Mom saved hers, and had a bunch of them in her album! I've included just a few of them here, but they're all gorgeous. Look at the colours on the Hotel Victoria stickers. You just don't see that any more. The Hotel Cavour sticker had advertising on the back of it, which promised the traveller "The almost in comfort and convenience". Priceless!

-A drink menu/ flyer from the "Cortijo EL GUAJIRO" lists entrance to the floor show and first drink at 40 pesetas, second drink at 25 pesetas (unless you at the bar, where the second drink was 20 pesetas). Shows started at 10:45 p.m. and went to 2:45 a.m.(two of them being a "gypsy parties"). The incredible shrinking drink prices must have been a challenge to the hosts, as there was also a note telling the reader to "insist on the bill before leaving".

I hate to think what we've lost from these more elegant days of travel, when you could expect a leisurely ocean cruise, amazing food, drink and entertainment, and wonderful sights and sounds amongst a less-threatening atmosphere than today. I missed it, but I'm glad my Mom was able to be a part of it.

Way to go, young hottie!

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