Chapter XIX

Certain towns involve certain duties. You journey to Bairenth to hear a Wagner opera in the Wagner opera-house, but to Munich to drink Munich beer in a Munich brewery. There are, of course, galleries in the town, and, if you time, you can go and make sure that everything- marked with a star in Baedeker is really there. But you can do this as well in any other capital in Europe. We went the first evening of our arrival to the big brewery on the other side of the river. It was a new three storey, factory-like, brick building, and its doors were hospitably open. A hall led to the garden at the back, but not a light was lit, and chairs and tables were turned upside down and piled up together. Fear of the rain had driven everybody inside. There were two large rooms downstairs, and I suppose the men and women and children sitting at the long tables, as close as sardines in a box, were enjoying themselves. They were eating sausages and sauerkraut, and drinking beer, and the men were smoking long pipes. Every window was, and I believe always has been, tight shut: there was not so much as one little ventilator, The air was so thick you could cut it with a knife, and we tried upstairs. There was the same crowd, the name Loathsome atmosphere: only here the people overflowed into the hall, there were more women and children about, and most of them had brought their sausages in newspaper parcels. We went downstairs again. But we had come for our own amusement, and not, at the risk of our appetites, to investigate t German customs; and we started off just as fast as we could for the freshest, cleanest restaurant in the place, and that was the last we saw of the Munich brewery. We did not have to walk far to find a restaurant. All Munich goes out for dinner and supper, and eats and drinks of the best with no trouble and for next to no money. The restaurant-keepers do not set themselves up as prophets, but they might give a practical lesson to those reformers in London who preach the moral beauty of life in common, by which they mean kitchen in common, and stop at the preaching. As to the people of Munich, not being bothered by.“yearnestness,” they get as much healthy pleasure out of their meals ns they can, and are monstrous civil and merry, as Pepys would say; while the constant click of the billiard-balls is the sociable sound beard in the dullest restaurant. But the gayest haunt is the whole town was our hotel, with its beer-garden and nightly concert when there was no rain. Then, too, it was the C.T.C. recommended headquarters, and we met cyclists there-a mild Viennese, who was the only person in the house to dine upstairs, where you ate the same dishes and paid twice an much for them as if you stayed below, and who showed us the comic post-cards, a specialty of German humour, which he was sending to friends at home, Americans who treated us with respect which was oppressive: and a delightful little Pole, who, after that, became our fellow- traveller for several days. The morning we left, just before noon, Joseph was over-hauling the machines, and he asked the Pole, who was putting his safety in order, for a spanner. That was our introduction. They both misunderstood each other in German for a few minutes, when it occurred to them that they might understand each other in French. It was then we discovered that he was a Pole, that he had lived in Paris for years and spoke French like a native, and that he was riding in our direction: and so, after dinner, we all started off together. If the road going into Munich was bad, I don’t know what to call the road going out of it. I feel that I used up my strongest adjectives too soon. But the most naturalistic description would not explain its execrable condition better than the fact that the big, heavy, lumbering country carts took to the ploughed fields in preference, and so did we. When the fields came to an end we rode through woods, dodging the undergrowth as best we could, ducking under the lower branches of the trees, though every now and then one would catch my hat and send me flying. When I fell I always turned around, and there, some distance behind, I always saw the Pole in the mud, with his safety at his side. Every time Joseph would go back to help him out; every time the Pole would find a new excuse for having tumbled. Joseph a more emphatic word for having been bothered. There were trenches running from the road to the wood, as if it were possible to drain it of its mud: if we saw them in time, we jumped off our bicycles, if not, we wen- jerked off. That one afternoon was to me worth years of ordinary practice in mounting and dismounting. When the wood became all but Impracticable we went back to the mud; when the mud became unendurable we went back to the wood. And once, where the road was most disgracefully bad, we passed a road-mender carefully pulling up the weeds at its side! Presently, the Pole refused to go farther, and threw himself on his back in the wet grass. We suggested rheumatism and lumbago, but he would not budge. We had waited a good half-hour in the first village inn before he overtook us. Things improved after that. The wind subsided a little, we begun to see the mountains of the Tyrol in the distance, there were wide views from every hilltop, we met peasants in Tyrolese costume—knee-breeches, ruffled shirts, jackets with short tails, soft hats with green ribbon and feather—and on the houses, almost every window and door, were the pretty decorations peculiar to this part of Swabia. But the improvement was not great enough to make us think twice about stopping in Aibling, forty-seven kilometres from Munich, though Joseph and I, out of politeness, stood in front of the inn at the entrance of the town until the Pole had caught up to us—he was walking by this time—and pretended to consult him. He made himself so useful that we forgave him for having kept us waiting. He had an idea that his German was very much better than ours, which it wasn’t, but we let him go on believing it. and were modestly silent while he did all our bargaining. To this day I am not sure whether it was owing to his talents or to the natural virtues of Aibling that our bill there was the smallest of the entire journey. It deserves to be recorded. For our two suppers, our room, and our two coffees in the summer we paid exactly three marks and thirty pfennigs. And there was no petty meanness about the proprietor either. We had three beds in our room; the Pole four in his. The next morning, farther in the town, we found several more pretentious hotels, where, I don’t doubt, we could have paid twice as much, but we were content. The small clean German inn was always good enough for us. After Aibling, the road, though nothing to boast of, at least compared favourably with the fields on each side, and it ran through uncommonly pretty country. It brought us to Rosenheim and Endorf, to Trauntstein and other picturesque towns. The near blue mountains of the Salzkammergut rose before us and took on bolder and more beautiful forms with every hour; and we came to one after another of the wide Bavarian Sm, or lakes, now looking down upon them from high places, now loafing on their banks; and once for several kilometres we skirted Chiem See, radiant in sunshine, in the far distance the island where the mad Bavarian king built himself his lordly pleasure-house, and where in near waters he was drowned; at the lower end was a little village, with an inn overlooking the lake, where we ate a dinner of the Pole’s ordering. The Pole was the one excitement of the day. He would not keep up with us, he would make us wait for him, sometimes in a roadside inn over a light lunch, sometimes under a tree in the open country. Once we lost him altogether as we rode through a town, but he turned up an hour later scorching like one possessed in his desire to overtake us; once Joseph rode back a whole kilometre, so sure were we that this time he had broken his neck. But he was never without his good reason: his brake had come loose, his chain had got choked with mud, he had dropped something, he never did believe in riding more than twenty kilometres at a time without stopping to rest. Indeed, he was a great comfort to me —he was such a bad rider. Still, we were anxious to get to Salzburg for the night, and so was he, for that matter. When he rode with us, which was not often, he was preparing us for the delights of a certain Weinkeller in the town which he knew, where, he said, we must go for supper.#

From Berlin to Budapest in 1892 (chapter XIX)

Chapter XIX

Certain towns involve certain duties. You journey to Bairenth to hear a Wagner opera in the Wagner opera-house, but to Munich to drink Munich beer in a Munich brewery. There are, of course, galleries in the town, and, if you time, you can go and make sure that everything- marked with a star in Baedeker is really there. But you can do this as well in any other capital in Europe. We went the first evening of our arrival to the big brewery on the other side of the river. It was a new three storey, factory-like, brick building, and its doors were hospitably open. A hall led to the garden at the back, but not a light was lit, and chairs and tables were turned upside down and piled up together. Fear of the rain had driven everybody inside. There were two large rooms downstairs, and I suppose the men and women and children sitting at the long tables, as close as sardines in a box, were enjoying themselves. They were eating sausages and sauerkraut, and drinking beer, and the men were smoking long pipes. Every window was, and I believe always has been, tight shut: there was not so much as one little ventilator, The air was so thick you could cut it with a knife, and we tried upstairs. There was the same crowd, the name Loathsome atmosphere: only here the people overflowed into the hall, there were more women and children about, and most of them had brought their sausages in newspaper parcels. We went downstairs again. But we had come for our own amusement, and not, at the risk of our appetites, to investigate t German customs; and we started off just as fast as we could for the freshest, cleanest restaurant in the place, and that was the last we saw of the Munich brewery. We did not have to walk far to find a restaurant. All Munich goes out for dinner and supper, and eats and drinks of the best with no trouble and for next to no money. The restaurant-keepers do not set themselves up as prophets, but they might give a practical lesson to those reformers in London who preach the moral beauty of life in common, by which they mean kitchen in common, and stop at the preaching. As to the people of Munich, not being bothered by.“yearnestness,” they get as much healthy pleasure out of their meals ns they can, and are monstrous civil and merry, as Pepys would say; while the constant click of the billiard-balls is the sociable sound beard in the dullest restaurant. But the gayest haunt is the whole town was our hotel, with its beer-garden and nightly concert when there was no rain. Then, too, it was the C.T.C. recommended headquarters, and we met cyclists there-a mild Viennese, who was the only person in the house to dine upstairs, where you ate the same dishes and paid twice an much for them as if you stayed below, and who showed us the comic post-cards, a specialty of German humour, which he was sending to friends at home, Americans who treated us with respect which was oppressive: and a delightful little Pole, who, after that, became our fellow- traveller for several days. The morning we left, just before noon, Joseph was over-hauling the machines, and he asked the Pole, who was putting his safety in order, for a spanner. That was our introduction. They both misunderstood each other in German for a few minutes, when it occurred to them that they might understand each other in French. It was then we discovered that he was a Pole, that he had lived in Paris for years and spoke French like a native, and that he was riding in our direction: and so, after dinner, we all started off together. If the road going into Munich was bad, I don’t know what to call the road going out of it. I feel that I used up my strongest adjectives too soon. But the most naturalistic description would not explain its execrable condition better than the fact that the big, heavy, lumbering country carts took to the ploughed fields in preference, and so did we. When the fields came to an end we rode through woods, dodging the undergrowth as best we could, ducking under the lower branches of the trees, though every now and then one would catch my hat and send me flying. When I fell I always turned around, and there, some distance behind, I always saw the Pole in the mud, with his safety at his side. Every time Joseph would go back to help him out; every time the Pole would find a new excuse for having tumbled. Joseph a more emphatic word for having been bothered. There were trenches running from the road to the wood, as if it were possible to drain it of its mud: if we saw them in time, we jumped off our bicycles, if not, we wen- jerked off. That one afternoon was to me worth years of ordinary practice in mounting and dismounting. When the wood became all but Impracticable we went back to the mud; when the mud became unendurable we went back to the wood. And once, where the road was most disgracefully bad, we passed a road-mender carefully pulling up the weeds at its side! Presently, the Pole refused to go farther, and threw himself on his back in the wet grass. We suggested rheumatism and lumbago, but he would not budge. We had waited a good half-hour in the first village inn before he overtook us. Things improved after that. The wind subsided a little, we begun to see the mountains of the Tyrol in the distance, there were wide views from every hilltop, we met peasants in Tyrolese costume—knee-breeches, ruffled shirts, jackets with short tails, soft hats with green ribbon and feather—and on the houses, almost every window and door, were the pretty decorations peculiar to this part of Swabia. But the improvement was not great enough to make us think twice about stopping in Aibling, forty-seven kilometres from Munich, though Joseph and I, out of politeness, stood in front of the inn at the entrance of the town until the Pole had caught up to us—he was walking by this time—and pretended to consult him. He made himself so useful that we forgave him for having kept us waiting. He had an idea that his German was very much better than ours, which it wasn’t, but we let him go on believing it. and were modestly silent while he did all our bargaining. To this day I am not sure whether it was owing to his talents or to the natural virtues of Aibling that our bill there was the smallest of the entire journey. It deserves to be recorded. For our two suppers, our room, and our two coffees in the summer we paid exactly three marks and thirty pfennigs. And there was no petty meanness about the proprietor either. We had three beds in our room; the Pole four in his. The next morning, farther in the town, we found several more pretentious hotels, where, I don’t doubt, we could have paid twice as much, but we were content. The small clean German inn was always good enough for us. After Aibling, the road, though nothing to boast of, at least compared favourably with the fields on each side, and it ran through uncommonly pretty country. It brought us to Rosenheim and Endorf, to Trauntstein and other picturesque towns. The near blue mountains of the Salzkammergut rose before us and took on bolder and more beautiful forms with every hour; and we came to one after another of the wide Bavarian Sm, or lakes, now looking down upon them from high places, now loafing on their banks; and once for several kilometres we skirted Chiem See, radiant in sunshine, in the far distance the island where the mad Bavarian king built himself his lordly pleasure-house, and where in near waters he was drowned; at the lower end was a little village, with an inn overlooking the lake, where we ate a dinner of the Pole’s ordering. The Pole was the one excitement of the day. He would not keep up with us, he would make us wait for him, sometimes in a roadside inn over a light lunch, sometimes under a tree in the open country. Once we lost him altogether as we rode through a town, but he turned up an hour Iater scorching like one possessed in his desire to overtake us; once Joseph rode back a whole kilometre, so sure were we that this time he had broken his neck. But he was never without his good reason: his brake had come loose, his chain had got choked with mud, he had dropped something, he never did believe in riding more than twenty kilometres at a time without stopping to rest. Indeed, he was a great comfort to me —he was such a bad rider. Still, we were anxious to get to Salzburg for the night, and so was he, for that matter. When he rode with us, which was not often, he was preparing us for the delights of a certain Weinkeller in the town which he knew, where, he said, we must go for supper.

From Berlin to Budapest in 1892 (chapter XVIII)

Chapter XVIII

We raced over plains and hills, despite the mud that packed itself into my leather dress-guard and acted so successfully as a brake that once Joseph had to stop and turn my machine upside down and scoop it out with a stick. But the road ran up the wooded hills and then down into the valley, where, on the river-bank, stands Eichstadt, a big ecclesiastical town, full of churches, and overlooked by the Bishop’s palace far above on a neighbouring height. And we had not left Eichstadt long, before we were looking from another hilltop across the valley of the Danube, and then riding through the picturesque gateway and past the beautiful cathedral of Ingolstadt. It was at Ingolstadt we first crossed the Danube, and, Chapter  Therefore, the route of our three friends who were making the journey down stream, from the river’s source to its mouth. I suppose the very memory of this should fill us with shame; for have we not since read in the advertisements of Harper’s, where the story of their journey is appearing, that they travelled for the express purpose of investigating the conditions of South-Eastern Europe, now that the air hens in the ‘Vest of .Europe is thick, with the rumours of war? And we, what, were we iinvestigating? Nothing, absolutely nothing; not even the condition of the people, or the soil, or the weather, or the roads—though of the latter we, by chance, have qualified ourselves to speak with authority. We were travelling solely and entirely to amuse ourselves and to rake in the shekels from a beneficent publisher. And why not? Why must all men and women to-day have a mission and find serious reasons for every action however light, for every undertaking however flippant? Is there to be no more pleasure for pleasure’s sake in this sad world of ours? Of this generation Mr Robert Louis Stevenson alone understands that the chief duty of the man who travels is to enjoy himself, and this is the beginning and end of the lesson taught, if lesson it can be called, by his “Inland Voyage” and his“ Wanderings in the Cevennes” but, really I am commencing to preach myself! Our chief pleasure for the rest of the afternoon—most truth be told—was in our halts, while we let the showers pass—halts mode in the friendly little inns by the way. They were very much alike, all those “Bavarian inns: our big guest-room with plain wooden chairs and tables, pictures of Bavarian princes and princesses on the walls—seldom, if ever, of the Kaiser—a sociable landlord or landlady, always a baby, and as often or not a cat or a dog. As a rule. It served as family living room as well, and at times a tailor was sitting crosslegged by the window, a girl was ironing the family linen, or an old woman was doing the family mending. But it strikes me that these characteristic features, now I .have written them out, are peculiar, not to the Bavarian, but to the universal inn. More essentially German was the strong domestic element which we found in the tiniest village inn as the swellest Munich cafe. In such an atmosphere we had to fall into conversation with anyone mid everyone, whether we wanted to or not; and I can recall our surprise and amusement that same afternoon when a rough carter, mud from head to foot, who had slopped for beer in the inn where we went, told us that his brother was a monk in the Benedictine Monastery near Pittsburg. The world is a very small place, after all. The “C.T.U. road book” warned us that the road from Pfaffenhofen, where we spent the night, to Munich was bad, and that we had better take the train, but for a wonder, there was no tain, and we kept bravely to our cycles, it is useless to dwell on what is unredeemably disagreeable. At first the way was fair, and we gaily raced and beat a carriage and a coach going in the same direction. But soon we were deep in mud again—liquid mud, solid mud, stony mud, all sorts and conditions of mud, fathoms of mud, kilometres of mud. The mended road was only a shade less unridable than the road being repaired by rude workmen who put down their spades and pickaxes to grin offensively as I passed. Thiers were true town manners when they crowded, pell-mell, into an inn where we had taken shelter from a shower—for, of course, it rained before the morning was well begun. Our carter and peasant friends were often as muddy and always as thirsty, and yet they never were rude or vulgar. After the mud came a worn-out macadam road, where even the footpath was bumpy. On either side, stretched pine-woods and desolate uncultivated fields. There was nothing to suggest, that we were nearing a big town, the capital of the country. When we reached the paved road, when: we wheeled with comparative case, there were grinning soldiers instead of workmen. It would be hard to say where, during the mornings run, was the pleasure for people who journeyed professedly for no other object. Our first moment of comfort was when, machines and all a mass of dried mud, we proudly wheeled along the broad boulevards-now almost deserted, for it was the dinner-hour of Munich—to the Hotel Achatz. I wonder whether any other woman in the world in her senses would have taken such a ride for amusement!

From Berlin Budapest in 1892 (Chapter XVII)

ChapterXVII

We left Baireuth early on Monday morning. The exact sum set aside for “Tannhauser” tickets we had, in the meantime, squandered on beautiful last-century beer-mugs, with animals or youths or maidens prancing over them in a delightful arrangement of colour, and with pewter stands and tops. We have nothing to regret “Tannhauser” might have been an afternoon’s pleasure; the beer-mugs will be that hackneyed thing, a joy for ever—until they are broken. From Baireuth to Erlangen the ride was uneventful, though delightful; that is, if I except the morning’s floundering through the mud and the evening’s arrival in Erlangen just in time to be caught in a pelting thunderstorm. There is no question that the mud was awful—ugly, yellow, sticky mud, into which no self-respecting person would have fallen for worlds. It was so bad that for the first ten or twelve kilometres I saw nothing else except a most impressive regiment of Uhlans. We have, in our day, routed the Italian army completely, but the German cavalry invariably bore our charge without flinching. After the mud, however, we had our reward in the shape of a good road, of little villages full of white and grey cottages turning their huge gables to the street, where only the swarms of children were vile, and of the wooded hills and green valleys of the Franconian Switzerland—the second of the shams through which our travels led us. Like its Saxon rival, it was very pretty, and in one of the prettiest spots—at Beringersmuhle—where four valleys meet and hills rise high on every side, we found a quiet little Gasthaus, with tables under the trees in the garden, and there we dined. A couple of youths on a walking tour had stopped for beer, a large family drove up in a carriage for coffee, people sauntered in and out. And there were more tourists on the way as we went on to, and beyond, Muggendorf: among them no visible foreigners save ourselves, while the large majority were the overfed, overblown women always to be seen at the seashore or in the mountains, whose one mission in life is to take their ease, and from whom you turn with relief and respect to the unsexed women at work in the fields. It got prettier and prettier as the afternoon went on. In some places the hills rose in steep bare rocks, in others they were crowned with old castles which faced each other across the valley. The villages, somehow, came together better, the deep brown roofs clustering about the church spire, enormous painted crucifixes standing in the street, and of these, the smaller the village the more plentiful was the supply. The peasants were getting in the hay, and the road was full of ox-teams, and women in bright red handkerchiefs and skirts. We were well out of Switzerland, however, by the time we reached Furcheim, with its rows of hideous new German villas and its fine old market place, and moat turned into kitchen garden; and from here to Erlangen was a long stretch of good level road, with many pine woods on either side. And then, as I have said, down came the rain, and another soaking was the price we paid for having ventured to enjoy ourselves. Erlangen is a University town. We saw the photographs of Herr Professors in the shop windows, and the originals— presumably talking philosophy and unmistakably drinking beer—in the evening at the hotel, while two immaculate little Japs, in coats and trousers, played billiards in another room. In the University library there were Albert Purer drawings, which a polite professor, in the absence of the librarian, showed us, talking a French as shockingly bad as our German; and in the University garden there was a statue of a University hero on a prancing horse, almost as completely overgrown with a Virginia creeper as the pages and knights are with briar rose in Burne-Jones’s pictures. Having seen these things, we had exhausted Erlangen, and by eleven we were off in a wild hurricane to Nuremberg. It came into sight when we were about five kilometres out— a group of towers, flanked on each side by a long line of factory chimneys, in the middle of the plain. Those smoking chimneys were much in evidence as we drew nearer, and, only think, Oh, worse and worse!—as the epic of the Naughty Frederick says — the entrance to the town lay between two rows of modern villas! They were not what we had ridden to Nuremberg to see. Neither -was the bare ugly gateway, nor the street inside with its horse- car tracks; neither were the brand-new hotels, nor the commercial gentlemen in the dining-room of the Wittelsbach. This, a mediaeval town! You might as well call modern Rome a Roman city. The truth is, and I write it boldly, Nuremberg is one of the most over-rated places in the tourist’s itinerary. Go to Fritzlar or Frankenberg, to Rocamadour in France, to Assisi or Siena, if you want mediaevalism pure and simple. You cannot expect a town prosperous to-day to retain all its old architecture untouched—to resist the march of progress, as it is called. The narrow twisting alley – ways that once did duty for streets are not adapted to horse-cars; it is against all reason that an educated man who has once tasted the delights of the villa should put up with a fifteenth- century house! Nuremberg is eminently prosperous, and has suffered in consequence. Even the prosperity it owes to the tourist has told in the end, and the restorer has done his work with neatness and dispatch. So has the collector: in order to add one more to the shows of the town, he has filled the much belauded museum—probably the greatest rubbish-hole in Europe—with pictures that few artists would care to look at a second time; has even, with the zeal of the Vandal, torn leaves from old books to make a braver display of woodcuts and printed sheets. I do not want to be misunderstood. It would be nonsense to pretend that there is nothing to see in Nuremberg. We found plenty to delight us for the rest of that day and a great part of the next. There were the wonderful old churches with their rich sculptures, the squares with statue or well in the centre, the beautiful shrines and tablets stuck up every here and there on the tall houses, and, above all, that one stretch of the town wall which, probably, has been as often sketched and photographed as the mill at Iffley. But Nuremberg is essentially a town of beautiful “bits”; its reputation is that of a perfect whole. And what a tourists’ nest it is! No danger of the waiters at the hotels not speaking English here! In the churches you are given a printed guide in English, French, and German. And yet the wicked Joseph demanded one in Hungarian or Russian, and then persisted in talking what he alleged was Spanish. In the street the occasional native offers, in your own language, to show you the way. In the antiquity shops prices are regulated for English and American purses, as Joseph went to some pains to explain to the shopkeepers, who did not seem in the least grateful to him for his trouble. They told him he had better buy his beer-mugs elsewhere, and he thanked them and said that he had: his advice was disinterested. At the stationers’, shockingly bad process reproductions of old woodcuts, at a fabulous cost, are supposed to be fitted for the English-speaking market, a fraud which Joseph, turned public benefactor for the afternoon, also tried to make clear to its perpetrator. But “So?” was the stationer’s sole answer. Something of the Tit-Bits or Pearson’s spirit has entered into the keepers of Durer’s house, and a lottery ticket is your card of admission. We have our tickets yet, but I fear they are all the lottery will ever bring us. The day from Nuremberg was another of the red-letter days of our journey. It had its drawbacks, of course: I need not say that these were occasional rain and occasional mud. But then, on the other hand, we came to Schwabach, with a record- breaking champion in the hotel, and an uncommonly fine altar- piece by Wolgemut in the church; and Roth with its beautiful castle and a jolly stork’s nest up on a roof, a stork standing on one leg at its side ; and Ellingen, unmentioned by Baedeker, but with stately gates and architecture that recalled Italy and Palladio, and with outside a no less stately avenue of great trees, where we were pursued by the nastiest children we encountered in Germany ; and late in the evening Weissenburg, marvellously picturesque in the twilight, where we put up in a big rambling old inn facing the market square. Lovelier still was the day that followed—lovely, for all the thunderstorms.

From Berlin to Budapest in 1892 (chapter XVI)

Chapter XVI

At supper time our dining-room was crowded to overflowing and suffocation. And in the crowd at the head of one table sat Mark Twain, leading his expedition, studying his Meisterschaft system on the spot, prepared to “go grailing ” on the morrow, and looking very miserable withal! I am glad we saw him there. But for that we might wonder if he had ever been to Baireuth, so different were his impressions from ours. We can answer for the rain that Saturday afternoon when he arrived; it rained everywhere and every day in Germany last summer. But that “grand and lovely” building on high ground outside the town—where did he see it? Could he have meant the big, brick, barn-like Opera House, almost perfect inside, to be sure, but outside ugly, bare, a blot upon the landscape, despite its commanding position in the plain, which to architect of old would in itself have been an inspiration. And that“ bewilderingly beautiful scenery” that intoxicated the eye in “Parsifal”? Did he sleep through the performance and dream poet’s dreams, while we, awake and open-eyed, longed for the curtain to fall and hide architecture out of perspective and garden that might have been transported from a Surrey pantomime ?— Sir Augustus Harris, surely, would never have been guilty of such glaring gaudiness. And where was he in the intermission between the acts that he saw but one eating-house at the door of the Wagner Temple, people eating only at the tables which they had secured before hand? We can answer for having eaten sandwiches at one restaurant, cake at a second, and for having taken active part in a raid upon buffets set up all around the larger of the two, that suggested nothing but the descent of a horde of hungry travellers given five minutes for refreshments at a railway station. And that “pretty feature,”the musical call? Did he really look at the trumpeters in hats of every shape and stage of shabbiness, their umbrellas under their arms as they blew their blast, and not laugh? Of course he laughed—he was laughing all the time. He would not have been Mark Twain, our great American humorist, if he had not. And that is what makes those three recent articles of his about Baireuth so deliciously funny. They are a huge joke—ha, ha! It is true that it is not easy at first to see the point. In fact, you might take it seriously — ha, ha, ha! — when you read of the chief virtue in song, the melody, air, tune, rhythm—ha, ha !— and the music that makes you drunk with pleasure — ha, ha, ha!—if you did not know—ha, ha!—that it was Mark Twain—ha, ha, ha, ha ! Then the humour of it is exquisite—ha, ha!—only to be equalled by the “Jumping Frog” or the handwriting of Christopher Columbus—ha, ha ! Mark Twain as a critic of music! Are you not dying of laughter? And yet I have heard some helplessly dense people say that in these articles Mark Twain had tried to be serious, and was not funny at all. And this is the best joke of all—ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! The President of the United States of America has appointed Oct. 21 this year to be a general holiday, as it is the four- hundredth anniversary of the discovery of America by Columbus. The Pope has addressed an encyclical letter to the Italian, Spanish, and American Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church directing mass to be specially celebrated on Oct. 12, in memory of that great event. For the August Bank Holiday the Brighton and South- Coast Railway announce that the availability of the special cheap Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday tickets to the seaside will be extended to Wednesday, Aug. 3. On Saturday a fourteen-day excursion to Paris, by the picturesque route via Dieppe and Rouen, will be run from London by the special day express service, and also by the fixed night express service on Friday. Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, July 29 to Aug. 3, inclusive. Special Saturday to Tuesday tickets will also be issued from London to Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight and to Dieppe. On Bank Holiday, Monday, Aug. 1, day trips, at special excursion fares, will be run to Brighton, Worthing, Midhurst, Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight, Tunbridge Wells, Lewes, Eastbourne, Bexhill. St. Leonards, and Hastings. For the Crystal Palace holiday entertainments extra trains will be run to and from London as required by the traffic. The Brighton Company announce that their West- End offices—28, Regent Circus, Piccadilly, and 8, Grand Hotel Buildings, Trafalgar Square—will remain open until 10 p.m. on the evenings of Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday for the sale of the special cheap tickets and ordinary tickets to all parts of the line and to the Continent, at the same fares as charged at London Bridge and Victoria. Similar tickets at the same fares may also be obtained at Cook’s Offices, Ludgate Circus, 445, West Strand, 99. Gracechurch Street. 82. Oxford Street, and Euston Road; Gaze and Son, 142, Strand, and Westbourne Grove ; Hays’s, 4, Royal Exchange Buildings ; Meyers’s Offices, 343. Gray’s Inn Road, and 1A, Pentonville Road; and Jaking’s Offices, 6, Camden Road. 96, Leadenhall Street, and 30, Silver Street, Notting Hill Gate; also at the Army and Navy Stores. Victoria Street, Westminster.

From Berlin to Budapest in 1892 (chapter XV)

Chapter XV

Eger is so close to the frontier that we put down to German influence all its good qualities—its picturesque church and market-square, its delightful hotel, its decent landlord, who told us where to find cheap quarter in Baireuth. The nearer we came to the holy of Holies, the more we heard of the impossibility of getting tickets and of the iniquity of extortionate hotel-keepers; but now that it was within a day’s ride it would have been folly to turn back, and we started out the next morning without waiting for the Schntzen Fest—have we not at home seen the same celebration, which means hundreds of men in soft hats and feathers and green badges, marching to the noise of the brassiest of brass binds? A short run through pastoral country, with pretty villages standing in the midst of trees on the banks of little streams, brought us to the frontier. The Customs officers, who had let us ride into Bohemia without a question, would not let us ride out of it before they had found out where we were going, and what we had in our knapsacks, and what our business there was, anyway. But when, a little farther on, we passed the first blue-and-white pole of Bavaria and reached the first Bavarian village, though the inevitable German soldier was wandering about with his rifle, no one stopped us, and no one asked us a question, until we had stood so long on the pretty bridge facing the Custom House that curiosity brought one of the officers over to have a look at our machines. He was more interested in us as cyclists than as presumable smugglers, and there was no pretence of examining anything. And yet, when you are travelling across their frontier with a through ticket to London and your trunks registered to Charing Cross, these same Customs people will wake you up brutally in I the dead hour of the night and insist on going through every piece of your luggage separately! My note-book record in Bavaria, as in Bohemia, is of hills and beer, of clouds and rain. But, though the main conditions were the same, they differed in detail. The rich mass of the pines and firs under the fine grey skies, the colour of the distant black hills, the graceful birch-trees by the wayside, were a strong contrast to bare Bohemian stretches and to cherry- lined highways. There were fewer people, too, in the fields | and in the road; we had escaped the endless procession of peasants, and now again the women wore bodices. And what could have been more unlike the clear, amber Pilsener than the dark, molasses-tinged beer which we drank in the little inn of Thiersheim? Where Bavarian royalties, instead of their Austrian cousins, looked down from amid the great deer- antlers decorating the walls. By this time we were in the Fichtelgebirge, the mountains in which lies the “little out-of-the-way town of Baireuth,” as Wagnerites love to call it, though it is surrounded by many of the most popular summer resorts in Southern Germany, and though it is easily reached by railroad from Nuremberg, and though it is a huge, big, busy, flourishing place in itself. The landlord wanted us to go by way of Wunsiedel, for the sake of some of the most marvellous scenery—such mountains, such valleys, such cliffs!—no adjectives were good enough for them. I suppose we should have taken his advice, for the town was the birthplace of Jean Paul, and hero-worship, now we were bound for Baireuth, seemed eminently in our line ; but the road to Weissenstadt was far better, and when it comes to a question between hero-worshipping and easy riding, a cyclist never hesitates. At Weissenstadt there was a jolly old inn of the Post, with, outside, a huge and effective wrought-iron work sign; inside, a couple of women commercials, and a friendly man at a near table, who leaned over and said to us,“ Je parle Francais,” a compliment, surely, from a German. But when Joseph spoke to him in that language, his answer was,“ I speak English,” and this effort exhausted his accomplishments. The hills of Bavaria are less persistent and more reasonable than those of Bohemia. They do not go up and down out of sheer contrariness. When they were too steep for us to coast, or for the exhausted cyclists we met to climb, at least they led to something besides hills. For at the bottom we found pretty, narrow green valleys, winding with the mountain streams, and towns full of hotels, and tourists, and waiters in dress-coats. Nor did the rain fall at intervals all day, as in Bohemia; it reserved its forces until we were at the top of the last and worst hill of all, with Baireuth rising from the plain far below and beyond. Then came the deluge, and we were drenched to the skin long before we had walked—there was no riding— to the foot. On the long, straight stretch of poplar-lined road across the plain Joseph made the pace. I followed close behind, and we fairly flew, our macintoshes flapping in the wind and rivers pouring from our hats. Now that I look back, it seems a glorious ride, but at the time I thought it misery. I loathed the rain at all hours. But in the morning, when there was a chance of the sun coming out later and drying me, I could endure it. In the afternoon, when it meant to arrive damp and dripping in a large town or at a big hotel—why, then it was wholly and entirely unbearable. It takes a William Morris heroine—a prehistoric Amazon—to keep up an appearance with the water trickling from her hair and her garments clinging to her lithe form. I am not inordinately vain, but I do not enjoy being an object of derision for gods and men. The suburbs of Baireuth were more endless than that bit of road—dreary suburbs, full of dreary houses and grinning children. And the most provoking part of it all was that throughout Joseph remained a very Mark Tapley, and refused to be unhappy. But I amiably brought his pleasure to an end, and gave him a bad quarter of a minute by leaving my safety to its own devices, as in those first days, and letting it carry me straight across a gutter and deposit me on the damp brick sidewalk. This had the unexpected result, of putting me in a good humour, probably because for the first time Joseph’s temper was ruffled. “What possessed you to do such a stupid thing?” was all the sympathy he offered. After this, we walked the rest of the way. The cheap quarters recommended by our Eger landlord looked dismal. We had been roughing it enough all day to want now to be comfortable, and so we went instead to the first large hotel we came to, -where we were not turned away, not made to pay for all the months when no one comes to Baireuth, as we had expected, but were given a delightful front room looking over to a row of little houses, with Cook’s tourists, posing as Wagnerites, leaning from every cushioned window and watching more Cook’s tourists wandering sadly under umbrellas in the street below. And at once the head waiter offered us tickets for any and every Wagner performance at a good round sum. Baireuth is a capital place to go to when you want to meet friends. Before we had begun our supper we found one among the medley of Italians, Germans, English, and Americans at the long tables, and after supper he took us to the Bierkeller where Wagner used to go of an evening and drink beer and smoke a pipe, just like an ordinary mortal—only it was not a cellar at all, but a garret. It was jolly enough, however; trees in tubs were in the street in front, then there was a long tunnel-like entrance with mud floor, tables on one side, on the other, doors opening into vaulted rooms, and at the far end, a rickety flight of wooden steps which led up to a large square room, the walls covered with prints and plates, and beer-mugs on shelves—in a word, a provincial Chat Noir. There was to be no performance until“ Parsifal” on Sunday, so that we had all day Saturday to dispose of. We spent a good deal of it going to the Bank, where tickets were sold— hardly out of disinterested Wagnerism, I fancy—and where a superior young man, with blonde hair and excellent English, patronised us to such an unwarrantable extent that we felt like closing a bargain with the waiter on the spot. But, then, tickets cost less at the Bank. People who had theirs already seemed to have more trouble than we in putting in time. They lounged in front of the stationer’s opposite the hotel, where they were chiefly musical geniuses with long hair and soft hats. They stared by the hour in the shop-windows at the photographs of Siegfried and Parsifal, of Kundry and Venus, of the Master himself—side face, full face, three-quarters face—and at that monstrous cheap red glass goblet which looked as if it came from Birmingham, but which flaunting placards called the Holy Grail in “purpurglas und metalfuss.” They drove to the cemetery where Liszt is buried. They peered through the gates at Wagner’s house. They ate enormous table d’hote dinners. But in the afternoon there was a great stir in the place. Fresh tourists and trunks arrived every few minutes, and were deposited at every door.

From Berlin to Budapest in 1892 (ChapterXIV)

Chapter XIV

In Germany I drank beer under protest; in Bohemia with pleasure. It is so light that warm and thirsty after your morning’s work, you can take a great, long, refreshing drink and be none the worse, but much the better, for it, and everywhere it is brought to you cold as ice. The natives, too, when they talk a language you understand, are kind and friendly, and in this part of the country, as the rococo Statues grow fewer and fewer more and more of the people speak German. The entire company spoke it in the inn where we lunched, and where the motherly landlady, in a burst of amiability, offered me a bite of the cinnamon bun she was eating, which, apparently, she had made for herself as a special treat. The proprietor of the Post, if he spoke the truth, often rides from Sudan to Carlsbad in a day. But it is more probable that he lied. All cyclists do, so that it reflects no discredit upon him as a hotel-keeper, or as a cyclist either. It is only a way men and women -who ride cycles have when they talk about their performances; which means that my readers must decide for themselves how much of my story is to be believed. I can assure them, however, that they need be in no doubt when I say that, all that afternoon we toiled up and down, up and down through a country divided into countless patches of cultivated ground, between rows of cherry-trees, meeting a ceaseless procession of peasants, the women bearing the burdens and doing the work, the men smoking their long pipes, and that by the sunset hour we had got no farther than Lubenz. It was not a large village, nor was its best hotel much better than the inn where we had eaten our midday meal. But the room into which we were shown, though carpet-less, and with cheap pine beds and washing-stand and two chairs for all furniture, was fresh and clean. The bare floor was as white as constant scrubbing could make it, and the linen was spot-less. Bohemia is a clean country. As we had no idea of paying higher than Metropole rates in this small village, we asked how much the room would be. The landlord smiled warily, shifted from one foot to the other, and started downstairs without answering. We called him back. “It will not be two gulden.” he said. But we insisted, and at last he offered it to us for one about a shilling and nine- pence. To make sure of us in his turn, he locked up the bicycles in another room and pocketed the key, and charged for our beds with our supper. In France, in an inn of the same size, the room would have been atrocious, the dinner delicious. Here the supper was only passable. It was amusing, however, for the red cloth was laid in the common room below, where every little girl in the village, one after another, came in with a jug for beer, and where, around a table in the centre, a postman and two or three of his cronies, in soft felt hats and feathers, gathered for the evening pipe and Pilsener. It was funny to hear how the postman, who was an official, always, spoke German, even to answer his friends’ Bohemian. The next day’s ride was a queer contrast to the run from Schlan to Lubenz. We still had the hills, now with, now against us, now better, now worse, until, finally, in long steep zigzags, the road dropped from the hilly upland to the green hollow were Carlsbad lay, well shut in by mountains. But yesterday we had lunched in a wayside inn with peddler, and organ grinders and carters; this morning we breakfasted in the swellest hotel in Carlsbad with magnates and Idlers from every comer of the earth. For, if one day you eat cold sausages and butterless bread, the next you will have saved up enough to have Hungarian wine and pate de foie gras. Thus you can average your daily expenses. It may not be true economy but it is nice. We did not think we had a moneyed look, but the waiter did. When, modestly, we said we would like to wash our hands, we were led up three flights of stairs into a large bed-room, where two chambermaids came to bring one pitcher of water and a towel, and where a notice on the wall, explained in all civilised languages, that you were expected to fee all servants who looked at you, and it gave the tariff for it too. We were assured that there was notable a note, in the dining-room, the waiter came up rubbing his hands: what would we have? The bill of fare! We told him. But we could have anything, he explained; there was rosbif English. But we got our bill of fare in the course of time. We do not believe in paying fancy prices made for our special benefit. And then, no sooner had we given our orders than we saw the menu of a breakfast to begin at twelve-that is, an hour later. The soup he brought was taken back to the kitchen. It is not only in the small village that the Bohemian will cheat you if he can.

The springs were under repair. All sorts of pipes and appliances were being laid down and set up in the colonnade- and it looked as if it were going to take a steam-engine to get those waters to work again. In the streets the most conspicuous objects were the Polish Jews, in long black caftans, a corkscrew curl over each ear, and unkempt beards. We expected to find the streets here a new edition of the Row or of the Bois de Boulogne; instead, they swarmed with creatures who would have seemed more at home in Bethnal Green or Batignolles. We wondered whether Carlsbad had been made a Headquarters for Baron Hirsch’s emigrants. It was only many days later that a Pole we met on the road explained that the place is as popular with Polish Jews as with crowned heads of Europe. After Carlsbad we came to the one and only real castle we saw in Bohemia. It was in El Imogen, and it stood well on a wooded hill, with the river flowing round it-a Bohemian Durham. We sat down by the roadside to have a look at such an unexpected sight, when three cyclists, feet up, coasted madly by. They waited for us in the town, wheeled slowly over the paving, when; we, with better sense, walked, and across the bridge beyond, and then they asked if they might ride with us. We could not say no, but it made me rather nervous How would I succeed in getting on my machine I had not yet had two days’ practice. However, with Joseph’s help I made a creditable start: and if I tumbled once without provocation and Knocked over the whole procession, later climbed a long hill with great distinction. They were scorchers, and did their best to run away from us, until, before long, they stopped for their first drink, and they kept on drinking the rest, of the way. In every little town we missed them, and then in five or ten minutes they would overtake us, and say that they were so thirsty they had stopped for beer. And in front of wayside farmhouses we left them, great cups of milk in their hands. Towards evening, however, we let them get well ahead. Why should one tear when the road is good, the country pretty, and the sun setting behind far wooded hills, its light tailing here and there on a broad pool in the open fields, or between the pines by the wayside? But when someone who wants to get on is riding with you, you are bound to keep up with him, and so you hang the sunset, and put your head down and scorch! But once rid of them, there was nothing to hurry us, and at this hour we always loved to linger as we rode. Believe me, there are few greater pleasures in life than to cycle through a fair land at the hour of sunset in the peaceful quiet of the closing day. Eger was a fitting end to the afternoon’s riding. Its beautiful square was gaily decorated with greens and a triumphal arch was raised at one end, as if to celebrate our coming. But they were quick to tell us at the hotel that all this display was in preparation for a grand Schutzen Fest to be held on Sunday. Here, instead of the carpet-less room, with its cheap pine beds of the night before, we slept in a palatial apartment, with large bow window overlooking the square, and great silver candelabra set upon the table, and yet we only paid a gulden more than in the humbler quarters. If you travel by road in Bohemia, one day you may be treated as a pauper, but the next you fare as a prince.

From Berlin to Budapest in 1892 (Chapter XIII)

Chapter XIII

As we pushed our bicycles over the paying of Prague, a young man stepped up to us and a crowd gathered. He was a Freemason of the wheel, disguised in everyday dress; they were men; idle loafers. While they stared, he directed us out of the town-he was an unpatriotic young Czech, and spoke German-planned a new route for us, and sent us on our way rejoicing, for he said the road from Prague to Carlsbad was the best in Bohemia. We crossed the bridge, we toiled up the hill, we followed the horse-car tracks, we rode and walked through an endless suburb, past the enormous fortifications, past a great monastery with the feeling of the East in its many domes: we were at last in the open country; but all the good road we found was in the young man’s promise. Up and down we went, on foot the greater part of the time; and the road stretched a straight line in front of us, so that at the top of every hill we foresaw our coming martyrdom. The surface was so bad it kept us to the narrowest footpath; and that we should have fared no better with our faces turned the other way we knew by the weary cyclist bound for Prague, who sat on the grass mopping his face, his tall ordinary propped up against the tree, behind him. All disagreeable things are sure to come together. Of course we lost our way in the hills, and made our journey twice as long as it need have been; and equally, of course, everybody to whom we appealed for help gave us different directions. The road- mender told us to keep on; a polite man, out walking with his wife, told us to go back. We were so bewildered that I remember one village through which we rode four times, to the joy of all the youthful population. Then, so long were the kilometres that every town we came to we were certain must be Schlan, where we made up our minds we would spend the night. But it always turned out to be some other place, until we began to think we were hopelessly off the track and would never come to Schlan at all Nothing reconciled me to life, save the honours —musical honours once —we received by the way. In the road an old organ-grinder, in a small cart, pulled by a woman, at sight of us stopped in the middle of the road, seized his organ, and ground out vigorously a stirring, wheezy march, and its gasps and hoarse gurgles floated after us until we were out of hearing. In a town men at their shop-doors in the square, cried “Bravo! Bravo!” as we passed. But my first happy moment was when, after the sun had set. we wheeled up in front of the Hotel of the Post in Schlan. It was run by a young enthusiast with three machines in his hall, and an irreproachable English cut to his clothes. Even his vest was in the very latest Piccadilly fashion, and the only thing that gave him away was the point to his boot-. He was waiter as well as proprietor, and as he was so mu h more elegant than we had ever hoped to be, we were a trifle embarrassed to know what to do about feeing him It was awkward to offer such an imposing person the regulation half-dozen or so kreutzers. But there was another man, a native evidently, having his supper at a near table, and we watched to see how he would manage. As he left the usual coppers on the table, we ventured to do the same, and the young swell came and took them as gratefully as a common waiter, and became in return quite amiable and confidential. It was from Schlan that the road was so very good, he said, and he drew such a glowing picture of the pleasure awaiting us that we forgot that the youth in Prague had been as enthusiastic about the run to Schlan. Naturally, it rained in the morning, and, quite as naturally, the flood did not begin until we were out of the town. It seemed too late to turn back, and, hoping that perhaps it was only a passing shower, we went and stood in the tall grass under a cherry-tree, where peasants, on the way from the market in Schlan, were standing too. But the rain kept on about us steadily as it knew how: it began to get damp under the cherry-tree, and we started a second time. Then floundering in the mud, I tumbled off my machine, and Joseph

had to help me on when I promptly fell a second time. After that, we tried waiting under the trees again, then we rode a little, then we decided to go back to Schlan, and we went about half a kilometre towards it. Then we thought that would be nonsense, and we turned our faces once more in the direction of Carlsbad. Then I fell off some more. It was awful. When I fell for the sixth time, Joseph got off his machine and waited for me to catch up to him. The rain for the minute had stopped. “I am sick and tired of this sort of thing,” he said; “we won’t go another foot until you have learned to get on by yourself.” For, so far, I have carefully concealed the fact that, though I had cycled it from Cologne to Berlin and from Berlin to Prague, I could not yet mount my safety unless Joseph steadied it by holding the saddle. This was all very well at our first start in the morning. But there were times when it became an unqualified nuisance— when, for example, a rut or a stone brought me to my feet, or I came off for no particular reason, but much to my own surprise. Joseph might be yards ahead at the time; if he did not happen to look back, he might, and often did, ride out of sight. He would go on communing with nature or something; I would stand by the roadside screaming! Though he says my scream is not a success-it is too much like the squeak of an indiarubber doll. He declared that he was either perpetually turning his head to see if I was all right, or else waiting half an hour at a time for me to overtake him. As for me, it was not much more amusing. Many a long walk, pushing mv machine, was I forced to take sorely against my will. And now and then I was in positive danger, as on the ever-memorable morning when a vicious cur ran out barking from a farmhouse and caught my skirt between its teeth. I had warned Joseph. as long ago as that first day out of Calais, that, this would happen. I called wildly, “Joseph! Joseph!” but, as usual, he did not hear me. Brought to the ground, I should be at the mercy of the beast-there was no escape. But, fortunately it had barked itself out of breath, and could not keep its hold for more than a minute, and I stuck to my machine like grim death. Now, I knew that Joseph was right, But it was so much easier to put off the evil moment. I feebly expostulated. “No,” he said, “It’s perfect nonsense, and we won’t move until you era do it yourself.” He leaned on the saddle of his machine and watched. “Now get on.” “The wind is right in my face,” I groaned. “Turn your machine around,” was his cheerful suggestion. “lt’s always the way,” I told him; “you always choose the wrong time. I’m so hungry I don’t know what to do with myself. My strength’s all gone.” “I don’t care if it is,” was his one and only answer. l have got to get on, or we won’t stir from this place all day.” Well, of course. I did get on: not at the first trial, or the second, or at the third, but at the fourth, and, though there were tears in my eyes, I was intensely proud when I wheeled away all by myself. And when another heavy shower almost immediately forced me to jump off again and put on my macintosh, Joseph had to beg very humbly before I would let him help me mount, in the old fashion, because, he explained, it was so much harder in the rain and with my long cape catching in the saddle. I was quite in earnest when I said that I was hungry; but all we got for breakfast was cold sausages and bread and beer, which we ate in company with a wandering organ-grinder, a peddler, and two carters in a village inn. Bohemia is not the ideal land for the hungry cyclist: long kilometres lie between good meals. But the smallest Bohemian in, with its big bare room furnished with rough chairs and tables, and a selection of the royal family on its walls is immaculately clean. In primitive, and out-of-the-way places you are served with rolls which in London are only to be had at the Vienna Bakery; and when it comes to the beer—Pilsener beer—why, then I wish I were a poet to sing its praises aright.

From Berlin to Budapest in 1892 (ChapterXII)

Chapter XII

The only trees we came to were the cherry-trees by the roadside, and then there was no eating the cherries in peace. If we picked them, even if Joseph reached up for them from his bicycle—a bit of trick – riding which I did not seek to emulate—a dog barked, a woman screamed, or a man swore from the ditch or from the little straw hut pitched under the trees. I believe the fruit belongs to the commune, and when picking time comes the people send out their watchman to guard it and save it from the traveller. They were friendlier in Saxony, where, on the road from Dresden to Konigstein, no one objected to our helping ourselves and eating as much as we could. The towns and villages were as over-civilised, in the modern sense, as the country was over-cultivated. We had not journeyed all this distance to see nothing but staring new apartment houses and town halls, not half so good as those at home. What is the use of an old country if it has no old stuff to show for its years? We passed a few churches with eastern-like domes for belfries, a convent with beautiful renaissance portal, and the castle of Raudnitz, and that was all, except those irresistible rococo statues which the Morris school would declare debased, but which to our unregenerate taste were a never-ceasing delight. Everywhere, in roadside shrines, in little chapels of their own, in the market-squares, in the churches, were the deliciously affected, self-conscious Madonnas and saints, and the conceited, posing little angels with chubby hand, pretending to wipe the tears from one eye while with the other they looked to see the effect upon the passer by. The rest, however, was modem-hopelessly modern. There must have been a big building boom in the north of Bohemia somewhere about the year 1888, the favourite date on street paving and pretentious buildings, but, like so many booms in America, it apparently had come to nothing. Some of the largest houses had never been finished, but stood, ruined before they were built—a melancholy moral for social and industrial reformer. The towns were given over to modern Improvements, the villages—those immaculately clean little villages—to geese. Once, in a village shop-window, among a distressing lot of tin and china trash, we found a beautiful large jar, the only thing we wanted in the whole course of our Bohemian ride. However, you cannot Carry bric-a-brac of that kind on a bicycle, especially over roods where you feel as if you yourself might full to pieces any minute. As for the people, there was not a sign of the dreamy sadness and strange mysticism of the Slav that one is forever reading about. They worked with a dogged energy and commonplace industry that would not have been out of the way in Zola’s peasants. In no other country is it so impossible to remain unconscious of the surplus population question and the hopelessness of the peasant’s fate. In Germany, or during other rides in France, in Italy, in England, we sometimes had the road to ourselves; in Bohemia, never. There was always someone just behind us or just in front of us, always toilers, chiefly women, in the fields. The one touch of Arcadian freedom was in the group of young girls bathing at noon in a pool by the roadside just on the outskirts of a large village, who ran to the bank when they saw us, and stood there as we passed, unabashed as Eve before she ate the apple, while the water trickled off their naked bodies. From the moment we first saw Prague, it impressed us as the most theatrical city we had ever seen off the stage. Nothing could have been more dramatic than our first glimpse of it from the distance. It had been a long day’s run from Aussig, doubly tiresome because of the hills and the heat, which was intense, and we counted upon staying in a village ten kilometres or more on the Aussig side of Prague. But when we reached it we found no hotel, and a native cyclist assured us there was none by the way, though we were quite sure that the house in front of which he stood was an inn; and so, though the sun had set, and now and then rain fell in a light drizzle, we had to keep on. There was nothing to do but to pull ourselves together and settle down to hartd work. When the way was dreariest and the evening gloomiest, suddenly below us — the road turning sharply without our realising it—millions of lights hinged up in the darkness: lights in long lilies, lights in circles, lights in fantastic arabesques, all leading up to one high flaming pyramid. This was what we should have seen oh the Brocken. It was a spectacle which, had Sir Augustus Harris or Mr. Irving invented it would have doubled his fortune in a season. But, though these were the lights of Prague, the road left them far behind, and went on and on through endless crowded suburbs. And the drizzle turned into drenching rain, and the mud, as we neared the town, grew deeper, and we walked and walked and walked—first in the middle of the road, then along a dark, shady path, thou on the pavement under dim street lamps, for Prague, now we were in it, was as dingy as it had been brilliant from the distance. We were so miserable that we took refuge in the first hotel we reached, without looking at its name, and, what was of more account to us, without asking its prices; for, to be done with a disagreeable subject. I might us well say hear that in Bohemia you must bargain as in Italy, since the Bohemian, like the Italian, will cheat you if he can, though, unlike the Italian, when you find him out, he does not see the honour of it, but, if you object, threatens to call the police. The hotel was unpretending, really nothing more than a large beer-hall. But our room, which, I must admit, was large and clean and comfortable, cost us more than in the large hotels of Berlin and Vienna. It is by the river that Prague is most theatrical, when one looks to its cathedral and palace-crowned hill from the bridge where the rococo religious figures strike attitudes in a long line on either side. The bridge was being restored when we were there, and many of the statues had been put away for the time. But I hope and believe they are to be faithfully put back again in their old places, for the delight of the world and the greater comfort of the pious native, who crosses himself— or, more generally, herself—before each statue in turn, by no menus a light task. Much depends upon this restoration, for, without the bridge the picturesqueness of Prague would lose its special and delightful quality. Not that I would make light of the cathedral, which is striking in position, impressive architecturally, and full of fine detail, even though its nave is being built for the first time to-day. Nor would I deny the beauty and interest of the old Romanesque church, of the town hull and so many other ancient houses, of the hilly streets, of those marvellous gates, each one more theatrical than the last, or of the dominican monastery on the brow of the hill, where the affable little father took us through the library and showed us shells and minerals we did not want to see, all the time talking his soft musical Bohemian to two friends, and where, in the green space outside, I watched the Father Superior walking peacefully in the morning sunshine and patting the passing children on the head, while another monk took J to see the Albert Durer, which hangs in the innermost cloisters, where women are not allowed to go. There were plenty of tourists about, but none were English, and it was because old Prague seemed to us so inexhaustible that we found no time for the great Exhibition which young Czechs were then doing their best to turn into political capital. However, when all is said, the fact remains that while Prague cannot boast a monopoly of Romanesque and Gothic architecture, of hills and monasteries, its bridge knows no rival throughout the world. The rococo statues are the most characteristic feature of northern Bohemia, and on the bridge of Prague they reach their highest rococo perfection.

 

From Berlin to Budapest in 1892 (XI)

Chapter XI

We stayed in Dresden a week, mid had we waited n few flays longer we might have enjoyed the double spectacle of cycle championships and royalty. But if there is one fact upon which we both agree, it is that cycles are made for the road and not for the track, and to us cycle racing is but vanity and vexation. And so, to the infinite disgust of the hotel porter, who had tickets of admission to the race-course to sell, we turned our backs upon Dresden just as cyclists from far and near were hurrying towards It. “Brace up,” said Joseph, “don’t tumble off!” And I looked down the road, and then came a Saxon club, and in the middle, well-guarded on every side by men on ordinaries, were two women on safeties – two rival Palaces of Delight. My greatness at once went from me : no longer did J monopolise the laughs by the wayside. But for comfort, and with spontaneous amiability, Joseph  told me that I rode far better than they. Germany, now that we were about to leave it, became more picturesque the farther we went. Our road followed the Elbe, and brought us first to Pima, on a hill overlooking the river, where, in the fine old market square, we found a brass band, in top hats, playing the “Racoczy,” the national Hungarian air. We took this for a good omen: were we not on the way to Hungary? To be sure, it was some distance off yet, but in an hour or two we should be in Bohemia, which to us meant a land as remote and as wild and as Eastern. Perhaps because we were in particularly good spirits we could imagine—though as a rule we are not over-imaginative—that we heard in the “Racoczy” a farewell to the familiar Western civilisation, a welcome to Orientalism and all its wonders. Certainly, when we had crossed the wide tableland along the road lined with cherry- trees to Konigstein, the famous fortress on its hilltop, impressive and fine as Edinburgh Castle, looked as if it were prepared to defy all the Eastern hordes that ever devastated Europe. But, after Konigstein, we were not yet in Bohemia. There came first a ride, that would have been enchanting had not the greater part of it been a walk, through the Saxon Switzerland. I do not know how many sham Switzerlands there are in Europe: we came to three in the course of the summer’s journey. But the Saxon is a very creditable sham, with its winding green valleys, its dark pine forests, and its rocky precipices, where there are enough “needles” and ‘‘old men” and “gendarmes” to stock a whole guide-book. And there were tourists enough on the road and in the villages to pay them the usual honours—rude tourists, who smiled superciliously when they saw me walking on an up-grade, delighted tourists, who applauded when they saw me coasting, polite tourists, who directed us on the way. We never knew when we crossed the frontier. There was no visible Customs station, there were no Customs officers, German or Austrian, to ask us where we were going or what we had in our knapsacks. But we knew that Tyssa was a Bohemian town, and so, when we reached it and found it one solid mass of booths and merry-go-rounds and people, we fancied a distinct difference in the character of the faces, just as we saw a distinct change of costume in the handkerchiefs worn, by the women on their heads. There was an open- air circus going on, and we stopped to look. The performance might have been in a little English town; and as for the fair It might have been any place, except, that never had we seen so many boots for sale in our life. But then, at that time, we had not yet been to Hungary. I was a Palace of Delight again before the afternoon was over; my Saxon rivals could never have crossed the frontier, indeed, I made almost too great a sensation on the outskirts of Aussig, where endless beer-gardens line the highway. And I think every man, woman, and child accompanied us in our search for an hotel through the town, which looks as if it sprung up overnight and might tumble down before morning. Aussig would have left a blank in my note-book had we not there had our first experience with Austrian money, which its a delusion and a snare. It takes weeks to master the difference between a gulden and a mark—that is, if you come, as we did, from Germany into the Austrian Empire. You look at the bill of fare and think.“ How cheap!” and you order recklessly. And then, when you pay, you realise suddenly that you have spent twice as much as yon meant to. More welcome to the thrifty woman is the Austrian custom of paying as you eat in the restaurant or cafe of your hotel: but, if an excellent plan for the guests, it is in the long run, I fancy, the landlord s loss. There was nothing very wild or Oriental about Aussig, as brand-new as a town in the far west of America, and we hurried away from it at five the next morning. But it was not too early for servants we had never laid eyes upon to insist peremptorily on being tipped. This demanding of tips, be it noted, is also another Austrian custom; the average Austrian waiter would be rejected, I think, everywhere else, for he is as importunate as a Neapolitan cab-driver and almost as dirty as a Polish Jew. Beyond the town the rood was uncivilised enough to make us long to be back in civilisation, and on the other side of the ” Racoczy ”und the unknown wonders we had been rhapsodising about only the day before. It was a by-road at first with ruts in which our wheels were half buried, and mud that in places was up to our shoe-tops. It spoiled the pleasure of what might have been a lovely morning’s ride by the Elbe, where it winds beneath high hills, many vine- clad, and crowned with church or monastery or little town. I think it was after Lobositz, which, like Aussig, had that look of having sprung up in a night and being on the point of as speedy a collapse, that we struck the high road; but I would not like to be too sure, the difference was so slight. The one advantage was that there was an apology of a side path, where, once or twice, the Austrian soldiers, in their red caps, coining up to our Oriental expectations, politely got out of the way for us. But it was not much to boast of, and, beyond the next town, it ended suddenly in a sand-heap and a big pool, across which We had to be ferried in company with a postman. It did the same thing again—this main highway to the capital—in the afternoon, on the shores of a widish river, where an old gilded state-coach, turned into omniibus, was waiting for the ferry. But its worst feature was its execrable engineering, or, rather, want of engineering. It run across the country in a long, straight line, taking in every hill, rushing straight up at its steepest angle, and, as there are nothing but hills thereabout, our ride was very much like climbing up and down an endless succession of cathedral roofs, I never knew that wretched road to turn from its straight course except when by chance the hills it loved were a little to its right or left; then it made a bee-line for them. But it would not go an inch to one side, even over a level, to let us pass through a town where there was something to eat, and at noon we had to choose between riding several kilometres out of our direct route, or else pushing on dinnerless. We decided for the dinner– “ naturlich, ‘ as the Germans say. But a more ill-tempered person than I when I reached the decent commercial hotel of Randnitz you would haveto travel far to find: and the walk alterwards along another atrocious by-road in the burning hot sunlight of three o’clock did not help to put me in good humour again. And then we both resented the fact that the people and the country were not in the least what we had expected. It is a mistake to have preconceived ideas about a place. Where was the wildness of our ideal Bohemia? I do not think that we were over-romantic or unreasonable. We had not looked for an arid waste, or the jungle, or an African desert in the heart of Europe. We had hoped modestly for a sort of natural Sherwood or Fontainebleau, forest and heath unreclaimed, not preserved. And it was trying to find, instead, a land over cultivated, over-civilised, over-populated. Why, there was not a slope or a level space where the plough had not passed and seed been sown.

From Berlin to Budapest in 1892 (chapter X)

Chapter X

It took place in the Bellevue Café at the hour of afternoon coffee, when the tall glasses with the layer of cream on top are the delicious shadows which the coming Vienna casts before. But, still, the very nicest thing we saw in Berlin was not Prussian or German at all, but unmistakably American. For it was in the same cafe that we, one evening, came face to face with Mr. Harold Frederic, then on his way to study the Jews in Russia, but with a little philanthropy to spare and to spend upon two stray fellow-countrymen alone in a foreign world. Had he not started eastward in a few days, there is no telling how much longer pressing business might have detained us in the capital. But once he was gone, my dress finished to everybody’s satisfaction, and the bicycle’s back wheel half concealed under leather, it seemed high time to be off again. With our start from Berlin, our journey, according to our original plans, really begun. We had first decided to ride “From Berlin to Budapest on a Bicycle,” and afterwards, when we set out from Cologne, for the sake of alliteration, we did not change our title with our minds. We took the train to Potsdam. The Road-Book of the Cyclists’ Touring Club describes the road that lies between as bad. We have since been assured that it is one of the best in Germany, and but for the folly of Berlin police regulations, which allow tricycles but not bicycles to be ridden through the streets, there is no reason why one should not, as in London, cycle it from the very hotel door. If a plain were a trial to Tristram Shandv, the greatest of all travel writers, what can lesser men—and women—do but get over it as quickly as possible? The level, with its pine woods and lakes and its wide cultivated fields, stretched almost all the way to Dresden. The only new thing in the landscape was my gown, which worked admirably. Even when we stopped at night in the little town of Grossenhain there was nothing to break the monotony of our experience. The landlord at the inn like all other well-regulated German landlords, had been to America, and had several sisters and brothers and friends still there. This was no novelty. But he also had a bicycle, which gave extra warmth to his friendship. Every other person about here seems to ride a bicycle or a tricycle. We never met so many machines as we did the next morning on the way to Dresden, still on a level road, but coming out presently on the river and passing the picturesque town of Meissen on a little hill above it. We were exchanging grunts for All Heils the entire distance, until, after defying the policeman on the bridge, we had pulled up in front of Weber’s Hotel. We found Dresden charming in its contrast to Berlin, and is full of character as the Prussian capital is without any. Already the Berlin palaces and museums in my memory have become confused with a hundred and one other buildings of the same date and style. But, the world over, you can find but one Zwinger: it Is impossible to forget it. A rococo monstrosity, according to the Neo- Gothic school, It is a delight to those who like to be amused, and who can take architecture artistically just as they would painting. Dresden has its vile new streets, and plenty of them too, and its display of modem shops and modern buildings. But the whole town would have to be razed to the ground before the bounty of its lines, as you see it from the Elbe, could be destroyed. And near the Z winger, under the shade of the Bruhl Terrace, in the market-place, all about the Old or Augustus Bridge, the triumphs of the jerry builder and the sanitary reformer can be forgotten. Very much as it is now must the town have looked in days when those bewigged gentlemen in the pastel room of the gallery devoted their lives to something better and more joyous than sanitary reform and the greatest happiness of the greatest number. That Dresden has not yet branched out as a model modem city is the more to its credit, as its temptations have been great. It swarms with English and Americans, who theoretically adore the old and practically demand the new wherever they go. We heard our native American as she is spoke on every side: we met Englishwomen—De Maupssant’s “Mees Old Maids”—wherever we went: in the Zwinger, on the Terrace, in the shops, by the river, but, above all, in Dresden’s holy of holies, the shrine of the Sistine Madonna. Those who have folded their hands and worshipped in whispers before Holman Hunt’s “Innocents” here bow in awe before the great original of all blither in art. I loved that little room; I loved the faces of the worshippers—expectant, bewildered, resigned, enraptured, ecstatic, and weary. For, truth to tell, if all come professedly to worship, sheer exhaustion drives many to that famous corner-room. It is the most respectable place in all the gallery for a quiet rest, since here a vacant stare may pass for boundless appreciation, a surreptitious nap for overwrought feeling. But to us the greatest charm of this charming Saxon capital was the outdoor life of the people. There is nothing quite like it in Berlin or Munich, or any other big German town through which we passed. To all the many open – air restaurants, at course, we had not time to go. Our favourites were by the river-side: first, the Belvedere, high up on the Terrace, unmistakably“ the meet of the best society,” as the Caffe Venezia in Rome ingenuously called itself. It was all white and gilt, with half its chairs and tables in the large hall, where the orchester played, half in the garden, from which you could look down upon the Elbe and its lights. It had its regular groups of officers, whose presence confirmed at once its cheapness and its excellence, padded and laced creatures, with a glass in one eye, ogling all the plump young German girls, just as they do In Schlittgen’s drawings. And it had its family parties, mother and daughters very prim and proper and elegant. Strong as was the English contingent, it could not lessen the German character of the place. You paid half a mark, I think it was, and then you could sit all the evening at one of the little white tables, whether you ordered an elaborate supper or a single glass of beer. The other, nearer the Zwinger, was a beer-garden of the people, also by the river-side, but low down on the water, with a floating band stand, which rocked gently up and down with every passing boat and barge, and where, when twilight had entirely faded, there was a fine display of fireworks — Roman candles, sky-rockets, and calcium lights – watched with rapture by a free audience hanging over the parapet of the near bridge. The military element here, too, was strong, but never rose in rank above a sergeant; and the family parties, as a rule, brought their sausages and bread done up in newspaper in their pockets, and ordered only beer. Why cannot Londoners spend their summer evenings in this same pleasant fashion? Why must a big exhibition, with blazing lights and circus side-shows, all noise and confusion, be their substitute for the quiet, homelike gardens of Dresden, where mothers bring their knitting and fathers their evening cigar, and friends meet for a quiet talk?

From Berlin to Budapest in 1892 (chapter IX)

Chapter IX

I have told Joseph’s story of his adventures by the way; now I must tell mine. There was little pleasure in the latter part of my journey to Berlin. For when the train steamed out of the Potsdam station, from the carriage window I saw my bicycle alone and unprotected on the platform, where It had no business to be. The guard, to whom I appealed by showing my receipt, managed to explain that I should find it in the Potsdamer Bahnhof in Berlin, but that could not keep me from worrying for the rest of the way, while I pictured myself bicycleless and forlorn. I, in my turn, was deposited in some unknown station on what seemed the outskirts of the city. I asked the porter, who under protest, as it were, took my knapsack, to call me a cab; the Hotel Bellevue, to which we had decided to go, fortunately being in the Potsdamer Platz, close to the station of the same name. That he understood shows how carefully I had studied my phrase-book since our adventure at Cologne. He looked at me a minute a look that took me in from head to foot—and then he said that there was a horse-car which went in my direction, and which would be much cheaper. Whatever I had thought of my shabbiness before, there could be no doubt of it now. I have my little economies, but this did not seem the time to weigh the difference between a mark and a pfennig. To present myself at the hotel in my rags alone, and without the machine to account for them, was bad enough, but to arrive on foot, or to jump out of a horse-car at the front door with a muddy knapsack in my hand—no, that was quite out of the question. If the student is the most amusing product of Germany, the hotel porter is the most useful. He is an impressive creature in gold braid and buttons, and usually many rings on his fingers, and the best you hope from him is a little mildness in his snub. But he is amiability itself. He never loses his temper, though it is his special duty to answer every question on every subject from every traveller from morning till night. He is a mine of information. There is not anything he does not know, mid he talks all civilised languages under the sun, apparently with equal ease. He is quite, a genius, a universal provider of facts, and yet the mark you offer with diffidence he accepts with alacrity. I suppose the gorgeous person I see in the hall of the Grand or the Metropole belongs to the same species. But, then, we would never dare to ask him a question or give him anything less than a sovereign, and as we cannot afford this, we have always steered clear of him. At the Hotel Bellevue the porter received me with the discernment of his kind, and, outwardly at least, never once questioned my respectability. To repay him for his confidence, I sent at once for a large bag we had forwarded by express, threw off my rags and came downstairs, looking somewhat creased and rumpled, but still, though I say it myself, far more presentable. Outside, in the large Potsdamer Platz, men were selling red carnations, and the bunch which I bought and stuck in my belt seemed to complete the transformation. I felt that I had once more returned to civilised life. My bicycle I found at the station none the worse for its in independent journey, for there seems to be a kind Providence that watches over riderless machines; and, these matters being attended to, and Joseph arriving in the course of the evening, we settled down to the chief business which detained us in Berlin. This was to buy me a new gown. No woman knows what, a serious and solemn thing a new gown is until she has bicycled. On a tricycle you can wear anything, provided it is appropriate and substantial. And so it was in “ anything”— by chance, it was an old river dress—that I started on my bicycle. I could tell a harrowing tale of the disasters that followed. My skirts, blowing gracefully in the breeze, were wound up in the spokes of the wheel, wore themselves into holes, and brought me in pain and sorrow to the ground. The lining and the innocent little pleating at the bottom caught in the projecting points of the pedals, were ripped off In yards, and strewn in bits on the road from Cologne to Berlin. I had my dress shortened in Bruges, the points filed down from my pedals in a nameless roadside village, but it was no use my skirts still caught, and all my leisure minutes were spent needle and thread in hand. Naturally, while on the road, we both thought a great deal about my gown—too much, indeed. But the result of our study was that in Berlin we ordered the perfect dress. .Joseph, upon whose nerves my troubles were beginning to tell, was its inventor. I am afraid there is no chance of his patenting it, but I can at least give him the credit he deserves. From one year’s end to another the chances are he knows nothing of the colour or cut of my clothes; but now he took matters in his own hands, went boldly into a shop in Unter den linden, selected the material, and in execrable German gave all the directions. men invariably make the best dressmakers. Worth and Redfern—could you ask for better? Joseph’s dress—that is, mine-was a triumph. As I hope I have a few women among my readers, I will describe it, that they may profit by his cleverness. The skirt was without foundation, without pleats or ruffles; it had no hem or lining on the inside, no unnecessary fullness in the back. Whatever snares the bicycle-maker might lay for it in the way of points and unguarded wheels, there was absolutely nothing to catch. It was the ordinary length; I could wear it in the street and pass unnoticed. But, and this was its great feature, by a system of hooks and eyes, simple enough to be understood by a child, just before I got on the machine I could shorten it so that it only reached my ankles. You see the advantage. My blouse and jacket were like all others, since, Joseph’s powers of design had been exhausted upon the skirt. As a still further preventive against accidents, we sent the machine to a cycle shop and had another piece of leather added to the dress-guard, so that the entire upper half of the wheel was covered. And now a last word upon this important subject: let no woman who bicycles, as she values her life, wear a dress with inner lining or hem, or superfluous folds and drapery; let her refuse to be satisfied with the miserable section of a dress-guard, which the average cycle-maker will assure her is all-sufficient. Our time was not entirely given to dress designing. There were intervals when we saw much of Berlin, surely the most provincial capital in Europe. Not even the multitudes of gorgeous and immaculate officers —blonde, big, and insolent— not even the endless march of soldiers, not even the collection of palaces and museums, or the gaiety of Bauer’s and the Bellevue Cafe could give it the air of a great city, the centre of an empire. I think we did most of the correct things. I know that we went to all the galleries, old and new, and looked at so many pictures that, with the Royal Academy and the Salons fresh in our memory, we felt that the man who added one more to the world’s collection would be the lowest of criminals, the enemy of the people. We lost our way in the Thier- garten, and spent our evenings at Kroll’s. We shopped in Unter den Linden—to compare it to the boulevards of Paris is sacrilege in the near streets and in the arcades where we looked upon the Master—I mean Ibsen—in wax and in stone and in oils: clearly Ibsenism flourishes in Berlin. We had enormously good dinners given to us at Uhl’s and Hiller’s, and we were interviewed that we might know our arrival as correspondents of the Illustrated London News in the capital to be an event, and that we might learn what a very pleasant function interviewing may be made.

From Berlin to Budapest in 1892 (chapter VIII)

Chapter VIII

But we were not especially anxious to climb that last mountain, down which it bad been hard work to walk holding our machines, and so all we saw of the Brocken was that one unimpressive glimpse. Now, turning our backs on it, we left it to be “done” by the ladies with draggled feathers and the gentlemen with news- paper parcels and umbrellas who were crowding the restaurant, eating Schnitzel and drinking beer, and we went on our way towards Berlin. A very pretty way it was all the afternoon, now up, now down, always well wooded, and everywhere tourists out for a holiday, large parties on foot, large parties in carriages, families walking hand in hand, men on pleasure severely bent walking alone, their newspaper parcels slung over their shoulders; and the horrid sound of the cyclorn was heard in the mountains as a doubled-up cyclist came scorching by. Through Llsenburg we rode, across the Llse—the Princess Llse of Heine’s song—and through many more little villages full of toy houses; the one I remember best, with a Romanesque church and old monastery, and long lane leading to it, where women, their white aprons over their heads, coming in the sunshine to work in near fields, looked as if they had stepped from a plein air picture in the Champ-de- Mars. And then, out from the mountain woodland, between fields yellowing in the harvest, down a road lined with cherry and apple trees, where we sat for a blissful hour or more by the wayside, the wide plain stretching below; and on again into Wernegerode, the castle high up on the hillside, the town hall so picturesque with its turrets and hundreds of little figures that we had to stop in a cafe opposite, where there were tables and chairs and oleander – trees on the pavement, and drink coffee. There were no more tourists here; they seemed to have stopped with the line of the woodland. But the town swarmed with women in long hooded cloaks, which they fastened in some mysterious way under one arm and then slung their babies in them as an Indian squaw slings hers on her back, and very comfortable and unconcerned the babies looked. For the rest, Wernegerode had nothing to show but a badly paved street, which meant the usual long walk out of the town. But it was in the warm evening light that we rode across the ten kilometres of plain that lie between into Halberstadt, a fine old town, encompassed about with new ugly villas and factories. The Goldenen Ross, with its funny little flights of stairs leading up and down, its narrow passages, its low- ceilinged rooms, was like an old English inn. But essentially German was the late supper eaten in a rose-garden—groups of men around the red cloths, at one table a newly married couple looking up at the moon when they were not drinking beer out of the same glass. It was before our supper was brought that the waiter deferentially offered us something, we could not make out what “Etwas zu essen?” Joseph asked; and, despite his politeness, the waiter roared. And then a man came from a near table and said that he could speak a little English—he had a brother in America—and that the waiter wanted to know would we like feather pillows on our beds—those abominations which, when I went to bed, first kept me awake and then haunted me in my sleep. There was one dreadful night in which, in my dreams, I tried to count up the infinite varieties of this modern torture. Why is it that towns like Halberstadt and Fritzlar are unknown, while Nuremberg has a world-wide reputation? Each old house you come to in Halberstadt seems more wonderful than the last, with its carvings and inscriptions and saints—St. Nicholas as special favourite—set up in niches, and grinning grotesques of corbels and gargoyles. There is nothing in Nuremberg more perfect in its way than the great square, upon which some of the most beautiful of these houses, turreted and gabled, with overhanging storeys, look out, and at one end of which is the town hall, a colossal Roland on duty in front, and on one side a wonderfully graceful and delicate Renaissance door and stairway. But though really with more to show architecturally than Fritzlar, Halberstadt now is without one of the charms of the smaller hill town. For the fever of restoration in its most malignant form has attacked the place, and its churches were being restored with a fury which augured ill for the future of the town’s beauty. When next we go there, I do not doubt that every statue and grotesque will be scraped and polished, and built up to look as the modern contractor thinks the old artist ought to have made it. A brand-new town like Cassel is far less melancholy than an old one like Halberstadt under process of restoration. Of the next morning’s ride there is little to record, except a bumpy road, that kept us to the side-path; beautiful patches of red and purple poppies; tramps, with their boots over their shoulders, who gave us a fraternal good-day; little villages, pretty from a distance, with their spires and red roofs amid the trees, but ugly once we were in their streets ; and then, outside of Egeln, a hurricane, which sent us back in hot haste, and made the railroad seem an invention for the relief of cyclists. Were I writing a treatise on architecture, I might have much to say of the cathedral of Magdeburg, which was one of the finest we came to in Germany. To see it, as soon as we had put on dry clothes and boots, we borrowed an umbrella from the hotel porter and braved the storm, walking through pools of water in the large square, struggling with the wind at every corner. But we were cyclists, not architectural students, and our pleasure in its beauty was the greater because we were under no necessity later to make a “copy” out of it. The town itself is very like the average big modern town of Germany, even less interesting than Cassel it seemed, and we had no wish to stay longer and get to know it more intimately. The road from Magdeburg to Berlin, with the great pine- wood s and wide lakes of the Prussian plain, I saw from the windows of a railway carriage. My gown now was nothing but rags, the hurricane was still blowing, and the mud was unspeakable. Enthusiastic cyclists write about the wild joy of struggling with the storm and conquering the elements. But for myself I do not like that sort of thing, and I accept my defeat with unruffled cheerfulness. I look upon a machine as an instrument of pleasure, not of torture. But Joseph was of another mind, and so we parted company for the day. His fate, after all, was not so dreadful; the wind was with him, and, rid of me and his luggage, he scorched as conscientiously as the German wheelman, and to better purpose. He seemed determined to show me what a fast rider he was when left to himself, and, therefore, what a condescension it was for him to make the journey with me. His one stop was for dinner at a little town, whose name, he tells me he had not time to put down in his note-book, but where he had the distinction of dining in the same hotel with Bismarck. But Bismarck’s dinner lasting on late into the afternoon, and as scorchers wait for no ex-Chancellors, he did not see the great man. In one place he lost his way—so he says—and went kilometres out of it, and he had various and many adventures with tramps. It is only near the capital that you meet roughs and cads who refuse to get out of your way, or else do all they can to get into it and who use sticks and stones as arguments. There was one in particular walking on the wide side-path, where alone, owing to the mud, it was possible to ride, who refused to budge an inch, and explained to Joseph that he was a Communist, and had as good a right there as anyone. But his was a little game at which two can play, and Joseph, waking up to the full consciousness of his own rights, gave him what Mr. Squeers would call an object-lesson in Communism, and wheeled him to one side, where there was plenty of room for him. Despite all these adventures, Joseph got to Berlin, 147 kilometres from Magdeburg, that same evening before I had gone to bed, and naturally I was as impressed as he could have wished me to be. But he was honest, and confessed that when, in the twilight, he had gone astray again, this time among the palaces of Potsdam, he sensibly took the train. It was only .between Egeln and Berlin, and again when we left the capital, from Berlin to Potsdam, that we exchanged the road for the railway.

From Berlin to Budapest in 1892 (chapter VII)

Chapter VII

Tourists in wagons and tourists on foot were on the road when we set out at a reasonably early hour from Saint Andreasberg, of hilly memory, towards the Brocken. Of course this was our chief point of interest in the Harz. One would have to be very cynical to pretend complete indifference on the road once given over to witches and broomsticks, where women, in the medieval way, asserted their rights. And one would have to be even less imaginative than I not to hope that the adjectives wild and weird would be more appropriate to the scene of the Walpurgis Night than to most places to which they are recklessly given. We knew what Mr. Irving’s idea of the Brocken is, and, though we did not look for any dramatic display of red calcium light and uncanny blue draperies, there seemed no reason why the famous mountain should be less impressive in real life than on the stage. About the point, as far as we could judge, where Baedeker says it first comes in view, we kept an anxious look-out. Far to our right there was one mountain top slightly more conspicuous than the rest, because of its treeless slopes, which corresponded to Baedeker’s description, and because of its form, which suggested an old burial mound set up on a high place—”a wart of a hill,” I          irreverently called it. It was not in the least impressive, not in the least wild, not in the least weird. It was just another tourist’s sell, Joseph decided; while I tried to make up my mind that it was not the Brocken at all, and that suddenly, in the approved fashion, a strange peak, rugged and riven, would “burst upon the traveller’s eyes.” And then the usual thing happened. The clouds fell on the mountains, lower and lower, thicker and thicker, until we were completely enveloped in them, and our clothes were getting gradually wetter and wetter. We could see absolutely nothing but the tourists who, from indefinite shadows just in front of us, for one minute took substantial shape at our side. And what fantastic shapes they seemed up here in the clouds—the women in big straw hats with draggled feathers on the back of their heads, so as to show their front hair out of curl, while for wrap their choice lay between a large fur cloak and a linen duster! “Try tweed and a Henry Heath hat!” I felt like crying after them as they passed. And the men in black coats and trousers and stiff hats, for all the world as if they were on their way to their town office, some carrying big newspaper parcels, others with bigger knapsacks on their back, and all with an umbrella doing duty for alpenstock. However great the German’s knowledge in some matters, any Englishman would be his master in the art of comfortable dressing for outdoor work. There were cyclists, too. There always are cyclists on German roads, stern military creatures, with no luggage but a whip on their handle-bars, who give you a soldierly salute and cry out a solemn All heil! They had no pity on me, even when I was hill-climbing, but after saluting Joseph, who was usually ahead, reserved a special All heil for my benefit. We had begun by answering politely and distinctly, but there were too many of them, and by this time our greeting had degenerated into a grunt. Sometimes these riders wore a uniform, though what they then were I never found out. Only the day before we had been raced by an elderly gentleman, in braid and buttons, on a tricycle. Now, in the Harz, all who passed insisted on racing, and on beating us into the bargain. But they had a vile habit of stopping for drinks, and falling behind, only to overtake us and start a new race. Joseph had been telling me all the morning, when things were at their very worst, that presently we should begin to go down with the river, and after that it would be all easy riding. Before long we really did go down, but so suddenly and abruptly that we were off our heavily loaded machines in a few minutes, and walking with a long train of timber- laden carts, so that by the time we were in the valley our friends the cyclists, who had no luggage, and could coast with only a chance, and not the certainty, of breaking their necks, had overtaken us, and were scorching for dear life. Away they shot in front of us, and then the next thing I knew, two were rolling in the mud—and such mud! It was inches deep. My own tumble was much more neatly managed. It was on a side path, to which we had to take to get out of the way of the timber-carts. and my handle-bar perversely caught in a tree, but I came off gracefully on my feet. The amiable cyclists smiled, but were paid for it. The last we saw of them, they had retired into a little wood by the wayside to wipe a new covering of mud from their coats and knee-breeches. The trail of the tourist is over all Harzburg, which stands low in the valley, the mountains shutting it in on every side. The restaurant-lined road is to the modern German’s summer resort very much what the Street of Tombs was to the old Roman city, and before we got into Harzburg we passed one “arbour for tea” and “balcony for lunch” after another, and plenty of gay young ladies and bearded young gentlemen in black coats wandering in the mud. Next came the inevitable succession of unspeakably ugly villas, big hotels, and long lines of cabs, in which, probably, enterprising tourists make the ascent of the Brocken with the comfort with which royalty nowadays climbs the Alps. We chose for our mid-day dinner an outdoor restaurant with pretty little tent-like arrangements in its garden, where already men and women were drinking beer. But is there an hour of the day or night in the Fatherland when men and women are not drinking beer? There was among them an elderly Anglomaniac in a full suit of Jaeger’s—like old Uncle Joseph of Mr. Stevenson’s story—who patted me on the back, and called me what sounded like jutu Reisende, and then brought his fat wife from her knitting and her beer that she might look at me, which was a trifle embarrassing. I wondered if her feminine eyes counted all the grease and mud spots and the holes in my poor gown, which now threatened to fall to pieces before I could manage to have a new one made in Berlin. We were surprised all the way through the Harz, and we noticed it particularly here in harzburg, to see that the Germans have monopolised these mountains as their pleasure-ground almost as wholly as Londoners monopolise the Thames. From Gottingen to Halberstadt we came across but one foreigner, an Englishman, at whose unexpected flannels we stared with as much astonishment as the natives. Of course, foreigners do come to the harz; to say that they do not would be too sweeping an assertion, as the result of our short experience there. But that they are not looked for in numbers is proved by the average waiter’s indifference to all but his own language. Just fancy in the big hotels and restaurants of a Swiss town a waiter who could not “Spik Inglis”! After the mists and rains of the morning it was very pleasant in the valley. And before we had finished our dinner the clouds, with the usual perversity of nature, rolled up the hillsides, the sun came out and the sky was as blue and clear as the heart of man or woman could desire.

From Berlin to Budapest in 1892 (chapter VI)

Chapter VI

It was Sunday, and there was no laughter to cheer us by the way. The tiny villages were deserted; the only child we saw was a small boy who threw a hard green apple in front of my safety and was well paid for his pains by Joseph; the only dogs, a few curs—useless members of society who ran barking after us, and not our friends who, harnessed in all sorts of carts, knew what it was to be on the road themselves mid so never trouble.us. Once a parson passed in an open carriage, and over the fields and hills came the sound of distant singing. But church was at an end when we stopped at Gieboldehansen for our second breakfast of black bread and beer, and the hilly streets were crowded when we reached Herzberg, just as the commercial gentlemen were getting up from table at the Weisses Ross, but still not too late for an admirable dinner of several courses admirably served. Let me for once give our bill of fare. Has not Heine recorded what he ate in the Harz! There was soup, and they know how to make soup in Germany; followed by fish; cauliflower and the smoked sausages for which Gottingen is famous ; roast beef and potatoes; cucumber salad and fragrant wild strawberries served together—which seems to an Englishman a trifle-barbarous, but suggests to the American the origin of dishes and combinations in the country at home, where so many customs, borrowed from Germany, survive; blancmange, cheese, and butter and for all this we paid each a mark and twenty-five pfennigs. Now, if you please, fancy in England reaching the average country inn just after the dinner-hour on Sunday. You might consider yourself lucky if there was one of the household not in too much of a hurry for afternoon church to stop and cut you a slice of lukewarm beef and a bit of cheese And yet Germany also is a Protestant country. It may seem to those who have not cycled that I write too much of eating and drinking, but can I help it? A week on the roads had redused—or elevated?—us both to that purely animal condition when our highest thoughts and emotions were for food and drink. Our two meals were the chief events of the day, to which we looked forward eagerly, anti which we remembered tenderly. We eat too much at Herzberg because the dinner was good, and we drank a bottle of capital Rhine wine because it was Sunday. And I remember afterwards, in the cool green valley of the Sieber, riding was such hard work that we sat for long on one of the benches which a kind providence, or municipality, has placed there at intervals: we were in that state of complete physical happiness which he who does not know the healthy appetite born of healthy exercise in the open air cannot understand. The valley of the Sieber is like a beautiful well-kept park. When we started on our way again it was already late in the afternoon, and the light was falling in golden patches on the soft brown carpet of the sweet-scented pine-woods, and now and then the tinkle of cow-bells reminded us that we were in the mountains, for by this time we were well in the Harz. But the groups of people dressed for Sunday whom we met and overtook gave an unexpected town look to the road: it was the Mall of herzberg. In the Sieberthal due tribute was paid to my riding; an elderly gentleman, when I passed, stepped out into the road and, taking off his hat, bowed to the very ground. Joseph said it was sarcasm, but I saw admiration in every feature.Through one village after another we rode, and all were crowded with people and carriages and carts, and now once more the air rang with the familiar laughter of my childlike admirers. I could have laughed with them, so delighted was I to find myself wheeling over a long, if slight, up-grade as merrily as a veteran. Truly, my progress in the art of bicycling was no surprising as it was praiseworthy. But all too soon we left the valley to climb over real hills, long and steep and horrible, each one worse than the last, until we came to the most impossible of all in the main street of Saint Andreasberg. Can I ever forget it? It was steeper than a mansard roof, and went up in a pitiless straight line, and the summer evening was warm. There were grinning faces at every window, but my altruism had flown to the winds. I longed to bring the owners of the faces out and set them all to rolling heavily laden bicycles up the hill: then they would know whether it was a laughing matter. And yet, near the top, when a pigmy waiter in a dress-coat ran down towards me and offered his help, I waved him off—I was too breathless to speak—and myself pushed my safety in the very door of an hotel standing on the brow of a hill, so unmistakably for our benefit that we walked in without looking at its name. We were tired?—Yes. But then it was worth being tired to know the pleasure of the cold sponge and change of flannels that followed; the peace of the quiet walk towards the west, looking over a sea of hills to the far dark heights outlined against the fiery clouds of the after-glow; the comfort of the Late cup of tea in the long dining-room, where little parties sat around the tables, while through the open door we could hear the click of the billiard-balls in the next room and the voices of the players. It was easy to see that Saint Andreasberg was a tourists’ headquarters, though essentially a German one. The hotel was crowded, not with commercials, but with families: there were correct excursions for polite waiters to recommend; and the next morning we saw the sign of “Apartments to let” in every other window—that is, in the upper town, for nothing could have induced us to walk down the bill. We were not to be moved to such a piece of folly even by the landlord’s story of the world-renowned champion, his manly bosom covered with dozens of medals, who lived below, and would welcome us as brothers. He might beat us on every racetrack in Europe, but had he ever, I wonder, pushed a bicycle loaded with knapsacks up the steeps of his native town For this feat we deserved the medal of a hill-climbing record, which there was no one to give us.