My first overseas holiday was in 1955. It was a school trip to Austria in the summer after we had taken “O” levels. The only holidays I had taken with school before this had been to Guide camp with the school Guide company. We had to have finished 5th form before we were allowed to go on the annual holiday abroad. Previously they had always gone to Switzerland, but when my time came I was delighted to find that they were changing to Austria (I had long been a devotee of the Chalet School stories and had dreamed about going to Austria since reading the first book!)  and now I had my chance.

It was for 14 days and cost £26. We were allowed to take £5 in Austrian schillings and £1.10s(£1.50p) in English money. Foreign travel was not so wide spread then and there was a restriction on how much currency you could spend abroad and when you bought foreign currency it was recorded in your passport.

Several of my friends persuaded their parents to let them go so we were a very excited little crowd who set out from Nottingham Midland station at the beginning of August. The whole journey was by train and ferry. I can’t remember how long it took, but I know we were on the train from Ostend overnight.

The border control was much tighter than it is now and we collected an impressive array of stamps in our passports at each border. Some managed to sleep, two of them slept in the luggage racks! I was too excited to sleep and just dozed off and on.

We spent the first few days in Salzburg and visited Mozart’s birthplace and went on trips to various lakes , including the one with the “White Horse Inn” where we sat and drank coffee and felt very grown up!

The final seven days we moved to a mountain hotel at Annenheim. This was at the foot of a mountain which had a cable car to the summit and from there we could see into Austria, Italy and Yugoslavia (we felt very well travelled!)

The evening we arrived there was some sort of folk festival and we were invited to join in the dancing. One night there was a magnificent electrical  storm which echoed around the mountains.

We had a day trip into Italy where one of my friends haggled successfully and paid 5s.0 (25p) for a crate of  the biggest and juiciest peaches we had ever seen.

The family who ran the small hotel were so kind to us that we wanted to show our appreciation so we bought the mother a small gift and, as one of the few German speakers, I was nominated to make a speech of thanks–I can still remember the opening sentence 50 years later 🙂

We were given money to buy a picnic style meal for the journey back, but needless to say we frittered it instead on more souvenirs, so when we arrived back in Ostend we were starving and thirsty. Fortunately a meal had been ordered for us on the ferry and it was one of my most memorable meals ever, and I can almost smell it now, crispy bacon, fried eggs and fried potatoes followed bya mound of toast and marmalade and gallons of tea! 

I think that was the beginning of my “itchy feet” and I have travelled much further since, but that holiday remains a vivd memory even now.

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