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They have the different routes to this place and that at their fingers' ends, they are familiar with the character and reputation of a vast number of hotels, they know at which frontier towns luggage is examined, where it is best to break a journey. The acquaintance of such women is useful on occasion, lıke books of reference; but they are rarely among the most attractive specimens of our countrywomen abroad; certain graces, both of character and manner, are apt to get rubbed off by the constant friction with mised society. On a slight acquaintance their acquirements often appear imposing, so conversant are they with the masterpieces of great painters, and so many noble works of art have they seen. But the life they elect to lead does not contribute to depth of culture, since it affords small leisure for quiet thought and reflection. They are rarely women of fortune, though a certain independence as to means they must of course possess, but they are saved many expenses incidental to housekeeping, and when they chance to outrun their means, they retreat into some cheap boardinghouse, and economise for a time.
Notwithstanding the number of English women who travel, there still are numbers who do not; a dread of indefinite expense, a distrust as to how they may get on, want of practice in the use of any tongue but their own, deter them from making the venture. They go from home probably for a few weeks every year, but limit their rambles to Great Britain; yet these are often the very women who would most really benefit in health and spirits by a more extended trip. To such we would say, the money you spend on excursions to Brighton, Harrogate, or Hastings, would give you a trip across the Channel. To go anywhere costs something; sea-side lodgings, at the season when they are in request, are expensive, and travelling in England is somewhat more so than abroad; and after all your change is only partial, you get change of air, but little variety of mental atmosphere. On the other hand, cross the Channel for ever so short a distance, and the difference in the habits of life, the language, the food,
all combine to make the change complete, and give a zest to enjoyment.
Let us look at some of the practical details of the question. The first thing is to decide exactly where we wish to go, and with care and study lay out our route. Some persons say, do not lay definite plans, they only hamper you, trust to the inspiration of the hour. I do not believe in such reasoning; you are not bound to adhere to your programme if a better presents itself, but to have a plan, well thought out and prearranged, gives a sense of ease and confidence at starting which is worth something:
In important point connected with travelling is that of luggage, and one may say without hesitation, that a secret of happy travelling is to take as little as possible; indeed, for a short tour of say a month, or six weeks even, a lady may dispense with any registered luggage, and be content with the petite bagage allowed free in the compartment of the railway carriage with her, in the shape of bags, &c. By so doing, besides much saving of expense, she avoids the trouble of the douane, which though in most places very much reduced to a forin, has, as a form, to be gone through, and is generally a cause of detention and confusion. Hand baggage if “ visited” at all, is often looked at in the carriage, and provided you have your keys ready and do not seem to evade inspection, an assurance that you have nothing to “declare" is almost always accepted. When a trunk must be taken, let it be as light as possible, though strong, since things are unmercifully knocked about—French and German officials being unnecessarily rough in this respect.
It is at every season of the year a mistake to go abroad without warm clothing, more or less, to fall back upon. Many people, because they are going to a better climate than that of England, make little provision against cold, and suffer greatly in consequence.
In most places there are occasional sharp winds, such as the Mistral at Nice and Cannes, and one feels them the more a contrast to previous heat. Largo churches, too, and picture galleries, are often fearfully cold, and it is well to have an extra shawl to put
on, on entering them. Of most articles of wearing apparel only a sufficient quantity for actual use should be taken; even of underclothing no large supply is requisite, since at any hotel things given out to the wash one day, will, if desired, be returned the next. Washing abroad is a somewhat expensive item. In parts of Germany it is cheap, but this is the exception; as a rule, the prices are at least equal to those in London, and often exorbitant. At most hotels there is a laundress attached, who has travellers very much at her mercy; for a prolonged stay, however, it is generally possible to make an arrangement. It is a good plan which some ladies adopt, to have a set of underclothing perfectly plain for travelling; the laundress' scale of charges differs for articles trimmed and plain, and a very simple frill or bit of edging comes under the head of garniture, and may be made the excuse for a fancy price. Expenses apart, it is a pity to take nicely worked underlinen, as the mode of washing, viz., rubbing on stones at a river's bank, quickly destroys the fabric; the clothes, it must be owned, are usually beautifully white. In some parts the manner of performing the operation is funny—the woman herself occupies the tub, which is placed in shallow water, while she, from her island, washes in the surrounding element.
Of dresses, three should suffice any traveller, that is, to quote a favourite saying of some old-fashioned ladies, “Hightlum, tightlum, and scrub," whatever may be the derivation of the two first words and their orthography! When one or other has to be replaced, a costume, probably a very satisfactory one, generally be easily obtained; and in travelling, to wear things and have done with them, supplying their place as needed by others, is the best plan. This, however, does not apply to winter woollen stuffs, of which, whatever we are likely to want, should be brought from England. It is rather curious that in Germany, where the severe cold makes warm clothing a desideratum, the materials for winter dresses fall far short of our own. A very ordinary Devonshire serge was greatly admired, almost envied by German ladies, simply be
cause it was a material their shops do not supply; the protective duties prevent British manufactures being much sold abroad.
Many people add greatly to the amount and weight of their luggage in the course of a tour by purchases made as they proceed. There is an inducement to do this, but it is not worth while, as nearly all foreign articles are obtainable in England, and it is provoking after burdening oneself with fragile or cumbersome objects, to see precisely the same in London shops, and very little, if
There are, however, specialities of different places, particularly in the way of dress, which it is missing an opportunity not to get-as gloves made to measure in Brussels or Genoa, silks at Milan. At Lyons there is no advantage in buying silks, they are more expensive than in London ; but at Milan it is otherwise, a silk dress of good quality may be bought at the manufacturer's with great advantage. At Venice, a visit to the school for lace making, under the patronage of the Queen of Italy, is interesting, and will suggest to most ladies that a small outlay in lace would be a decidedly good investment.
A question on which there is much to be said on both sides, and which has to be solved before starting on a journey is that of maid or no maid.
If two ladies are travelling together the expense may very well be saved, and they will be more independent without an attendant; but, if a lady is alone she cannot comfortably dispense with one; at hotels a woman actually alone does not take quite the same place as if she has a maid, and in case of any little illness or accident she can hardly expect to be well attended to. She will, moreover, often find herself
, dependent on others, and her movements trammelled for want of some one to go about with. In many places the principal amusement is walking in beautiful scenery, and for ladies who are tolerably strong nothing is more delightful, but one cannot, in fact ought not, to take long rambles in very lonely districts quite alone, though two together are perfectly safe. The solitary woman at an hotel is thrown on the companionship of
others, whether it happens to be congenial or not, whereas, with a maid, she is independent and only has recourse to society because it pleases her. And here I would remark that if a lady has any knowledge of botany, or even love for flowers, she should by all means provide appliances for drying (and preserving them, if only a few sheets of blotting paper, and a little cotton wool; a small press, fastened by straps, to carry in her walks is very handy and does not take much room; even when there has been no previous taste that way it is very likely to be developed amid the wealth of flowers which meet the eye in many parts of Southern Europe, and the search for specimens gives additional interest to excursions.
To return from this digression to the question of the maid, it resolves itself thus: A maid in travelling is a great expense, yet a lady alone, if she can at all afford it, is the better of one; but know her thoroughly beforehand; be sure that she is steady, and if we may say so without causing a smile, it is all the better if she be not too attractive. It is a responsibility to take a young maid abroad, and it becomes the duty of her lady to look after her closely; keep, though kindly and quietly, a sharp eye upon her; insist on her dressing plainly, and note the slightest indications of levity. In a place I refrain from naming, a poor young maid got into trouble at a hotel, and unable to face the shame and disgrace made away with herself; a stone in the cemetery marks her grave, inscribed with initials and the words—
• Lead us not into temptation.” Under the best of circumstances hotel life is not good for servants; the idleness, the high living (for they are generally fed extremely liberally, with far more variety than at home), the society they meet at the second table, all tend to unsettle them and render them diecontented when they return to their ordinary duties.
Weighing all these drawbacks, many ladies may say that rather than take a servant they would prefer to join company with with some other lady, a step which occasionally, no doubt, answers extremely well, but which has to be most cautiously taken; notbing is a