Friday, September 20, 2013

Exploring the Old World

As Alice Miner and her friends neared the European continent their comfort and excitement grew. Soon they would be off the Laurentic and exploring ancient cities through the assistance of skilled guides. The temperatures also were warming and everyone was feeling well and happy, including Jessica Johnson, who had experienced so much sea sickness on the trip across the Atlantic.

Alice writes, "Mar 18th
It rained and was quite cool. Wrote letters and sent postal cards. Met an interesting lady who told us about Paris & London. Jessie is feeling fine & we are having lots of fun. Had loquats for dinner. They grow at Madeira Island. Went to bed early. There was a fancy dress party and some of the costumes were fine. (can't read words) dressed as children, their costumes made out of newspapers won first prize. Slept well"


Alice does not seem to have brought along a camera on her trip abroad in 1929. In order to remember the places visited she purchased postal cards and assiduously wrote the dates on the backs of each city or site she visited.

"Mar 19th
We awakened to find ourselves nearing Gibraltar. Had an early breakfast. Bought extra tickets to go over by tender to Algeciras, Spain - where we spent the morning and had lunch at the Reina Christina. Did not like the Spanish cooking. Met ... West's friends. The streets were made of cobble stones & there was poverty everywhere. Went over to Gibraltar & took auto to galleries where we climbed 500 feet to see the view. It was wonderful. Saw public gardens. Shopped. Bought kimona & perfume. Returned to ship tired and slept like a top."


"Mar 20th
The morning was lovely & the Mediterranean looked very blue. I wrote letters for an hour. Walked on deck with Jessie. Afternoon rested in deck chairs. In the Eve had a game of bridge & at 9 o'clock went down to listen to Mr. Spellman give a splendid lecture on the interesting cities we were to visit. We are all keen over the prospect of seeing Algiers in the morning. Slept fairly well."


Hotel St. George, Algiers

"Mar 21st
Awakened to find ourselves entering the harbour of Algiers. The city is very oriental in appearance. The city is built on a hill site & the buildings are white with red tiled roofs. Dirt predominates. I saw Arabs, Bedouins & Jews & French all huddled together. The poorer section has very narrow streets & they are very steep. The poor are lying in the streets. We visited a weaving establishment, saw little girls 5 yrs old at work. Had dinner at the St. George Hotel, very fine. Beautiful gardens. Had special guide for the day, the weather was pleasant. Bought nothing, everybody well.

Mar 22nd
Had lovely quiet day on shipboard. The Mediterranean Sea was shafire (sic) blue & very beautiful. The sunset was magnificent and at night there was a full moon. Have met some charming people on board. Many are on a long cruise to Egypt & the Holy Land."


Monte Carlo

"Mar 23rd
Monaco & Monte Carlo
It was a beautiful day. We landed on Monaco by tender where autos were on hand to take us on the Corniche Dr. A most beautiful roadway built by Napoleon - Fruit trees were in bloom & the view was very wonderful. We drove to Nice where we had luncheon at the Majestic Hotel. Very fine. Mrs. Silver unexpectedly met a friend (Miss Murray) on the street. We returned to Monte Carlo & visited the Casino where we tried our luck & lost. We all had a lovely day.

Mar 24th
On board the Laurentic
A lovely bright warm day and so calm. Passed Elba Island, Monte Cristo & Corsica.
Attended Episcopal service in Lounge Room. Captain French & Mr. Parton read the service & orchestra did the music. Lounged in the aft. Packed our bags & had a great time settling our tips. For a time thought I had lost some Am. Ex. checks. It was only a scare. Talked with Mrs. Curtis of St. Louis, Mrs. Tucker of Witchaws (hard to read) & Mrs. Treadwell of Chicago. They are all continuing the cruise to the H. Land."


"Mar 25th
Arrived at 7am. Left ship at 9 o'clock. Am. Ex. man took charge of baggage & soon we arrived at Hotel Vesuve. Had large spacious rooms over looking the quay. First walked to Am. Ex. office . No letter no cable. Returned via the park & visited the Aquarium & saw octopus & every kind of sea life. Was amused watching children & nurse maids. Had luncheon at Hotel & shopped. Called on Mr. Sapio. Bought tortoise shell vanity box. Had lots of fun on the street with natives. Came back to hotel for dinner."




"Mar 26th
Left at 9AM in auto with private guide Mr. Gallo. He was patient, attentive & kind. Drove through the valley & up the mountains 3,000 feet to Revello (sic) for lunch at Carrisos Hotel. Met travellers from the Laurentic. Had clear day and saw the Mediterranean in all its beauty. Drove in sight of it all aft. visiting Amalfi & arrived at Sorrento at 3:30. Visited some shops & bought dress for Nancy. When at Revello we went into the old church & saw the wonderful mosaic pulpit. Arrived at Hotel Vesuve in time for dinner. Saw Judge Clark & where we had lunch the manager recognized me having seen me at the Waldorf. He was in the Palm Room for years."

We'll leave Alice and her friends in Sorrento... next stop Pompeii!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

On The Laurentic

Alice and her fellow travelers spent four days on the Laurentic before finally arriving in Madeira on March 17th. They passed their days writing letters and playing cards, taking walks on deck and visiting with others on the ship. When they arrived in Madeira the day-trip was canceled because the seas were too rough for boats to go ashore. 

Alice T. Miner, Sylvia Silver, Laura Haynes, Jessica Johnson
and the guide who showed them around Rome, Achille Renzi

Alice writes, "Mar 12th   Wrote letters. It is still very cold with flurries of snow in the air. The sea is a bit rougher but Sylvia (Mrs. Silver) & I enjoyed a brisk walk on deck. Met Mrs. Ernest Wheeler & daughter. They recognized me. Mr. & Mrs. Treadwell are on board, friends of Dr. Hopkins. They are very pleasant. Mrs. Johnson (Jessica) in stateroom all day. Mrs. H, Mrs. S, & I have not known a sick minute. The sea was rough during the night."

S.S. Laurentic postcard

"Mar 13th   Slept well. Awakened to find it 12 degrees warmer - temp 51 degrees. The morning was spent writing letters & sitting out on deck. All are feeling in fine spirits. Had afternoon tea & came in & dressed for dinner. Mrs. Tucker asked us to join in the card game. I accepted the invitation & enjoyed the game. Retired at 11PM. It is getting warmer.

Menu from the Laurentic sister-ship the S.S. Megantic

Mar 14th   The sea was very rough. Mrs. S, Mrs. H and I never had a qualm. It was hard to navigate but the Sea was grand & we enjoyed the experience. Mrs. Johnson is keeping quiet. Went to bed early and slept splendidly. A French singer in stateroom nearby is demented & often burst out singing. She was taken to the hospital."

First class passengers like Alice Miner and friends were treated to great luxury on the White Star Line ships. The White Star Line worked hard to overcome the tragedies of the Titanic and the sinking of two from the fleet during WWI (including the first ship named Laurentic, built in 1908). The Laurentic, built in 1927, was their first ship of distinction in the re-born fleet, signaling a modernization of the White Star Line ships. She sported the new spoon-shaped stern which would later be seen on the Queens and other famous vessels. The Laurentic weighed in at 18,724 tons, sported two funnels, two masts, three screws and could travel at a speed of up to 16 knots. There were accommodations for 594 cabin class, 406 tourist class and 500 third class passengers.

Alice writes, "15th   Had bath at 7A.M. every morning. Wrote letters. Sat in deck chairs in company with Jessica (Jessie), Laura & Sylvia. Played bridge with Mrs. Hester, Mrs. Tucker & Miss - Had poor score. Retired early, slept well.

Mar 16th   The sea was calm. Wrote letters all morning. Mailed 23 letters. Jessie feeling fine & is preparing for tomorrows outing at Madeira. We are the first to go ashore. Leave our ship at 9A.M. To bed early.

Postcard of Madeira

Mar 17th   Madeira   Got up early. Breakfasted at 7 o'clock. Expected to land on the Island at 9. The approach is lovely. Houses of many colors dotted the mountain sides. The sea was too rough to land. We spent the day on the deck watching natives who came over in small boats. Young boys dived for money. Flower and linen vendors came on board. Had lots of fun. Bought Madeira square for table doilies, etc. It was all very strange but wonderful. Did not sleep so well.

Postcard of Madeira

Perhaps the excitement was too much for Alice... it must have been rather circus-like to have so many visitors from the island after their quiet days on ship. This is just the beginning of the European experiences. I'll be back with more soon!