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Report 1316: European Travel Back When - 1964

By Marian from New Jersey, Summer 1995

Trip Description: In 1964, when I was a young graduate student, I took a two-month solo trip to Europe. I ended up visiting about a dozen cities in a half-dozen countries, spending very little money, and having a ball! Here's where I travelled, what I did and whom I met.

Destinations: Countries - France, Italy, United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland; Regions/Cities - Paris, Provence, Florence, Rome, Venice, London

Categories: Hostel; Hotels/B&Bs; Art Trip; Beach; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; Single Traveler

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Page 1 of 20: Greenwich Village Girl Gets Ready to Hit the Old World

It’s Saturday evening May 30, 1964, Memorial Day. I am at JFK Airport with my parents, my kid brother and my boyfriend, waiting to board my first international flight, on Sabena Airlines to Brussels.

This is not only to be my first international flight: Except for a short hop to Nantucket Island a few years ago, I have never been on an airplane. I have also barely been out of New York City before, except for a couple of years at college in upstate New York. Never been to Washington DC. Never been to Boston. My parents not having a car, I have never been on those summer road trips that are supposed to be a part of growing up in the 1950’s.

But I really want to go to “Europe”, which for me means the major cities of the popular Western countries. And cheap travel is now being publicized: Arthur Frommer has famously written “Europe on Five Dollars a Day.” And I believe in that book with all my heart and soul. How will I show my devotion to his credo?

Except for my city of first arrival, I will not reserve hotels in advance. Rather, I will arrive at a train station in each city, check my luggage, and set out to find a suitable place. I don’t need fancy hotels with private baths (I live in a hovel on Perry Street, after all). I will carry my own luggage. I will take 2nd or 3rd class trains. I will eat and drink like the natives wherever I am. And above all, I will NEVER, NEVER order orange juice.

This is a good time for me to travel. I have finished two years of graduate school at NYU in chemistry, and expect to start being a slave to my dissertation project starting next fall. I have very little money except for my graduate-student teaching stipend, but on the other hand I have few expenses and no responsibilities. I have a boyfriend that I am leaving behind in the Big City, but maybe this is a good time to do that.

Here we go!

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