This is the third post of a four-part series. To read the first two posts, go here:

Postcards from My Grandmother, 1972

More Postcards from My Grandmother, 1972

After Wiesbaden, Paris and London, my grandmother continued on to Athens and Rome. Although she found Greece entirely foreign and unbearably hot, she was fascinated by the culture and in love with the food. As travelers know … when everything is lost in translation, a good plate of food or a hot cup of tea can delightfully bridge the gap between you and your foreign surroundings.

To me, my grandmother’s postcards and journal entries from Rome (which will continue into the final post of this series) are the most special and endearing of the entire collection. I visited Rome for the first time in 2001 and just like her, I was awe-struck when I entered St. Peter’s Basilica, captivated by the elegance of Bernini’s sculptures, and generally transfixed by the entire city of Rome itself. It is one of my favorite cities in the world — so worth seeing that years ago I took my mother there for her birthday so she could experience it, too.

We are three generations all in love with Rome. Truly, the apples haven’t fallen far from the tree. Or maybe in Rome, the tomatoes from the vine!

Athens, July 5th

Athens, GreecePostcards From My Grandmother, 19727/5 – Athens
Hi! Hope everything is all right with all of you. Athens is sunny & I’ve had very little sun in Europe. Temp 80° with a wonderful breeze off the Mediterranean. It’s so blue! Saw the Greek islands from the air. They are not green & lush but arid with almost no green on them — not what I expected. This is really strange because even the alphabet is Greek to me! I can’t read the signs! Love, Mom
∆∆∆ — That’s Greek, but doesn’t help!
Sent toys from Herrod’s

Athens, July 6th

Tourkolimano, GreecePostcards From My Grandmother, 1972Athens – July 6
Hi! This is my idea of really being in a foreign country. Can’t understand anything except the money & you learn that fast out of necessity. I see things I can’t figure out, smell things I can’t identify & it is thoroughly fascinating! Had fish & eggplant for lunch — served separately but they tasted so different. Have met & seen only 2 Americans — a couple from Texas staying at the hotel. Had no trouble finding a cheaper one than I had last night. Love, Mom

 

Postcards From My Grandmother, 1972

Athens   Hot
July 6 – Thursday
Spent the morning on foot looking for a hotel room.  Found one in about the 7th stop — Hotel Epidavros. Nice room for less than $3 — bathroom & shower right across the hall. Toured around on foot today to see the sights. The smells are what get me — so strange. Almost no one speaks English. Dimitrious carried my bags from the Ambassador to the Epidavros. He insisted! Nice boy.

Athens    Sweltering
July 7 – Friday
Took a tour to the Acropolis to see the Parthenon. Walked up the steepest steps & got separated from the tour. Read up on the history when I got back to the hotel. Saw the temple of Olympian Zeus, Hadrian’s Arch, the Stadium, & the Archeological Museum. Also saw the Olympic Stadium where the first Olympic Games were held in 1896. It is completely built of white marble but looks pale pink, just beautiful.

Athens, July 12th

Postcards From My Grandmother, 1972

Athens   Sweltering   Must be 100°
Tuesday – July 11
Maria, her 4 cousins, & I went to Aegina by boat. It was a refreshing relief from the heat. Aegina is a little island where they make pottery. Ate lunch & the kids bought trinkets in the little shops. Got home tired but cooled somewhat.

Athens   Sweltering
July 12 – Wednesday
Dreadfully hot. Had my hair done at the Ambassadors Hotel. Feel civilized now. Spent the rest of the day trying to keep cool & repacking the luggage.

 

Aegina, GreecePostcards From My Grandmother, 1972Athens – July 12
Hi! Went to this little Greek island yesterday with Maria & her cousins. Had fun & got cooled off on the beautiful blue Mediterranean. Maria is so much fun & so sweet. She & I love Greek food & I’m hooked on fish soup. She really knows the right places to eat so I’m really enjoying this strange food. Hope you are well and having fun in the new house. Leave for Rome tomorrow. Looking forward to nice cool Switzerland. Love, Mom

Rome, July 13th

Rome, ItalyPostcards From My Grandmother, 1972July 13
Hi from beautiful Rome. It’s cool & raining. What a relief from Athens! Am staying in a singles hotel and I have a private bath for the first time in Europe. It’s really cozy. Walked past the Spanish Steps & down to the Trevi Fountain today. Tomorrow I see Rome. Saturday I see the Vatican & Sistine Chapel. Can’t wait! Saw the Forum on the way in from the airport. La dolce vita — Love, Mom

 

Postcards From My Grandmother, 1972

Rome   Cool   Rain late aft.
July 13 – Thursday
Arrived in Rome after a beautiful flight. Rome is 71° and I think now I’ll live. Hotel Croce de Malta Via Bourgonona had a single with bath — $5.50. It’s great to have my own shower & toilet. Am on a side street one block from Spanish Steps. Walked to them this afternoon & to the Trevi Fountain. Love this city.

Rome   Great weather   Rain late afternoon   Moses Fountain
July 14 – Friday
Took 2 tours — Ancient Rome this A.M. Forum, Coliseum, Arch of Constantine, Circus Maximus, St. Paul outside the city, only pyramid outside Egypt. This afternoon was the highlight of the trip to Europe — St. Peter’s Square & Basilica. Absolutely stunning. Tourists gasp as they enter. Bernini sculpture is magnificent. Pantheon is a truly great sight too. Raphael’s tomb is there.

The fourth and final post of this series is coming up next week. Thanks for reading!

25 comments

  1. Oh my God this post brought me to tears again – it is the Rome connection. Thanks to Kelly for giving me the trip for my birthday – the gift that keeps on giving. I think of our trip to Rome all the time, which left me speechless at times, being an art history buff and an artist, and a special course I also took at CU in Boulder – Greek and Roman Architecture. This 4 part series of blogs gives it all back to me again, through my mother’s words, with my daughter’s special touch and beautiful writing….. I want to go back… Rome is pulling me back. Thank You Kelly!

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    1. I think she did have a great sense of humor, and fun. I had to grow up to see that and understand it. Now, reading these postcards and journal entries years later after her death, it comes across in a whole new way. A discovery, even for me! Thanks for your comment.

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  2. Wow! Your post inspired me to write my own travel journal and collect postcards. You’re lucky to still have them and be able to see a different side of your grandmother’s life 🙂

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    1. Wow, that’s great! Happy to hear my grandmother and I have inspired you! And maybe you can pass your postcards on, too! Thanks for reading! I uploaded the final post this morning, by the way. Happy weekend!

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  3. Thanks for another wonderful and memorable post today Kelly. Your mother is rightly proud of you for sharing these treasures with us all with such grace and pride. Looking forward to the final offering particularly as we are off to Rome in October. Warm wishes on another beautiful weekend. 🙂

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    1. Thanks so much, Andrew! My mother is relishing these posts! 🙂 Have you been to Rome before? So much to look forward to and October will be a perfect time with cooler weather and fewer tourists. Hope you enjoyed the weekend in Vancouver! I’m in Tahoe currently, returning to BC on Tuesday. Hoping for sun!

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    1. Ratika! Yes! Thanks for noticing that! I’ve put off doing this series of posts until now so that I could time it up with the summer calendar since it was a summer trip she took. It’s a cool little bonus that the days/dates she writes about in 1972 are the same as 2017. Thanks for your astute comment!

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  4. Your family Rome connection is so touching, but … I was drawn to and astounded by the Greek parts today! A few years later, in 1976-77, I spent many nights in the Hotel Ambassador in Athens with my Greek grandparents! I’m sure it must be the same place although I believe it no longer exists. I thought I was so grown up there, a teenager in her own room in the middle of a bustling foreign city (my yiayia and papou just down the hall, of course), and I made up all sorts of worldly lies to tell people I met in the hotel (which was quite ordinary, nothing fancy) about why I was there. Oh, such memories! The ones you are telling are yours, but they just triggered mine!

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    1. What?! That is SO cool! I cannot believe you stayed at the Hotel Ambassador with your grandparents! Such a small world. I think you and I have some cosmic connection with all the similarities in our lives. 🙂 I’ve wondered throughout this blog series if any of the hotels my grandmother mentions are still around, especially in London. Too bad the Ambassador is gone! Thanks for sharing your amazing childhood memory and connection to this post! So cool.

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  5. Another wonderful post Kelly. Your grandmother’s personality shines through every word. It sounds like she had the most amazing adventure. Sadly I have yet to get to Greece! Though I can tick Rome off the list and have indelible memories of Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne at the Borghese, Trastevere, Basilica di San Clemente, the Coliseum, and of course St Peter’s. Unlike you and your mom and grandmother I didn’t fall in love with Rome. Paris and Venice are the cities that got to me.
    Alison

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    1. Thanks, Alison! The Borghese! I loved that place too! Interesting that you loved Venice — I have yet to get there. My grandmother enjoyed it but didn’t love it, as you’ll read in the final post of the series which I uploaded this morning. But I think she was ready to come home when she was there, which can make any amazing place unbearable! Enjoy your weekend! K.

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