Dining Journeys  (part 2 of 3)

 

Denmark

 

Pølsers in Copenhagen at Tivoli Gardens, where everyone seemed happy

This was our first trip to Europe together, we stayed across from Tivoli Gardens, the whimsical entertainment park enjoyed by young and old alike. It was Walt Disney's inspiration for Disneyland.  We had pølsers (the national sausage) and beer and noted that everyone seemed happy. On the Strøget cobblestone shopping promenade, we ate smørrebrod, open-faced sandwiches. We both like Danish design. Rose was tempted by “seconds” shops selling dinnerware. Pastries? Mmm, good!

Rose liked Nepal, but couldn't wait to get to orderly Copenhagen. After playing second fiddle in Asia, she was treated royally by Europeans. En route to the U.S. on SAS, a flight attendant was put out when Ron did not respond to his question. Rose nudged him and said "I think he is talking to you in Swedish." Ron's mother's parents moved from Sweden to the U.S. in the early 1900's. He had visited there three times:: returning from studies in India, on leave in the Army and on an SAS pass...in the cockpit landing in Stockholm (the pilot had been an instructor at Thai International).

 

 

England

 

Prime rib 'properly served' at Simpsons, next to the Savoy

During one trip to London, we were guests of the eminent Savoy Hotel, built in 1884 and an original member of Leading Hotels of the World. Also in the Strand, since 1848, Simpson's restaurant is justly famous for prime rib, but their waiters believed only they could serve it properly - so arrogant it was laughable. It was cold in England, and Rose later fled to sunny Majorca while Ron made sales calls on travel agents. We rejoined each other in Barcelona.

The Savoy used three men to fetch our key (the skeleton type), and two for the revolving door. At Simpson's we were dinner guests of Mullen Cunningham, Managing Director of Mandarin Oriental Hotels. Rose went shopping at Halcyon Days, Liberty of London, Fortnum & Mason, and Harrods. In Palma de Mallorca, Hotel Son Vida had confirmed a complimentary room for three nights. High on a hill, it encompasses a 13th-century castle on 1,400 acres of parkland. Each day, Rose told the front desk Ron was still delayed on business in London.

 

A quaint dining 'house' in Chelsea with Mandarin Oriental's manager

British Airways brought us to London and Barcelona for hosting 50 of their top European travel agents at the Stanford Court Hotel. Tim Reid, Mandarin Oriental's Director of Sales-Europe, and his wife Cookie invited us to their flat in Chelsea, then took us to a quaint restaurant created from a very old house. They were super hosts, with a delightful sense of humor. The four of us had been together in Manila, Hong Kong and Bangkok for meetings.

Traveling six months a year for Mandarin Oriental became tiring. Ron joined the Stanford Court Hotel in San Francisco, another LHW member and a Mobil 5 star hotel, as Director of Sales & Marketing. The Owner of Mark Allen Travel - specialists in the entertainment industry - took Ron to a private club for lunch (no women allowed); cigars were offered instead of desert. Rose and Ron had lunch at San Quentin, a brasserie where the menu was in French and the waiter questioned whether Ron really wanted tripe (stomach lining). His answer: "No!"

 

Dinner at 200 year old Rules after seeing Cats

Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Cats" was playing to sold-out houses, but British Airways was able to get us two good seats. After the show, we ate at Rules on Maiden Lane, the oldest restaurant in London (est. 1798). Everything was at an angle: floors, ceiling, tables. The food was decent, but there was a mustiness in the air that Rose didn't like. From the Tower of London, lunch was at the Carvery: good value, but touristy.

The New London Theatre is “in the round,” with seats on all sides of the stage - a perfect venue for Cats. Everyone had a close-up view of the elaborate costumes and make-up. We had an excellent buffet lunch at Bombay Brasserie in the old Bailey's Hotel (est. 1880). Around Piccadilly, we saw young 'punks' with brightly colored hair and outrageous outfits. The Underground (Tube) was cheap, but tacky. Black Cabs, with high roofs, were great. While Ron was in meetings, Rose took a double-decker bus tour; at Parliament she heard a bewigged Lord drone on.

Sitting next to Shirley MacLaine for lunch at San Lorenzo

On our first visit to London, we were given a remarkable suite at The Dorchester Hotel, on Park Lane in Mayfair. Peter Stafford was General Manager, having moved from the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong. For this trip together we stayed in a flat in Knightsbridge and went to San Lorenzo for lunch, popular with the “in” crowd (Princess Diana's favorite). We said the Dorchester's concierge made our reservation; embarrassed at having no record, they seated us at a front table. Moments later Shirley MacLaine sat at the next table.

We came from the nearby Victoria and Albert Museum. San Lorenzo served a wonderful Italian bouillabaisse. It was just two blocks from Harrods, whose immense food court is a gourmet's paradise. Rose's brother George was a hairstylist at the shop where Shirley MacLaine was a patron. Her brother, Warren Beatty, played a character very much like George in the movie "Shampoo." Rose wouldn't let Ron ask her about the coincidence. One trip was just after the Pan Am bombing. Ron 'blew up' at the strict airport security.

Marvelous English breakfasts at the Mill Hay House, a lovely B&B

The next day we drove through the Cotswolds: Bourton-on-the-Water, Chipping Campden, Stow-on-the-Wold, et al. En route we stopped to see Oxford University. In Broadway we stayed two nights at the Mill Hay House, a lovely bed and breakfast. Our home had stone walls, casement windows and a gabled roof, with black-face sheep wandering on its lush lawn and a water driven mill. In the kitchen our hostess Mary served marvelous breakfasts with British back bacon. 

There were eight guests during our stay; six from California who had learned about it from travel notes in the San Francisco Examiner. Mary took all of us to a local pub for dinner. Our Rover was a full·size, comfortable, four-door sedan, a bit large for the narrow roads of the small villages. Driving in the left lane was not a problem, but our window washer sprayed nearby cars. We had a good lunch at the very old White Hart Hotel in Stow-on-the-Wold.

Formal dinner at the Hunters Lodge and a lively lunch at the Hole in the Wall

Nearby, we had a tender veal cutlet and lamp chops prepared by Kurt Friedly, Swiss owner-chef of the Hunters Lodge, a sedate and formal restaurant with a wood burning fireplace and paintings dedicated to fox hunting. The next day, we drove our Rover to Wells for two nights at the Crown Hotel, built in 1450, across from the Cathedral. We continued to Bath, where we had lunch at The Hole in the Wall...with colorful décor and lots of lively conversation.

The Crown Hotel was medieval. Our small guest room had warped furniture and a double bed with a lumpy mattress. We couldn't wait to leave. Behind the Cathedral, a herd of milk cows suddenly appeared and we have a funny photo of a heifer scratching her nose. We wanted to move to The Hole in the Wall, but their few rooms were full. They referred us to Number 9, which only took repeat and referral guests and is not listed in any hotel directory.

 

A very private venison dinner at Number 9, an elegant B&B in Bath

We spent two nights at Number 9 (for its address), a private bed and breakfast in Bath. It was an elegant place. Our beautiful room had a four-poster canopied bed, fireplace, and a view of the English garden out  back. Owner Sue Hayward was taking courses in French cooking and served superb pheasant soup and medallions of venison just for us. We had flavorful breast of duck and roast veal at Le Jardin right across the street, too.

In Bath, we watched a parade at the Roman Baths and a scull race on the river of the Parade Ground. We had a nice lunch at Sally Lunn's House, built in 1680. While we were in England, Rose's car-pool companions were in an auto accident on the Golden Gate Bridge. All three of her friends from Neiman Marcus were injured seriously.

  

Germany

 

View of the Rhine from the dining room of Burg Rheinfels castle

Lufthansa invited us on its inaugural flight, San Francisco to Frankfurt, for hosting 25 German travel agents at the Stanford Court. We stayed two nights in Koblenz, a beautiful 2,000 year old riverside city. There we had delightful dinner in Old Town at the popular Weinhaus Hubertus. Then we went by KD Line's ship to St. Goar, where we found the 56-room Schloss Hotel Burg Rheinfels, a converted castle perched on a hill. Its splendid dining room had a sweeping view of the Rhine River. Our large guest room had a king-size bed and tasteful décor.

A journalist for Bild in Hamburg stayed on in San Francisco to join us for a Thanksgiving dinner party at our home.

A heavy lunch at medieval Altes Haus in Bacharach

We continued by KD Line, past Schönburg Castle and Die Pfalz - a 14th-century fortress on a tiny island - to Bacharach. There, we had a heavy German lunch at Altes Haus - medieval (1386), half-timbered and picturesque. The ship next went to Rüdesheim, a popular tourist stop, and on to Wiesbaden, where we were hosted by the renowned Hotel Nassauer Hof. Wiesbaden is a lovely spa city with class. We had an enjoyable lunch at the town's rathskeller and dinner at Mutter Engel, then considered one of the best restaurants in Germany.

We went to Munich separately...Rose with her former roommate Nancy and Ron with a Lufthansa interline tour during Fasching (Carnival). Rose also visited Oberammergau - site of the famous Easter pageant - and Ron conducted a seminar for the InterContinental Hotel in Düsseldorf. Nancy and Rose went to Vienna and lnnsbruck in Austria. Ron's father's grandparents were all born near Prague in the 1800's...then part of the Austrian Empire. During a later business trip to Frankfurt we had dinner at La Truffe, the French restaurant in (Le Meridien) Park Hotel, with its General Manager. 

 

Switzerland

Entertained at a business dinner in Zurich 


We spent a week in Switzerland on business. On a two night stay in Zurich we were dinner guests of the Vice President of Sales for Mövenpick Hotels, who explained - at length - the difference between armagnac and cognac. The Neu-Klösterli restaurant was gorgeous. Rose bought an outfit on the exclusive Bahnhofstrasse shopping avenue. Anton Good, one of our hosts in Thailand, later became President of Mövenpick Hotels.

Ron had worked six months for Swissair, after returning from India and before entering the Army - his first job in the travel industry and the same year Rose started with Northwest Airlines. Rose was raised in Los Angeles. She had trained with NWA in Minneapolis in the winter! We met four years later, after Ron graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and joined Northwest in Chicago. Rose was working a flight to Honolulu; Ron was on a jaunt. He offered to help with a passenger problem and was the first man to lei her (Rose loves flowers).  

Luscious veal stew at the Wilden Mann in Lucerne

In Lucerne we had a complimentary room at the 50-room Wilden Mann Romantik Hotel in Old Town (arranged by Tony Haeusler). Its highly rated Sauvage restaurant had a warm and charming ambiance. We so obviously savored their luscious veal stew that the waiter brought us more at no charge. Swiss Rail was pleasant - clean, comfortable and on time. We liked the Brasserie Barengraben in Bern and Restaurant La Terrasse in Interlaken.

Tony was Ron's partner for two years. He had believed that Europeans were superior to Americans, the Swiss were superior to other Europeans, Swiss Germans superior to other Swiss, and the people of Bern (the Swiss capital and his home town) superior to other Swiss Germans. He later married Miriam, a black American, and became a dual citizen of the U.S. and Switzerland.

 

 

France

 

Watching the lights of Paris from a dinner cruise on the Seine

Our tenth anniversary included ten nights in Paris, hosted by the managers of four grand LHW members: De Crillon (Philippe Roche), the Ritz (Frank Klein), Plaza Athenée (Franco Cozzo), and the George V (now Four Seasons); staying two to three nights at each. One night, we cruised on the Seine by Bateaux Mouches, large, comfortable river boats with glass-domed dining decks. We watched the City of Light while eating a surprisingly good chateaubriand, one of six entree choices.

Philippe Roche greeted us at the Crillon and escorted us to a spacious suite looking onto the Place de Ia Concorde. The Tattinger family, which owns the Crillon, sent up a bottle of their acclaimed champagne. On departure from the Ritz, Mr. Klein came out to the Place Vendôme and invited us to stay longer. Over coffee at the Plaza Athenée on Avénue Montaigne, Franco Cozzo (who also managed the George V) told us why he loved America. Ron wanted to try all four hotels, but did not want to accept more than three nights free.

 

Delicious sausage and cheese at Au Beaujolais, next to Tour d'Argent

Rose preferred our dinner at Ambassade d'Auvergne, but Ron especially enjoyed Au Beaujolais, next to Tour d'Argent. Their specialty was an assortment of delicious sausages, sliced and sautéed in a Beaujolais sauce. The waiters were a riot! After dinner we had fruits and a selection of fine French cheeses - unpasteurized and not available in the U.S.

On our first day in Paris, we walked on the Champs-Elysées from Place de Ia Concorde to L'Arc de Triomphe twice - by day and by night. We also had an acidic white wine with our dinner at a bistro. The combination was too much for Rose, who got quite sick after lunch at Panoramique on the Eiffel Tower the next day. Days later we shopped at Fauchon, the famous market selling the finest foods. We also visited an outdoor farmers' market - very orderly.

 

Dinner at the home of Le Monde's travel editor

One night we were invited to the home of Michèle Hetier, Travel Editor of Le Monde, who had been hosted by the Stanford Court. We had an informal and very tasty dinner with he, his wife and Pierre Ferchaud, General Manager of Le Grand InterContinental. At lunch in the Tuileries Garden, after visiting the Louvre, starlings ate crêpes on Ron's hand.

We were to go to Paris two years earlier as guests of Air France and the InterContinental, but the flight was oversold and we couldn't reschedule. Ron's first trip to Paris was in the Army...a 17-hour flight - via the Azores - from McGuire AFB in New Jersey to Evreux AFB aboard a U.S. Air Force cargo plane. The four passengers slept atop a crated jet engine.

 

Turned off by hare with hair at a bistro near the Sorbonne

We ate at a small bistro, with marble table tops, near the Sorbonne university. One luncheon specialty was lapin (rabbit), a delicacy in France. Like many Americans, Ron was unsure about eating a bunny and was especially turned off when the hare had hair. Rose loved our lunch at Le Soufflé, where entrées and deserts were finished in the oven.

At Sacré-Coeur Basilica, two Gypsy kids (ages 9 or 10) used the open-newspaper ploy to try to steal something from us. It didn't work. At Montmarte Cemetery, we saw headstones and tombs of many of the people who made history in 19th century France. We also ate near Notre-Dame at Brassierie de Île Saint-Louis...the fashionable island with five bridges.

Tipping our way to a good table and great service at the Lido

The Moulin Rouge or Lido are a tourist "must," but can be a nightmare of poor service and mediocre food. We chose the Lido - which had the better show - and began tipping generously as soon as we arrived. The maître d' brought us to a very good table and our waiter - with gratuities in advance - provided great service. Good show / boring dinner.

Rose dragged Ron to the designer salons on Avénue Montaigne and Rue du Faubourg St. Honoré: Nina Ricci, Valentino, Ungaro, Christian Dior, and Yves St. Laurent; high prices combined with poor exchange rates made them very expensive. Rose did manage to buy two outfits ''for work." We went 'sale-ing' at Au Printemps and Galeries Lafayette - banners promised 20% off. The Metro was clean and inexpensive, with stations everywhere (one rude ticket seller). With that one exception, the Parisians we met were helpful, cordial and very kind to us.

Dinner at Nithaya in Paris with Thai International's manager

In Paris we also dined at Nithaya, a Thai restaurant, with Lerson Nopvichai, Thai International's new Manager for France, and wife Parie. Lerson had assisted Ron in organizing his first travel trade mission to Thailand and joined him in escorting the American tour wholesalers. 

Lunch was at Pâtisserie Grec (Greek) in the Latin Quarter. We had a dinner at Café Vesuvio, an Italian restaurant on the Champs-Elysées. Paris had little fine dining of other ethnic cuisines, unlike in London and major cities of the U.S.A., Canada and Asia. It did, of course, have American fast food (sacré bleu!): McDonald's, Burger King, KFC, et al. Ron ate at a new Burger King the night Rose was sick...proving he was lost without her.

Our anniversary dinner at Ledoyen in the Champs-Elysées gardens

For our anniversary dinner, Ron had the Concierge of the Plaza Athenée make special arrangements at Ledoyen, a classic and elegant restaurant tucked in the gardens of the Champs-Elysées. On arrival they had Tattinger champagne and foie gras waiting. The menu had no prices, a scary tip off. After dinner a cake was served with a marzipan heart (still in our freezer) saying "I love you Rose." Romantic, but terribly expensive.

Ron had tipped the concierge, maître d', sommelier, and waiter about $100. The bill was almost $300 (in 1980). We were then told Ledoyen did not accept credit cards and we did not have enough travelers cheques or cash. The manager handled it quietly and graciously, not upsetting a beautiful evening. Because we had booked through the Plaza Athenée, they had our charges put on our hotel bill. Pavilion Ledoyen (now Aléno Paris), one of the oldest restaurants in Paris (1842), won Michelin 3 stars in 2015.…its highest award.

Picnics at Le Grand Trianon in Versailles and Château de Chenonceau

The Palace of Versailles is grandiose and Le Grand Trianon is a gem of interior décor. We had a simple picnic on its grounds, and then a more gourmet picnic by the river at magnificent Château de Chenonceau. In four days, we also drove to the chateaus at Chaumont, Blois and Chambord...distinctively different, all with beautiful gardens.

We shopped at a hypermarket which had a very long counter of French cheeses, a large selection of pâtés, and endless varieties of wine...perfect for a fine picnic. Ron shared his baguette with the swans and ducks on the river; he has an obsession with waterfowl (we even have an album of just waterfowl photos taken in Asia, Europe and North America).

Marvelous cornish game hen at Le Choiseul hotel in Amboise

In Olivet, next to our hotel, we walked along the banks of the Loiret, accompanied by swans and admiring palatial homes (in four framed photos on our wall). We then drove our Renault to Le Choiseul, a charming, small hotel in Amboise. Its pretty garden restaurant served marvelous cornish game hen. We stayed in a cottage called “Romance,” near the main building.

Our rented Renault V was a disaster - uncomfortably small and underpowered (larger cars sped past us on the highway). In 1980, gas was $3.50 a gallon and our rental was $379 (plus a tire repair) for four days and 408 miles. Ron went round and round a traffic circle in Paris trying to return the car. There was a colorful outdoor flower market next to the Avis office. The weather in France was superb in May and the tourist crowds had yet to arrive.

 

Dinner with the Gray d'Albion's manager in Cannes

On our second trip to France we went to Cannes on business...our host hotel was (Barrière) Le Gray d'Albion. We dined at Le Royal Gray, its "restaurant gastronomique," with the General Manager. He had been the G.M. at the Hyatt in Bangkok and met Ron when Thai International had their sales meeting at his hotel. He provided a car and driver to visit Antibes and Nice so we could see more of the Riviera.

Cannes is a sister city of Beverly Hills. When in Bangkok, the G.M. had a blond Australian stripper announce Thai's coffee breaks. At another restaurant in Cannes, near the Palais des Festivals where the annual film festival is held, a lady patron had her dog served from a bowl on the floor. In Antibes, we found ourselves surrounded by a six female Gypsies. We weren't sure if they intended to steal something or were just fascinated by an Asian woman. They left when we mentioned police. We regretted that we did not go on to Monte Carlo in Monaco, just beyond Nice.

  

Portugal

 

Superb paella at an oceanside restaurant in Estoril

We made one trip to Portugal, visiting Lisbon, Sintra, Cascais, and Estoril, an oceanside resort town where we had superb paella de mariscos - chock-full of Atlantic seafood. We remembered the delicious flavors for years afterwards (a rarity). After a luscious roast pork dinner in Lisbon, we attended a very dull Portuguese vaudeville show. Our host hotel was the (Four Seasons) Ritz.

Sintra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with storybook castles, palaces and estates set among lush mountains. Our small hotel in Cascais had not returned our laundry and we were ready to leave. In the basement, Rose found Ron's undershirts hung over radiators. An English woman guest chose that hotel because there were no cars with U.K. plates in the parking lot. Many Britons spend a month in Spain and Portugal, their cars shipped by auto ferry to Gibraltar. We had some rain and gray skies on our trip and the Portuguese seemed melancholy. 

 

Spain

 

Sharing paella with the manager of the Ritz in Barcelona

Our host in Barcelona was the Hotel Ritz (now El Palace Hotel). We asked the General Manager where we could get a good paella. He said his Chef made the best and invited us to lunch. There were just three of us in the main dining room, usually opened only for dinner.  The Chef served his fabulous Catalan paella...Mediterranean shellfish, monkfish and bomba rice, pan cooked al dente. Our dinner was at attractive Citrus.

This journal is in 'geographic' order. The paella lunch in Barcelona was ten years after our memorable experience in Portugal. At Citrus, near the Plaça de Catalunya, a French diner said Spaniards could not make a good soufflé; he was wrong. By day, the Plaza was filled with hundreds of pigeons (which 'bombed' Ron). We visited Casa Batlló and the Sagrada Família Basilica - Gaudi's fantasy architecture - and the Picasso and Miró museums.

 

Bluffing our way into Le Petit Soleil, one of the most popular restaurants

We strolled along Las Ramblas, Barcelona's string of walking streets, and followed a well dressed couple down a side street to Le Petit Soleil. It was extremely busy (we later learned it was one of the most popular). We told them the concierge at the Ritz made our reservation - a bluff, but it got us a table near the cooking ovens. The next night we watched flamenco at Los Tarantos, after a day trip to the small resort town of Sitges.

The next day, we met with British Airways' District Sales Manager. He had planned to take us to luncheon at the Le Petit Soleil, because it reminded him of Fournou's Ovens in the Stanford Court in San Francisco. He was a little disappointed that we had just been there.

  

En Route

 

Dinner of caviar, chateaubriand, gelato, and Irish coffee on TWA to Rome

TWA gave us two tickets anywhere on their system for hosting their 100 top European travel agents in San Francisco; we chose Rome, Athens, and Cairo. The best in-flight meal we ever had was on TWA to Rome. We still have the menu: caviar, asparagus soup, mista salad, beef chateaubriand, a cheese board, gelato tartufo, and Irish coffee.

Ron got three more luxury hotels to join the Stanford Court in giving 25 complimentary rooms each for four nights. He had seven other hotels provide lunch or dinner...serving only fine American food and wine to the Europeans. Two tour operators and a chartered boat contributed transfers and sightseeing. The Fairmont provided the gala farewell dinner - very 'European' - for 120 including hosts. Hosting top travel agents resulted in a significant increase in bookings from Europe. TWA fulfilled Rose's dream of visiting Egypt.

  

Italy

 

A dinner party with Italian friends at the Hassler

We were given a suite at Hotel Hassler Villa Medici, atop the Spanish Steps in Rome. Ron invited three Italian travel agent friends to dinner. He asked the hotel’s Restaurant Manager to suggest a menu and they prepared a unique risotto cooked in champagne. They served different wines with each course and a heavenly desert. This was to be charged to us, but Carmen Wirth, the Hassler's owner, insisted on hosting the dinner.

The people Ron invited had been in San Francisco as guests of British Airways or TWA. Carmen said she hosted dinner because they were managers of the three largest tour operators in Italy who could bring business to the Hassler. Also, she was a good friend of Jim Nassikas, General Manager of the Stanford Court. She and her son Roberto were very kind.

 

Watching slides of the owners' vacation at La Cantinella, a Sardinian restaurant

We walked to La Cantinella, a Sardinian restaurant, to have their roast suckling pig. Owner Ken Cosentino had invited some friends to view slides of his family's recent holiday in England and the U.S. While eating terrific Italian food, pictures of London, New York and Washington, DC flashed on the wall. Talk about a captive audience!

Many restaurants had a 'table charge' (coperto), not applicable at the counter and the most for dining outside, because Romans love to see and be seen...spending hours on the patio. We walked down the Spanish Steps, where hawkers were selling designer knock-offs, to visit the elegant shops on Via Condotti. Ron actually bought something for himself.

Dinner at colorful Tana del Grillo with Thomas Cook's manager

Elettra, Manager of Thomas Cook Travel, and husband Ben, were our dinner guests at the Hotel Hassler. Another night they brought us to colorful Tana del Grillo - near the Coliseum - serving the specialties of Ferrara in Northern Italy. Marisa Balboni was owner/manager (our photo together is super). Florence was enchanting and our host hotel the Excelsior excelled, although we arrived a day late due to a snap railroad strike.

The American Express Manager, another Hassler dinner guest, provided two tours for us: Vatican City and Rome (we certainly wouldn't drive in that traffic). On Sunday we saw Pope John Paul II on the balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square (Ron saw Pope John XXIII in 1963). In Florence, a woman driver almost hit us. Ron tapped on her roof...she looked back to see his Italian salute. We visited Ferragamo and some other designer boutiques (Rose regretted the lost day).The (Westin) Excelsior was between the Duomo Cathedral and the Ponte Vecchio covered bridge.

  

Greece

 

An 10-course dinner and awful show in Athen's Plaka

Ron had taken three tour groups to Athens and wanted to bring Rose to the Plaka, the old quarter at the foot of the Acropolis. Our host at Grande Bretagne, Director Apostolos Doxiadis, introduced us to his Concierge, who recommended Murtia. They served us an 10-course dinner, with good food, but the show was so awful that Ron walked out. The Concierge also suggested dinner at Gerofinikas downtown; lovely decor, but overpriced.

Rose most enjoyed a Greek taverna in Brussels called Never on Sunday, where she and her roommate Nancy stayed until closing in the wee hours. The wonderful taverna used by Travcoa in the Plaka was closed. Murtia served us quail eggs, dolmas, chicken kebab, ground lamb, fish filet, marinated beef, roast lamb, roast suckling pig, Greek salad, and baklava. We visited the National Archeological Museum and spent a morning around the Parthenon.

 

Live clams served to us at a seaside restaurant in Piraeus

We ate alfresco at a seaside restaurant in Piraeus, where no one spoke English. We both wanted steamed clams, but they didn't understand our order. A plate of live clams were served to us and it took much arm waving by Rose to get them prepared correctly. We also had langoustine and jumbo prawns, while a Greek magician entertained us. Our day trip by ferry to the fishing islands of Hydra and Aegina was sunny and pleasant. Greece has 6,000 islands, but only 227 are inhabited.

  

Egypt

 

Bad strawberries at Mena House-Oberoi, near the Pyramids

In Cairo we were provided a car and guide by Thomas Cook. Travcoa used the Nile Hilton downtown. We were hosted by the Mena House-Oberoi Hotel & Casino in Giza, in a room looking at the Pyramids, floodlit at night. Rose walked to the evening Sound and Light Show at the Pyramids (Ron saw it on tours). The hotel's Moghul Room served some of the best food in Egypt, with a good show, but Rose got sick on bad strawberries.

The Oberoi's casino required formal attire, which neither of us had packed. A guard at the Egyptian Museum saw Rose “lose it” near the mummies exhibit. Our guide said that she never let her children eat strawberries. Rose regrets missing the Khan ei-Khalil bazaar, but had an 18-karat-gold cartouche made...her name in hieroglyphics. Later, IBM invited us to a black tie reception for the Tutankhamen exhibit in San Francisco (Rose finally saw it).

A costume dinner aboard the MS Osiris on the Nile

Ron took three groups to Egypt, but the trip with Rose was different. Vivre International Tours in Tokyo arranged for us to be guests of the MS Osiris. The riverboat took us on a four night cruise on the Nile (all other passengers were Europeans) - revisiting the tombs and temples at Dendara, Luxor, Edfu, and Kom Ombo - then we flew on to the massive temples of Abu Simbel! One night there was a costume dinner aboard the Osiris.

At Karnak - another James Bond locale - Rose's water bottle opened inside her bag and 'drowned' her small camera: we saved it with a hair dryer on board the boat. Ron regrets not taking Rose to the (Sofitel) Winter Palace in Luxor...they serve outstanding tournedos. Ron was sick for one day; he soon learned it was an allergy to the facial tissue of the Osiris. In the Valley of the Kings a young boy, speaking English, tried to sell us souvenirs. When we ignored him, he spoke in German to Ron and then Japanese to Rose. We broke up laughing and bought a palm-size scarab from him, symbol of rebirth.

 

The Stanford Court was then a member of Leading Hotels of the World, as were the Dorchester and Savoy in London, the Nassauer Hof in Wiesbaden, the Crillon, Ritz, George V, and Plaza Athenée in Paris, the Ritz in Lisbon and Barcelona, Son Vida in Palma de Mallorca, the Hassler in Rome, the Excelsior in Florence, Grande Bretagne in Athens, and the Mena House-Oberoi in Giza.

Trans World Airlines ceased operations in 2001

 

Most of our travel together outside the U.S. was between 1967 and 1997, before widespread use of digital photography. See our photos in England, Denmark, France, and Italy at 

 

image: Kichigin

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