When To Go Abroad
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Also an important question. Every season has its list with a certain amount of overlapping. Largely it is a question of weather, but not entirely. The lowest steamer rates to Europe, for instance, are between September and March. In that season some lines offer passengers the best cabins on the ship, with certain restrictions, at the minimum rate. In many parts of the world there are festivals that should be included in an itinerary if possible.
Seville or the Riviera are especially gay at Easter time. The visitor to China will do well to time his trip to catch the Chinese New Year, somewhere around the first of February. Certain places of pilgrimage teem with human interest at one time, and are as dead as a British Sabbath at others.
The trouble is that the best seasons are usually the most crowded. European hotels are likely to be filled to capacity in the summer, and particularly when there is some special seasonal attraction in a particular locality. Avoid these crowded times, if you can, unless you find pleasure in the local celebration. A little foresight in this matter is repaid many fold. It is sometimes possible, for instance, to travel against the season—to be coming north when the majority are going south, and vice versa.
There are some people who chase summer all about the globe. They may be found in Scandinavia in summer and in Patagonia during our northern winter. A few I know whose tastes are the opposite. Such choose winter for a visit to Labrador, and skate on the Chilean Lakes when New York is sweltering. But the great majority of travelers are more normal. And for these almost a bare list of times fitted to places will suffice.
Draw a wide belt around the center of the globe and the equatorial countries within it are in the main equally attractive at any time of the year. There are certain exceptions, due largely to the different rainy seasons. But I know of few countries where the rainy season is anything like exact in its calendar. If you plan to browse around the equator, there is no overwhelming choice of season except your own convenience.
Quite the contrary may be said of the temperate zone. Northern France in late fall and early spring, for instance, is an excellent place to stay away from. Providing, of course, that you are traveling for pleasure. Concisely, spring is the best time to visit the Mediterranean, Greece, Italy, Spain (at least southern Spain), French Northern Africa, Palestine and Syria. Japan has more than its cherry blossoms to offer from April to early June. After that only the portion north of Tokyo is distinctly agreeable. Korea and northern China are most pleasant at about the same season, though Peking is delightful at any time except in the muggy and often rainy and muddy months of our school vacations.
Autumn is in the main only a slightly second choice for the same countries that are advisable in spring. It is well to bear in mind, however, that on the other side of the equator spring is burgeoning during our fall. Almost all of South America south of a line drawn through Rio de Janeiro is at its best from November to April, the lower ends of Argentine and Chile most so in the depths of our winter. Do not plan to cross the Andes by the Transandino Railway during July and August unless you are prepared to be delayed, perhaps for weeks, by snow filled passes. Nor are those the months to sail and swim in the delightful Chilean and Argentine lakes, or visit the all but naked Indians of Tierra del Fuego.
Our winter is not merely the time for the West Indies, India, Mexico, Egypt and northern Africa in general, but also the South Seas, New Zealand, Tasmania and the ruins of Angkor, in Cambodia. For that matter Peking is enticing, even if intensely cold, in winter. Rare is the day or even part of a day there that is not brilliant with the clearest sunshine.
No doubt it is because there happens to be far more land in the northern than in the southern hemisphere, rather than for the convenience of most Americans, that summer chances to be the best season in so many countries. From the North Cape and the fjords of Norway to the Pyrenees and Jugo Slavia summer is the time. Iceland itself has been found perfect at that season; Alaska blooms with flowers—and mosquitoes. Hammerfest, almost three hundred miles within the Arctic Circle, has one summer day eleven weeks long. From May 13 until . July 29 there is no sunset. But alas, from November 20 to January 21 there is no sunrise. Yet some 3,000 people call Hammerfest home, thanks to the Gulf Stream that tempers all the coast of Norway, and some-how worry through a winter night a full two months long.
The waterfalls of Scandinavia are in their greatest volume from May 15 to the middle of June. The midnight sun glows from late May to the middle of July even in northern Sweden, and in Spitzbergen from April 20 to August 24th.
June and July find Ireland at its best. Northern Spain, sometimes called the Spanish Switzerland, being cool and mountainous, is almost at its finest then. Even southern Spain, and Italy as far south as Naples, are not impossible in summer, if you will adopt the custom of the country and stay within doors during the middle of the day. Roman summer nights not uncommonly call for blankets. But eschew Egypt and Palestine, and even Greece, in summer, unless this happens to be your only possible vacation period.
Because they are uncomfortably hot in their summer season, Australia and South Africa, the great island of Madagascar, and that southern end of South America already mentioned, are suitable goals in our summer time. In short there is choice enough at any season so that no one need give up a journey abroad at any time of the year for lack of somewhere to go.