Mom’s Tour de France 20 (FGK 111)

December 1960


We are now in a youth hostel in Salzburg. There are also four other Canadian girls who are driving through Europe for the winter and staying here. The is place seems like sheer luxury because the one we were in at Neuchatel didn’t have any heat. This one has a lovely little stove right by my bed.

It has been snowing here all day so we haven’t had much of an opportunity to see the scenery which is supposed to be lovely. We are trying to economize because we stayed at a hotel in Munich and they charged us far more than we thought they would – not a very nice surprise.

We have been having all sorts of adventures. We are constantly lost in the cities and usually end up going the wrong way on a one way street. The policemen have been very patient and nice (mainly because we couldn’t understand them). People have helped us out on the street and in the stores. Every time we hit a new town we head like homing pigeons to the nearest Shell Station, which has maps of the city. We now know the German terms for left, right, etc.

The weather hasn’t been nice enough to take any pictures. I was foolish enough to put slides in my camera instead of black and white. I was so enthusiastic over the results of the ones I took in Rome that I got carried away.

(The next night)

I did some shopping today and spent my spare money. Austria is as bad as Italy, it is a terrible temptation to pass a store.

I wandered around some of the mountain villages this morning. They still use horses on many of the farms. It looks very Christmassy to see them pulling sleds full of firewood.

If people have sent me letters etc but haven’t heard from me, tell them not to worry, because we left on December 17th and won’t pick up our mail until the 9th of January. It will be nice to have that pile waiting for me!

I also haven’t mailed all my Xmas cards yet – so some of them will be New Years! I usually cannot get very much writing done while we are travelling. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas. I’ll be thinking about you then – in Venice I think. From what we hear, it is going to be a white Christmas which is something new for the kids from California.

I’ll try to write again soon




Mom’s Tour de France 18 (FGK 109)

Part one

January 8, 1961


I realize you must be almost ready to disown me, it’s been so long since I’ve written. There is so much to say, I didn’t know where to begin. If i don’t get it all in one letter I’ll try to send it in instalments.

My car didn’t arrive from Paris until the last day of finals. Of course I rushed right down to see it, hoping to drive away in it that very afternoon and get a start on our trip – the next day. Pat came down with me and was just was excited as I to see the bright shiny blue Volkswagen complete with a sunroof which slides back in sunny weather. It took a day and a half to clear it with insurance, customs officials etc. I was issued a temporary license plate which actually consists of a piece of black tape with some numbers chalked on it. They assured me that when I return my permanent plate would be ready, which didn’t help much then. While in the midst of doing all this, there were countless things going on at the centre. We gave a Christmas party for some of the people of Tours who had put so much effort into the centre. Between the end of the last final at noon and that evening, decorations were put up all over the building and last touches were made on a dinner which was a traditional American dish in that there was turkey but it was served in the French style and with Loire wines. We had entertainment for them – this was also a mixture of both cultured – and then sang carols in French and English.

Friday I was invited to a dinner at noon with a French Family. They served the French version of lemon pie! We also had roast pheasant and some sort of sauce made out of chestnuts which was just delicious. It was the first I’ve I had visited their home so we spent much of the afternoon comparing cultures and telling out our homes. By this time I had to leave to pick up my car, I didn’t get back to the centre until late and consequently had to stay up until one am packing.

The four of us agreed to get an early start, leaving Tours at 7am. We had just gotten about 10 kilometres out of town when the engine started making weird noises and finally stopped completely. We were let sitting in the dark on a country road with no idea how to get to the next town. We all looked at each other a little foolishly, because in the rush to leave, no one had thought to get the gas tank filled! A couple of trucks passed by but wouldn’t stop. Finally Pat, who is no one to stand on ceremony, got out of the car, took off her bright red scarf and flagged down the next truck. The poor man didn’t have much choice as he saw this weird apparition coming at him out of the dark. He was very nice, however, and gave Pat and Carol a ride to the nearest gas station while Jeannie and I waited in the car. We questioned why the Germans, who are so efficient in everything else, neglected to put gas gages on Volkswagens! The rest of the day passed without any serious incident. We were all learning how to shift gears on VWs so did not make very good time. It was the same route we took to Switzerland in November but since it is what I consider to be one of the most beautiful sections of France, we didn’t mind the repetition. There was a light fall of snow on the Jura’s which excited everyone in the car but me. By the end of the trip Californians were beginning to come around to my point of view. At the Swiss border we hoped to buy the green card which signifies that we had international insurance as this is the first thing they ask for at almost every frontier. Imagine our dismay when we discovered the office was closed and we would have to pay extra for every country we entered because we didn’t have it! We decided to make Neuchatel the destination for our first day.


Mom’s Tour de France 14 (FGK 105)

Margi’s Second Letter from Rome (part one)

Hello Everyone:

There is so much in Rome – I don’t know where to begin! We went to bed early Friday night to get a good start on Saturday. The director, M Beaucoussin, is such a dear thoughtful man. He rented a wheelchair in Tours, brought it all the way here and wheeled me down to the Vatican in it – because the only way to see Rome is on foot. It was another bright beautiful day and our route took us right along the Tiber. We crossed St. Peter’s square and entered one of the other buildings where the Pope was holding his audience. The doors are all guarded by the Swiss Guards and other ones in what seem to be medieval costumes. The inside is extremely ornate and rich. The room where he had his audience looked just like what you would expect one of the kings courts would look like with all the rich marbles, tapestries, and paintings and brilliant colour of the cardinals, bishops, guards, etc. We stood where we could see all the people entering into the room. With every important person the Swiss Guards snapped to attention and looked very smart. Between times they seemed very relaxed and I saw one got the giggles. The pope came last, surrounded by all sorts of attendants and in robes that just sparkled in the light. It really was an impressive sight but for me it was overshadowed by the magnificence and splendour of St. Peter’s which we entered afterwards. I really can’t describe it. I hope you can get a book and read up on it. We spent almost three hours there and there is just tons we haven’t seen yet. They have works of Michael Angelo and several other important artists. Each has contributed a masterpiece which, when they are all combined, just overwhelm one. Dr. Knolls, our history professor who is just like a father to the whole group, filled us in about much of the church’s past, making it even more interesting. We took an elevator up to the top where we got a wonderful view of St. Peter’s square. Ray and Gail went right up to the top of the dome while I wandered around the roof. We also visited the treasure. This is just a fantastic collection of all the gifts and offerings which have been made to the Church by various countries and monarchs etc. It was difficult to believe that there could be such enormous emeralds, amethysts, diamonds, all together in one place. It was a scene straight out of Arabian Knights. We spent so long at St. Peter’s we barely had time to rush back to one of the enormous Italian lunches they serve us here. I have never had so much pizza, spaghetti, ravioli, etc. It all tastes twice as good too – probably because we are eating it in Rome. All the Italians have a siesta in the afternoon and the town starts to come alive again between four and five. This is a delightful custom we have picked up too, so that’s how we spent Saturday afternoon until four. Gail, Pat, and I decided it was time we did some Christmas shopping so we wandered forth into the streets again. Shopping is a real art here because in Italy any tourist is fair game and each shop has a different price. In many places only by bargaining furiously with the shopkeeper one can get even a reasonable price. Pat was looking for some silk so we bartered in various textile shops along the way. It was nearing the hour with all Italians come out to walk or go home from work and the streets were thronged with all sorts of fascinating people. Rome, like Paris, is an international city and all types of people are found there. We spent about one hour in one little store where I spent $20.00 getting gifts – needless to say I walked out feeling rather ill. If anyone has some special thing they want me to get while I’m in Europe, I’ll be glad to so so if they’ll send me the money. They’ll me what they want, otherwise this souvenir buying can really rack up, especially when we have living expenses too.


Mom’s Tour de France 12 (FGK 103)

I remember mom talking about driving her little Beetle around France. What amazed me was that she drove a stickshift, I think the clutch was on the steering wheel.

November 22nd 1960

We are all busy getting ready to go to Rome on Wednesday. We start our finals when we get home, os things will be right tight. My French mark is going to be dreadful I think – not to mention what the others will be. There are so many things to do over here besides study! Don’t expect very much from my marks this quarter! We have 8 hours of French a week plus a course in 18 century European Thought and one in French American relations. I think though the biggest educational experience we are getting is just living over here. You really get a different slant on things. winter has started to come a little bit, at least it’s raining a little more. Our building is nice and warm but it’s almost 40 degrees outside.

We’ve just got a television set installed so now we can watch the weather report in French. We are having what is known as “petits pluies” ie little rains.

I’m writing this from the US Information Services. I’m here to talk to the man about my car, but he is out to tea. We have just tons of work back at the center too!

We hope to have an Xmas party for the people in the building such as the maids, the concierge, etc., before we leave for our holiday so we have to plan it before we go to Rome because of exams when we get back.

We had a chance of having our way paid to Algeria for 10 days by the French government for the next quarter but as you can guess, things sort of fell through. I don’t think they’re very anxious for visitors there right now. I’m rather disappointed because I think that would have been quite interesting. If it’s ok with you I think I’ll take my summer holidays during Spring quarter. Gail, Ruth, and pat and I would like to see the Scandinavian countries and England while we are over here. It will also give me some time to come home before I go to Stanford for summer school.

After summer school I will have 6 weeks at home before Fall Quarter starts. It will be good to go home and have a great big thick creamy milkshake. The French don’t drink milk and you can really notice it. All the Americans are tall and healthy looking while the the French are short.

Well I’ve finally seen the Volkswagen man and should get my car between the 10-15 of December. It will be blue and have a sun roof because that is the only kind they are shipping to Paris.

Au revoir