Monday, July 11, 2011

Letter - David's Mother - France/Spain - 4.1.1969

23, Cours Barbey, Bordeaux. France - Samdi 4 Janvier 1969

Chere Maman,

     We are hurtling south, through France, staying in Youth Hostels so far, which is the only cheap thing in France.  A franc is about 1/9, and buys about 2 pints of fuel, or a loaf of long thin bread, etc.  But the people are quite outstandingly well-dressed in the towns, the shops are absolute palaces of charm and good taste.  The confectionery is beautifully packed the delicatessens (charcuteries) are mouthwatering spectacles of prepared meats, sausages, hams, cheeses, etc.

     We've had a lot of driving, 175 miles yesterday, 207 today, and we enter Spain tomorrow, when the strain on the budget will ease.  So far we've eaten off our U.K. tinned food store, except for lunch, of bread and cheese, sardines, etc.  But in Spain we expect to eat out lavishly and cheaply and stay in 'Pensiones', (guest houses)  instead of segregated Youth Hostels.

     The taxi attracts astonished stares and much comment wherever we go:  an Australian saw us in a street in Bordeaux this evening: hailed us and turned out to be a Singer, resident in Paris 15 years and married to a French women.  We met two Kiwis at the Tours Hostel last night, so we haven't been entirely on a French speaking diet.

     We entered the 'Vignoble Bordeaux' this afternoon, the road was lined with 'free tasting' stands, selling wines.  I spent 4 fr. on a bottle of Bordeaux red, which tasted fine.

16 Calle del Alfonso XV, Burgos, Spain.  Monday 6th January 1969

     Progressed from Bordeaux to San Sebastian to Burgos, in Castile.  We found the Youth Hostel in San Sebastian after an hour of hunting, enquiring etc.  then went into town about 4pm.  It was D.E.A.D., and very dusty, and incidentally has trolley-buses, old British ones, R.H.D., in incredible states of disrepair.  Then, about 6pm, people began to pour into town, for what we saw to be a massive procession, not for any particular reason, but the crowds packed the streets, yelled and cheered, traffic came to a standstill.  We found a restaurant which was fabulous, beautiful linen cloths and napkins, a wooden wine jug, bound in copper, with a copper pourer, a dark mysterious Spanish waitress and magnificent Spanish food uuummmmm.  All for 150 pesetas each (70 pesetas = $US.1)  But today we had a 3 course lunch, including wine and bread for 65 pesetas, in an ordinary (fairly dingy) town cafe.  The food was delicious though, even so I find it value if only for the beautiful wine.

     Tonight we have a 'Pensione', guest house room, at 100 pesetas (no hot water) still not bad, a room at 6/- each.  Fuel is the cheapest in Western Europe, about 3/6 a gallon.

     So with the news that France and Spain are fabulous, I'll send this off.
               Much love to you and Dad & A.G. & Doodie, Dave and Pen.

P.S.  We've had with us all day a young, 27 year old, Malaysian boy called Bonny, who is sharing fuel costs until Madrid, between us we can scratch ourselves in French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Malay and English.  We used all of the first three to obtain rooms tonight.  My Spanish, begun yesterday, extends okay most places, but not to haggling over rooms and prices, so we did it in German through a Spanish chap in the place.  Such hilarity.  Now to dinner.  Love D xx

Below is 23, Cours Barbey, Bordeaux, looks as though a new Youth Hostel has replaced the one we stayed in.

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