Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 28 Far and away

4 x 7UP collageThis is the finale of my collage series and while it hasn’t been precisely 4x7UP it’s covered the key events of my early years. In this post, I’m once again going to indulge myself a little so I hope you’ll come along on the trip and see some of our travel from a child’s point of view. Pinching the inspiration from Kristin at Finding Eliza my plan is to interweave quotes from some travel notes and my letters back to my parents.

Finally the Darling Daughters (DDs) 1 and 2 were getting the opportunity they missed a few years earlier. We were off to Europe! At the same ages then as our grandchildren are now, I still wonder what we were thinking taking two small girls on a Grand Tour to Europe, England and Scotland with a “dessert” of Delhi, Kathmandu and Singapore. Obviously we had way more stamina in those far-off days of our youth, as did they!

Every girl needs a haircut big trip...Ms DD2's sawtoothed fringe was crafted for her by DD1, just days before we left.

Every girl needs a haircut before a big trip…Ms DD2′s sawtoothed fringe was crafted for her by DD1, just days before we left.

It’s greatly to the girls’ credit that they stood up to the demands of the trip so well…trains, buses, boats, huge ferries, small and large aircraft and multiple sights and cultures. For children who only travelled by car or plane, there were new experiences aplenty.  “The kids enjoyed the train to Florence” and DD2 apparently “LOVES buses!”

Travelling by train was fun for the kids whether in Europe or Scotland. They even survived overnight sleepers.

Travelling by train was fun for the kids whether in Europe or Scotland. They even survived overnight sleepers.

I wrote to my parents: “we are all well, having arrived safely unlike those poor souls in Tenerife” …this was a reference to a horrendous KLM-Pan Am on-tarmac crash with 583 casualties the day before we left Moresby.  We had “arrived at Moresby airport at 11.40am on Monday and arrived in Rome 27 hours later.” After a three hour stopover in Manila “we did not get off in Bangkok as the kids had not long gone to sleep…Likewise in Karachi.

Jet lag, little sleep, strange city: our first day in Rome. Thank heavens for gelati but even that didn't put a smile on anyone's face.

Jet lag, little sleep, strange city: our first day in Rome. Thank heavens for gelati but even that didn’t put a smile on anyone’s face.

Not surprisingly by the time we landed in Rome the kids (and we) were exhausted, and not impressed at having to be reclothed in warm attire (them). Miss DD1 who had been so peeved to be denied the earlier trip with us, decidedly announced “she did not like Rome and why had we come?! My sentiments exactly at that point!” Isn’t long-haul travel grand, not to mention jet lag. They were so tired they fell asleep on the airport bus and “missed the Colosseum and the man sitting in a truck full of artichokes“. “Rome station is an interesting place at 8am in the morning –you see all the latest fashions –high heeled boots, skin tight jeans and tartan skirts.  The Cass kids are IN already.” (Peter’s mother had bought the girls kilts while they were living in Scotland the year before.)

The "on trend" Cass girls in their tartan rubbing the pig's nose for luck.

The “on trend” Cass girls in their tartan rubbing the pig’s nose for luck.

However after a good sleep we all felt much more human and willing to be tourists. Staying near St Peter’s we “showed the kids the statues, Swiss Guards and the Pieta but I suspect what they’ll remember is the pigeons and horses!” Actually pigeons and coin throwing, initiated by the traditional Three Coins in a Fountain at the Trevi Fountain, which “took the kids fancy”. When Miss DD2 would get tired or grumpy we’d shoo her off to terrorise the nearest pigeons…there were always some.

This may be where DD1 acquired her love of Italian food and culture.

This may be where DD1 acquired her love of Italian food and culture.

Florence was a huge hit with the kids as they were spoiled by stall holders in the markets with little leather shoulder purses and per DD1’s letter home “Mummy bought us a dolly”, one each actually. Too true, but little did we suspect that DD2′s chosen baby doll, dressed in blue, was actually a fully-appurtenanced boy (it was Italy!). She (DD/Mum!) was a tad surprised but made a good recovery.

Watching the photo shoot wistfully.

Watching the photo shoot in St Mark’s Square wistfully. No shortage of pigeons here.

The kids were enthralled by Venice: DD1 jumping up and down with excitement at her first sighting of gondolas and the Grand Canal. But have you ever had to find public toilets for four-year olds in Italy, especially Venice? A nigh impossible task! As we travelled we selected charms for the girls to remember their grand adventure. They never wanted them on a charm bracelet but a couple have recently been added to a birthday gift for DD2.

Easter in Lucerne.

Easter in a snow-sprinkled Lucerne.

Lucerne was once again a thrill, it’s such a chocolate-box-picture kind of place, and it’s handy to be able to speak a little German. “It’s about a week earlier than when we were here last time and it has been snowing since about midnight. The roof tops have a covering of snow as do the trees and grass. It is all very picturesque if rather more winter than spring…It came down in big flakes mid-morning and we all went out for a look and a feel.” I wrote “we caught an overnight train from Salzburg to Zurich…to be sure of getting a room here for the Easter break”. We managed to “get a three-bed room plus kitchen and balcony overlooking Lucerne for $18 a day which is good for here” Of course being in the country of chocolate is the perfect place to be for Easter <smile>.

Don't they look just so cute?

Don’t they look just so cute? DD2 and DD1 in Interlaken.

We left Lucerne on Easter Monday, travelling via Interlaken. Despite telling the children repeatedly not to walk into the snow or their feet would be wet all night (another overnight train trip), quite naturally that was exactly what they did. This is one of our favourite photos of DDs1 and 2 from this holiday.

Over the sea to Skye and Peter in his new woolly coat.

Over the sea to Skye and Peter in his new woolly coat.

Much as we loved the Netherlands it caused us plenty of hassle when Peter’s shoulder bag was expertly “picked” on a near-empty tram in Amsterdam one Friday evening, removing his passport, rail passes and travellers cheques. Luckily we each carried our own travel documents, and I had the girls’, or we’d have been in a pickle.

In my aerogramme to my parents I said we “couldn’t file the report with the police as they were called out to a robbery, grabbed their guns and (leather) coats and took off! Quite impressive!…Whatever else you lose it is imperative never to lose a passport- you can’t move without it –literally or figuratively”. The consequence of this mini-drama was a trip to The Hague for a new passport and trawling all over London to get new visas to Nepal and a new entry permit for PNG. American Express was amazing, replacing their travellers cheques quickly. Our Australian bank much less so!

There's always time for sandcastles, even on a chilly day by the Dutch seaside.

There’s always time for sandcastles, even on a chilly day by the Dutch seaside.

We mostly avoided the churches and art galleries and looked for child-friendly outings. On this particular day at Madurodam, DD2 had been excelling herself wanting to throw coins into the myriad waterways: as I said, one of her travel addictions. If you look carefully at mother’s fingers you will see that her sentiments may not quite have matched her charming smile.

Madurodam, the Netherlands.

Madurodam, the Netherlands.

Kathmandu had long been on Mr Cassmob’s travel wish-list so when my friend and her husband relocated to Kathmandu and invited us to visit, the temptation was too much. The family story (totally true!) goes that after I’d chased DD2 who’d escaped outside the travel agent’s, I returned to hearing the agent recap our flight bookings, including a stop in Kathmandu! It would have been too stressful to be staying in hotels there so we were fortunate to be in our friends’ home. We were also pleased that the husband was in charge of airport electricals when we arrived in the midst of a major lightning storm. Kathmandu was an eye-opener for all of us, even after living in a developing country, but it was less discouraging than New Delhi which drove us all mad with the constant hassling. Still, despite the practicalities I rather regret we decided not to make the day trip to Agra. I suspect we never will see the Taj Mahal.

aerogramme 1977004

Our stay in Singapore ended up being rather longer than planned as the Australian airport baggage handlers were still on strike. One of the moments when you’re glad you have some credit cards but also a good chance to chill out by the pool. Finally the strike broke and we raced to the airport in company with some colleagues’ family, who handpassed the girls over people’s heads, such was the crush of humanity in the terminal that day. We also got a side trip to Brisbane, because we’d had to re-route our tickets if we were ever to get home to PNG.

We were on top of the world on our Everest sight-seeing flight.

We were on top of the world on our Everest sight-seeing flight.

The Qantas aircrew were as pleased to be finally going home as we all were and as soon as the doors were locked, announced free drinks all round. As the steward pulled the cap off Peter’s first XXXX beer (that’s its name) in a long time, the beer spewed everywhere having been languishing in a hot plane for over a week. Spilling all over the steward, he announced “wouldn’t that rip the fork out of your nightie”. We knew we were once again heading for home!

Fab Feb imageFamily Hx writing challengeThis is the final 4x7UP post for the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 23 Europe on $10 a day

4 x 7UP collageCan you believe that when we first went to Europe in the early 70s, the compulsory travel reading was Frommer’s Europe on $10 a Day (that’s per person). What we’d give to be able to do that now…I doubt even the most frugal backpacker could manage it! We’d decided to exchange our employment-funded return-to-Australia fares for what would likely be our first and last trip to Europe taking our 1 year old and our 3 year old. What were we thinking??!!

The markets in Patras: we all reckon some of Mr Cassmob's rellies were here.

The markets in Patras: we all reckon some of Mr Cassmob’s rellies were here.

We had all our flights booked when my parents offered to have the children to stay for the whole time. I’m not even going to tell you how long we deserted them for (hang our heads in shame), all I can say is that I was pleased to discover, years later, that my friend and former bridesmaid had left their kids behind for even longer. There’s always someone who’s worse than you <wink>. As it happened, Miss One came down with German measles soon after we left, so that alone made it a good decision to leave them behind. though who knows how many people she infected on the flight down (there was no immunisation at that point).

Having been teaching Miss Three that we were going to Athens and Rome, we now said “going to Grandma, going to the beach”. She was most definitely not amused and insisted “Go Rome, Go Athens!” She was so peeved with me, that she snubbed me entirely on the day I left but welcomed me with gusto when I returned, while Miss One sent me to Coventry.

Athens at dawn on the morning of our arrival.

Athens at dawn on the morning of our arrival with the guards tucked in their huts, until we got closer.

If I recollect correctly we had the pretty paltry sum of about $2000 in travellers’ cheques (and no credit cards) to get us through the long holiday. We were fine until we reached Switzerland where we nearly died of shock at the prices. We soon learnt not to book through the tourist bureau but find a telephone book and suss out the location of various pensions (aka B&Bs) via a walk-by, having left our luggage in lockers. Remember this was the pre-internet, pre-Trip Advisor, pre-Wotif days.

The unexpected age-old celebrations in Florence at Easter.

The unexpected age-old celebrations in Florence at Easter.

Our first stop was Athens at 4 in the morning – so from the Highlands of PNG to the ancient seat of civilisation, a different alphabet and an unknown language, soon after the university student uprisings and towards the end of the military junta’s coup.  We had sent the deposit for our first night’s accommodation by snail mail (the only option) and on arrival were relieved to discover they did indeed have our booking. Mr Cassmob remembers that our deposit came through a few days later, with a sliced-open and re-stuck-down envelope. We were also astonished that Greece was the only country where they knew where Papua New Guinea was, mainly because there were quite a few Greeks who’d travelled to Australia and their ships had gone via Port Moresby.

From there on, we hurtled from pillar to post in that quintessential image of a frenetic tourist rather than the “superior” traveller. Eurail was our best friend as we notched up the railway miles through ten countries visiting cathedrals and art galleries, watching cultural festivals (often by chance), and eating new and different food. We often saved money by sleeping on the train – no mean feat with passports and Eurail passes checked whenever you crossed a national border (no European Union then). And just for good measure, in between times I was receiving lecture notes by correspondence and writing assignments. We packed in anything and everything, either never expecting to be back, or knowing we’d have children in tow. Every once in a while we’d collapse for a few days in a place where we decided we were comfortable (and not going broke).

Salzburg markets-loved the straw arrangements and still have one as a Xmas decoration.

Salzburg markets-loved the straw arrangements and still have one as a Xmas decoration.

It was the most amazing experience, and as you will have gathered previously, not at all our final excursion to Europe, rather the start of a life-long addiction for travel…helped in no small measure by the increasing accessibility of long-distance travel and the decreasing cost. Prior to the 70s, travelling by boat to Europe from Australia was more the norm. Bearing in mind it took about 30 hours to fly to Europe with stops ex Moresby via Manila, Bangkok, Karachi, Teheran, Rome. There was no in-flight entertainment at all other than airline supplied magazines and papers, plus your own books. There were no iPads or iPods. Meal times were rigid and unable to be adjusted –you ate or you starved. You slept when you could and you got off at the transit stops. Smoking was also allowed throughout the aircraft which was less of a bother than one might assume given that everywhere you went, this was the case.

At the top of Mt Pilatus near Lucerne our waiter was another Aussie. They've everywhere!

Mr Cassmob at the top of Mt Pilatus near Lucerne. Our waiter in the coffee shop on Pilatus was another Aussie (no, it wasn’t Mr Cassmob).

From a family history point of view (in which I had no interest in those far-off days), I wrote to my parents saying I didn’t like Austria but did like Germany (Bavaria in particular), so assuming perhaps my German name originated there (correct). Funny how life turns out isn’t it? There’s a good chance that along the way we may have passed through or near Dorfprozelten but little did I know. Now the main purpose of our travel is often family history sleuthing.

These images are scanned from photos and have lost colour, so I can see I’m going to have to go back to the slides and scan them for better clarity…another task for the “to do” list.

Fab Feb imageFamily Hx writing challenge

This post is part of the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 22 Let’s go picnicing

4 x 7UP collageMuch as we love the little snippets of information about our ancestors, we still tend to keep focusing on the “big ticket” items in our own lives. My photo today is about the ordinary moments, the ones we often forget to capture. Over the years picnics have been big in our family: at the beach, in the hills, in the bush, overseas, with others, on our own. I’m not going to write much about each because there’s no need. So let’s go picnicking…as much a challenge in the snowy north at the moment as it is Down Under with 35C heat.

Peter and DD1 and 2

Peter and DD1 and 2

This may have been our classiest picnic -across from Buckhingham Palace on our 1977 trip. Mr Cassmob and our two darling daughters (henceforth DD1 and 2).

Peter and DD1 and 2 at Ela Beach.

Peter and DD1 and 2 at Ela Beach.

How better to celebrate our relocation from the Highlands to the coast than a picnic at Ela Beach 1974.

Peter Heidelberg 1974

Mr Cassmob, roast chicken and a wine in the grounds of Heidelberg Castle.Variarata picnic view

(Above) Varirata National Park (we used to call it Variarata) outside Port Moresby, up in the hills near Sogeri, was a family favourite for picnics and BBQs. Boxing Day, visitors, any day. Often a group of us would go up travelling in convoy.

(Below) Most times we visited we took photos from the lookout which had a lovely view down towards Moresby and out to the sea -not that you’d know it from this picture. Unfortunately the good ones all have lots of still-living people in them.

Cass family edited 1975 Variarata

DD1 photographs her Dad while Mum photographs both!

DD1 photographs her Dad while Mum photographs both!

For some reason we quite liked a picnic BBQ beside Obi Obi creek near Nambour (this is a later photo).

Cass families picnic Mary Cairncross Park

A rare photo of a picnic with Peter’s parents at Mary Cairncross Park near Nambour (his Mum didn’t do picnics).  His father obviously took the photo. Another from beyond the 28 year span.

Fab Feb imageFamily Hx writing challengeThis post is part of the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.

Sepia Saturday 163: Snow deep and crisp and even

This week’s Sepia Saturday image fairly shouted “Kinsale” (Ireland) to me. In a surreptitious test I asked Mr Cassmob what it reminded him of….”snap” …he said the same thing! Why don’t you have a look at the professional image online here and see what you think…not only snow but a snowed-over barrel outside the pub! I have always loved this photo, which I bought it as a souvenir on one visit. Paradoxically it reminds me of a photo my daughter took from near here with a background of spring-blooming flowers.Sepia Saturday 9 Feb snow

Anyway, back to task. Snow isn’t exactly common in the tropical and sub-tropical areas where we have lived but somehow in our travels we’ve managed to come a long way since the days when we whispered to each other on a European train “is that snow falling?” Even our choices of major snow falls covered places from New Zealand to Switzerland and Scotland, Yorkshire to New England. However many seemed to be situated in a natural context and I wanted at least one photo with an urban perspective like the one featured.

The snow-sprinkled rooftops of Lucerne, Easter 1977. © Pauleen Cass 1977

The snow-sprinkled rooftops of Lucerne, Easter 1977. © Pauleen Cass 1977

We were in Lucerne for Easter way back in 1977 when there was a massive dump of snow overnight and then more the next night. With two little girls who lived in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea (not to mention the adults!) you can imagine the excitement! We were staying in a pension up on the hill so we had a lovely view over the rooftops of the town. Later in the day after a bout of snowman building and snowball throwing, we headed down to the Lake where the exquisite Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) over the lake was iced with snow.

The old Kapellbrücke over Lake Lucerne under snow, Easter 1977. © Pauleen Cass 1977

The old Kapellbrücke over Lake Lucerne under snow, Easter 1977. © Pauleen Cass 1977

And how could I resist including these “wilderness” images of the Rest and Be Thankful pass from Loch Lomond to Loch Fyne, and ancestor country.

Rest and Be Thankful Pass, Argyll, Scotland. © Pauleen Cass 2006

Rest and Be Thankful Pass, Argyll, Scotland. © Pauleen Cass 2006

A rest stop at Rest and Be Thankful, but perhaps not in the  snow.

A rest stop at Rest and Be Thankful, but perhaps not in the snow.