Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wordful Wednesday - Memorable Family Vacations

When I look back at all the different Vacations my family has been on I feel pretty blessed to have been able to travel as much as I have. When most of my siblings and I were young our vacations were close to home and we drove everywhere. When I was in High School that changed a bit. My Dad started winning trips to some very cool places. My Dad was a car dealer by trade and Dodge or Chrysler, in their hey day, would send some of their dealers on trips. My Dad often opted for the family trips which made us all happy because before this he had won a few and just my parents would go.

The first of these family trips, paid for by Chrysler or Dodge, was to London. When Dodge was paying we stayed at some of the nicest hotels, went on lots of tours and ate at fancy restaurants that normally my family wouldn't even think about. I remember on this particular trip that because we had more than the normal 4 people, we got a suite in the hotel rather than just a room. We each had our own bedroom and bathroom, there was a kitchen, a sitting room and even a dinning room that sat 10. That suite was bigger than my house is now. Our Hotel was right off of Hyde Park. One of the nights, while we were in London, Pavarotti give a concert in Hyde Park. I believe Charles and Diana attended that concert. My Mom attended also, from the window of our Hotel suite. The rest of us went and had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe and went to see a show, Starlight Express, if I remember right. Or was it Les Miserables which we also went to see that week. On this trip we saw most of the normal tourist places you would go to in and around London. I was still young and didn't totally know all of what we were seeing but enjoyed the whole trip.
Here is my sister at Stonehenge. For some reason I don't have any pictures of me from this trip. I took a number but most of them are of the scenery and not of people.

A few years later my Dad won another Family trip through Dodge, this time to Paris. This time all my siblings went, not just the ones "still at home". Again we stayed at a very nice hotel and ate at fancy places. I remember that we walked and walked through Paris and went to museum after museum. I loved seeing real Van Goghs in the Muse de Orsay and bought myself a poster in the gift shop of one of them. That poster, when I got home, was framed and now still hangs on my wall. My sister bought a poster of the Mona Lisa after seeing it at the Louvre. I don't know what she did with it but I don't remember seeing it much after we got back.

We stayed an extra week past the vacation that Dodge paid for. We rented cars and drove through the Loire Valley visiting a number of the Chateaus scattered along the french countryside. My favorites were


Normandy and the beaches along the coast were another stop on our tour. Having seen The Longest Day so many times I recognized some of the locations around there and knew about the historical significance of this place. Many of the other places we had visited I didn't know the history that well and spent a lot of my time looking at the beautiful decorations and lavish rooms. During this 2nd week in France we stayed at many different hotels along the way and got a much more real look at French life than we did the first week in our fancier hotel Paris. My favorite meal in France was the simple ham and cheese stuffed in a baguette. I made the mistake and just pointing to something on the menu at one restaurant and hoping it would be good. My brother ended up eating the tripe that I had ordered. How he could do that? I still don't know!

My Dad was able to win these Dodge Trips every few years and the next one was to Italy. First a few days spent up in the Dolomites and then a few days in Venice.
The Alps were so beautiful. We really enjoyed hiking a bit and looking for Edelweiss. We couldn't stop thinking we were in "Sound of Music land". My sister and I tried to go on a bike ride which was so much harder to do at that altitude than it usually is down lower. This felt more like we were Austria than in Italy. The people spoke German and the food wasn't Italian either.
It was a totally different story when we left the Alps and headed to Venice.
Here I am riding a water taxi up the Grand Canal.

Venice was what I was expecting. By this time I had had a few years of college where I took some art history and Design classes and could appreciate the architecture more than I would have just a few years earlier. We enjoyed just walking around and through the city. We got to take a gondola ride and eat some more authentic Italian food. When we ordered Pepperoni pizza we got a pizza with just peppers on it. Mysteriously it still tasted like pepperoni pizza.

Again we took an extra week beyond what Dodge was paying for so we could see a bit more of Italy. We drove out of Venice and visited Tuscany. We somehow made it through the crazy streets of Florence without hitting any vespas. And got to see many of the great works of art housed in the museums there. We stayed at the little pension in Siena and had a wonderful relaxing day walking the streets there. Driving through this city was not fun. I don't really ever want to try to drive in Europe again. We visited a number of the small cities in northern Italy before returning to Venice to fly home.

This was the last of the family trips we went on with Dodge. My dad did win other trips that were for two people and would either take my mom or give the trip to one of us to take with our spouse. Dodge and Chrysler were very good to our family. We got to see a lot more of the world than we would have otherwise.

Over the last month or two Chrysler hasn't been as good to our family. My Dad's small business that he has been running since before I was born was one of the dealerships to loose their franchise. Chrysler isn't looked on too favorably, by my family, at the moment. But I have to say.... I loved the trips that we were able to take during the good years.


Chocolate on my Cranium said...

Wow! How lucky were you to go on so many wonderful trips with your family?! That last picture of you looks like a grown up Sophie, especially now that she got her hair-cut.

Bibliophile said...

Those were certainly great trips! Thanks for the recalled memories.

You're right--I am not feeling happy about Chrysler at the moment, even though we used to have some good things come of our association with them. I am more angry, though, at the governments, past and present, whose greed for power, wealth and influence sent our economy into a crash and made us lose a business that opened in 1910.

the lazy reader said...

How exciting and what great opportunities for your family.

Angela said...

Lucky Lady! This is going to be a great entry to have on file for the family history. You have me yearning for the Loire Valley now- it is so beautiful, I am writing down your favorites!

I hope all goes well in the car dealership world- since so many jobs depend on it! But yeah for Dodge and your lucky trips!