Saturday, 22 March 2008

Letter 8 - February 14, (1919)


Dear Family,-

Our stay in Paris was brief,- too brief to enable us to see all we would have liked to see. In fact I spent the entire of the last two days frantically trying to obtain our railway tickets and our police permits to leave the country – which was almost as hard as obtaining visas to come in. Finally after getting five first class seats to Modane, which is on the Italian border and is an all night ride, and discreetly spreading ten franc notes about the office of the Prefecture of the Police I managed with the assistance of the secretary of the Zionist Bureau in Paris and a note from the British Embassy and from the American Consul to have everything ready for our departure on schedule. At 8.25 P.M. Wednesday the train left for Italy with five of us aboard.

The next morning we found ourselves among the snow-covered foothills of the Alps—most beautiful country. At one o’clock we arrived at Modane and spent three hours being duly inspected and examined and then boarded the train for Torino, from where we would get the night train to Rome. We were constantly climbing higher and it was beginning to get really cold. And we had not succeeded in getting first class (which in Italian trains is non the best) and were cramped into second with several other men who smelled of onions. At Torino three hours later we found a “Cook” man who, for a consideration, found us a comparatively comfortable compartment on the night train to Rome. We made ourselves comfortable and soon settled to sleep, notwithstanding the fact that apparently the Italians have no more scruples about travelling during the night than during the day, and there was a perpetual hubbub at every station. We passed thru Geneva, and Pisa, and lots of little places whose names I don’t recall.

Today at noon we arrived here dirty, and hungry, but happy. Rome received us with open arms, a hotel taxi at the station, a beautiful sunshiny, mild day, a hotel with an inviting suite of three rooms and two baths, -- and how good it all did feel; a shave and a warm bath in a luxurious tub, after not having our clothes off in nearly forty-eight hours. And then some spaghetti and cheese for lunch. We never knew before it could taste so good.

We expect to remain here several days, until we are certain of obtaining passage to Egypt. And I’m not sorry because I really like this place more than either London or Paris am sure to see lots of interesting things.

Lots of love to all,


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