Back in the Day

Old Feb 9th 2023, 4:23 pm
  #181  
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Originally Posted by JDWoowoo50
Indeed the 1960s and 1970s were several different worlds ago. In trying to recall events in my early (young) life I find it difficult to organize my thoughts into coherent "chapters" even with the help of the sketchy diaries I kept then (I still have some of these). Unusual thoughts keep surfacing, more the day to day interactions I had then than the deeper and more meaningful emotional involvement. And as for the romantic well... let's not go there.

Back then the Russians in Russia were so friendly. Not so much in Moscow where everyone seemed to be scrambling around to earn a living. In St Petersburg (Leningrad), much more so. I discovered a neighborhood not far from my hotel where many students congregated in small cafes to drink coffee and discuss the ways of the world, and hung out there until late at night throughout the five days we were in that charming city. Not once did I see any Soviet security men shadowing me, but I'm sure they were there, maybe discussed as musicians...

At the end of our stay there, part of our group wanted to (and did) fly to Moscow, mostly as the wives insisted the shopping in the capital was much better. Those of us with little interest in Soviet consumerism 1973 style opted for an overnight trip by rail, which I greatly enjoyed. We were given comfortable compartments with cozy berths, I was lucky to have mine to myself which meant I could spread out my things and sleep in comfort in the lower berth. The train's restaurant and bar carriage operated 24/7 so vodka, red wine, champagne and snacks were available all night. Again I don't recall any human surveillance but possibly the spittoon in my berth may have contained a hidden microphone. At any rate anybody assigned to keeping an official eye on me would have had a boring time of it, when I wasn't on one of th many tours organized for us or out to lunch or dinner I mostly lazed around in my hotel room, read books, drank red wine and champagne or socialized at the bar. this was in the depths of winter and baby, it was cold out there, like -20C...

In Moscow and Kiev (oddly, not so much in St Petersburg) we had several Inourist guides who had attached themselves to our group. I recall they were mostly young women, all madly attractive, speaking perfect English and with minds like computers. None drank alcohol or smoked or told us anything personal about themselves. All kept a careful distance from the visitors and were super careful to not be with us at crucial times like in the bars.

In Moscow I went with a group of singles (unmarried men tourists) to another hotel not far from ours. I believe it was called the Intourist. There in a basement bar we were introduced to a dozen prostitutes, all attractive women in their 30s. Again they spoke perfect English and were quite candid in what they said to us. One told me "we know everything we have to know about you" which put me on my guard. I didn't indulge and I don't remember if any in our party did. Certainly nobody disappeared from the tour group and it seems no-one ended up in a gulag, so it may be that happy endings took place and all ended well in the end...

As I wrote before, I have few memories of Kiev. I recall it was warmer there and there was no snow, but it mostly rained, not showers but in bucket loads. We all had heavy winter coats and the sudden change in climate and temperature brought colds and 'flu. One woman in our group had to be hospitalized for a week with a mysterious ailment - typically nobody saw fit to tell us and even more sadly nobody missed her, we were all too busy socializing and making inroads into the seemingly endless Soviet stocks of alcohol.

The tours we were taken on were haphazard. I suffered an afternoon at a university where we were shown all the main buildings but not allowed to meet any students or even to talk to them. More to my liking were the evenings at the opera, the ballet and music recitals as tickets were included as part of our tour. I also visited the dashes of many celebrated writers, notably Tolstoy at whose writing desk I was able to sit after "gifting" an attendant with a US$2 bill. I recall thinking, hey, this may be where Leo wrote War And Peace! and feeling so literarily elated... Also the summer palace of Peter The Great and that of the last Tsar Nicholas at Tsarkoye Selo to the south of the city. I had the guidebooks (written entirely in Russian but with beautiful photographs) of both and kept these for many years, but they have now disappeared - maybe somewhere in our garage, I must go and look. I still have the photos.

These exotic journeys, also my travels in Europe, the Pacific and Asia before it all turned into mass transport of mostly uninterested people to and from hotels and shopping malls and glitzy cafes and of course the endless trip to airports, took me to many different worlds. I remember them now and at times I wonder, gosh, what planet was I living on then? So much has changed, in all ways.
So much has changed about travelling, and it is interesting also in some cases what has not changed. This past summer I spent two months in France. One change I noticed is the change in the French speaking English- much more common now compared to when I was young.The tourist crowds were much larger than I remember, and some parts of the city appeared quite unsafe. While overall the French appeared more friendly, the rudeness and poor customer service can pop up just as frequently as in the past. Air travel with airports full of package tour travellers, plus due to Brexit having to stand longer in lines makes train travel a better option within France to be sure.
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Old Feb 9th 2023, 4:45 pm
  #182  
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Originally Posted by morpeth
So much has changed about travelling, and it is interesting also in some cases what has not changed. This past summer I spent two months in France. One change I noticed is the change in the French speaking English- much more common now compared to when I was young.The tourist crowds were much larger than I remember, and some parts of the city appeared quite unsafe. While overall the French appeared more friendly, the rudeness and poor customer service can pop up just as frequently as in the past. Air travel with airports full of package tour travellers, plus due to Brexit having to stand longer in lines makes train travel a better option within France to be sure.
French people can be very rude, and openly contemptuous of foreigners who don't speak French well enough. I've been the victim of that. What you must do is insist on speaking French to the rude one - badly, loudly, and at length. Keep at it until he or she runs away sobbing. Then turn to whoever is still around and ask gently (in French) if they speak English. You'll be surprised how many are willing to try.
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Old Feb 9th 2023, 7:26 pm
  #183  
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Originally Posted by Gordon Barlow
French people can be very rude, and openly contemptuous of foreigners who don't speak French well enough. I've been the victim of that. What you must do is insist on speaking French to the rude one - badly, loudly, and at length. Keep at it until he or she runs away sobbing. Then turn to whoever is still around and ask gently (in French) if they speak English. You'll be surprised how many are willing to try.
Interesting, but I wouldn't wast my time engaging in such antics. What I found this trip is when someone heard my accent they might respond in English, but generally my French better than their English- so when would happen I would answer in English but when they didn't understand I would switch back to French.

In a sense they can be polite if one follows their norms, yet the rudeness is a rather particular form. After having lived in America with the 'customer is always right' approach. most countries in Europe fail by that standard. The French I can actually understand their rudeness as certainly the cultural achievements and generally high level of education leads to a certain pride which unfortunately leads to arrogance. But the knowledge of English especially in those under 40 is much more widespread than before.In general while not approaching the Italians in friendliness, my general impression was of a much friendly place than years ago. Parts of Paris are now have declined and less safe- one area I wished to visit which years ago I wouldn't have given a second thought to I was told would be problematic after dark.

Years ago when they had conscription soldiers would travel on leave at night on trains- I remember the ticket prices were cheaper at the time, so I would end up on trains full of soldiers.

I can hold a conversation in French and read French well but my accent remains atrocious.
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Old Feb 13th 2023, 12:02 pm
  #184  
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It's hard to generalise about a nation of fifty million people, but by and large the French are a practical lot. Legal principles aren't set in stone; every once in a while they can be set aside in the interests of peace and goodwill.

Thirty-odd years ago in Martinique, a French Overseas Department in the Caribbean, I was due to represent the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce at some EU-Caribbean conference or other. On arrival, it was a shock to be refused entry because I didn't have a visa in my Australian passport. On earlier visits to France (Martinique is part of metropolitan France, constitutionally), no visa had been required. Unbeknownst to me, the rules had changed since then. Australia had for some reason (the Rainbow Warrior affair, perhaps?) begun requiring visas from French visitors, and France had retaliated.

Under the new rules, I had to be put back on the plane that brought me. But, well, this was an international conference at which France's prestige would be on the line... and I assuredly would have been granted a visa if I had applied... and the plane wasn't departing until the next morning... and... The young gendarme shrugged and smiled a trifle ruefully as he stamped me in and wished me a pleasant stay. That's the sort of thing that makes me love France and most things French.
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Old Feb 13th 2023, 5:25 pm
  #185  
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Originally Posted by Gordon Barlow
It's hard to generalise about a nation of fifty million people, but by and large the French are a practical lot. Legal principles aren't set in stone; every once in a while they can be set aside in the interests of peace and goodwill.

Thirty-odd years ago in Martinique, a French Overseas Department in the Caribbean, I was due to represent the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce at some EU-Caribbean conference or other. On arrival, it was a shock to be refused entry because I didn't have a visa in my Australian passport. On earlier visits to France (Martinique is part of metropolitan France, constitutionally), no visa had been required. Unbeknownst to me, the rules had changed since then. Australia had for some reason (the Rainbow Warrior affair, perhaps?) begun requiring visas from French visitors, and France had retaliated.

Under the new rules, I had to be put back on the plane that brought me. But, well, this was an international conference at which France's prestige would be on the line... and I assuredly would have been granted a visa if I had applied... and the plane wasn't departing until the next morning... and... The young gendarme shrugged and smiled a trifle ruefully as he stamped me in and wished me a pleasant stay. That's the sort of thing that makes me love France and most things French.
Actually, I love France as well for many reasons, yet at the same time on average they can be very rude especially if one doesn't act the way the French believe one should act. Actually with with their system of Civil Law vs Common Law ,I would phrase it differently ,i.e. legal principles and rules certainly abound, but at the same time s your example they can decided to by-pass such rules- and the Italians even better in that regard.

Travelling by train this summer, one thing that struck me was in the train stations how they are set out with so little signage, and personnel selling tickets are either clueless or simply do not want to spend time answering questions. However on the trains an opposite experience, very helpful.

Was of course annoying at airport due to Brexit had to wait much longer to pass immigration, yet still was a pleasure to be in France, My overalll impression French were more friendly than years past.
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Old Feb 18th 2023, 8:22 am
  #186  
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Here's another tale from back in the day, from France again.

International Driving Permits were valid for twelve months at that time (maybe they still are; I don't know), and I had bought mine before leaving Australia in 1963. When it expired, I was in the middle of France with Chris and Annika. Chris was one of the South Africans in my Earl's Court flat, and Annika was his Dutch girlfriend. We had been down to Andorra and Spain for a couple of weeks in my car, and would be back in London in a few days - if the gendarmes didn't catch me driving without a valid licence. Our wallets were all but empty, so we couldn't even pay a fine, if it came to that. We had had to go without breakfast to afford a new Permit. (Annika had lost her purse two days into the trip, and we scraped by without its contents; it had been a frugal vacation since then.)

As it transpired, the cost of a new Permit wasn't a problem. A polite-but-cold middle-aged bureaucrat in Grenoble explained that Permits could only be obtained in one's country of residence. No French office could give me one. I protested. “But madame! I am not in my country of residence. I am here!" [Basic schoolboy French, you understand. "[i]Je suis ici!"] Shrug. "Then you must go there”, she said. "How will we get there?" "Drive there." "But madame, it would not be legal for me to drive there without a Permit." It was like that Harry Belafonte song, "There's a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza..." She shrugged again, and turned away. I tried another angle: "Could I perhaps obtain a French domestic licence?" A snort, this time. Ah well. It was my turn to shrug. I made a careful note of her name and title. If the gendarmes stopped me and demanded a current Permit, I would tell them to phone her and she would explain the situation to them - n’est-ce pas?

It's hard to generalise about a nation of fifty million people, but by and large the French are a practical people. Legal principles aren't set in stone; sometimes they can be set aside in the interests of peace and goodwill. And convenience. My antagonist glared at me for a full fifteen seconds, shook her head in disgust, and typed the Permit.
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Old Feb 18th 2023, 11:23 am
  #187  
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Default Re: Back in the Day

I lived and worked in France for nine months in 1966. Marseilles was a wonderful place to be in - visits to Paris were frequent, we used to drive north across the country and through Belgium to Holland for long breaks from my undemanding job - I was a "rewrite man" for a news syndicate office with the main task of reading the country newspapers for interesting news stories which I would then research and rewrite in English and send by telex to the main office in New York. France was very advanced in employment times and conditions so I could work seven hour shifts (with always a lovely long lunch break at midday which we could extend to over one hour to indulge in yet more good wine, with the chief editor kindly looking the other way) nine days nonstop and then enjoy five days off to travel and explore the countryside.

Driving around France in a Citroen 2CV (Deux Chevaux) I had bought for CDN $500 took me to many isolated and interesting places in the south of the country. There were wineries everywhere, many would put on alfresco lunches for $1.00 with unlimited bread and butter and salad available "a volonte" from a sideboard in the dining room - also usually a one liter carafe of local wine available for the same price. Everyone drank and drove back then, and on those small back roads nobody drove very fast anyway, so even if I'd had one or two snootfuls too many and found I was weaving all over the road usually the worst I would encounter would be a cow or two cows which I would then carefully drive around.

The longer drives (to Amsterdam or even further, sometimes to Rotterdam or to Leiden where I had Canadian friends studying and would often visit) were more or a challenge. A 2CV had a top speed of just over 50 mph and the French police usually banned them from the freeways where IIRC the speed limit was a minimum of 100 mph (66 mph). The German police were notoriously diligent in stopping and removing me and my Citroen from the autobahns, I recall they raced around in Porsche squad cars which I thought was the height of Teutonic elegance.

Paris could be hard going. The Parisians were almost all arrogant to visitors and difficult to deal with, altho' the small hotels were usually hospitable to us and of course food was good and very cheap in the bistros where the locals mostly ate. Cafe au last and fresh croissants were my usual breakfasts. Often groups of school girls would stop at a bistro for a small pastis on their way to school, which I found amazing. There were small delis everywhere and we bought bread, cheese, cured meats and other delights for make-do lunches. Dinners were always planned in advance and enjoyed at one of the many small family-owned cafes then to be found in the outlying suburbs (I'm told they have largely disappeared now), very much the French equivalent of the family trattorias in Rome and other Italian cities.

My friends in Marseilles were mostly internationals with a few students as one of the conditions of my working in France at the time was I had to be doing some sort of "cultural" activity so I took a course in French art at one of the universities. I shared an attic apartment with a French friend and in our free time (when we weren't driving across Europe) we went out to explore the city and the docks. We lived on bouillabaisse which was available in all the cafes and the cheapest item on the menu (alas, it's now a gourmet no longer affordable to all except the very rich) and we hung out in the evenings in the dockside bars - are they still there now? I somehow doubt it as in those pre-container days the docks area was open to all, also most of the loading and unloading of ships was done by hand and there were always workers and locals everywhere. Drinks were good and cheap and we indulged. I was introduced to the French way of "nursing a drink" to make it last and I learned to enjoy sipping rather than glugging as all my North American friends did. Sailors in port were friendly and well funded and generous with "shouts" but we learned to be wary of them as they tended to party on and get blind drunk and then fight. Police were around but we behaved ourselves and they never bothered us.

After nine months my job contract expired (I recall I was employed to "fill in" for someone who was away, but I remember little else about my work situation) and I had time on my hands as my work visa was for one year. An exploration of Southern Europe seemed an ideal way to use up some of this free time. I had a girlfriend in La Rochelle (the difficulties of traveling by car to and from there from the southernmost part of France and I often went by train, which in 1966 offered new adventures all their own) who wanted to get serious with me and she asked to join me. She was annoyed when my French flat mate decided to take long leave and we all set off to explore the Mediterranean area of France in my 2CV. Micheline lasted exactly four days and decided a trio wasn't her preferred way to explore her country and develop our relationship, so she left. Which left us free to go on wandering to and fro at free will...

First we went east to Montpellier, intending to get into Spain and drive across that country to Portugal, but Spanish customs refused us entry into the country (I suspect they disliked the look of my Citroen) and we then drove west to Cannes, Nice, Monaco, Menton and on to Italy with our first stop in Genoa, some very long drives and tiring days but so much splendid scenery and many good experiences. We explored Italy from top to bottom. Sicily and Calabria were the very best places to be in those days. I made it as far as Sardinia with a short hop to Corsica as I was fascinated with islands and I wanted to explore all those in the Mediterranean, which of course we didn't do given the time restraints. Italy took up an entire month, at one point we had ambitious plans to cross to Malta and somehow go on to Tunis Tripoli in Tunisia, but this proved too difficult with the bureaucracy involved and even if we had travelled by ship I had nowhere to store the Citroen in Italy, so our plans had to be changed.

Late in my 11th month in France I went back to Marseille to make my final farewells to friends and revisit all my old haunts. Packing and paperwork (I had decided to ship the Citroen back to Canada, which I did after many difficulties and no end of problems at both ends) took up most of my last month in Europe. Eventually I had to leave and flew out to Paris and on to Montreal and all too soon I found myself back at my old news desk in New Brunswick at the start of a dismal Canadian winter.

The terrible climate in "the Maritimes" (as the Atlantic provinces of Canada were called then, and maybe still are) and my time away in Europe, seemed to infect me with an irresistible desire to explore the world, slowly and with ample time to visit out of the way places, get to know the locals and the culture, sample the food (and certainly the good wine) and generally learn all about new cultures. Once bitten by this "bug" , I haven't been shy of travel since.

Age educates but it also wearies us, and it often changes our perspectives about life and many other things. I did go back to France a few times since, but oddly not to Marseille. It was as if having lived and worked there, I had no desire to return as a tourist. This reluctance to revisit an old haunt has also stayed with me and I've done the same with Bangkok, where I lived and worked in 1975-6.

Sadly, I've never been back long enough in Italy to relive the many adventures I had there in that eventful (and fateful) year of 1966. I never did make it to Elba, and I probably never will...
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Old Feb 18th 2023, 7:34 pm
  #188  
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Default Re: Back in the Day

JD thank you for your post.

I used to have a girlfriend in Grenoble, while I was student in Switzerland- whether by train or hitchhiking I would visit Grenoble often ( in the 70s) , and your comments about eating in France at the time certainly bring back memories of those days when every penny counted. As far as Marseille, my impression is it is much rougher these days as are parts of Paris now.

It definitely was a movie 'culture' among students in those days- going to watch a 1 1/2 hour movie, then at the cafe afterwards discussions/arguments about the movie for more than the length of the movie itself.

Travelling around France I tended to catch night trains so I could sleep on the train to save money.Soldiers on leave would be booked also on night trains so always crowded. In summers always would meet other young people travelling by train, and friendships established quickly, and with an exchange of address , quickly one had places all over Europe where one knew someone.

Your comment about not going back struck a chord- there are some places where I have lived I have not returned to for somewhat similar reasons, but others I have.I have been back to Switzerland, but avoided the village I lived in for five years. Sicily an exception, I have throughout my life looked for time to re-visit. Remembering passport checks and having to change currency all the time, made me appreciate EU freedom of movement, and of course annoyed with Brexit. I did visit Sicily in 1969, was definitely still a poor place then. I generally prefer Sicily than Mainland Italy.

Later in the 90s the company I was with started a subsidiary in Paris, and the labour laws you refer to were something to behold- both the benefits, and the extremely complicated onerous requirements for employers.As I spoke French, I was put in as Gerant of the subsidiary- which meant every three months I got to spend 1 to 3 weeks in Paris for a few years.Yes the French could be caught up in arcane rules as well as rude on average but they could be equally so to their own.

Last edited by morpeth; Feb 18th 2023 at 7:40 pm.
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Old Feb 18th 2023, 9:03 pm
  #189  
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Morpeth, your old reminisces of France in "La Belle Époque" (as Iprefer to fondly remember the 1960s and 1970s) certainly echo mine. Having lived in cities in at least six different continents over the time of my long life, I've learned to avoid certain places where I know (or believe) things have to worse and not better. Bangkok is my ideal example. In 1975-6 it was smaller, less crowded, certainly more polluted but infinitely more charming than it is now. friends who live there say it's no longer a plan anyone would want to spend time in, a few days to see the usual temples and do a little shopping, yes, but for a deeper exploration, far nicer places abound in Thailand. Chiangmai is an ideal example. Nothing to write home about in the '70s, just your typical small city in Thailand where one could be hard put to find a decent coffee anywhere but in one or two big hotels, but now very much on the tourist track, and a popular New Age/retirement/life change Mecca for disaffected Westerners.

Throughout my life's travels I've now and then found myself in cities or towns by sheer coincidence (or as the Oxford dictionary says, "it was just happenstance that I happened to be there") and I had to make the best of it for a few hours or up to a day.

I realize I may be opening a worm-can here and risk of being branded as a travel snob, but most places I've visited in Australia and New Zealand over the years fall into the category of "nice for one visit, never ever again" - for me places like Brisbane, Cairns, Adelaide, even Perth are lovely cities in their own right, but going there as a tourist (I don't know anyone in those places so I haven't any local contacts) only to stay in an impersonal big-name hotel, hotel, dine in fancy cafes and restaurants, take guided tours and go shopping as tourists are expected to do and many do as they obviously enjoy it (I don't), depresses me andI would rather stay at home than indulge in all that.

Oddly after writing this, I'll confess that later today I will fly to that tourist mega-destination, een Bali, where my SO and I will be for a few days of stopover travel. A part of me enjoys the arts-cultural side of Bali but not the "tourist trap" mob attractions. As they say, to each his own, or to loosely paraphrase the French in an admittedly bad translation, to each his gout...

With Marseille I think it's more a case of my not having really made the time (or gone to the effort, which at my age is just as important) to return as much as anything else. I have wanted to, but I never got around to it. Marseille and the south of France was my first big 'escape' from home as a young not quite adult (I was a fairly naive and inexperienced young nipper of 19 in 1966). Other than some travel around Canada and the New England states (USA) to visit relatives with my parents and three weeks of budget travel with three school friends in the English provinces in 1965, I'd not really been anywhere entirely on my own or away from the surveillance of my family. So to me it was freedom and my first adventure as a young adult.

Travel in Europe in those long ago times was also far cheaper than it is now. I had CDN $1200 in saved money when I flew to Europe, I lived well in Marseille, I bought and ran a car (five years old and clapped out but Citroen 2CVs then seemed to run on rubber bands and prayers) and I did a lot of travel around Southern Europe and as far as Holland AND went home with more money saved than I had with me when I left Canada.

I used trains from Marseille to La Rochelle whenever I visited my "amour there" as these were in fact quicker to get around France than my 2CV. I have very little recall of those journeys but I seem to remember than I had to transit in Paris to a connecting rail service to La Rochelle (I could be wrong on this). It was all very adventurous and romantic for me then and I thrived on it. Alfresco packed lunches and paper cups of red wine sipped in secret when no conductor or train security guard was around, also long discussions and conversations with other travelers, new friends made and occasionally visited (now long lost to the passage of time), and now and then a stopover of a few hours to explore parts of the country I'd read about and wanted to see. Much of southern France is flat and in those days a bicycle could easily be rented for a day even in the villages. Food was always excellent and not at all expensive and new and interesting wines could be sampled in most grocery shops, indeed many owners seemed keen to ply me with good reds - I spoke passably good French and I showed great interest in the regional vintages. I never paid more than CDN $2 for any bottle I bought and often I would leave the shop having ingested more wine as samples than I had in my one purchased bottle.

In all it was a marvelous time I had a lot of fun and the first serious affair of my life, with a young French woman from La Rochelle. There was also a gorgeous Italian girl in Florence - but let's not go there, not today at any rate. Also a few others. I did stay in contact with several French friends for many years, two have now died and the other have moved on to other aspects of their lives as we do. The culture, the arts, the food and the exquisite wines I enjoyed have left me with a great appreciation of the good things in life. France also whetted my appetite for wandering around the world, which I did for almost ten years before settling in Australia and starting a career, which I managed to do quite successfully even while transveling in the Pacific and Southeast Asia from the mid-'70s and again in the late '80s and '90s when finally I had the money and more leisure time at my disposal.

I've been lucky and like the OP (yes, Gordon, I mean you!) I've had many chances in my life and a fair few opportunities to live differently from most of the people I've known. Here I'll note before I close all this, that I'm now writing and posting this thread from Surabaya in Indonesia, and in a few hours we will be in Nusa Dua in Bali - the wanderlust goes on. Long may it last.
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Old Feb 18th 2023, 10:26 pm
  #190  
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Default Re: Back in the Day

JD, I agree some cities now simply have gone so downhill- Indonesia a perfect example. Jakarta for a young person in the 1970s was great, now I can't imagine why anyone would visit or live there. At the time I spoke fluent Indonesian, Betawi, and some Javanese.Even in the roughest section of the city relatively safe for a foreigner, dirt cheap at the time. At the time there were few international hotels, and the few Discos the whole town 'that mattered' attended- children of military offices, businessmen, gang leaders, diplomatic corp, hangers on seeking financial favours, artists , etc. Perhaps (and subjective I admit) the best Disco in the world ( if you know anyone who lived in Jakarta prior to 1995, ask them about the Tanamur). I liked Indonesian Chinese food- and if my father gave me $20 on a Friday night, I would visit the three main discos, have a drink at the Casino, end up at Tanamur, have an early dinner, then satay from a street vendor - 100 for 1,000 rupiah at three in the morning- and still have money left over.. My favorite desert from street vendors was Es Kelapa Muda- totally dangerous as condensed milk was poured over it that had been sitting in the street vendors cart all day, and shaved ice from water form the canals. Tempeh very healthy to eat, and the fruit was inexpensive and plentiful. and Society was based on jam karet ('elastic time), hence the most laid back city I have ever been too.Now of course parts of Jakarta are sinking, and government has massive plan to re-locate government office away from Java. There is a series of videos on YouTube called ' How to Act Indonesian" - I find hilarious , but is very politically incorrect but if one realizes the person making the videos loves Indonesia, one can just enjoy.

We used to have family trip to Singapore every three months to stock up on daily items hardly available in Jakarta- and twice immigration officials made me get a haircut at the airport, otherwise I would not be allowed into Singapore.

I visited Bali many times, but even then the tourists were in my opinion destroying the place slowly- I wouldn't go back now, I would probably find too sad.

Manila at that time, and even into the 80's had more to offer than Jakarta - but now when I speak to people who have been there recently or live there, seems like a nightmare and most Expats seem to live far outside the city now.

I spent part of last summer in South of France, and probably will again this year. Like Sicily the charms remain. I have never visited Montpellier, but next year may send my daughter there to the university to study French for three months,.

I have only been in the train station at Marseille, and that was enough for me, but my train ticket form Paris on the TGV is to Marseille and I change trains there, so will be interesting.

Paris a lovely city, but my experience last summer was while I liked being in Paris the flood of tourists seems much more than in the past.And parts of the city aspects of the 'no go zones' one hears about in Belgium and Sweden. One cathedral I wished to visit ( I have some long ago ancestors buried there) I was told it would be unsafe be around that area - so much so it was recommended I have a car drop me off there, and then pick me up. I was rather astonished as when I was younger, I could walk anywhere in Paris.

I did visit this past summer Sainte Jean De Luz in south-western France along the border with Spain, which was much more cost-effective and pleasantly situated with some aspects reminding me of France of yesteryear. A different crowd than Nice or Cannes, and could walk everywhere with ease.

I hear you about visiting Australia- I lived in Perth a few years and very much enjoyed it and would think still a great place to live, but I always used to say Australia a great pace to live, but not so much to visit.

Now that I am older, visiting France, Italy , Switzerland, Croatia, parts of Britain, are more appealing than just travelling large distances simply for encountering new places. Each to his own. Getting drunk and sun-burned in Spain hardly to me seems like a holiday. London while expensive, and also over-crowded, still a great city but impossible to live in without a great deal of money, and not the friendliest place. Newcastle and Northumberland suits me fine And I find parts of Latin America much more appealing than Asia, though there may be places in Laos or Kashmir ( except of course the problems there) that may be nice to live in. Just too much noise and heat for me now !

But the late 60s, 70s, and parts of the 80s offered better travel experiences than today I think.

Last edited by morpeth; Feb 18th 2023 at 10:35 pm.
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Old Feb 19th 2023, 1:09 pm
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Yes, different cities mean different memories. Many memories!

France first (and maybe foremost in this post as I have so much affinity with that country). I have spent very little time in Paris. It was even in th 1960s, much too expensive for my limited budget, so I had to content myself with a few transits so I never did venture far from the central railway station (memory fails me and I no longer recall if this was the Gare du Nord or the Gare de Lyon), or passing through on my way to or from elsewhere. Driving in and out of the city center was too demanding even for a 20 year old. Other places had more allure and were much cheaper. La Rochelle (for my "romantic" reasons), Amsterdam, Brussels, a few cities on the France-German border. One trip to Switzerland which remains etched in my brain, the oddities of being there were so unusual. My French friend (from Marseille) hated it and with typical Gallic arrogance wrote it off with one comment, "all those big girls who yodel". Rude, maybe, but nothing like that of the late English artist Francis Bacon who, having been invited to make an official visit there in the '70s, brushed it off with "God, no! All those f-----g views."

I was never one to lie in the sun on a crowded beach and get drunk before dinner. For this reason even today Bali with its cashed-up bogan culture fails to attract. Exploring the countryside by car, visits to small cafes (and of course stops at all the wineries) were then and still are now, much more my thing. walking with a camera around my neck is still my favorite pastime, tho' with the passing years I've learned to be more careful where I go and how I'm seen and I don't do street photography with a Leica kit. (For those interested in camera gear, I had a Rolleiflex and Nikkormats for many years and now digital Nikons.) getting out and about to see how the locals live and what they do during the day, has always been my greatest interest. Even nowadays much of rural France looks (at least "en passant'"as the French say) looks to be much as it was a few decades ago, the villages are largely unchanged, the food markets are as they were, the delis are full of the good things they had back then, and the people look and dress much the same. The cars are different, also of course the prices, now in Euros and not Francs as I used in the '60s.

My French ancestors (on my mom's side) were Bretons and Normans, so for obvious reasons I visited several times and hung out in wayward places - Caen, Le Havre, Dieppe, Rouen et al, all eminently forgettable. The distant forebear who went to Canada in 1607 came from a village somewhat further north, near Bergs, a not-much-of-anything place few if any tourists have likely been to. One of my uncles was in France in the early 1930s and researched as much as he could about our descent. He found parish records dating to about 1535 when it seems one of the mob turned up from some unknown place now in Belgium, at that time part of the Empire. He returned in the 1950s to finish the job but found only a paddock with cows grazing - the church and records office was on a direct road to Dunkirk and was wiped off the map in the German invasion in May 1940.

Bretons and Normans can be a surly lot, but they know how to live well. Superb food, exotic cheeses, unique wines and ciders and of course the region's gift to the culinary world, Calvados. Nowhere in France does anyone with a little adventurous spirit have to eat badly, but in the north the cuisine is especially tempting. Growing up in eastern Canada meant we ate a lot of game, especially wild rabbit in winter, and Normandy excels in such dishes as well as seafood. My visits were mostly in short bursts, either on my way to or coming from the fleshpots of Amsterdam and Rotterdam where I liked to hang out in those heady days. Driving to Holland from the south of France would be impossible for me now, and even in 1966 was an ordeal in a Citroen 2CV, but I was young and had stamina to spare and after all there were all those nice wineries of roadside cafes to stop at for sustenance.

Indeed, my happiest memories of France include (among many) long alfresco lunches at small wineries found along the way by driving down country roads, platters of fresh locally produced food (ah, the pate) for CDN $1 with salad and bread "a volonte" and a carafe of the local wine for the same price. I was (usually) careful to not drink too much to affect my driving, but there were days when an hour's nap in my car or under a tree, on a travel blanket I always had with me (the 2CV's heating system was always "primitif" as the French said, but they usually had stronger and harsher words for those slow-moving road midgets) and the patronne in many a roadside cafe would make me one or even two strong coffees to wash away the alcohol. I no longer drink like that, but I do have the memories. All that "joie de vivre" in my early years...

In many ways Quebec in Canada (I grew up in Montreal and again lived there from 1967 until I moved to Toronto for career reasons in 1970) was much the same as la belle France, if with a more harsh climate. The Quebecois have retained their love of European culture and living to this day and at times I feel sad that I will probably not see Montreal or Quebec City again in my lifetime, tho' I'm aware that many things in those two lovely cities have changed. My family home on Greene Avenue in Westmount is now a parking lot and my first apartment in the city center was bulldozed for a building on the expanded McGill University campus, so yes, the city I knew in my teens and early 20s is not as it was. Nor am I for that matter...

Let's go again now to France. Of Paris I've few old memories. Like Morpeth I've returned a few times, but without the soft focus lens of great nostalgia to lighten my memories or the realities of being in that far from easy to do anything city. Parisians are disliked even by other French, who often say that the best time to be in Paris is in August, when most locals are away elsewhere on vacation.

I traveled as much as my work in Marseille allowed me, usually by car and also by rail through France, the Benelux countries (as Holland, Belgium and I recall Luxembourg were known then, maybe still are) and in Italy which in the '60s I thought was an earthly paradise. I loved Rome, but the cities and smaller places down south captured my heart and I've always wanted to return to Naples, explore Sicily and roam around Calabria in a small car. Exploring the country roads in the south still means adventure around every corner and as in everywhere else in Italy, the Calabrian food and wine are superb. The people are also friendly, hospitable and very welcoming to strangers, unlike in Rome where it seems everybody is far too busy being, well, Romans to bother with being attentive or even polite to visitors. Food and services there are superb, tho', of the usual high standard one finds throughout the country. Even today, five decades after my time there, when I've returned (our last visit was in 2019 just before Covid ransacked the travel industry and brought the entire globe to a screeching halt) I was happy to discover almost all things were as I remembered them from my first time. So little of this still remains in the 21st century world.

I second Morpeth's comment that Australia is wonderful to live in, but to visit as a tourist, well, eh. For one thing it's much, much too expensive now, and traveling out of the cities to anywhere worth seeing means you pay expensive airfares and fly as the distances between cities are so great. Even in the '80s I could go to Indonesia or Thailand for a month of happy wandering far more cheaply than a week's holiday in Cairns or Darwin.

Perth I've enjoyed, having been there about six times since the '70s, usually for up to six weeks on work assignments. as I've found, that time is long enough to enjoy what the city has to offer, and then it's good to leave. It has all the basics one would want in a retirement hidey-hole, but I always felt the isolation, which even in the '90s most locals happily ignored, some even saying that if the world went to war and Sydney and Melbourne were nuked it really wouldn't affect Perth all that badly... Exaggerated, yes, but it sums up what Sandgropers (do they still call West Australians that?) thought about the rest of Australia.

For all that, it's a lovely city, with superb beaches, an enviable laid back lifestyle and enough of interest in the state to keep wandering and happy for the rest of my life. After 30+ years in Melbourne, which has its limitations (overseas friends who live there describe it as "a city of small parishes linked by tram lines") to me is by far the best place to be (even if we do live in a "regional center" as small towns are called, some 50 kms out of the city) and I'm always happy to be there for a day, for a good lunch, some essential shopping, a visit to the Flinders Street Library to borrow good books and a superb coffee before I hop a late afternoon train (usually not at all crowded) to go home. Adelaide and Brisbane are also pleasant cities but I've never related well to them. Canberra to me is like Ottawa, good to visit for a day or two days but that's all. Darwin is too hot, even more so than Surabaya where I am now. Hobart I like but like Perth it's too far from everything for me, and the locals tend to live as if it was 1950. We did live three years out of Launceston as my SO had a management post there, and I enjoyed it, but after that time we were happy to sell up and move to western Victoria which will see me through for this avatar. Next time, well, whatever.

Yes, travel was so much more fun then. Of course we were younger. Air fares were far cheaper as measured in today's dollars, but when I recall my first year's pay as a cadet news reporter was CDN $35 a week and I had to hustle like a performing street monkey to earn extra money - I scripted complete 15 minute weekly radio shows on current events for CDN $20 per episode, did wedding photo work for CDN $50 and sold albums of 20 8x10" images for CDN $75, and did on-the-spot radio interviews for CDN $5 each, imagine!!) to earn my airfare to France and back to Canada. I also lived at home, ran a car, and had CDN $1000 saved when I flew to France for my first big escape. That was 57 years ago, and these coughing up AUD $800 to fly to Indonesia makes a small dent in my bank balance. So yes, times have changed. But we can still travel, and we have to make the most of it while we can. Times will change, and going by current predictions and global changes our freewheeling days of jetting around the world will eventually come to an end, so now's the time.

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Old Feb 19th 2023, 9:11 pm
  #192  
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Originally Posted by JDWoowoo50
Yes, different cities mean different memories. Many memories!

France first (and maybe foremost in this post as I have so much affinity with that country). I have spent very little time in Paris. It was even in th 1960s, much too expensive for my limited budget, so I had to content myself with a few transits so I never did venture far from the central railway station (memory fails me and I no longer recall if this was the Gare du Nord or the Gare de Lyon), or passing through on my way to or from elsewhere. Driving in and out of the city center was too demanding even for a 20 year old. Other places had more allure and were much cheaper. La Rochelle (for my "romantic" reasons), Amsterdam, Brussels, a few cities on the France-German border. One trip to Switzerland which remains etched in my brain, the oddities of being there were so unusual. My French friend (from Marseille) hated it and with typical Gallic arrogance wrote it off with one comment, "all those big girls who yodel". Rude, maybe, but nothing like that of the late English artist Francis Bacon who, having been invited to make an official visit there in the '70s, brushed it off with "God, no! All those f-----g views."

I was never one to lie in the sun on a crowded beach and get drunk before dinner. For this reason even today Bali with its cashed-up bogan culture fails to attract. Exploring the countryside by car, visits to small cafes (and of course stops at all the wineries) were then and still are now, much more my thing. walking with a camera around my neck is still my favorite pastime, tho' with the passing years I've learned to be more careful where I go and how I'm seen and I don't do street photography with a Leica kit. (For those interested in camera gear, I had a Rolleiflex and Nikkormats for many years and now digital Nikons.) getting out and about to see how the locals live and what they do during the day, has always been my greatest interest. Even nowadays much of rural France looks (at least "en passant'"as the French say) looks to be much as it was a few decades ago, the villages are largely unchanged, the food markets are as they were, the delis are full of the good things they had back then, and the people look and dress much the same. The cars are different, also of course the prices, now in Euros and not Francs as I used in the '60s.

My French ancestors (on my mom's side) were Bretons and Normans, so for obvious reasons I visited several times and hung out in wayward places - Caen, Le Havre, Dieppe, Rouen et al, all eminently forgettable. The distant forebear who went to Canada in 1607 came from a village somewhat further north, near Bergs, a not-much-of-anything place few if any tourists have likely been to. One of my uncles was in France in the early 1930s and researched as much as he could about our descent. He found parish records dating to about 1535 when it seems one of the mob turned up from some unknown place now in Belgium, at that time part of the Empire. He returned in the 1950s to finish the job but found only a paddock with cows grazing - the church and records office was on a direct road to Dunkirk and was wiped off the map in the German invasion in May 1940.

Bretons and Normans can be a surly lot, but they know how to live well. Superb food, exotic cheeses, unique wines and ciders and of course the region's gift to the culinary world, Calvados. Nowhere in France does anyone with a little adventurous spirit have to eat badly, but in the north the cuisine is especially tempting. Growing up in eastern Canada meant we ate a lot of game, especially wild rabbit in winter, and Normandy excels in such dishes as well as seafood. My visits were mostly in short bursts, either on my way to or coming from the fleshpots of Amsterdam and Rotterdam where I liked to hang out in those heady days. Driving to Holland from the south of France would be impossible for me now, and even in 1966 was an ordeal in a Citroen 2CV, but I was young and had stamina to spare and after all there were all those nice wineries of roadside cafes to stop at for sustenance.

Indeed, my happiest memories of France include (among many) long alfresco lunches at small wineries found along the way by driving down country roads, platters of fresh locally produced food (ah, the pate) for CDN $1 with salad and bread "a volonte" and a carafe of the local wine for the same price. I was (usually) careful to not drink too much to affect my driving, but there were days when an hour's nap in my car or under a tree, on a travel blanket I always had with me (the 2CV's heating system was always "primitif" as the French said, but they usually had stronger and harsher words for those slow-moving road midgets) and the patronne in many a roadside cafe would make me one or even two strong coffees to wash away the alcohol. I no longer drink like that, but I do have the memories. All that "joie de vivre" in my early years...

In many ways Quebec in Canada (I grew up in Montreal and again lived there from 1967 until I moved to Toronto for career reasons in 1970) was much the same as la belle France, if with a more harsh climate. The Quebecois have retained their love of European culture and living to this day and at times I feel sad that I will probably not see Montreal or Quebec City again in my lifetime, tho' I'm aware that many things in those two lovely cities have changed. My family home on Greene Avenue in Westmount is now a parking lot and my first apartment in the city center was bulldozed for a building on the expanded McGill University campus, so yes, the city I knew in my teens and early 20s is not as it was. Nor am I for that matter...

Let's go again now to France. Of Paris I've few old memories. Like Morpeth I've returned a few times, but without the soft focus lens of great nostalgia to lighten my memories or the realities of being in that far from easy to do anything city. Parisians are disliked even by other French, who often say that the best time to be in Paris is in August, when most locals are away elsewhere on vacation.

I traveled as much as my work in Marseille allowed me, usually by car and also by rail through France, the Benelux countries (as Holland, Belgium and I recall Luxembourg were known then, maybe still are) and in Italy which in the '60s I thought was an earthly paradise. I loved Rome, but the cities and smaller places down south captured my heart and I've always wanted to return to Naples, explore Sicily and roam around Calabria in a small car. Exploring the country roads in the south still means adventure around every corner and as in everywhere else in Italy, the Calabrian food and wine are superb. The people are also friendly, hospitable and very welcoming to strangers, unlike in Rome where it seems everybody is far too busy being, well, Romans to bother with being attentive or even polite to visitors. Food and services there are superb, tho', of the usual high standard one finds throughout the country. Even today, five decades after my time there, when I've returned (our last visit was in 2019 just before Covid ransacked the travel industry and brought the entire globe to a screeching halt) I was happy to discover almost all things were as I remembered them from my first time. So little of this still remains in the 21st century world.

I second Morpeth's comment that Australia is wonderful to live in, but to visit as a tourist, well, eh. For one thing it's much, much too expensive now, and traveling out of the cities to anywhere worth seeing means you pay expensive airfares and fly as the distances between cities are so great. Even in the '80s I could go to Indonesia or Thailand for a month of happy wandering far more cheaply than a week's holiday in Cairns or Darwin.

Perth I've enjoyed, having been there about six times since the '70s, usually for up to six weeks on work assignments. as I've found, that time is long enough to enjoy what the city has to offer, and then it's good to leave. It has all the basics one would want in a retirement hidey-hole, but I always felt the isolation, which even in the '90s most locals happily ignored, some even saying that if the world went to war and Sydney and Melbourne were nuked it really wouldn't affect Perth all that badly... Exaggerated, yes, but it sums up what Sandgropers (do they still call West Australians that?) thought about the rest of Australia.

For all that, it's a lovely city, with superb beaches, an enviable laid back lifestyle and enough of interest in the state to keep wandering and happy for the rest of my life. After 30+ years in Melbourne, which has its limitations (overseas friends who live there describe it as "a city of small parishes linked by tram lines") to me is by far the best place to be (even if we do live in a "regional center" as small towns are called, some 50 kms out of the city) and I'm always happy to be there for a day, for a good lunch, some essential shopping, a visit to the Flinders Street Library to borrow good books and a superb coffee before I hop a late afternoon train (usually not at all crowded) to go home. Adelaide and Brisbane are also pleasant cities but I've never related well to them. Canberra to me is like Ottawa, good to visit for a day or two days but that's all. Darwin is too hot, even more so than Surabaya where I am now. Hobart I like but like Perth it's too far from everything for me, and the locals tend to live as if it was 1950. We did live three years out of Launceston as my SO had a management post there, and I enjoyed it, but after that time we were happy to sell up and move to western Victoria which will see me through for this avatar. Next time, well, whatever.

Yes, travel was so much more fun then. Of course we were younger. Air fares were far cheaper as measured in today's dollars, but when I recall my first year's pay as a cadet news reporter was CDN $35 a week and I had to hustle like a performing street monkey to earn extra money - I scripted complete 15 minute weekly radio shows on current events for CDN $20 per episode, did wedding photo work for CDN $50 and sold albums of 20 8x10" images for CDN $75, and did on-the-spot radio interviews for CDN $5 each, imagine!!) to earn my airfare to France and back to Canada. I also lived at home, ran a car, and had CDN $1000 saved when I flew to France for my first big escape. That was 57 years ago, and these coughing up AUD $800 to fly to Indonesia makes a small dent in my bank balance. So yes, times have changed. But we can still travel, and we have to make the most of it while we can. Times will change, and going by current predictions and global changes our freewheeling days of jetting around the world will eventually come to an end, so now's the time.
Thanks for the comments.

As far as Switzerland, I lived there five years in the 70s, Wonderful views, extremely clean and well organized, and living in a village in the French section great place to study and be away form the world. Yes it is even today away from most world problems, and often we felt the whole country one big hotel, as the locals rarely mixed with foreigners, and in those days everything shut down very early every night. As I spoke passable French, whenever there was an altercation between the students and the locals) the local police or mayor would give me a call to translate of explain the situation.Usually it was when a Swiss local asked an Arab girl to dance the source of the problem, or how Arab students treated local girls, or students didn't pay attention to local formal or informal rules, It was well situated for travel, and we would find cheap ways to travel to Paris, London, Nice or Rome.I returned a few times to Geneva or Zurich on business over the years, but never back to the village. It was expensive then, now unbelievably so.

Paris I still like. Luckily before going to Switzerland, in Indonesia many of my friends went to the French school in Jakarta- so I have lots of places to stay when I visited France.I was in Paris last June, still some wonderful places, but sections are rapidly declining.I recently watched a French series on Netflix set primarily in Paris, scenes that would have been unimaginable 40 years ago. While hotels too expensive, I chose and Air B and B which worked out extremely well. The people seemed friendlier than the past.I also like the music scene in France, as there is much interest in world music compared to the UK or USA. Political correctness which I thought would never come to France, has reared its head- can be a minefield in conversation now.I agree there are still villages in France that can be charming, and like Italy more of a dedication to good food. The first thing I always do when arriving in France is rush to have a decent coffee as I prefer how they roast their coffee.

We also agree about Southern Italy, I much prefer over the north. The only northern city I liked is Ravenna. Sicily I found the best food, wonderful views and countryside, and at the right time of year ,the seaside. While not as outwardly friendly as the mainland Italians, certainly more serious and better friends after meeting initially. The heat in summer and crowds too much now. Though I have to say the Italian part of Croatia I find appealing, and is much safer, cleaner, and more affordable for a visitor. Daily life in Southern Italy has a certain charm lacking in many Northern European cities, after a brief while one gets to know everyone, so daily interactions more pleasant. The Sicilians know how to 'game the system'- youth unemployment high like all of Italy, yet young people now in Sicily have more disposable income than in the past , and it is not the poor area it was even into the 70s. Cefalu,

When I lived in Rome as a child we lived in between Rome and Ostia- and even at 11 years old I could go to the Luna Park in Rome , or the beach in Ostia, on my own or with friends with never the slightest worry by my parents. Going into Rome whether Luna Park , or even central Rome, then catching the bus back at night, never a worry- certainly not the situation now.

Between climate change, an ageing population, migration, and other factors, the France and Italy of our youth, or even the present, will most likely drastically change both for the worse in upcoming decades. I am a bit sceptical of much public discussion about climate change- but the heat now in Sicily, and affect on agriculture there is quite noticeable, as are the changes in the climate in Northumberland. Our memories certainly are affected by remembrance of youth, but objectively overall the travel and living experience has changed. I have some lifelong friends in Antwerp whom I visit annually, one has been between up twice in the past years by migrants shouting anti-Jewish epithets to him- he lives in a Jewish section, but is not Jewish- and he is in same area he has lived in his whole life; when I walk back to my hotel after dinner I am told by all to not walk back too late- something that was never the case in the same area when I was younger.
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Old Feb 24th 2023, 4:26 am
  #193  
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Originally Posted by morpeth
...When I lived in Rome as a child we lived in between Rome and Ostia- and even at 11 years old I could go to the Luna Park in Rome , or the beach in Ostia, on my own or with friends with never the slightest worry by my parents. Going into Rome whether Luna Park , or even central Rome, then catching the bus back at night, never a worry- certainly not the situation now....
Yes, those were the days, when children were safe - or at least a lot safer than they are believed to be today. Surely far too many middle-class children today are coddled - by parents, neighbourhoods, towns, provinces and nations. Toddlers whose parents leave them in cars for more than ten seconds run the risk of being abducted by social-services bureaucrats. Parents are publicly scolded for letting their kids find their own way home from schools and playgrounds. Indeed, for even letting them be at playgrounds without adult supervision. What's next? Certificates from City Hall for play-dates?

All parents know that at some stage children have to be capable of crossing streets without having their hands held. At some point car-drivers have to be trusted not to run them down, and ice-cream vendors not to rape them, and teachers not to turn comforting hugs into rabid molestation. Sooner or later - children have to be trusted to look after themselves. Society just hasn’t got the resources to look aftereverybody. Already, "society" is looking after far more people than it ought to be - far more babies, far more children, far more incompetent adults, far more old folk.

When Linda and I backpacked through the Middle East in our mid-20s. our mothers took comfort (well, some comfort...!) in the knowledge that we probably could look after ourselves. In later years, I asked my Mum if she ever worried about me back then. She said: well, naturally; but I knew I had done as much as I could have done to prepare you for the outside world. Linda's Mum probably felt the same.
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Old Feb 24th 2023, 5:27 am
  #194  
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Originally Posted by Gordon Barlow
Yes, those were the days, when children were safe - or at least a lot safer than they are believed to be today. Surely far too many middle-class children today are coddled - by parents, neighbourhoods, towns, provinces and nations. Toddlers whose parents leave them in cars for more than ten seconds run the risk of being abducted by social-services bureaucrats. Parents are publicly scolded for letting their kids find their own way home from schools and playgrounds. Indeed, for even letting them be at playgrounds without adult supervision. What's next? Certificates from City Hall for play-dates?

All parents know that at some stage children have to be capable of crossing streets without having their hands held. At some point car-drivers have to be trusted not to run them down, and ice-cream vendors not to rape them, and teachers not to turn comforting hugs into rabid molestation. Sooner or later - children have to be trusted to look after themselves. Society just hasn’t got the resources to look aftereverybody. Already, "society" is looking after far more people than it ought to be - far more babies, far more children, far more incompetent adults, far more old folk.

When Linda and I backpacked through the Middle East in our mid-20s. our mothers took comfort (well, some comfort...!) in the knowledge that we probably could look after ourselves. In later years, I asked my Mum if she ever worried about me back then. She said: well, naturally; but I knew I had done as much as I could have done to prepare you for the outside world. Linda's Mum probably felt the same.
Gordon, a relatively recent book relating to this issue is "The Coddling of the American Mind - How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting up a Generation For Failure."

When I remember my youth, and compare it to today, it is quite something how much free we were- and how we were expected to deal with things ourselves. Partly due to changes in culture and society, but also in circumstances have created a much different world.As I said Rome today is much different today, like Paris, with areas that simply more dangerous and less safe, and middle-class children being so coddled, they are less able to cope- and also less able to cope with adversities in life.
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Old Feb 26th 2023, 5:56 am
  #195  
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Default Re: Back in the Day

Originally Posted by morpeth
... Between climate change, an ageing population, migration, and other factors, the France and Italy of our youth, or even the present, will most likely drastically change both for the worse in upcoming decades. I am a bit sceptical of much public discussion about climate change- but the heat now in Sicily, and affect on agriculture there is quite noticeable, as are the changes in the climate in Northumberland. Our memories certainly are affected by remembrance of youth, but objectively overall the travel and living experience has changed. I have some lifelong friends in Antwerp whom I visit annually, one has been between up twice in the past years by migrants shouting anti-Jewish epithets to him- he lives in a Jewish section, but is not Jewish- and he is in same area he has lived in his whole life; when I walk back to my hotel after dinner I am told by all to not walk back too late- something that was never the case in the same area when I was younger.
It's the same all around the world, of course. We came to Cayman in 1978, when the population was 12,000 or something like that. Now it's 70-80,000 - which doesn't sound much, except when you look at the percentage increase! And the price of everything has gone through the roof, as you can imagine. A large percentage of our expat population today is Filipino, and there were none back in '78. (It's a wonderful boon having them here, by the way. Their presence keeps the standard of service high.)

So many new buildings, and changes of occupancy! We now have two "towns", where we used to have just the one. The roads are hard put to carry all the cars... These days, government puts a special import duty on second-hand cars, to try to keep the numbers down. Some day soon, they'll probably tax my old Toyota Windom (1997 vintage) off the road. Sigh... What can you do?
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