In 1950s Vafiadis family decided to go on a Roadtrip to Europe.  Greece, France, Monaco, Holland were their destination and they stayed very long in each country. It was an interesting experience to go this destination as the effects of WW2 were too new. Here in this article we would like to share with you the story of their roadtrip, memories and the landmarks that they’ve visited.

1950s The First Roadtrip – Greece & France

          After all challenges that Vafiadis Family had to survive in 1940s, the family had decided to go on a roadtrip to ease and holiday. Between the years 1950-1954, family members organized two different trips. On the first trip, they went to Greece and France together with the relatives of Ashen. On this trip, Aleko Vafiadis didn’t join them and it’s reason is not clear.

          They organized this trip with their Dodge Station model family car. But who was the driver? As we know Hurmuzios didn’t know how to drive and he had a private driver known as Pepe Ismail from Kasımpasa. So they asked Pepe Ismail if he can drive the car for this European Roadtrip, and he accepted. It would also be a great experience for Ismail.

1950s The First Roadtrip :  Greece –  Erechtheion, Acropolis, Athens

          As Greece was a closer destination, they visited Athens and of course Acropolis. Here in Greece, they also had relatives and they visited them for sure. Let us tell you about Acropolis of Athens, Erechtheion and the Caryatids. 

          Here in this photo you see Ashen and one of her relatives in front of the famous Erechtheion in Acropolis. Acropolis is a Greek word which means ‘the city on the highest point’. The famous Parthenon and Erechtheion in Acropolis has been built in 438 BC in Periclean period. Erechtheion is known with the six female figured columns ( Caryatids ) which you can also see on this photograph. What makes this photographe unique is five of the six Caryatids on building are the original ones, as they were moved to museum and changed with replicas in 1979.

         Also this photograph has been taken approximately seven years after the Axis Occupation of Greece ( 1944 ). In 1941 Nazis invaded Greece and they raised the Nazi swastika on Acropolis, which has been removed by two brave Greek students later : Manolis Glezos and Apostolos Santas.

1950s The First Roadtrip :  France -  Paris & Marseille

          After Greece, the Vafiadis Family continued to their roadtrip in France. Did they travel other countries between Greece and France, not known as there is not any photograph as evidence. But in France they’ve travelled a lot. Paris and Marseille were their next stops.

Paris : Palace Fontainebleau

         First they’ve travelled Paris and then visited the famous Palace Fontainebleau.  According to records a fortified castle has been built in Fontainebleau in 12th century. In 1500s modifications and embellishments were made and in 1800s the chateau has been restored. In 1940 it was occupied by the Germans.

          Here in this photo you see Ashen and her relatives Araksi and Susan in front of Palace Fontainebleau, the photo dated to early 1950s.

           On this photo we have a closer look to the stairs of palace. Also here you see another relative of Ashen, Vahe who lived in Kadıköy until the end of his life.

Marseille : Notre-Dame De La Garde – Café Robinson  

           Marseille was another destination in France and the family spend a lot of time here. They’ve visited Notre-Dame De La Garde, and many other parts of the city as we can understand from the photographs.

Notre-Dame De La Garde : 

           Notre-Dame De La Garde is one of the important cathedrals of Marseille and it has been completed in 1864. The construction of cathedral lasted for 21 years and the architect was Henri-Jacques Espérandieu. The statue of Virgin Mary has been added to the top on 1931. Here in this photo below, you can see the cathedral as it was in 1950s, and our grandmother Ashen together with her cousin Araksi.

Café Robinson :

           Not a historical site, but we would like to tell you about this lovely place. As we were checking the roadtrip photos in our archive, we found an unique photo which has been taken during the family members were having a rest. We have checked a lot to find a clue, but then found a rubbed out information on photograph which has been written by one of our relatives. It was written : Robinson.

           Here on this photograph, we see Ashen and her relatives Araksi, Susan and Aram. Except our family members, the photograph contains many other stories… ‘The Thoughtful Lady’ whose hand on her chin. ‘The waiter in white’ holds the tray. ‘The Couple’, maybe this is their first date. ‘The man with hat’.... and many others. It seems like Café Robinson was one of the popular places in Marseille.

1950s The Second Roadtrip – Greece, Croatia, France, Monaco & Netherlands

           After two years from the first roadtrip, between the years 1952-1954, Vafiadis Family re-organized a trip to Europe, and this time their son Aleko was together with them. On this trip, they went to Greece again, Croatia, France, Monaco and Netherlands. It seems like they visited their parents, friends in those countries and continued to their trip together with them.

1950s The Second Roadtrip :  Greece – Tinos Island

           Vafiadis Family started their second roadtrip with their car again. This time it was a 1947 model Dodge. Their first stop was Pireaus and most probably they took the ferry to go Tinos Island.

Tinos Island : The Church of Panagia Megalochari

           Tinos is one of the Cyclades Islands and it’s famous with the church of Panagia Megalochari. Many worshipers visit this church and they believe that it has many miracles. The church is on a hill and pilgrims cover this distance on their knees. On photograph below, you see Vafiadis Family in front of this church. It has been written on photograph by Aleko ‘Dinos 1952’

1950s The Second Roadtrip :  France – Eiffel Tower, Paris

           In 1953 the family members went Paris again, together with Aleko. Here on photograph below, you see Aleko Vafiadis in front of Eiffel Tower. But it seems like, inspite of taking a photo with tower, Aleko chose his lovely car. You can only see a small part of Eiffel Tower.

1950s The Second Roadtrip :  Croatia – Zagreb Tunnel

           In 1954 the family members continued their trip. This time their path was Croatia, Monaco and Netherlands. There are not much photographs from Croatia, but the only photograph is so unique. The photograph below has been taken in front of the Zagreb Tunnel, or we can say on the road to Zagreb Tunnel. The only evidence that we had for this information was the handwriting of Aleko as ‘Zagreb Tunnel 1954’ and the rocky area.

           We’ve checked a lot about this tunnel and finally found that it must be ‘Bunker Paklenica National Park’ which is close to Zagreb, and it’s a river canyon famous with rocks. Near the entrance of Velika (Big) Paklenica, there is an artificial tunnel complex built for Tito during the tension between Yugoslavia and the USSR in the late 1940s and early 1950s. So we can say that Vafiadis Family was one of the first visitors of this tunnel. If you look carefully you can also see the back of their car.

1950s The Second Roadtrip :  Monaco –  Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate

           Same year in 1954, the family members visited Monaco and the Cathedral of Our Lady Immaculate which is also known as Saint Nicholas Cathedral, built in 1875-1903. The Cathedral is important as many of Grimaldis were buried and Grace Kelly as well. As we check the dates Vafiadis Family visited Monaco and the Cathedral before Grace Kelly married with Rainier III. 

1950s The Second Roadtrip :  Netherlands – Rotterdam

          And the latest stop of the roadtrip was Netherlands. It seems like Vafiadis Family spent a few days here, especially in Rotterdam, as we understood from the photographs.

         Here on photograph below you see Ashen as posing in front of the statue of Erasmus. Erasmus was a famous Renaissance humanist, theologian and philosopher who was born in Rotterdam around 1468. This statue still stands today and it’s one of the important monuments of Rotterdam.

          Also we have one photograph in our archive which has been taken in Rotterdam, but the place is unclear. As we’ve searched and checked with people, they told that it could be Stadhuis in Rotterdam. But there is not much evidence.

          During their stay in Rotterdam, Vafiadis Family also visited the Rotterdam Zoo. Below you can see Aleko with an elephant that have been taken in Rotterdam Zoo.

          Also we have another photograph in our archive, which doesn’t give any idea where it has been taken, but behind the photograph it writes ‘Holland 1954’ as a clue.

          After those roadtrips, Vafiadis family visited Greece yearly as their relatives were living there. They didn’t go to France, Netherlands or any other country. As told before, it must be an interesting experience to go on this roadtrip as the effects of WWII were too new in Europe. Why did they choose this destination? Most probably because of their relatives in France, Greece and maybe Netherlands. And why did they decide to go on such a roadtrip? Honestly, I think the family would like to relax after all the things that they had to survive such as the second military duty of Hurmuzios, the wealth tax that they had to pay…etc. It seems like after all those difficulties, they would like to take a deep breath. But of course they didn’t know what will happen in 1955 during this roadtrip…If you would like to learn what Vafiadis Family had to  survive in 1940s and what happened in 1955, please check our article ‘Our Family & The Historical Events’.

* For more photos from those roadtrips, you can visit the gallery 'Roadtrip to Europe, 1950s'

Written by : 2mi3, September 2019

Sources : 

1-) https://greece.greekreporter.com/2019/05/30/the-day-two-teenage-greeks-took-down-the-nazi-flag-from-the-acropolis/

2-) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palace_of_Fontainebleau

3-) https://www.greeka.com/cyclades/tinos/sightseeing/panagia-megalochari/

4-) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paklenica

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