Travels with “Ike”
We never really had a honeymoon, unless you count moving to Polk County. So, Ike and I decided to revisit Europe, well some of the places we had enjoyed before we met. Sharing experiences with Ike was one of the many pleasures of our marriage.
I got on line and made tentative arrangements. The one hotel that was an important part of our journey was the Hotel-Rotisserie du Lac in Coppet, Switzerland. When he was flying that beautiful 707 for Robert Vesco, Ike and his crew had private accommodations reserved at this lovely hotel on the Lake (Lac). I was informed by my travel guide that the hotel was filled during our anticipated stay. Ike was not pleased and asked my advice on the matter. I suggested that he call the hotel. Oh, yes Captain, was the response. We will have your suite ready…
Thus we landed in Milan and our rental auto (a wonderful European Ford Focus) not like the cheaper US version was ready and after that long flight, so were we. This small station wagon not only made excellent mileage, it handled perfectly at 55 MPH racing backward in a one way tunnel through the Alps! More about that escapade later.
Did I mention that Captain A.L. Eisenhauer did not like to fly? He was the original white knuckle passenger. This came from too much knowledge about aircraft and pilots! In fact after we returned home to America, he kept his feet and his head on the ground permanently.
Meanwhile, back in Italy, we traveled north to Switzerland. I cannot write enough about the scenery. You’ve heard about the mountains, the quaint villages and the friendly, colorful citizens many times. We were welcomed everywhere with waves and smiles. It was “The Sound of Music” without the music, although if you listened carefully you could almost hear the echo.
As we neared Coppet, Ike stopped at a local Inn for exact directions. (It had been a few years and roads had changed somewhat). While he conversed with the Inn keeper a gentleman bought me a glass of wine. He also visited with Ike and they shared stories.
The Hotel-Rotisserie du Lac was like a fairy tale setting. Ike’s suite had a large roof top balcony overlooking Lake Geneva. He could smoke his cigars in peace out there.
In the cellar restaurant the Maitre de seated us beside an large ornate fireplace. The wine was warming, the service excellent, that is until word got around the kitchen that Captain Ike was there. Several of the kitchen staff and waiters remembered Ike from his Vesco days. Those who did not actually know who he was, had heard the stories of how he had taken the entire group for a ride in the fabulous 707, (Silver Phyllis) to look down on their homes from the sky. They gathered around our table excitedly and chattered about that memorable day. This all added to a exceptional evening.
After a touch of Brandy we retired for rest after day one….tomorrow we will retrace Ike’s steps through Geneva (the parks, the airport, shops and the jail.)
(To be continued)
Editors note: Now would be a good time to examine the our book review “The Flying Carpetbagger” and consider reading the book if you haven’t done so. (JRH)