Holland - Motor Talk - Goodbye, Dear Holland
( Originally Published 1913 )
OUR hired automobile was an unqualified success. It cost seventy-five florins (thirty dollars) for the trip; with the car at its normal capacity of six passengers this amounted to five dollars apiece. Though we carried no odometer it would be safe to say that we had traveled one-hundred and forty miles. Taking the rail-road mileage of one-hundred and twenty (to include these same towns) at the very reasonable rate of six and one-half cents (Dutch) per mile for second-class fare, you spend seven and eight-tenths florins (three dollars and twelve cents) per person for rail-road fares alone. This includes fourteen miles for an extra trekvaart trip to Muiden and Naarden, neither of which lies on the railroad. It would really be twenty-eight miles ; but I split this amount to allow for lower fares on the trekvaart; a dozen other towns not on the railroad have not been included, and we may assume that—failing to use a motor—you would never see them.
Traveling by rail, you cannot hope to make our tour in less than two days, perhaps three; therefore, besides seven and eight-tenths florins for railroad fares you would have to add at least one day's hotel bills, to say nothing of hack fares in the cities, porters' fees and many general tips—which amounts, in all, to fully thirteen florins more. In other words, we pay about half as much for our trip as you do going by rail ; we see twice as much of both town and country and save one day, maybe two, over your allotted schedule. In addition, we are not bound by railroad time-tables, are our own masters in every respect, and are free from the petty cares and annoyances of travel.
A car accommodating two or three people would cost about $20.00 a day in Holland. With only two to share the expense they might still make a saving over railway and hack travel, considering how much more they would be able to see in less time. Going abroad alone you are at a disadvantage, but one al-ways is in such a case, being obliged to share state-rooms and railway compartments with strangers, as well as to spend proportionately more for rooms, cabs, boats, guides, tips, etc.
Rates for motorcars in France and Germany are about the same as in Holland ; in England they are a trifle higher—some $25.00 for a small car, large ones in proportion. All these include chauffeurs' services and gasoline. You are expected to pay the chauffeur's board and lodging, but the cost is always reasonable, being charged at servants' rates, and in one-day trips there is only his lunch to provide. Of course, you must drive your own bargain carefully at each garage. Be sure you have a clear understanding as to the length of a day's run; Continental garages are likely to assume this as 100 kilometers, which is very low. We found 100 miles to be about the average of a comfortable day's trip, which seldom varies more than twenty-five miles either way from this distance; so it would be wise to insist on an allowance of at least 150 kilo-metres as an average run.
It has been stated that motorists pay more at hotels than other guests. While there has been a tendency in this direction it is due principally to the fact that in the past motorists have demanded the best of every-thing. Where you hire a car after arriving at a hotel no such question should arise. If, in other cases, you ask the price of rooms beforehand, stating that you do not want the best in the house, and inquire about gar-age charges in case the hotel has a garage, you should have no trouble on this score. In fact, a reaction is setting it ; many inns and hotels give reduced rates to members of certain automobile clubs. The "Guide-Michelin" and the "Guide-Routière Continental" which cover various European countries, are issued by the manufacturers of Michelin and Continental tires and are sensible hotel guides carefully compiled with an eye to fair prices and good service. It is advisable to telegraph ahead for accommodations, particularly in the case of small towns. Telegrams cost very little, abroad.
An open car gives the best view of the scenery but, unless you are accustomed to being in the sun all day, I should advise a car with a top of some sort for July and August. The top keeps out much dust, as well, and is desirable in case of sudden showers.
Where baggage is concerned, the party hiring a motorcar is much better off than one covering a long tour in a private car. The former may leave trunks and the like at a central base, taking only a minimum of light hand-baggage; the latter is often obliged to carry a suitcase for each person, which, assuming a large party, is excessive in weight and bulk and no end of trouble. It is wise to carry a "roll-up" with extra wraps, raincoats, and a spare steamer rug or two. We frequently found such additional protection by no means superfluous in England, and quite necessary everywhere in case of rain. Don't forget dusters, goggles, caps, and motor-veils for the ladies.
Amsterdam, because of its location, its good gar-ages, and for other reasons evident from my story, is the best center for Holland. We omitted Delft, The Hague, and Scheveningen, having recently seen them; but we could have included these and other interesting towns at the expense of one more day's motoring. I shall suggest favorable touring-centers in other countries. Even a moderately small town may, if it lies in the line of motor traffic, possess a good garage with a suitable car for hire. The location of such places may be obtained abroad at the local hotel, at city garages, at American newspaper offices, or through friends who are members of motor clubs. Files of domestic and foreign motor magazines, recent foreign hotel guides, and similar publications give, in both text and advertisements, many hints that may be useful in first planning your tour.
You must be the best judge of ways and means. Nor should you feel cast down if unable to find accommodation wherever you choose to go. The idea of this mode of travel is still new, and so the demand for machines may easily exceed the supply. You cannot see all Europe in one summer's trip, anyway, and very likely a later visit will show the effect of the growing demand for automobiles. Of the great nations, Germany is, perhaps, most backward in the general use of motorcars, but she is improving rapidly and cities like Frankfort are building up an immense motor industry.
The most satisfactory way of all may be to apply to an automobile-tour agency, which not only insures your finding a car awaiting you anywhere in Europe, but also aids in choosing routes—even supplying a car with a courier-chauffeur, if desired.
It is time we said good-by to Holland. Of her people and their ways and customs, and the strong appeal they make to us of old Manhattan, I have perhaps said enough—of her history, her art, her culture and industries, I would not presume to speak. Her mode of agriculture may strike the traveler as curious, yet it is by no means unique. Our western deserts, in regions where soil is good but rainfall at a minimum, have been transformed into blooming gardens by just such a method. Whether one drains the soil by ditches and pumps the water out, or pumps water in and irrigates by ditches, involves the same principle. In one case you build canals and flumes to fetch your water; in the other, you build canals and dikes to keep it out. A simple method, though quite painstaking and arduous; but, in any event, pregnant with results.
Dutch architecture is unique and, excepting canals, polders and windmills, is the most characteristic thing in Holland. It is primarily a domestic architecture; excepting the English country-house (half-timbered, and otherwise) and our own Colonial, it is the one truly domestic style. It may be applied to modest town halls and the like, but even the Dutch realize its limitations and turn to the Classic in their more pretentious buildings. Dutch houses possess a certain quietness, and at the same time a picturesqueness and variety, which is very satisfying; they are not necessarily, fantastic or restless, and I cannot help wishing that we might see more of them in America.
The Germans have attempted to incorporate the somewhat similar gables of the German Renaissance into their public buildings, as in the new Leipzig Rathaus, with with poor success. In their rare incursions into Gothic and Renaissance architecture, the Hollanders have displayed a courage in dropping their old convictions that often demonstrates, and always promises, capacity for good design.
With the second return to Amsterdam our happy days in Holland were virtually at an end. A few more trips around town to pick up stray threads of sight-seeing, dropped in favor of our excursions, a few hurried purchases of souvenirs and necessities, and we were fully prepared—though by no means anxious—to depart. It seemed as if we had spent a month in Holland, instead of a few days, so well had we learned to know and like it.
"Oh, dear! I feel as though I were saying good-by forever to all my ancestors," sighed Mater, as we settled ourselves in the train.
The whistle squeaked and the train got under way; watching for Hilversum and Amersfoort entertained us for a time. With Apeldoorn behind us, the German frontier was no longer far off.
"Children, that may be your last Dutch windmill," said Pater.
"Good-by," cried the ladies crowding to the windows.
"Good-by, good-by," they cried, throwing kisses to a group of astonished cows standing knee-deep in the grass.
"Good-by, dear Holland," called one Young Lady. Waving a last adieu to those green fields, she declaimed with spirit :
"Dear Holland, `many thoughts are wed to thee
As hearts are wed.
Nor shall they fail, till to its autumn brought,
Life's golden fruit is shed !