Women Who Travel Podcast: One Listener Stumbles Across Kodak Slides From Her Mother’s Long-Ago Euro Trip

LA: Oh my god, my grandparents had a Morris Minor.

Margaret: Oh, wow. Was it chocolate brown?

LA: No, it was blue. It was blue. [laughs]

Margaret: Oh, blue, blue. [laughs] Huh, and I heard that she met Picasso. I loved art, so that- 

LA: What?

Margaret: … fascinated me, but it was always with some disdain, and, “Oh, he just talked about fascism. Like, she just wouldn’t give him-

LA: And so this would have been-

Margaret: … the time of day.

LA: … 1951. Clearly, she, okay, so she went to the Norwegian border, and she- 

Margaret: Yes.

LA: … met Picasso, I imagine-

Margaret: South of France.

LA: … in the South of France.

Margaret: Yes.

LA: So was she all over Europe?

Margaret: Yes. They started in Le Havre, that’s where she got off the boat, and then worked their way down to Paris, and then Paris, south through the Pyrenees, through some of Spain. Uh, and then, south through Madrid, Jerez. In Jerez, she met Sherry Magnets, who drove them off the side of the road, and then, this is the part, as a kid, I could never figure out, then, she said, “Oh, then, we all met in the next town, and had drinks, and tasted all their sherries,” and then, they met further on in Cádiz, and she went out, then, and had flamenco with them. I think she was the only, oh, they were the only women in the place, and men were dancing on the tables, and they went to Gibraltar. She talked her way in and out of Gibraltar, ’cause she didn’t really have the right papers. Then, south of southern Spain, though, east coast of Spain, south of France, all over Italy, Switzerland, Germany, the Scandinavian countries, and then over to Scotland. To the north of Scotland, she went to John o’ Groats, which is as far north as she went, Isle of Skye, and then United Kingdom, and finally, she took the boat home.

LA: God, what a trip, and what a time to be doing it, I mean-

Margaret: Yes.

LA: … Europe in 1951.

Margaret: There weren’t paved roads, and they, it was often dirt roads that she was on. I’m sure the map, I don’t even know how they figured out where to go, because they was no cell phones, no GPS, only a paper map, and asking people where to go, and maybe some street signs, you know, here and there.

LA: I mean, your mom sounds so adventurous, and so intrepid.

Margaret: [laughs]

LA: Was that the woman that you knew, growing up?

Margaret: I can’t say that I looked at her in that way, although, there was a piece of me that wondered, before she got married, that she was so intrepid to have done this, and, in fact, my dad had asked her to marry him before the trip, and she wouldn’t say yes. She said to him, “Uh, well ask me again.” But, I think she really wanted to go on this trip and nothing was gonna stop her. So, she seemed to be a stay at home mom, to me. She was rather conservative, but, maybe the independence and the freedom were a little bit different after she got married, and, and had, you know, societal pressures to fit into their community, and to support my dad, but maybe, she didn’t, she didn’t work outside the home, and maybe that was her independence, too. She could set her own date, and didn’t have anyone else telling her what to do.