Laura M Starin.

A trip to Europe : being some account of the wanderings of a small family party online

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was far more comfortable and commodious, also
more expensive ; so with traveling-bags, bundles,
shawl straps, etc., etc., we started for a long ride.
It rained for a couple of hours, then cleared ; the
sun came out very hot ; we had a small traveling
thermometer, which indicated S6 degrees part of
the time, though icy and snow-capped mountains
were in sight. The ride was a gradual ascent all
the way to Chamouni ; most excellent roads
macadamized and very fine — in fact, we have found
such everywhere in Europe, so far. In England,
France and Switzerland, such a contrast to the
neglected roads in our native land ! We passed
through interesting old French villages ; every-


where neatness and industry were evident ; land
well cultivated. An appearance of poverty with
contentment seemed to prevail.

About half past twelve we alighted for lunch-
eon at a place called Salon, an old town. In
fact, one sees httle that is new or enterprising
like our young America. We were treated to
little trout caught in the mountain stream, that
were well cooked and very sweet and palatable,
after our ride of several hours. We saw ped-
dlers of cheap crockery and glass ; their wares
spread upon the ground. After resting we started
up and on our way, still climbing the mountain
road, high peaks in sight in every direction, with
snow and ice glistening in the sun, yet the valley
was warm, even hot. Where there were steep pre-
cipices or dangerous places excellent masoned
stone walls were built for protection, giving travel-
ers a sense of relief.

This long day's ride of fifty miles takes three
relays of horses to accomplish, the diligence hav-
ing five horses, three in front as leaders and two
behind ; others six horses, three abreast. Three
diligences started from Geneva this day, beside
other conveyances. The scenery was novel and
grand. Before reaching Chamouni we passed
glaciers upon the sides of the mountains with fields


of blue ice standing up in sharp points like towers or
turrets, the glaciers extending down nearly to the
road we were traveling. The horses of our car-
riage, as well as those attached to the diligence,
all had small bells, like old-fashioned sleigh-bells,
on their necks, the tinkling sound thereof not un-
musical, but being odd enough to modern travelers.
We reached Chamouni before nightfall, stopping
at a hotel called L'Angletaire ; we found the host
and waiters spoke fairly good English. We had
delightful rooms adjoining, furnished with taste
and comfort. On the mantel was a clock, with
side ornaments to match. A maid brought warm
water to our rooms, immediately on our arrival, in
pewter pitchers. From my window, it seemed
but a stone's throw, was the foot of the great
Mont Blanc, with snow several feet deep, that
seemed to extend to nearly the foot of it, this
July day — a wonderfully grand sight that I never
shall forget. Mont Blanc is sixteen thousand feet
high. The town lies in a small valley surrounded
by mountains, but Mont Blanc soars above them
all. The view of the sun rising upon this moun-
tain, which I had the pleasure of seeing, was grand
beyond my power of description, a river pouring
down from the mountain ran rapidly in sight of the
hotel. The American flag was displayed in honor


of our natal day, July 4th, and fireworks also, out
of compliment to Americans. Three men were
ascending the mountain, were half-way up it, tak-
ing two days to make the ascent, each with a
guide. At night they took shelter in a small hut,
and displayed a red light that all could see from
the hotel and village — a dangerous trip.

We were told that ladies rarely undertook the
ascent. We remained over night only at this very
comfortable inn, walked out in the early evening,
the streets being very narrow and odd ; saw peas-
ant women driving cows through the streets, the
cows having small tinkling bells on their necks.
The cows graze upon the mountain sides, are
watched through the day, and driven from door
to door and milked according to the quantity each
family requires. All seemed to Hve out of doors,
the women knitting and seemingly happy. All
walked in the middle of the streets, as the walks
were only about two feet wide. We left, with
regret, this unusual town.

At nine o'clock in the morning took two small
carriages to go to Martigny, James and the courier
engaged in Paris in one, Harriet and I in the other,
two-seated, small-wheeled vehicles, with two
horses (with bells), and a driver for each — little
knowing what was in store for us. It began to


rain soon after starting our wagons — they could
not be called carriages they were so uncomfortable
and hard — riding a distance of sixty miles, from
Chamouni to Martigny, over mountains ; we were
started on a perilous ride. At first we drove over
a level road for some distance. The courier said
the drive w^ould be through wilder scenery than
the day before.

Nothing daunted, we started, having had a
pleasant drive the day before through won-
derful scenery. We did not expect the experi-
ences of the second day. We began to climb
mountains where the roads were poor and
stony, in many places so narrow we could not
have passed another vehicle ; over old, rickety
bridges and wild streams, each hour becoming
more wild and grand, till we reached the climax
of mountain travel, and winding around black,
rocky mountains that were the more dangerous-
looking from the falling rain, each turn seeming
to be the end of the road that was hardly wider
than the vehicle we were in ; high rocks and moun-
tains on one side and a yawning abyss on the
other, with a roaring river running furiously at the
bottom, down, down so deep and dangerous, mor-
tal eyes dared not gaze on a scene so dreadful. I
would never have dreamed that I could be brought


to ride in such a situation. On and on we went,
no alternative but this. It filled me with such ter-
ror as I hope never to again experience, and should
not have undertaken had I known what was before
me ; in fact, must confess ignorance of this danger-
ous pass '* Tete Noire," till brought to my knowl-
edge by sad experience. The driver could not
speak EngHsh, so that my entreaties for him to
stop and let me try and walk were in vain. We
were provided with Alpine stocks as most persons
are who walk around this most dangerous point,
but the rain and mud prevented. Harriet thought
it would be impossible for us to walk ; there was
no fine stone wall for protection on this dangerous
road, nothing apparently between us and certain
death in this awful manner but the direct inter-
positon of a kind Providence. I cried like a
child, fear overcoming every sense ; could not
see the grandeur or beauty of scenery that
many would have enjoyed, from o'ermastering
fear. Even now I shudder in writing of it ; the
driver whipped up his horses, cracking his whip
with all complacency, both horses and driver quite
accustomed to the route, it being daily traveled.

I could not sleep at night after this adventure,
even when snugly housed in a comfortable room
and bed, my nerves had been so shocked— could


not banish the sight of the mountains and preci-
pices and horrible scenery.

After passing this point we rode through a
tunnel. Emerging from this we came to a hotel
not far off, built on a point of projecting rocks,
called the " Tete Noire " house, where we rested
for an hour and a half, dined with many others
who were traveling over the same route we had
just passed. Then we proceeded over dangerous
(to me) mountain roads, still ascending, afterward
descending, the road turning with a sharp curve
and winding round and round on the descent,
scarcely any protection on the narrow, winding
way ; having had so recent a shock in going over
the ** Tete Noire " that all seemed fraught with

We were all the afternoon winding around and
descending until at last the valley was reached
and I breathed freely ; the sights and experiences
of this day will never be forgotten. We arrived
at Martigny at five o'clock after this eventful ride.
From Martigny tourists go to the St. Bernard and
other places in the Alps. Little of note in the
village ; from here we took train for a short ride,
bringing us out of this mountainous country to a
place called Vevay, three hours' ride. Remained
all night at a delightful hotel, with fine grounds


leading to the Lake of Geneva, the other extremity
from City of Geneva, with flowers abundant in
the grounds of same varieties that we have at
home — scarlet, pink and white geraniums, holly-
hocks, etc. — flowers that seem to be common in
every country — trees and shrubs ; birds sang most
sweetly ; I think they were mocking birds ;
a band of music played for an hour or two on
piazza in the morning ; a most enjoyable spot to
linger in.

We left at 12 o'clock, taking cars for a short
ride i^ hours to Berne, a quaint old town, with
shops in arcades, a few feet above the street, build-
ings of stone, sewers in middle of the street, and
women washing at pumps or places provided in
street. We drove to the den of bears, brown
bears, for which the place is famous ; bears are
the emblem or crest of the place. We were here
only a few hours, Harriet buying some ancient
pewter jugs of curious workmanship that pleased
her greatly. From here went by rail to Thun, a
couple of hours* ride, then took boat, the cars
stopping at boat-landing. Then we crossed Lake
Thun, quite a wide, long lake, too nearly dark to
enjoy the scenery, which was fine. Landed at or
quite near Interlaken, fifteen minutes' ride from
boat, a fine town filled with hotels. We are stop-


ping at the "Victoria," the grounds of which are
beautifully laid out, electric lights, fountains play-
ing and everything quite palatial ; in sight is the
snow-covered mountain called the " Young Frau,"
with the rising and setting sun ; the reflection and
view are wonderfully fine. The village is small,
2,000 inhabitants, but said to be as many as 20,000
tourists here during the season. The birds sing
more sweetly than any I ever heard ; a musical
locality ; said to be no other birds in Switzerland ;
these in Interlaken came and every means are
employed to propagate and keep them.

We have seen numbers of the peasants in
their national dress. I saw about a dozen in
this costume — women, walking with the men
in procession, had just returned from a fair at
Thun ; each bore a vase with flowers, one in the
middle a silver standard ; this had been won
at some contest ; they walked six abreast with
flags and a brass band — a novel sight. Plenty
of shops in Interlaken for the sale of carved goods,
wood in every variety, embroideries, photographs,
etc., etc. We enjoyed our stay here exceedingly,
found English spoken quite generally in the hotel
and in the stores. Wild poppies grow here as
daisies do with us, abound in fields and along rail-
ways ; flowers are cultivated extensively every-


where in Europe ; the humblest peasants have
flowers in a garden if ever so small.

We left Interlaken at 9 A. M., the hotel host pre-
senting every departing lady with a pretty bouquet
of sweet-scented flowers. We had engaged for
the day a comfortable, unique sort of double car-
riage that had accommodation for six persons ;
beside the driver, there were four of us with the
courier. The ride was over mountain roads, the
celebrated '' Brunig Pass," 3,379 feet high, being
on this route. The road was at a great height,
but broad and firmly macadamized ; the descent was
quickly accomplished, the day bright and beautiful,
the scenery ditto. Lake Brienz lay at our feet ;
snow-capped mountains in view on opposite shore
of the lake, but how gladly we welcomed the valley
road after this, to me, hazardous ride over moun-
tain passes. The drive is forty-five miles in dis-
tance from Interlaken to Lucerne ; passengers by
diligence that runs daily go part way by boat on
Lake Lucerne. We came all the way in carriage,
arriving at seven o'clock in the evening, having
dined at the hotel called the '* Golden Lion " on
the way.

Odd names are used for hotels in Europe ;
for instance, in the old town of Chester, Eng-
land, names like these were seen : " Green


Dragon," " Old Nags Head," etc., certainly not
enticing names to beguile strangers and pilgrims
to. The hotel we were entertained in Lucerne is
called Grand Hotel National ; it is beautifully
located on the banks of Lake Lucerne, only
separated from the lake by wide walks, with seats
under double rows of trees, trimmed in such form
that an arch is the result, an arbor for shade, from
which can be seen constantly passing steamboats
and small boats ; the latter have canopies of striped
yellow, while the boats and paddles are red, with
bright red curtains, making things very showy and
picturesque. On opposite side of the lake, the
snowy Alps ranges are yet in sight — the *' Rigi "
being only four hours' ride from here, the ascent
of which is by rail, an inclined plane 5,905 feet

July ioth. — This morning we walked to see the
famous Lion of Lucerne, which is a sight well
worth a walk or a journey to see. A steep moun-
tain is quite near the main street where a large and
perfect lion is cut in the solid rock of the moun-
tain side, the rock projecting over it like a canopy
or cover. The lion is lying down. It was carved in
memory of the Swiss Guards who lost their lives in
defending the Tuileries " in 1792. This was once
a French town ; the sculptor was Thorwaldsen.


We saw an old state house here in Lucerne, built
in 1380; curious historical paintings on outside
nearly defaced by the ravages of time ; a large
clock in tower of same building. The hour-hand
represents the wild flower of the Alps, star-shaped.
This clock struck the hour of 12 while we were
gazing at it. Several very old drinking fountains
of stone are in the streets bearing date of 1600;
carved lion's heads, water spouting from their
mouths, well worn by age.

We are resting here for a couple of days ;
have been engaged briskly writing letters
home in the intervals of sight-seeing, in part
to drive away home sickness. A concert was
given by Tyrolese in costume in the hotel last
evening ; quite a novelty to us. Several old
bridges are here, one of which Longfellow has
made famous in his "Golden Legend." The
bridge has paintings representing the history of
Switzerland from an early date. Bridge built in
1600 ; paintings are in the gables, of the covering
of the bridge on both sides of the gables, so that
crossing in either direction one sees them, colors
still undimmed ; there are seventy of them. I
bought a photograph of one picture to better im-
press my mind with them.

Harriet and I strolled out one afternoon to


attend an organ concert in a church 250 years old,
filled with paintings of that age ; some portraits.
The stone pavement was worn with use and age.
The organ was fine, both sweet-toned and power-
ful, and well played. We paid one franc each for
entrance fee.



Strasburg, The Rhine, Cologne.

We left this both old and new town this day,
July I ith, at half-past one P. M., by train for Stras-
burg ; weather very hot ; rode through a rich
farming country and wine-growing — that lost by
France in the war of 1870. Arrived at 8.30 P. M.,
tired and dusty; drove to hotel " Angleterre,"
took our tea in our room and enjoyed it much.
Retired early. The next day, Sunday, we took a
carriage to visit the old cathedral, where the world-
renowned astronomical clock is — a wonder of art
and sculpture — the cathedral being filled outside
and in with carved figures, and having been built
on foundation of a church in 1015, and this on site
of one built in 510; was over 200 years in build-
ing. The fa(;ade was begun by Erwin Van Stein-
back and his daughter Sabina, to whom much of
the fine sculpture is attributed ; was begun in 1277
and completed by John Hultz of Cologne in 1439.
So history proves there have been notable women
down the line of ages, and how year after year
was consumed in constructing these wonderful


cathedrals, of which nearly all the large cities in
Europe can boast.

It has been said that the workmen or sculp-
tors of these generations had rude instruments,
very little help, and that they worked like God
(with all reverence), so varied in expression is
every face and form, the workmanship so
perfect. This cathedral has been injured many
times by lightning and earthquakes and war,
the roof having been burnt by the German forces
in the war of 1870, and as often rebuilt and
kept in repair. A fund is in the hands of city
authorities for this purpose. Bequests often have
been left, the people having great pride in it, as
well they may. I could have spent a longer time
enjoyably than it was possible for me to do, admir-
ing this wonderful structure.

A canal is in front of our Strasburg hotel ; very
narrow streets ; plenty of soldiers everywhere. We
passed the fortifications near the suburbs in driving
two miles out, crossing a long pontoon bridge to
have a look at the river Rhine for the first time ; sun
hot, and an uncomfortable drive. The streets are
very narrow and little of interest except the cathe-
dral and clock. Harriet, in a morning ramble, found
quaint stores and made some purchases.

The Strasburg Astronomical Clock is beyond de-


scription — the most wonderful work of mechanism
in the world. It winds itself 3 ist of December every
year, and regulates itself by weights, never gets
out of order, tells of the changes of the moon and
all eclipses and planets, day of the month, hour of
the day. At 12 o'clock each day a cock stationed
on top of a pinnacle, perfect in resemblance to this
bird, flaps its wings, throws back its head and crows
three times, a little interval between. At same
time there is the procession of the Apostles moving
in front of the form of the Saviour, he raising his
hand to bless them. Of the twelve apostles, Peter
is the last. Each figure turns partly round and
they bow as they pass ; the figure of Death with a
hammer in his hand strikes the hour ; the figure of
Childhood strikes the first quarter, Youth the
second. Manhood the third. Old Age last. Be-
neath these figures are sun-chariots and figures
representing the planets Jupiter, Mars, etc., one for
each day of the week slowly moving, each day a
new one. It was at 12 o'clock we were there, and
the chariot representing Sunday was in full view.
This clock was built to replace one made in the
fourteenth century, called the Clock of the Three
Sages. The clock ceased running for 200 years it
was said. A new one was built in 1 547 by order
of the magistrate of the town in the place the


present clock stands ; it was not completed till
1574; it ceased running in 1789. In 1836 it was
again repaired and set in motion, requiring over
four years' time. Strasburg was the ancient capital
of Alsace, in possession of France till 1871, now
restored to Germany.

We left Strasburg at midday by train for Frank-
fort-on-the-Main. This river is navigable for small
steamers, and in places is a rapid stream. Many
bridges over it. In this city 140,000 inhabitants, a
lively business town with fine open squares and
many monuments or statues in them, a fine bronze
one of Goethe and one of Schiller standing, of
life-size or more. Saw the house where the former
was born, now visited by tourists with interest ;
saw the oldest house in the city, the front of which
is covered with paintings in bright colors of land-
scapes, portraits, life-size figures, making an odd
appearance, date 1600. Also visited a museum where
there was a beautiful piece of sculpture, in pure
Italian marble, called " Adrienne ;" was six years
in being made by Danencker ; rare work. Passed
miles and miles of dense forests in going to and
from Frankfort ; we were not far from the famous
Black Forest, and only thirty-eight miles from
Baden Baden. While in Frankfort visted the
Palm Garden a beautiful place with fountains, the


perfection of carpet gardening, large trees, fine
walks and music. The large palms were in a green-
house arranged with great taste, a waterfall and
grotto in centre, and among the palms the boxes
containing palms were covered with bark and
growing moss over them. People were seated
about this garden, the ladies with work ', many-
partaking of refreshments at small tables listening
to the music, inhaling sweet odors of flowers ;
children with their maids romping about — a gay
and attractive scene altogether, and one to be re-
membered as typical of Germany. Streets are
very narrow in most of the city ; old and odd
houses everywhere.

We left this city early on the morning of
July 15, took train for a couple of hours'
ride, then embarked on a trim steamboat on
the river Rhine. For the most of the day
traveled on this world-renowed river, made so by
poet and legend ; passed the town of Bingen, also
many ruins ; castles on the highest points of ground
having been used as fortresses in former times by
lords and nobles who preyed on surrounding
countries, and found refuge in these strongholds.
They made the stream picturesque and unlike the
rivers In our new country. The water was muddy
however, and the river not so broad as I Imagined.


Seeing is knowing. We passed a town called
Johannisburg where the famous wine of that name
is made. A bottle was procured and the party
decided that it was superior. Among other notable
towns we came to Coblentz, the summer residence
of Kaiser Wilhelm, the old Emperor, who had
recently arrived. Flags were flying from every
available place, giving it a gay appearance in his
honor. The place is strongly fortified.

On opposite shore is what is called the Gibraltar
of the Rhine ; thousands of troops are there sta-
tioned ; farther on, we came to Bonn, an old uni-
versity town ; could only see the narrow streets
leading from the river, and that it was much like
all old German cities and twenty-one miles from
Cologne, which city we reached at six o'clock in
the afternoon, well tired with our steamer ride on
the river Rhine. The day was fine, the steamer
was overcrowded with passengers, so that we were
confined mostly to our seats, which were uncom-
fortable. When the tall spires of the famous
cathedral were visible, though many miles distant,
we were glad — a curve in the river made the dis-
tance greater than it looked to be.

The morning after our arrival we took a car-
riage and drove to the cathedral, an immense
structure, with spires 525 feet high and beautifully


proportioned : considered the grandest gothic
church in the world. It was begun in the twelfth
century, work being done there now ; the cathe-
dral, like all these old ones, being constantly re-
paired and improved ; new figures made from the
old designs. The stained-glass windows are mar-
vels of richness and beauty of coloring, size and
height. Immense sums of money have been lav-
ished upon this church by kings, emperors and
noblemen, and it is justly the pride of Germany.
The location is not good. Too large a building
for the space it occupies, old buildings and narrow
streets crowding it — streets, many of them very
narrow, the one upon which is the hotel " Disch,"
which we are sojourning at, is so narrow we can
almost reach across it. Gloomy and dirty. In the
modern part of the city that is fast being built the
houses are fine and streets broad ; buildings four
and five stories high ; we saw a fine statue of
Frederick William III. in the market place, an
equestrian on top surrounded by his generals, life-
size, standing on every side in bronze — very nat-
ural ; also a statue of Bismarck in a small park ;
Von Moltke in another park.

Cologne was once a walled city, and gates or
entrances with towers are yet to be seen ; the
market in an open square was quite a novel sight ;


women, old and young, with white starched hand-
kerchiefs tied over their heads instead of hats to

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Online LibraryLaura M StarinA trip to Europe : being some account of the wanderings of a small family party → online text (page 3 of 5)