A Word To Tourists
The articles of this series, taken in connection with the articles written during a former visit to Europe, cover all of the countries which I have visited, and nothing is left but to offer some generalizations covering the more important questions discussed in the course of these articles. First, as to routes of travel. We have found the, trip around the globe far more instructive than we had expected, and it was entered upon for educational reasons. There is so much to see* and learn that one can occupy an indefinite time in travel. We set apart a year for the trip and reached home sixteen days within the limit. Those who have followed these letters will admit, I think, that we have covered a great deal of ground and seen a great deal of the world. If we were repeating the trip, I hardly know of any country that we could afford to leave out, and I am satisfied that it is better to start from the Pacific coast than from the Atlantic. One could make the trip in half the time that we spent and see a great deal, but he can see more if he has a year or two to spare for the journey.
If one desires to make the trip in six months, he should set apart about two months for ocean, travel. He could then devote two weeks to Japan, ten days to China, a week to Manila, three weeks to India, a week to Egypt, two weeks to the Holy Land, a week to Greece and Constantinople, and the rest of the time to Europe. To go through Korea would require ten days or two weeks more, but the Hermit Kingdom is different from any other country, and its queer people are worth seeing. Very few of the tourists have visited Pekin, and yet, it is in some respects the most interesting of the Chinese cities. The Manchu element of the Chinese population—the ruling element —can only be seen at Pekin or in the northern districts. The Great Wall is near Pekin, and the wall around the city of Pekin is even more imposing than the great wall itself. The Altar of Heaven, the most beautiful and elaborate sacrificial altar on earth, is in the suburbs of the Chinese capital and in itself well repays a visit.
Until recently Pekin could only be entered from the sea via Tientsin. The railroad, however, from Pekin to Hankow was about completed when we were there, and this greatly facilitates travel through the interior. If one goes on through Korea, it is best to go on to Pekin by water and then go on the railroad to Hankow and down the Yangtse river to Shanghai.
Every American who visits the Orient should spend some days in the Philippine Islands. He owes it to his country to do so. If he will visit the schools, he will be convinced that there is increasing intelligence in the islands, and he will not doubt that the people want independence. An inspection of the factories will prove that the Filipinos are industrious as well as intelligent.
It takes about two weeks to go from Singapore to Java and return, but we remember that visit as one of the most delightful parts of the trip. The ruined temple at Boro Boedoer, the delicious fruits, the terraced hills, the far reaching rice fields and the shady drives linger in one's memory.
To visit Ceylon, Burma and India requires a good deal of travel upon the Bay of Bengal. We went to Ceylon, then back to Burma, then on to Calcutta. Some go to Burma and then to India and return to Ceylon from Bombay, but all three of these countries are interesting, and one can hardly afford to pass by any of them. Burma is the home of Buddhism, and one can learn more of the worship of Buddha here than anywhere else. The yellow-robed priest with his begging-bowl is everywhere present.
I have already discussed India and Egypt somewhat in detail, and no traveler need be urged to visit these countries. Palestine, however, is skipped by so many travelers that I may be pardoned a word of advice. Of all the countries which we visited none interested us more than the Holy Land, and no member of a Christian church can afford to visit southern Europe or pass through the Suez canal without seeing that portion of Asia which is immortalized by Bible history. The ruins at Baalbek, in some respects the most remarkable in the world, attract many to Beyrout, Damascus and the Lebanons, but the Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem and the Jordan have lessons for the tourist of far greater importance than can be derived from the ruins of heathen temples.
If the reader lacks either time., inclination or means for a trip around the world, he will find one of the shorter trips to Europe only second in interest and value. The Mediterranean trip is a very popular one. This, according to its length, permits a visit to Gibraltar, Alexandria, Cairo, Palestine, Constantinople, Greece and Italy. From Gibraltar it is a short trip to Granada, Cordova and Madrid, and our own experience leads me to commend this trip to the traveler. At Cairo and Constantinople the Orient comes nearest to Europe and America, and the difference between the Orient and the western world is so striking that no one visiting southern Europe should miss the Nile and Bosphorus. One can spend weeks, and even months, about the shores of the Mediterranean; Africa, Asia Minor and Europe all touch upon this great inland sea. Without leaving its shores one can study the most opposite types which the human race has produced and at the same time study the history of the oldest periods known to man. Egypt should be visited before the end of March, while April is the best month for a trip to Palestine.
In Italy alone one could occupy a winter. Rome, the center of the Catholic world and the home of the Caesars, is a most fascinating city. There are no mosaics like those of St. Peters and few galleries equal those of the Vatican, while masterpieces of sculptors and paint ers are to be found on every hand. The old Roman forum is the Mecca of the student, and the Coliseum is still a wonder, defying as it has the storms of nearly two thousand years. At Naples one sees Vesuvius and lava beds formed but a few months ago. At one place the stream of lava poured through an archway and hardened as it cooled. When we were there the lava was like stone and could with difficulty be broken. At Florence one sees the best specimens of modern sculpture, and at Milan he visits one of the most famous of the European cathedrals.
Venice is in a class by itself. No other city rivals it in uniqueness. Its streets are canals, and gondolas are the vehicles in which potentate, priest and plebeian ride. It draws visitors from all over the world and sends them away, after a short visit, glad that they came and equally glad to escape from the dampness of the place.
If one desires a summer trip, he can find few journeys more delightful than those through Switzerland and along the Rhine. Lakes, rivers and mountains—these are to be found in abundance, with cities enough to supply the population and hotels to accommodate the the tourists. If one would combine pleasure with instruction, he can profitably employ considerable time in visiting the German universities at Heidelberg and Leipsic and the art galleries at Dresden and Munich. The cathedral at Cologne, it may be added, is by many preferred to the cathedral at Milan.
The northern portions of Europe are even more inviting to the summer tourist than Switzerland or the Rhine. The lakes of Ireland and Scotland and the seacoast resorts of England and Holland give rest and recuperation to multitudes every year. If I were going to suggest a summer trip, it would be as follows :
Leave New York early in June, land at Liverpool, cross over to Newcastle and take a steamer for Bergen, Norway. A week can be spent delightfully in the fjords and on the lakes in the neighborhood of Bergen. Such a combination of deep water and rugged mountain sides, rushing streams and crystal lakes is hard to find. Then let the tourist proceed to Trondhjem, the ancient capital, where King Haakon was recently crowned. From Trondhjem, the traveler can reach the Arctic circle in a little more than a day. While a day's stay is sufficient in the land of the midnight sun if the sky is clear, it is better to allow one's self two or three days' leeway as it is often cloudy in this latitude and at this time of the year. The midnight sun must be seen to be appreciated. No description can do it justice. To pass from day to day with no intervening night, to watch the sun linger for a while in the north near the horizon and then begin a new. day's work without a moment's sleep gives one a sensation not soon forgot-ten. A railroad across Norway brings Christiania within a day's ride of Trondhjem, and from Christiania to Stockholm is another day.
Stockholm is sure to charm the visitor. It is a beautiful town beautifully situated; it stands where the waters of the lakes and the ocean meet. Several days can be spent in Stockholm to advantage, and then one is prepared for the boat ride to St. Petersburg, one of the rarest experiences that one can find in travel. The boat wends its way through islands almost the entire distance.
A week's stay in St. Petersburg will give an opportunity for an inspection of the capital of the greatest of the nations measured by territory, and one of the greatest measured by population. Here one has a chance to learn something of the Greek Church with its splendid cathedrals, rivaling the cathedrals of the Roman Catholic Church. Moscow is even more distinctly Russian than St. Petersburg, and the art gallery there surpasses the one at St. Petersburg in its collection of the works of Russian artists. Tolstoy's summer home is not far from Moscow, and many take advantage of the trip to see the greatest of living philosophers.
The ride from St. Petersburg to Moscow and from Moscow to War-saw gives a very good view of the interior of Russia, and one can stop off at most any place and learn something of the village life of the Russian peasant. Several days can be occupied in Berlin, and other points of interest can easily be reached from Germany's capital. Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is only half a day's ride distant. Han-over, Hamburg, Brussels, Amsterdam and The Hague are all within easy reach. In Germany one has an opportunity to learn a great deal about forestry, agriculture and landscape gardening. The parks, groves, shady drives and boulevards furnish the American traveler with many suggestions while the battlefield of Waterloo and the low-lands of Holland will ever be interesting to the student of history.
The tour can be completed by a visit to Paris and London. The social season in the latter ends early in August with the adjournment of parliament. In three months' time one can make this northern trip and return with a fund of information about the countries and their peoples which could never be collected from books. It is not an expensive trip even for first class travel, and the accommodations furnished by the steamers and railroads for second class passengers are such that one can reduce his expenses considerably without discomfort.
But let me add, in conclusion, that one does not have to leave America to find places of interest and that no one can justify a trip abroad until he has become acquainted with his own country. Europe has no summer resorts that surpass the cities on the St. Lawrence, on our northern lakes and in the mountains of the west. In America one can have every variety from salt-sea bathing to mountain climbing, with fishing thrown in. In natural scenery there is nothing in Europe which surpasses the Niagara, Yellowstone Park, and the Yosemite Valley of California. There are no agricultural views which surpass those in the valleys on the Ohio, the Mississippi and the Missouri, and for a restful winter trip Hawaii, Mexico and Cuba offer attractions that are unexcelled. While the Western Hemisphere is not so old in its civilization, the only advantage that the Orient and Europe can furnish is in the variety of races, customs and religions. In natural scenery America satisfies all expectations. Nothing but the Himalayas offers more sublime heights, and the earth has no other -chasm equal to the Grand Canyon of Arizona. After one has seen the wonders of America and the possibilities of its soil, its institutions and its people, he can go abroad with the assurance that he will return, more widely informed, it is true, but more intensely American than before. There is no country like ours, whether it be measured by the bountiful gifts of the Creator or by the works of man. In all that goes to make a nation great materially, commercially, intellectually, politically and morally, our country has no peer. The American, returning to his own shores, feels like thanking Scott for expressing so felicitously the traveler's sentiments :
"Breathes there a man with soul so dead
( Originally Published 1907 )
The Old World And Its Way:
Homes And Shrines Of Great Britain
Glimpses Of Spain
A Word To Tourists
American Foreign Missions
A Study Of Governments
The Tariff Debate In England
Ireland And Her Leaders
Growth Of Municipal Ownership
France And Her People
Read More Articles About: The Old World And Its Way