World Travel - Off for the Passion Play
( Originally Published 1903 )
IT was only natural that toward the end of July we began to think of leaving Paris for a tour in other parts of the Continent of Europe. We had been at the Exposition nearly three months now, and we felt that we should be seeing other places if we were to return home in September, as we hoped to do. Neither of us liked the idea of leaving Paris, and I particularly didn't want to leave the Corn Kitchen, where everything had been so pleasant and I had had such good times. I hated to think that I might not see the old " Mammy " again, or the little Georgette, who had washed dishes for me in the baked bean place. I had become fast friends with all my associates in the Kitchen, and one always dislikes to leave those with whom he has been in company for a long time. And then we couldn't feel that we had seen all the Exposition. Jack said he was sure there were lots of places we hadn't visited yet, so we decided to give up all our time during our last week in Paris to visiting the out-of-the-way corners which might so far have escaped our observation. We gave up our positions in order to do this. The manager seemed much disappointed at our going, but we hadn't promised how long we would stay, and we found him two other boys whom we thought could fill our places very satisfactorily. He had to be satisfied with this, because we couldn't bring ourselves to change our plan of going home in September.
Our last week at the Exposition we will probably look back upon as being the most pleasant of all. During that time we did everything which we hadn't done before. There was the " moving platform," for instance, which we had seen every day, but which we had never ridden upon. We mounted it one morning and stayed on it for hours. It moved round and round, and gave us a fine view of the Exposition grounds and the neighboring streets. We had seen the Exposition so much that we knew the arrangement of it by heart, but this didn't pre-vent our enjoyment of the sidewalk.
Around the Exposition
Then we went up in the Eiffel Tower, just to say that we had been there, for neither of us enjoyed the view very much. We had seen Paris quite as well from the top of the Arc de Triomphe for one-tenth the price; but we knew that when we went home everyone would ask us whether we had been up in the Eiffel Tower, and we wanted to be able to gratify their curiosity. We couldn't but admire the genius which had made the construction of the tower possible, however, and when Jack found an autograph of M. Eiffel on sale, a little later on, he lost no time in buying it.
There was hardly a side-show within the Exposition grounds which we hadn't visited when we left the city. It cost us quite a little to visit the places in some instances, but we considered it money well spent. We wanted to feel that we had seen everything which was worth seeing, at any rate. We found the "Tour du Monde," or "Tour of the World," one of the most interesting of the most important shows. The exhibition consisted of people from almost every strange place one could imagine, and we talked with Zulus, Fiji Islanders, Dahomeyans, and many others who could only understand us through signs. The poor things didn't seem particularly happy in Paris, though the weather was warm enough in July to have satisfied any tropical person. It would have been interesting to hear from them their impressions of the things and places they had seen in the French capital, and to know whether they didn't, after all, prefer their own homes. Some of those we saw looked as if they would go home by the next boat if it were possible. Jack got into difficulty with one of the girls from Dahomey, in Africa. It was the same old story of giving money in payment and getting no change. He had bought a cheap bracelet from the girl, which she said would cost him half a franc. He handed her a two-franc piece, which she calmly pocketed. He made her understand that he wanted change, but she only grinned at him and showed her teeth. He finally had to call the manager of the place in order to get the one franc fifty, and I told him that he was lucky to get it back at all.
Sights of the Side-Shows
In the place called the " Subterranean World," we got an idea of what a gold mine is like underneath the earth, and we also saw another man's idea of the appearance of Hades. There were all sorts of demons which glared at us out of the dark, and we thought that this would be indeed a bad place to take children who are easily frightened. In the " Aquarium " we saw the only live fish which were on view at the Exposition, and Jack said that the exhibit couldn't compare with the interesting one at Chicago in 1893. There was an admission to all these places. Indeed, there seemed to be nothing free outside the principal buildings. We thought one day that we would visit the woman's building, but when we learned that it cost a franc we decided to stay away. It didn't seem reasonable to charge admission to a building which should rightly belong to the Exposition proper, and not to the side-shows.
When our week was up we had made a complete round of the grounds, and we both felt that we could leave Paris feeling that we had seen almost, if not everything, that would be interesting to us. And anyhow we hoped to have more time in Paris before returning to America. We decided to lose no time in starting on our proposed trip.
It didn't take us long to plan where we would go. The one thing in Europe outside the Exposition which we were most anxious to see, was the famous Passion Play at Ober-Ammergau, and I told Jack that we would arrange so as to get there one Sunday while we were gone. Most people visiting Ober-Ammergau from Paris go by way of the great German city of Munich, but we thought of a better way to go. We determined to see something of Switzerland and the Austrian Tyrol on our way to Ober-Ammergau, and from there we could return through Germany if we liked. We would first go to Basle, in Switzer-land, from there to Zurich, and from Zurich we would make our way to Innsbruck, in Austria. From Innsbruck North to Ober-Ammergau we would pass through some of the most magnificent scenery in all Europe, and as jack had never before seen any mountains higher than those along the Hudson, I was anxious for him to visit this country.
Leaving Our Friends
With our route laid out, there remained but little for us to do before taking our departure. We told our good landlady long in advance of our intention, and she seemed very sorry to have us leave. The Charlons were sorry too, and we told them that we knew we would miss our good suppers when we could no longer step in to our little restaurant. The landlady and the Charlons told almost everyone in the neighborhood that the American boys were going to leave, so that we were greater objects of their interest during the last few days than ever before.
We took very few of our belongings with us. I knew that if we were to do any mountain climbing it would be advisable to have as little as possible to carry, so I made Jack leave most everything at home, and we took only our underwear and toilet articles, with a few other necessary things. We carried them in large, heavy bags, which we strapped across our shoulders, so we had no luggage to check in the trains, and nothing to carry when walking. We took little caps to wear until we should reach the Alpine country, where we could buy mountain hats, and we also planned to get some mountain poles, or Alpenstocks, when we reached Innsbruck. People stared at our bags a good deal until we reached Switzerland, but there they were accepted as a usual thing.
It cost us very little to buy railway tickets from Paris to Basle, although the distance is considerable. We traveled third-class, of course, and as the train we took was not an express, we had to pay only about five dollars in all. We left Paris at ten o'clock at night, and when we started out from our lodging for the station, there was quite a little crowd at the door to see us off and bid us bon voyage. We thought it very nice indeed for our friends to take such an interest in us, and were more sorry than ever to be leaving them. We told them, however, that we would come back again if possible, and left them waving their handkerchiefs as we passed around the corner.
At the station. all was hurry and bustle. The trains all seemed much crowded,' no doubt on account of the many visitors to Paris from the country for the Exposition. Our train in particular was very full, and if we hadn't arrived in good time we might not have secured seats. There were eight persons in our little compartment, as it was, and that is rather too many when one is traveling a long distance in a third-class carriage. Our fellow passengers were very interesting, though, and the time passed quickly during the night. There was a woman from Algiers who could speak English, and she acted as interpreter to the crowd. Among the others were two Germans and two Frenchmen with one other woman. The woman from Algiers was the most interesting person of the lot. She had lived, it seemed, in nearly every part of the world, and she could tell many interesting stories of her experiences. Jack and I were very curious to know something of Algeria, and we got more information from her than I think we could have gotten from any other source. We told her that we would call on her some day in Algiers when she wasn't expecting us, and if possible, we were going to keep the promise.
In a Third-Class Railway Carriage
The Frenchmen and the Germans argued most of the time, as usual, and as the Germans spoke very poor French they had difficulty in making their arguments understood. The poor Algerian woman was kept busy interpreting their remarks, and then the Frenchmen, instead of answering the Germans, who had said the things she repeated, vented their wrath on her. We told her she was foolish to help them out since they didn't appreciate it any, and she was finally of that opinion herself. The argument was about something connected with Alsace-Lorraine, that never-ending dispute of the two nations. The Germans had been much insulted upon seeing the statue of the city of Strasburg which stands in the Place de la Concorde, Paris, and we felt we couldn't blame them much ; for the French decorate the figure with funeral wreaths and inscriptions every 14th of July. The inscriptions are to the effect that though Strasburg is now dead to France, it is not to be forever so, or in short, that France intends to some day recover the provinces she lost to Germany in the war of 1871. The wreaths remain on the statue the year round, so it isn't much wonder the Germans took it as an insult. They argued about it until they were sleepy, and then they spent the rest of the night snoring.
Early in the morning we had reached the frontier between France and Germany, and there we had to all get out and have our luggage examined. The officials looked at our green bags with great suspicion, and we were much amused when they opened them and found only underwear and combs and brushes. They marked them with white chalk, and we were then allowed to pass out of the inspection-room into the waiting-room, and finally to board the train again. It seemed so queer to us that the countries were so very small. We ha¢ no sooner had our things examined in Germany than we had to have them gone through again at Basle, in Switzerland, and then after Switzerland came Austria. We were always having to open our bags to allow some official to peep into them, and they always had their trouble for their pains.
We were on the train all morning, and it wasn't until after two in the after-noon that we came in sight of Basle. We were delighted to be at last near the end of our journey, and to know that we would soon be viewing some of the beautiful scenery which we had so often seen in pictures. After having our lug-gage examined at the station, we decided that it would take us all afternoon to go about Basle, and that we had therefore better remain there overnight.