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The Beginning: Leaving for Alice Springs, 1981

05 Mar

NOTE: – On April 27, 1999, while going through boxes in our shack in Hawaii in anticipation of our possible return to Australia, we found Dorothy’s notes about our first trip to Australia in 1981. I am going to transcribe them and. may from time to time insert comments.

October 4, 1981

Trip from Alexandria VA. to Alice Springs Australia

Well, believe it or not we are on board a 747 heading for London.- the plane is now taxing for takeoff – we are airborne!

We have discovered we are in the Clipper Class section of the airplane, not El Cheapo (JRG note – the U.S. govt. made all of the bookings)-We were given little slippers to cover our feet while we take off our shoes, also a toothbrush and toothpaste.’ Dwight is anxious to watch the movies.He had been harassing his father earlier that maybe they would show an R rated movie.Sure enough, Outland and “Agency” (JRG – neither memorable)’- both R rated (although edited)-

We have discovered this Clipper Class fare is designed for businessmen flying across the Atlantic – very nice service.We are already passing Philadelphia and Atlantic City. Dwight noted the time the flight started was 7:50:30 on his digital watch.Flight time is 6 hours and 38 minutes and Dwight is going to check the pilot’s time.[We landed at 7:33 and 40 seconds, London’ time – five minutes late.]

It is still hard to believe this-is really happening. It sure was a frantic 48 hours from the time I left work until we left for the airport.I was frantically wrapping packages to mail and we added an extra bag to the intended luggage.The two carry-on bags weigh a ton too – –everybody’s got a camera –actually I think we are averaging-more than one per person-(JRG – this was in addition to the two per person we checked in – so for two adults and two kids, 5 and 10, we had 12 or more bags — all of which we had to carry in some places.)

A number of persons came to the airport to see us off – Mr. and Mrs. Grimm, Mr. and Mrs. Bellinger, Dr. and Mrs. Dwight Bellinger, HeSang du Busc and son, Victor.The boys were so excited about the trip, they really didn’t feel too badly leaving their grandparents behind.The dog is staying with friends, the cat is with my parents.The last that mother reported she (the cat) was stuck under the motel bed not real happy about her present predicament.I think the hard part is realizing that we will probably not be back on U. S. soil for almost 2 years.I remembered how glad I was to be back after a 30-day absence in 1969 and wonder how much I’ll miss it. (JRG – my, how times have changed!)

Dwight reported that lights are no longer visible and that we are over the ocean.So far the flight has been pretty smooth.Now and then the plane vibrates. The stewardesses are British.Between the head sets and the activity kits, the boys haven’t had a chance to get bored yet.Dwight can hardly wait until dinner is served.

Toby is enjoying his PAN AM kit.He just finished making a colorform airport, a detective badge and a panda head mask. Dinner – filet mignon, Le Papillon de la Reine vin rouge, shrimp, cheesecake, Camus cognac (JRG – not our normal Hawaiian fare.)

We are now 1/2 hour from landing in London.Dwight has obtained his first souvenir – a flight map.The pilot on this PAN AM flight is on his last flight. He is retiring after 35 years. We all got some sleep and so far everything is “under control,” but my back is already hurting and I haven’t even starting carrying luggage.

It’s still Oct 5.We just wandered through Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, and are waiting for the show to start at the Planetarium.I dragged all morning, now Jack is dragging, and this adds to the usual grumping.Our favorite statements have become “come on Toby” and “Have you seen Dwight?”We have ridden the London Underground – first from the airport and then to here from the hotel.We are staying in a small London hotel recommended by “Europe on $20′ a Day” (JRG – boy does that date this report.)(JRG – the name of the hotel was the Alhambra -found .in the very same copy of “Europe on $20 a Day,” which we still have, of course.) What was really remarkable was that it took 6 1/2 hours to get from Washington D.C. to London and 4 hours to get from the London airport (Heathrow) to the hotel.Over an hour was spent waiting in line to get our ..passport checked. We are actually in the planetarium now.I just realized that this is Toby’s first experience with a planetarium.I remember taking Dwight to the one in Denver when he was 6.Madame Tussaud’s was pretty good – a lot of new figures ~ thought the ones of McEnroe and Bjorn Borg were pretty good. They are at the foot.of a referee who is sitting in one of those stands.I told Dwight today’s subject matter included history and now science. We ate lunch at Wimpy’s – had hamburgers and “chips” which is what the English call our French fries. From here I think it is back to our hotel. Hopefully we’ll, be able to get a good night’s sleep tonight and do London right tomorrow.Weather today or rather this afternoon is damp, overcast and chilly though the sun was out this morning.We heard the weather yesterday was horrid.

Oct 6

5 pm London time, noon at St. Stephen’s in Alexandria – Dwight has been keeping track; as to what his friends have been doing.We just got back from a day of London sightseeing — first the Tower of London and then a boat trip down the Thames, to Westminster Abbey.Dwight said he really enjoyed the Tower of London and looking at the tombs and memorials in Westminster Abbey.

We are back in the hotel room.Dwight is reading “The Ghosts of the Tower of London” and Toby is eating peanut butter and crackers.I am glad I brought that along.Finding things Toby will eat is difficult.He had pancakes last night for supper and an egg this morning but nothing at lunch time.We’ve eaten at Wimpy’s, a chain called ‘Old Kentucky,’ the hotel and a sandwich place at lunch that was inexpensive and crowded.In fact all of London is crowded and everybody is in a hurry.I don’t remember that from ’69 – also a lot of new modern buildings are hiding the old famous ones.

We haven’t had too many catastrophes – a few about cameras – can’t get Toby’s to advance the film and the flash unit on mine doesn’t work (DG note: in 30 years I don’t think my mother has ever had a reliable flash attachment).We wanted to take a picture of an armour-clad elephant (only to later find out they did have postcards). Jack is also complaining about how fast the money is going — which I completely expected (JRG – I am not sure she meant how fast the money was going or my complaining.)I had hoped to have space and money to buy a few inexpensive souvenirs and things like stamps and coins, etc., but Jack is watching each and every pence.He also got mad because Toby and I were bringing up the rear so missed the first of the Thames boats, and put on a brief Ugly American scene which was really just an ugly Jack- scene put on in London (JRG – I have no idea what she is talking about and besides – I’ve mellowed – just ask anyone.)

Let’s see, what else.The sun was shining when we left, it was raining when we got back.The day starts out warm -and gets colder and wetter.The Tower of London was interesting.I saw part of it I didn’t see in ’69, including the crown jewels.Toby liked the Beefeaters.(JRG – I thought the ravens were neat). We rode the double decker bus back – saw McDonalds, as well as Wimpy’s. Lots of Australian places too. (JRG – We both read this last sentence and are not sure what it meant.)So far, we have not encountered any other Americans. A couple on the boat were from Canada.

(Editors note: – If this is not as polished as other Grimm reports, it is because I am basically typing it as written – as Dorothy sat on a plane, bus, wherever -we are just glad the notes still exist.)

Oct 8

Back at Heathrow Airport waiting for the Air France plane to Paris, we just saw the little fellow from Fantasy Island (JRG – from the original show, the actor, Herve Villechaize is now deceased) with his, tall wife wheeling their luggage through the airport, dressed in blue jeans, etc. and looking frustrated. Maybe all international travelers look put upon.Our luggage did not make it through the X-ray machines – one I don’t know why, the other because, the peanut butter knife showed up. The (security) lady commented she had to carry both smooth and crunchy when she traveled.It is overcast again today.Jack and I, after almost 11 hours- worth of sleep, are still dragging.The kids are doing fine.Jack and I are beginning to wonder if we will ever make it to Alice Springs.Both boys are missing their classmates.Jack is upset over how much money we spent in London – also whether or not it is overcast and raining in Paris,They are about to have a test of the fire alarm equipment here (airport). Those stupid electronic games are all through here too.

We are now airborne on an Airbus and air bus is the right description.It’s more like a crowded subway. It will be interesting to spend the next 10 days among non—English speaking people.I have never mentioned what we did Tuesday night and Wednesday. Tuesday night we tried to see the Elvis movie but at $6 apiece (3 pounds) decided not to.Instead we went to a musical comedy magical review starring Paul Daniels, a British magician. Since Dwight and I had studied magic with Christian at the Smithsonian this past summer and London is the place to see shows I thought this would be entertaining.It was.For not too expensive tickets we had pretty good seats and the show was really very good. Both boys enjoyed it too, though Toby slept through the second half.. By the way, we ate dinner at Burger King and every one ate a Whopper or French Fries and ketchup.Here they were called French Fries, not ‘chips.’

Wednesday morning we almost slept through breakfast then spent some time in the room writing postcards.We then left for Buckingham Palace in hopes of seeing the changing of the.guard.Unfortunately, from September 1st to March 31st it is held only every other day and this was not the right day.So we walked through London to Harrod’s Department store and spent a couple of hours wandering through it.Talk about an elaborate department store – a whole city block.Jack particularly liked the idea that it had kennels in the basement in case your dog had accompanied you on your shopping trip.

We then started the afternoon walk — first to a place called Mandy’s so Toby could get a peanut butter sandwich.Then, in an attempt to find Pollocks Toy Museum we kept walking right, when we should have been walking left.After much walking and asking directions we finally found it. .It was not very big but the kids enjoyed it.Needless to say the adults were pushing exhaustion.Thank goodness it was Jack leading the way and not any of.the rest of us. From the museum we went to Trafalger Square where I bought stamps at the P.O. while Jack and the boys sat on the steps.From there we went to the National Theatre so I could see the structure close up.By then Jack was ready to drop. We caught a double decker bus to near our hotel where we got something to eat at a buffet then staggered back to the hotel where Jack collapsed and the rest of us joined him about 8:30.

So much for our English adventures. The plane is descending into Charles de Gaulle airport and the next leg of the journey begins.Jack does not think he’ll live to reach Alice Springs.(JRG – This is due to attempting to carry four suitcases and two carry-ons for long distances.)We have told Dwight if we should both drop dead to head for the U.S. Embassy and ambassador.We are landing through fog – wonderful.Flying a French airline is quite different than a U.S. airplane.No pussy-footing around ~ just do it – and everyone around you is taking it all in stride.

(JRG – I want to add a part that is missing, but which I remember well. Everywhere we went we took public transportation – a real adventure with two kids and 12 or so pieces of luggage.After we arrived at the airport, we had to take a bus far enough in town to transfer to a subway.I had written ahead to a hotel listed in Europe… but had received no answer.We took a chance anyway and got off the subway in Pigalle – the red light district.” As we were wandering around looking for the hotel the boys say the Girlie shows and admired the photos in the windows.One of them said, “Hey Dad good choice of area to stay in.”The hotel had never heard of me but said we could stay but only had a room for three.I wasn’t about to carry the bags again so said we’d take it.I slept on the floor.)

It is now Friday, Oct. 9 at 3:45 p.m. and we are sitting under the Arc de Triomphe while it rains cats and dogs.If you ask how the trip was going -today would not be a good day.Let’s see.We went to Notre Dame this morning. That was fairly interesting.We wondered around inside as well as part way up the tower and saw a narrated slide show about it.Boy is it dirty.The pigeons have done a great job.Toby wanted to take a picture of each and every gargoyle. Just as we left it started raining and we all got wet-We were trying to walk to Le Louvre.We finally got there and bought our tickets.

Back in our room writing postcards-It was a lot of fun looking for a French Post Office along the Champs d’Elyses.We finally found one but couldn’t buy any stamps for my stamp collection because Jack is really uptight about money. (JRG – this was in the days of travelers checks – no ATMs.)We finally found a place where Toby got something to eat – Burger King.He got a cheeseburger, french fries with ketchup, and a coke.There are a number of Burger Kings and McDonalds around town-McDonalds have no seats.There were a whole lot of French punks in there, playing Elvis Presley music on a tape recorder – really weird.Let’s see.After Notre Dame saw Le Louvre. Toby really enjoyed all of the paintings.We were surprised that he showed so much interest in them (maybe because so many were nudes!)We did see the Mona Lisa, the Winged Victory (statue) and the painting of Napoleon.

We are airborne again.It is now Oct. 10, Saturday.We just left Paris and are headed for Rome Where we will change planes for Athens.Let’s see what else. We caught the Metro (subway) to a bus to the airport.We found a mail box to post a letter- Breakfast was rolls and coke and Jack had a cup of European coffee. Jack then panicked that we would miss the plane, but we ended up sitting at the gate for 40 minutes. As things stand we won’t have long to wait between flights.

Last night the kids and I retired by 9:30.Jack went out to check out the girlie shows but said he didn’t want to spend the money for the live shows so went to a movie instead.There were an awful lot of girlie shows in the Pigalle area where we were staying.

We are now on the plane to Athens.There was a brief panic when it appeared that the flight from Paris would not arrive in Rome in time for us to catch the plane to Athens.We were told 90 minutes should be alloted and those persons making our reservations had only alloted 25 minutes.We were given some advice and were told we would miss the plane and that we would have to make alternate plans including our luggage which had been checked all the way through to Athens. While we were riding up to the gate at the Rome airport, it was announced our flight to Athens was not leaving until 2 p.m. which provided us with enough time to change planes, get on the proper flight and also hopefully get our baggage transferred too.Dwight thought he saw them being transferred from one plane to the other.We were surprised when we entered the terminal to find a gentleman waiting for us – called us by name and escorted us through the rigamarole to get us on the plane to Athens.It’s now 2 o’clock.We are on a TWA L1011. The flight is supposed to take 1 hr 26 minutes.

I am airplaned out already.I don’t really think I need to ride anymore airplanes.This trip might better be described as how to see Europe by airplane.

The gentleman sitting next to me on the flight to Rome said that Italy has nationalized the airport so that all airport employees are employees of the Italian government – that none of the airlines have any personnel working at the gates or airports or landing crew, and sure enough everything was in Italian green- Therefore, there was no way of notifying the TWA flight that there were passengers coming for another TWA flight.He implied that this made things more difficult but after our experience of being met by an English speaking official and escorted through all of the check-in points, etc., I have no complaints.

As you might guess riding an airplane bound for Tel Aviv is different than one bound for Norfolk, Va. or Indianapolis, Indiana. The character of the passenger body is very different. (JRG – In case you are confused, I believe our plane to Athens was/going on to Tel Aviv.)

Let’s see- what did we see; in Paris Thursday afternoon we went to the Eiffel Tower. We rode the elevator to the top. We took.some pictures. It is a good thing we.did it when.we did because Friday was cloudy with occasional rain. The boys.enjoyed the Tower. Toby said he’d like to go back. They are getting ready to feed us and.once again. We have encountered small pockets of air turbulence.(JRG- I-believe we are back on the plane to Athens.)

I wish I felt I was getting as much out of the trip as the boys are. Jack just complains morning to night about expenses, luggage, people, the various checks like our tote bag being inspected in the Louvre. (JRG – at least “in defense of the last – we had this now famous,bag in which Dorothy had many pounds of cameras. I carried that damn bag everywhere we went. They didn’t want to let us carry it in the Louvre and Dorothy wouldn’t allow it to be checked… So I started to pull everything, out of it in the middle of the corridor until the French guard disgustedly told me to take it and move on.)

Monday Oct. 12

We are on the airplane heading for Rome.. The-trip has formed a pattern or such a routine it has lost most of its appeal to everyone but Dwight. Toby still cries for his school and his friends. We discovered that his ‘nighty-night’ (his security blanket from infancy), was left in Paris and after much walking to find an ‘international phone center in Athens and calling the hotel in Paris we found that they had not found it. I don’t know if he realizes it is gone or not. When Jack, Dwight and I were agonizing over it, we thought he was asleep-Jack thinks maybe he overheard and is not saying anything because he knows how upset I was when I discovered we had lost it. Our trip to Athens was short. We did see the Sight and Sound Show at the Acropolis Saturday night which Dwight really liked. Toby got eaten alive by mosquitoes. Today he is covered with bites and is constantly asking us to put stuff on them. The big tube of stuff is in one of the suitcases.

I don’t know which one and these had been packed so they could be left in lockers in Rome if we found some and not had to lug them up and down these streets like we did in London and Paris. I still am not used to all of the plane shaking and what amazes me is that a flight that took 1 hr and 26 minutes from Rome to Athens takes almost 2 hours from Athens to Rome- Toby is still not eating much – a few crackers and peanut butter, some cereal and pancakes when we can find some. Dwight alternates between hamburgers when available and spaghetti – like spaghetti in Greece. I ate chicken and a ham sandwich. So far the sandwiches here consist of one small slice of meat.. ..,

(JRG – I can’t remember how many mosquito bites Toby had — he counted them, but Dwight told us a year or so ago when he went into the Wahiawa Botanical Gardens here early one morning that he received more. Also, our hotel. Hotel Alkistis, was not that well known with the taxi drivers. When we arrived, I had the address on an envelope and that helped the driver find it. However, when- we went to the Sound and Light Show I forgot to take’the envelope, so afterwards when we got a taxi the guy didn’t know where it was, so.I had him drop us off at a square I knew was close to the hotel. But, we couldn’t find it and were wandering around the streets of Athens around midnight looking for our hotel. Finally, someone thought they knew where it was and we found.it.)

Sunday morning I got-up early and attended 8 a.m. communion service at ‘ St. Paul’s Anglican Church. Supposedly this church was built on the spot that St. Paul first preached to the Gentiles. It is a small church, like all of the ones in Athens. I went to this same church when I was in Athens in 1969. I think the small Byzantine churches are neat looking as are the clergy. I had hoped to photograph some of these churches but we ran out of time. After church (I got lost walking there but didn’t have any trouble following the map back) I rearranged the suitcases and then we walked through Athens to the Acropolis- All of the merchants were out and the streets were full of people. It was a nice walk only the bag (the infamous camera bag’) was heavy and the sun hot.Dwight wanted to examine each and every ruin but we struggled up the hill to the Acropolis. Boy was that packed with people.Sunday is free day in Greece.I don’t know if that contributed to the crowds or not, but one had to just shove. We couldn’t even fit into the museum up there.It sure was a mob scene like a big sale in a department store.There was a lot of scaffolding and a lot of numbered rocks on the ground where they must be in the process of restoring sections of it, but all the reliefs at the top of the Parthenon were gone.The amphitheatre on the side was more impressive.I then thought it was important to see the National Museum where a lot of the statues, funeral stones and pottery are located. Since it closed at 2 p.m. and it was almost noon, we decided to hurry over. We got a taxi and went.Toby was exhausted, so he and Jack waited outside and drank lemonade while Dwight and I walked through.Then we looked for postcards while they walked through.Dwight has asked hundreds of questions on this trip that should have academic answers.Unfortunately enough, I don’t know them. We discovered that Toby’s now throughly enjoying paintings and statues and sculptures. I don’t know if this is a new interest or something he has never been exposed to before.Guess we have been remiss.

Oct 15 – At the Rome airport waiting for the flight to Vienna-Rome in some respects was a disaster.Toby discovered “nighty-night” is gone and was pretty upset. Also my 135mm lens for my camera got left on the floor of the Vatican City Museum snack bar and was not turned in to the lost and found despite Jack’s repeated checks including in person.The other material damage encountered was a big rip in the side of the big new suitcase during the Air France trip from London to Paris.

Rome — I was not real fond of Italy when I was here before and my impressions sure have not improved.They have a subway (metro) which one can’t ride because there is no place to buy tickets.One needs 50 lira pieces to put in the machine.We got on a bus there was no ticket taker, so everyone rode free and this type of bus operates all through the city and then it is ‘unreal how many people can squeeze into one of these buses.Going to St. Peter’s, there literally wasn’t enough breathing room. If the windows had not been open we would have passed out.

Let’s see-We got to Rome and our hotel before 2 p.m.(JRG — this is one of my most vivid memories.We had to walk from the train station, to our hotel the YMCA — which was only a couple of blocks., but I was carrying four suitcases and had two other bags over my shoulders, arid was sure I was going to die – meanwhile Toby wants to be carried!)After lunch we headed for the Colosseum which the boys found fascinating.We then walked around the area, including parts of the Forum, Capitol Hill, and the room where supposedly St. Paul and St. Peter were held before they were executed.We wanted to see the Monument to King Victor Emmanuel built in 1911, but it is now fenced off from the public.(JRG – I walked up onto the monument in 1964 when I was in Rome).We later learned that the reason it is now closed is that there have been bombs left there and that the people have been harassing the soldiers who stand beside the tomb of the unknown WWI soldier.We had the usual fight over where to eat and ended up eating at a place called the American Bar, but at least there Toby discovered he will eat spaghetti.So that was something.

Tuesday morning we slept in until about 7:30 and then went down to breakfast. We had hard rolls, tea, hot chocolate and coffee.We then left for St. Peter’s and after a very crowded bus ride, got there about 10.We walked around St. Peter’s – took some pictures, got a coke and headed for the Sistine Chapel.We did see the Pieta in St. Peter’s.The hike to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel was every bit as long and tiring as I remembered.We walked and walked and walked.Then we arrived and had to walk and walk and walk through the Vatican Museum itself to get to the Sistine Chapel.It would have been nice to spend time in many of the other rooms.They had really interesting exhibits and artifacts.I liked the hall where there were paintings of old maps, but we just kept walking to the Sistine Chapel. It was now noon time and the last ticket was sold around 1 and as we found out, they close everything up at 1:30.We raced to the Sistine Chapel and on the way back we found a snack bar that had hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, cokes, etc.It was while Jack was getting the food that I used the 135mm lens for the last time.Then Toby was holding the lens and case when the food arrived and Toby remembers putting the lens on the floor.It was not missed for about 3 hours when we were at the Spanish Steps.

(JRG – I believe some details-are missing here.From Rome we flew to Vienna.I had wanted to stay in a really neat hotel listed in Europe but they were not listed in the phone book, so we ended up in a new wing of a very old hotel.It was neat an open courtyard in the middle – I have no idea what the name was, but it was in a central location near St. Stephen’s Church.Also I believe the first day in Vienna we went to see the St. Stephen’s Church, especially since the boys’ school was. St. Stephen’s. I also was able to ascertain that just as the last time I was in Vienna in 1964, both the Vienna Boy’s Choir and the Spanish Riding School were on tour out of the country.I was very disappointed.

Oct 17 – on the flight to Frankfurt.The basic trip is over.We are to spend the night in Frankfurt and then on to Bangkok and Sydney. Today we got up early (in Vienna) ate breakfast and then took the subway to the flea market. We walked through the produce area which was crowded but the food looked much better than the food viewed in similar markets in Rome. We then walked through the non-food area which was packed.I didn’t really see anything of interest but Jack said there were a lot of things he would have liked to look at closer but we didn’t have the time.I’m still not sure what he had in mind. I heard Toby having a todo anyway, which was pretty much par for the course. (JRG – I love flea markets and odd items, so who knows what I was interested in, and as for Toby, it was probably the usual todo about being tired and wanting to be carried piggyback.)

We went back to the hotel and checked out but left our bags.We walked over to Mozart’s house for the second time to find that on Saturday it doesn’t open until 2 instead of 10 like we thought. So we walked to McDonald’s – the signs of which we could have seen on Thursday when we were standing at Stephenplatz arguing over where to eat lunch only then I never would have had any Weiner schnitzel. (JRG – now Dorothy doesn’t like food like I do, so you can imagine how disappointed I was that we had to keep eating in McDonalds in Vienna because that was the only place in which Toby would eat.)This time they gave the boys balloons on wires like coat hangers which presented problems later when I tried to dismantle them for easy transport to Alice Springs.Toby ate two cheeseburgers. I ate some french fries, but somehow I could not bring myself to eat in McDonalds in Vienna.We then went looking for the museum with the musical instruments and armour.We finally found it but had to check the infamous camera bag. It was a pretty interesting museum.Dwight was fascinated by both the musical instruments and the arms, mostly from knights of the 1500’s including horse stuff. We only had an hour so hurried and found some sort of ruins on the way out.There was all kinds of information about them, but unfortunately it was all in German and we couldn’t figure out where they came from and why.The place closed at 1 and that’s what they meant. Everything started closing down at 12:45 and by 1 p.m. the doors to the whole building were closed and locked and all personnel were gone.

We wondered how to kill the next hour before the stables opened (at 2) or Mozart’s home opened (also at 2) and ended up at McDonalds both for cokes, another cheeseburger for Toby, and to use the bathroom.That’s one good thing. about McDonalds – bathrooms are available and free.(JRG – still true in Hawaii.) We went back to Mozart’s place and this time it was opened.We looked at the exhibits quickly and then hurried over to the Spanish Riding School.(JRG -since they were on tour, the best we could do was see the horses left behind in the stables.)What a ripoff to pay 5 shillings apiece to see the backs of about 20 of the Lippazaner horses among a big crowd.There’ were 3 young girls ahead of us in line who said there were from St. Lawrence College in N.Y., studying in Vienna for a semester.I have the feeling that is the sort of thing that Dwight would enjoy doing.

From there we went back to the hotel (Vienna) to collect the bags and go to the airport- That operation transpired without much trouble and we arrived at the airport around 3:30 with 90 minutes and 100 shillings to kill.We got some cokes and pastry, postcards and stamps and killed the time and money without any trouble.

We are now 15 minutes from the Frankfort airport and had chicken/cheese sandwiches enroute.They didn’t offer any coke so Toby is fussing and blaming his chapped lips for his distress.Dwight is complaining about his ears so now both are chewing gum. It hasn’t seemed to help Dwight’s ears any.

The weather in Vienna was nice today, not too cold, sunny and no wind.Yesterday it was not raining but it sure was cold and windy, but we did get out and see a few things.We first went by Mozart’s home but it was closed – not open until 10. (we are getting ready to land in Frankfort and going through cloud cover – it is choppy.I used to fly all the time and always thought air travel was smooth.It sure would be nice to be on a totally smooth flight – maybe it’s my age, or the fact that a lot of years passed between the time I did a lot of flying and now.But I am really planed out now and the long one starts at 11:30 tomorrow.Maybe it will fool me and be smooth.)

So we went to Strauss’ house.Imagine our surprise when the ground floor on the building in which Strauss wrote the “Blue Danube Waltz” contained a McDonalds. We had 10 minutes to kill there which we did – saw Strauss’ rooms and since it was too early to eat there went to the next spot which turned out to only be a plaque. From there we went to the opera house and walked around outside it.

Oct 18th

Noon or actually 11:55 by my watch and we are airborne for New Delhi. Flight time is 8 hours and 5 minutes putting us in New Delhi about 8 p.m. on the time we are now on.Who knows what time it is in India.We are hoping that they will let us get out and at least walk about the one section of the airport.Our stay in Germany was short.We landed about 6, got money and a cab to the hotel which was nearby and looked deserted.The cab wanted to make sure someone was there to let us in.A nice young woman let us in and showed us our room and explained how to get the subway to Frankfurt if we wanted (JRG – the airport and hotel were some distance from the, city center.)We decided to give it a try and started walking in the damp overcast night. We walked a couple of blocks and decided we didn’t know where we were or where we were going. We met some people leaving a construction site who turned out to be from Yugoslavia – they didn’t speak either German or English but we were able to get across where we wanted to go.(-JRG – we did get the subway in town and I was able to get some bratwurst and German beer – which had been my goal when we went looking for the subway.)

We just flew over Beirut Lebanon. There were a lot of buildings and town(s) along the coast – the Mediterranean the pilot said – and then nothing but rocky hills — very dry and barren looking.If you looked closely about the barren rocky hills there were small clusters of buildings & villages I guess.Hearing so much about Lebanon and Beirut in the news almost every day it is hard to believe such a small area could cause so much trouble.It is now 2 hours into the journey — good lunch – filet mignon – we are flying Clipper Class again and the boys are watching the movie (Agency). I can’t see it from where we (Jack and I) are sitting, and it is dark inside.Jack is sleeping.We had pretty clear weather since leaving Frankfort and have seen a number of sights from above – we have been told it will be 12:30 a.m. New Delhi time when we arrive.It is a good thing we are flying Clipper Class on this flight-The back of the plane is full of Indian people going to New Delhi and I mean a lot of people with small children to adults in native dress. The place is littered.I saw an elderly lady eating an apple and throwing it on the floor and since men are superior (JRG – she is speaking of the Indians, of course) the men precede the women to the toilet.I gave up waiting and used the first class ones.Boy there is nothing on this part of the earth.(JRG – I couldn’t figure out this remark at first but think she was talking about what we were flying over.)

It is dark outside the plane.The stewardess just announced that. we are passing the city of Bahrain – but stupid us don’t know what country Bahrain is in. (JRG – Bahrain is a country, I believe there is also a city with the same name.) We have been on the plane 5 hours – 3 more to go.

Oct 19th

Everything is lost in the carry-on, so I don’t know where I stopped writing. I don’t even know where my pen is.(JRG – obviously she found something with which to write.On the flight to New Delhi….By the time we landed even the flight attendants wouldn’t go into the economy section.We wanted desperately to get off the plane in Delhi, but were told if we were going on we would have to stay on the plane. They had no transit lounge.So we sat, and walked around while a multitude of Indians came on the plane and cleaned it – entirely by hand — no vacuum cleaners.A whole group of them got down with brushes and dust pans and swept up the entire 747.We finally took off and flew to Bangkok.I have no idea what time it was on our clocks, but we got in about 6:30 a.m. or so and had until 3:30 p.m. until our Qantas plane was to leave.)

We are finally on the Qantas plane for Sydney; however it stops in Melbourne first. Toby and Dwight are both asleep having conked, out shortly after we boarded this plane for Australia. How did the day go? Tiring.Dwight woke up shortly before landing not feeling very well.Toby and I barely slept an hour.We did manage to get over the plane ride only to be greeted by some Thai who wanted to give us a tour of Bangkok, having us back in the airport by 1 p.m.He wouldn’t take no for an answer and waited, or rather escorted Jack around while we got organized.(JRG -the choice, was going on the tour or spending the time in the airport.The nerve-racking part was handing in our luggage at a luggage room that was full of bags and wondering if we would ever see them again.)We finally agreed for $50 for the four of us (less in Thai money).So after a coke – off we went.

He drove us through Bangkok-to meet a lady who did the talking, and a driver. Just the 6 of us in one rather large Datsun sedan. We went first to the 5 1/2 ton solid gold Buddha.Boy, talk about impressive and huge.It was behind all of these rather shabby buildings.Bangkok seemed a city.of contrasts.The rice/flooded fields we could see coming in — the poor shacks providing shelter – then big fairly new fairly large office buildings and hotels, and then all of the open flea market stalls.It’s very hard to describe. The temples where the Buddhas are magnificent — everything hand done and exact. After the temple of the Buddha, the lady tour guide bought little birds in a cage for Toby to set free.Also we had to take off our shoes to enter the temples.Very different than anything we had seen before.From there we went to the Grand Palace which they are completely redoing in anticipation of the 200 year anniversary celebration in 1982.So exacting work and so many people doing it — crazy — we took a lot of pictures — hope some come out.It was also very hot and humid.The car was air-conditioned.

These tours are run by the Institute of Tourism of Thailand, so I guess they are legitimate.I certainly feel we got our money’s worth.After the Grand Palace we visited a couple more temples – one of the Emerald Buddha and another of marble. This one had a canal just full of turtles, and cats sleeping.The guide explained that any animal on the temple(s) grounds is considered protected by Buddha. She then explained that after visiting these things and before taking us back to the airport she had to take us by a couple of stores where people rushed up with cold drinks, first orange, then coke, and tried to pressure us into buying ‘ jewelry or some sort of expensive “souvenir” like rings.Jack just hates forced shopping so by the second one his patience was wearing thin.We ended up buying some postcards and stamps -and returned to the airport.En route saw somebody riding an elephant through the streets of Bangkok.Jack and boys fell asleep. Jack thought he was going to pass out when he first got out of the cab.While they slept I had an interesting chat with the lady about Thai vs Chinese customs on eating dogs and monkey brains, etc.also the lotus flower, because I was reminded of James Barrett’s book, the Lady of the Lotus. The lotus were growing on the banks of various water/swamps/what have you, that were on the side of the road.

We then staggered into the airport, got the luggage, some postcards and stamps and waited for Qantas to open.It finally opened and then Jack ran into trouble because we don’t have visas.(JRG – let me tell this part. I checked in our luggage, and handed the clerk the tickets.She tagged the luggage and sent it on the way, processed the tickets and then asked for the passports. She then informed me that I didn’t have visas.I said that was correct, I was traveling on official passports, and going to Australia under U. S. Dept. of Defense orders, and therefore didn’t need a visa – only the ‘status of forces agreement’ which was stamped in each passport and which I showed her-She insisted that I needed visas.After arguing with her for some time she called her supervisor who explained that I was correct.Fine, she said – show me the orders.At some point I asked what business it was of the airlines.She explained that if they take someone to Australia that is not allowed to enter, they have to return them to the original place of departure.Fine, I said, but I didn’t expect to have to show her my orders and my orders were in a bag I had checked in.I’ll bet I am the only American who has seen the basement of the Bangkok airport. I was escorted down to find the cart with my bags, located them, located the bag with the orders and pulled out the orders – all of which I accomplished.) Then it was wait, wait and more wait -.a $10 airport fee – and Jack feeling worse and worse by the minute.Then there was a mixup on which gate to use to get on Qantas for Sydney.Toby has on his kangaroo shirt that his teacher made for him as a going away gift. Everybody seems pretty excited about finally being on the plane to Australia.

From Bangkok we flew to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Once again transit passengers were not allowed to get off.We were on the ground for and hour and a half.It is 7 hours 5 minutes, flying time from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne.We looked in the magazine and it is 7500 miles from Bangkok to Sydney.It was”only 5500 miles from Frankfort to Bangkok.And now we are into another night.We are sitting 3 across -with strangers at the window seats. The man by Toby and I is very nice.He let Toby put his feet on his lap and stretch out to go to sleep.

It is 4 a.m. and we are sitting in the Perth airport!Our Qantas flight was diverted from Melbourne and Sydney because of heavy fog over both cities. This transit lounge is very crowded.Jack is investigating other possibilities for getting to Alice Springs without waiting for the weather on the east coast to clear. Right now he is trying to get money so he can call the airline that flies into Alice Springs.This transit area is packed to the gills. Some people like first class have ‘been called to reboard the aircraft. What a mess.It is hard to believe that we have flown about 1/2 way around the world without any major difficulties, except the little bit in Rome on the way to Athens and then this – bad weather on the east coast of Australia.The people say this only happens 2 or 3 times a year.We are all so dirty I can’t stand us – 48 hours in the same clothes – yuck!

(JRG – thus ends Dorothy’s notes.I will pick up the story from here and bring it briefly to the end.I managed to get us (and our bags) on a flight to Adelaide – in those days there were not daily flights from Perth to Alice Springs. However, it was still only about 7:30 in the morning and our plane to Adelaide didn’t leave until 1:30 or so.Although we were all near exhaustion, I said maybe it would be better to do something than sit and suffer.So we decided to take the bus into downtown Perth.We got on and on the way in town the bus had to stop and call for medical help when a passenger had what was probably an epileptic attack.We went on in and walked around for a short time then went back to the. airport.We flew to Adelaide where a guy working for the U.S. government met us and took us to the flats the U.S. government owns for transients, or people sent to Adelaide for medical reasons.After settling in the flat, we took a bus to go get something to eat, returned and went to bed — about 52 hours after we had gotten out of bed in Frankfort.We slept for 13. hours.The next day we flew to Alice Springs.One of the boys was surprised we didn’t have to go through passport control – we had in every other airport. This was the first time I had been there and when you arrive at the airport there is nothing to be seen for as far as the eye could see.I have to admit I wondered if I had done the right thing.Events, as you know by now – proved that I had nothing to worry about.)

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1 Comment

Posted by on March 5, 2012 in Travel

 

One response to “The Beginning: Leaving for Alice Springs, 1981

  1. Jackson Westbrook

    March 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Major thankies for the blog.Many thanks again. Great.

     

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