Sunday, February 3, 2008

My Europe tour in the 70's

I had the good fortune of getting a Belgium government scholarship to do my post-graduate studies at the University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium, in the 70's. I was married then with a child. My family accompanied me for the whole duration of my studies. The Belgium government and the University were generous. Not only was my fees paid for, I was given ample allowance plus married students accommodation at a married students apartment plus meal vouchers to eat for free at the nearby University canteen. I enjoyed the food there.

Not only that, I was able to take my family on tour to various European cities, including London and Rome.

Tour to London

For the tour to London, we went to Ostend on the Belgium coast, took the Hovercraft over the English Channel to Dover, then a train ride to London. There was no such thing as Internet then, so I had to waste precious tourist time hunting for accommodation upon arrival. Had Internet been invented before then, I would probably have used an online accommodation booking site like Easy to Book London Hotels. I was a student then traveling on a budget, so had to stay at budget Bed and Breakfast accommodation then. Had I the funds, I might have stayed in luxury 5 star hotels like Connaught Hotel London located in the fashionable Mayfair district with many antique shops, churches and public garden. On the other hand, I wondered if I would really have as I hate waste and even if I am a millionaire, my not pay top dollars for such luxury which will be seldom used as most of the time, I probably be out visiting places of interest instead.

Tour of Rome

I and my family visited Rome with a stop-over at Switzerland. If I remembered correctly, we traveled on a train using the Eurorail pass and stayed at what they called pension. Can't remember exactly what that means except probably cheap. I can also recall the time wasted hunting for suitable accommodation upon arrival then. If I ever get to visit Rome again, I will probably use Easy to Book Rome Hotels to book my accommodation online.

What else do I remember of our Rome tour. The most vivid memories are those of food - Italian food. I remember eating at the roadside, watching my meal come out direct from the oven. I remembered calzone, the fold-over pizza that looks like a giant version of my country's bit size curry puffs. I remember the delicious lasagne, alternate layers of white pastry and fillings baked in the oven. The white pastry looks pretty much like our "chee cheong fun". Other places I remember visiting are the catacombs, the run-down Colloseum, Pantheon, the Roman Forum, the Trevi fountain. Don't think I threw any coins into the Trevi fountain though, so if the legend that says you will return to Rome if you throw a coin into the Trevi fountain is true, then the chances of me returning to Rome is not too good. We didn't miss the Vatican City, but that is supposed to be another country, not a part of Rome although it is situated right in the middle of Rome.