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Vacation Memories : Diaries Bring Back Family Trip Highlights, Lows

Vacation Memories. This is one of a continuing series on Memorable Vacations that appears from time to time in the Travel Section.

September 29, 1985|JACK GOULDING | Goulding is a retired Times news editor.

A dozen years have passed since our first trip to Europe, and much of it might have been forgotten had it not been for the diaries kept by us and our two children.

Much of the contents of these journals might be described as travel trivia. And I suppose it was.

But it was the kind of stuff that clings to the memory bank and conjures up other memories that lead to still others. The things we recorded are for the most part the things we love to remember, even after 12 years.

We still chuckle when someone happens to mention the morning we left LAX aboard Air France when we were served cold liver pate for breakfast. For the children it was a taste thrill they will never forget. I know they've never been back for seconds.

It is no substitute for the Breakfast of Champions.

There was the thrill of anticipation when the stewardess moved down the aisle drawing the blinds in the cabin windows, telling the children there was going to be a movie.

But what they weren't told was that it would be a French movie. And the subtitles moved too fast for the children to read them all.

On our way we talked about journals that each of us would be expected to keep up to date. The children kept their diaries as part of a homework assignment away from school.

Generally this worked well, but there were some evenings when a little persuasion was necessary. Our 12-year-old diaries have helped recall a multitude of little things faithfully scribbled by the light of 25-watt bulbs in our notebooks each night in the hotels, pensions and zimmers.

Thanks to these notebooks we recall things like the bright Saturday afternoon shortly after we arrived in Paris and picnicked in the beautiful Tuileries gardens.

International Smile

An older couple strolling by watched us for a few minutes before they paused and smiled. The gentleman doffed his hat, wished us "Bon appetit" and moved on. It made us feel very French. But we spoke only English and made do with a friendly smile for what we lacked in words.

We were in Ireland on All Saints' Day that year of 1973 and attended Mass in a country church in Newcastle West near Limerick. As we left the church, we saw a sign on a shop down the block that identified it as Goulding's Record Shop.

Inside I introduced myself by name, but must admit that the young man behind the counter didn't seem particularly impressed that some of the Gouldings had made it to California.

Driving through Ireland we saw numerous signs, posters and billboards that would indicate that somewhere in the Emerald Isle is a Goulding who is the Bandini of the Ould Sod.

Another notation in one of the diaries recalls an evening in Senj, a tiny Yugoslav village on the Adriatic. While we were waiting for dinner the town band, all clad in shiny blue serge suits, gathered in the square and serenaded townspeople and tourists for more than an hour.

Night at the Nussbaum

And then there was that bit of travel trivia involving the Nussbaum Hotel in Bad Godesberg on the Rhine, which we deemed worthy of note in our journal.

After a good German dinner and hot baths, we brought our diaries up to date and piled into bed. But it wasn't until we put out the bed lamps that we saw the sight that we almost missed and that our journals help us to recall.

A spotlight was positioned about 100 yards from our window, casting an eerie glow on the ghostly ruins of a Rhine River castle. A German flag, rigid in the night wind, flew from the battlements above the darkly flowing Rhine. That night at the Nussbaum made our day on the Rhine.

In Paris we stayed in a couple of quaint hotels, one of which offered a splendid view of the city from a garret-like window and bore the un-Gallic name of Hotel Taylor. It was a short distance from the Place de la Republique.

Rue Taylor, our diaries tell us, was a neighborhood street of small shops--bakery, butcher, fruit and wine, ready to furnish travelers like ourselves whatever it was we might need for travels across France to Switzerland and Italy, where other such streets waited to serve us.

'Chestnut Stabbers'

When we returned to the Rue Taylor area after a day or night of sightseeing, another treat awaited us. Parked along the curb were pushcarts lighted by oil lanterns where "chestnut stabbers" huddled beside the fires that did double duty by warming their old bones while roasting their wares.

It is all in our diaries--the sidewalk cafes, the restaurants filled with students from the nearby university, the sights we had dreamed of for years. Now it is in our journals to recall and savor at our convenience.

The diaries also make note of a 35-mile train trip we took from Paris to Fontainebleau, a place that overwhelmed us with its beauty and history. We managed to soak up a good portion of it and tuck it away in the notebooks for reference.

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