Saturday, 28 July 2012

My First Trip to Africa

Early in 1951, my father had asked me where I would like to go on holiday that year.   I am sure that any other child would probably have come up with a trip to Brighton, Wales, Ireland or even maybe France again, but no, I decided that I wanted to go to Africa!  I think this request must have left my parents a bit dumbfounded, but, so as not to disappoint me, a drive was planned through France, via Paris to Marseille and then a short flight over to Algiers.
Algiers Airport - 1951
A week was spent in glorious sunshine, seeing all the sights that Algiers had to offer, from the Casbah, which is the "old city", with a labyrinth of passageways to explore or get lost in, to trips out of town, to see the Bedouin on their camels in the desert. 

 Above and below in the Casbah
My mum was convinced she was going to meet a handsome Arab on a white charger, but the closest she came to that was our guide with a hired car! This latter was a Ford Vedette which was quite a large car for its time, manufactured by Ford  France in their factory in  Poissy from 1948-1954 and which conveyed us out on the trip to the desert.   
The Ford Vedette with me looking out of the back window!

The guide  in fact probably saved my Mum's life, as at one spot where we stopped, she had wandered off alone.   It was evening prayer time and many of the Bedouin  were kneeling down praying, not too far from us.   The sun was very low, and in moving away from the rest of us, Mum had walked across the long shadows of the prostrate worshippers.  A large pack of dogs came straight for her and only on command from our guide, did they stop, inches away from her!  He rescued her, and bringing her back to the rest of us, we were told never to walk across the shadows while people were at prayer; undoubtedly you were in serious danger from the pack dogs that followed the Bedouin tribes.

 In the desert near Bou Saada, I am obviously unsuccessfully trying my riding skills on a camel!

 Photos above and below at Bou Saada

El Hamel. another village that we visited in Algeria.

After our trip out to the desert, we spent a little time back at the St George Hotel in Algiers.  The hotel has now been renamed as Hotel El-Djazair and I remember it then as being quite beautiful.

Mum taking it easy in the gardens at the hotel with David and myself

Dad and I meeting up with some of the local monkeys!  Note, I have Topsy my doll in my hand here; this is the doll that flew out of the window on our trip to France the previous year, but was eventually recovered!

Another shot, of David and I  with one of the locals - they must have been tame in those days!!

On our way home, we stopped off at the Hotel Regina in Cannes for a couple of nights.  The hotel is still there, but my guess is that the cars that are parked outside it today are a little more modern!

Myself, David and Mum taking a break from the sun at the Hotel Regina.


  1. Just 9 years before Algeria stopped to be a nice country...

  2. Gio Ve yes I think you are about right there. I am not sure that I would be happy driving around the districts in today's times and I would probably also keep clear of the Casbah.. Not a place I would pick for a holiday now! Have a good weekend Diane

  3. What a great post, Diane! Travelling was quite different back then, lucky you. The world is so much more dangerous today.

  4. JM you are right I was lucky to see these places then, I certainly do not think we could wander around so freely in this day and age!! Diane

  5. This is my favourite post yet Diane! Absolutely fascinating and whereas I was a little girl always reading about faraway places such as these, here you were travelling to them in such style.

    The photographs perfectly illustrate the times, and your parents were a very remarkable and adventurous couple. As were you, with your choice of Africa when asked. Love it :)

    I feel I was right there with you and Topsy as I read. Morocco and Algeria are still on my List of Places to Visit, one day ...

  6. Dolly I am glad that you enjoyed this post with Topsy and I. I wonder what ever happened to her, she was only a rag doll so maybe she fell to pieces, I just don't remember. I am surprised I don't know as she never left my side for very long. Time dims the memory I guess.
    A beautiful country, but I am not sure you could travel around today as easily as we did that long ago.

    Hope you have a good week. Diane xx

  7. I've always wanted to go to Africa. It's wonderful seeing these old photos and hearing about your adventures Diane.

  8. Pam I am glad that you appreciate these photos. I feel I am lucky to have a record of these times thanks to a little box camera and black and white films :) Diane

  9. What an incredible holiday!

    Thank you so much for sharing it - I so like your mother's pretty dresses.

    Sending care and huggles, Michelle (with many zzzzzzzzzzz from Zebby)

  10. Michelle, good to hear from you. Yes it was a fantastic holiday and I appreciate that my parents arranged it.
    My Mum used to make a lot of our clothes and I always though that she had good taste.
    Hope that you have a good week. Diane

  11. It must have been quite primitive in those days and you were adventurous to go there. It must have been a great experience for all of you.

  12. diane b it was certainly a lot more peaceful in those days. I am glad my parents were adventurous enough to take me up on my choice of holiday place :) Hope all is well with you, Diane

  13. Wow, you are a world traveler since you were kid. Isn't it nice that you've captured the memories in print. I wasn't lucky to have pictures of my childhood.

  14. chubskulit I am so happy that my parents not only kept photos, but also labelled many of them so I know when and where. I think I am very lucky as it has made it very easy for me to keep track of records. Have a good weekend Diane

  15. I love those old photo's . They give so many memories. This must have been a great trip, love those old cars and and the lovely clothes.

  16. Riet, thanks so much for your visit and you kind comments. It was a lovely holiday and I still love the old cars as well. Have a great weekend Diane

  17. Bonjour Diane , avez vous d'autres photos de l'hôtel Régina ? Merci

    1. Sorry these are the only photos that I have. I tried to reply direct but there is no entries on your blog and no email link. Diane


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