Sunday, November 02, 2008

Going to the Continent

In mid- May we're planning on going by train from Paris to Venice. We both enjoy train travel, find plane travel boring and squashed* and have got a bit fed up with long car journeys. Hence the decision for the train - although it's not the Orient Express which is the picture alongside and which I have actually been on - a day trip to Bath, a birthday present from a previous admirer.

I first went to Venice when I was quite young, still in single figures and back then (hey, I'm not so old) a holiday like that was called Going to the Continent. My dad had planned this journey for what seemed like half my lifetime, every available surface in our house was covered by the maps he had got from the AA, there were handbooks for all the countries we would be driving through (France, Switzerland, Italy and Germany) and my mum and dad were in a state of mild and then extreme excitement in the run up to the Big Day. All I worried about was whether Caroline, my doll, would have enough clothes for such a mega-trip.

It's nearly 40 years since my first proper holiday and I can still remember so many things about it:
  • My dad wasn't allowed into St Mark's Cathedral because he was wearing shorts
  • there were huge daddy long legs on the ceiling of the first French hotel we stayed in
  • in Switzerland I slept under a duvet for the very first time
  • by the Simplon Pass I had the best pastry of my (shortish) life
  • We broke down on the way to Florence and sat by the roadside eating fresh watermelon (well my mum and I did, my dad was in a panic)
  • I got lost on the beach at Rimini and a man with a loud hailer who had been looking for me did, eventually, find me. It seemed like days but it was probably only an hour or two that I was lost.
  • An Italian waiter patiently taught me how to twirl a fork to eat spaghetti and I could probably win an 'eat spaghetti and still stay clean' contest' to this day.
  • We went on a boat ride on Lake Constance and I was sick
  • My parents kept saying 'wow, just look at the view' but I wasn't really interested to be honest.
Everything that has ever happened to us is all in our heads and sometimes just seems to pop out. When I began this blog entry I didn't really know what I was going to say, apart from the trip in May and look how much just tumbled out.

*the only time I've not felt squashed on a plane was when Virgin upgraded us to first-class for a trip to New York -( a previous blog entry under holidays if you are interested, but it was one of my first bloggings and is probably a bit stilted)


Lulu LaBonne said...

Going to the Continent - I remember that term so well, my mother used to make me wear navy high socks because it was 'very continental'

Frankofile said...

How clever of you to plan. Anticipation (and reminiscence, as you show in this posting) are so much of the value of a holiday. Why do I always book at the last minute?

spacedlaw said...

You should enjoy your visit more this time! And May should be ideal (not too hot) although Venise will be packed with tourists of course (even at the end of November, it is).
Thanks for dropping by.
Greetings from Rome.

Dumdad said...

Venice - I went there with my wife to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. I'd like to go again one day but with my children.

P.S. You mentioned something about a black box icon being missing on my blog. "Black box icon" - what's that?

French Fancy said...

lulu - navy knee socks - you sophisticated little thing. I think I was in white ankle socks. Will be visting you soon.

frankofile - I'm one of these people that have to have something Good on the horizon. I've never been a last-minuter, too much of a control freak I think.

spacedlaw - I never thought of the heat. But you are right, May should be perfect.

Dumdad - I must have been mistaken. Thought I saw the black box gadget on your blog. Mind you I'm so blogged out after intensive blog-watching that who can say where I saw what anymore?

Memo to French Fancy - get on with your essay and get off the blogging.

Anonymous said...

And Venice is my favourite city.FOund out the true meaning of the word 'Ghett' there-sadly.Bought dance gear at a shop on Via Assassani........mysterious.......and best chocolate cake at the cafe in the Guggenheim.

Anonymous said...

2nd draft:

And Venice is my favourite city.Found out the true meaning of the word 'Ghetto' there-sadly.

Bought dance gear at a shop on Via Assassini-mysterious.

Best chocolate cake at the Guggenheim.

willow said...

I love your charming memories of your girlhood holiday!

Blu said...

And Venice was my first trip abroad, and the first time that I ate spaghetti. And yes the lovely waiters taught me how to eat it. I fell in love with Venice and cried when I left. One day if I ever have enough money I would love to go back. Have a lovely time.x

Carol and Chris said...

Oh you are going to have a fantastic time!! Chris and I went there for our Honeymoon and we got married in May. The weather was sublime and, because your going before the true heat hits, it won't smell bad either!!

I can recommend a little wine bar called Osteria Ai Ladroni. The address is Cannaregio - Fondamenta della Sensa and it's Telephone number is 041715736 (I went and looked it up). It's not very posh at all but the wine, the olives and the service was fab!! We had a couple of really lovely evenings in there :-)

C x

French Fancy said...

anonymous - thanks for the tips and come back soon and perhaps reveal yourself :)

willow - These memories won't stop coming to mind at the moment. Maybe it's all the studying I'm doing - it's rejuvenating some dilapidated neurons.

blu - thanks a lot. I've just booked the hotel, just this minute. Hurrah!

Carol - I went there again about 20 years ago in a group of 6, touring around Europe in an old VW Estate. Oh, the stories I could tell - and maybe I will. Thanks for the wine bar tip - duly written down :)

East Anglian Troy said...

Your post heading reminds me of the two towns about 30 miles down the road from where we live - Harwich and Frinton. Harwich is the ferry port and Frinton is full of old people.

Hence the expression
"Harwich for the Continent and Frinton for the incontinent".

French Fancy said...

Troy, that actually made me laugh aloud. Now Harwich I've been to, a long time ago, to pick up the ferry to Holland. I'll pass on Frinton.

Misssy M said...

Only lost for an hour or two?? In Rimini?? That is panic station territory.

My mum used to buy my sister and I the same holiday clothes wheever we went abroad. We didn't quite look like the twins from the Shining (there's 5 years between us) but we were close.

Bill Stankus said...

Thanks for the stop-by!

Here in the Pacific Northwest, on our public television network is a travel show- 'Rick Steves in Europe' and he's quite entertaining. His programs on all the places you've mentioned gives pleasant travel-log imagines to your blog.

I'll be back!

Joe said...

Sounds like a terrific trip you have coming up...and the train part should be fun as well.

It's interesting to note how vivid our memories of childhood trips can be.

Thanks for dropping by my blog and taking the time to comment.

French Fancy said...

missy - that's what Sarah Ferguson (the erstwhile Duchess of York )did with her girls. She must have based it on you and your sister.

Bill - that black box does like to take me to your blog. We must have similar tastes - brilliant ones, naturally.

Joe - thanks for popping back.

Queenie said...

I am so envious, I love Venice. My hubbie and I were there 3yrs ago with my son and his girlfriend, when I'm mobile again its the first place I am going to. Even your first visit was memorable, even if it wasn't all good....

cheshire wife said...

Thank you for visiting my blog.

We haven't flown recently. We have started to use the ferry. It is so much less hassle than flying, but it does mean long car journeys.

Dumdad said...


No, Ferdinand Mount and I never crossed paths.

P.S. I came across this about Dr Strangely Strange on YouTube:

That's Part 1, there are two other parts, I think

Gill - That British Woman said...

I like the way you have planned it all out. We're not sure what we're doing next year.

Gill in Canada

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hope you have a great trip. I've been all over Northern Italy but not managed to get to Venice yet. But I will! Part of our wedding reception was in Harwich. I kid you not! You are tagged BTW!

Fred said...

Favorite train ride ever? Vienna to Paris. Of course, London to Paris in first class wasn't bad, either.

The Dotterel said...

I love Venice. It's grey and misrable here in England at the moment and of all the places I would rather be, that tops the list. And I'd go by train, too.

French Fancy said...

Queenie - this will actually be my fourth visit to Venice but for the first time it will be with someone whom I love. They say it's a city for lovers, so this should be my best time there.

cheshire wife - we used to take the ferry quite often between France and the UK. Now we prefer to drive so the dogs are with us all the time - not that they are spoilt or anything

gill - I plan everything. I used to be a spontaneous and impulsive person - my parents despaired. If only they could see me now.

dumdad - thanks for the link. I nearly played Kip of the Serenes the other day. It does look scratched though. Re Ferdy Mount - you're different generations so it was a bit silly me asking if you'd crossed each others' paths.

the dotterel - hello. I had wondered if my criticisms of Mozart had put you off coming here. I must tell you that Don Giovanni is growing on me but I won't be sorry when this essay is finished and I move on to Napoleon. Hope Charlie is doing well.

French Fancy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
French Fancy said...

Hadriana - I've seen a lot of Italy but never been to Rome or Florence (as you read, we broke down on the way and never got there in the end). The good thing about already being in France is how easy it is to just get on a train from Paris to go and explore other countries.
This is the first time I've been tagged incidentally.

Fred - I loved Vienna and could easily go back there for another holiday. My favourite train ride ever was Zurich to Lugano all through the Alps. It was breathtaking.

ArtSparker said...

Food encountered for the first time in childhood outside of the familiar really stays with one...I remember the first time I had lentil soup in a resaurant my parents took me to...I was about eight, to this day I find the form of the lentil very pleasing.