If I get a subject for a blog and do not really know what to write, then I have a look at my photos: in this case with the tag “Holiday” and I get a photo that brings back many memories. It was my first holiday when I flew. It was 1965 and in those days flying for an average working person was still something special. There were rare jets and flights where arrival was quick and comfortable. It was the days of package tours, no flight belonged on a time table, they were mostly chartered aircraft departing at strange airports that you never knew existed. Our plane left from Manston airport, a small airport in the county of Kent near the English coast, the airport no longer existing today. Our holiday was to be in Southern Italy with a week staying in Sorrento on the Amalfi coast.
My friend and I both chose this target, mainly because both our fathers served in World War II and were both totally fascinated by the Amalfi coast: not something that two East End Men had ever seen with its Palm trees and culture of wine and romantic scenery, although in the war there was not so much romance. They spent most of the time dodging enemy fire.
But my friend and I booked the holiday and arrived at Manston to board the plane. Direct flight to Sorrento? Forget it. The plane took us to Basel on the Swiss border. Today a flight of an hour, in 1965 almost two hours. Afterwards it was a coach journey through Switzerland, including a death defying route with the Gotthard Tremolo road, which is has now become a side road after the motorway was built. This was a danger in itself and I remember that the coach leaked gas each time it turned one of the hairpin bends and there were many.
We eventually arrived in Italy and embarked on a journey on the Autostrada del Sol, a newly built Motorway in 1965. We had a few overnight stops and eventually arrived in Rome. This was also new land for two english girls from London, but we wanted to see it all. We were both opera fans and had the mad idea to go to Caracalla to see Madame Butterfly. Rome is a big city and this was on the other side. Somehow we found the bus connections and arrived, not thinking that the opera finishes long after the busses no longer run. We found a bus that took as to St. Peters in the Vatican. What could possibly go wrong if you were being sheltered by the Pope? Actually a lot, but we found two American girls with their two boyfriends, both doctors so if there was an accident we would be safe. They offered to bring us to our hotel, on the other side of Rome. Rome is a big city. On the way we were stopped by the carabinieri as they found the little car had too many people. Papers were shown a lot of Italian words uttered, but they let us go.
Eventually we arrived in Sorrento at our hotel and realised why our fathers loved the place so much. It was a dream for us both.
After a week the home journey began, and on the way we made a two day stop in Florence where the photo originated on the Michelangelo Square looking over the city. I am in the back row, the tall one third from the left. The young lady who was our holiday host was from Berlin and she is in the middle at the front. I have had many holidays abroad since then, even over the pond, but this was one of the first. Perhaps the seed was then sewn to move over to Europe and enjoy all it had to offer.