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THREE WAYS OF MOTORING ABROAD
RESOURCEFUL WOMAN TRAVELLER
TWO MOTORING BOGEYS
THE WOMAN'S IDEAL TOUR
MOTORIST SEES A NEW EUROPE
GETTING ACQUAINTED WITH EUROPE
AUTOMOBILE SIMPLIFIES TOURING
COST OF TOURING BY MOTOR CAR
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
HIRING A CAR ABROAD
LUXURIOUS TRAVEL BY AUTOMOBILE
RESPONSIBILITY OF JEWELS
COMPARATIVE MERITS OF CHAUFFEURS
MOTORING IN THE BRITISH ISLES
FRANCE, THE MOTORIST'S PARADISE
COUNTRY INNS AND THE AUTOMOBILE
SPAIN PRESENTS DIFFICULTIES
SPEED SLOWS DOWN ACROSS THE ALPS
AS THE MOTORIST SEES ITALY
ABOUT THE ITALIAN LAKES
THE WOMAN AND THE CAR
THERE are three ways of seeing Europe from an automobile – to take over one's own car and chauffeur; to hire an automobile and chauffeur, or to depend on short, circular tours, from certain centres, where a hotel or some enterprising tourist agency provides automobile runs about the neighbourhood, varying from a day to a week, all included. This last is the most feasible plan for many, for everything is arranged without effort on the part of the traveller; it is the modern means of extending the radius of the old-time local carriage drive, which still adds to the time and costliness of sight-seeing in many localities.
This latter arrangement often affords just about as much motoring as many women want – for as a class they are not hardy motorists; it bears, however, about the same relation to real automobile touring as a sandwich does to a course dinner. The obvious reply is that one might just as well take the sandwich if she can't get the dinner, but perhaps if the woman, who has been so resourceful in getting about in other ways, will turn her ingenuity to the question of travel by automobile she will perhaps be able to get the dinner made up of a dish from each leading nation. Two bogeys discourage travel by automobile for the woman abroad. One is that supposedly it cannot readily be done without male escort, and the other that it is too expensive for the average touring allowance.
As to the first, for say three or four, it is the woman's ideal way of touring. Here is the possible way of gaining that exclusiveness that so many women crave, and as for protection, she does no more need a man along than does the twenty-five or forty horsepower car need a real horse to increase its effectiveness.
To probe deeper into the subject, one questions how much women really care for touring by automobile, that is, real touring, rising early, keeping at it all day, being delayed for meals occasionally, spending half the night by the roadside on that day when every one of the tires blow out with unanimity. This is a bit different from using the big touring car for running around town or out to the country club, as so often is the limit of the practice at home.
In a few words, motoring, which is popularly supposed to be such a luxurious sport, calls for a lot of endurance and staying qualities, and quickly weeds out the pseudo-traveller and shows up the sporty characteristics of the woman who cares for things for their own sakes and not just because they are the fashion.
The automobile has opened up a new Europe. It is like following" Alice Through the Looking-Glass" and entering a land, surprised to find it real, which seemed always not unlike an imaginary, painted panorama, viewed as it usually had been through the dusty frame of the window of a flying train. The lesson is being learned that by means of the facile automobile is the only way to see a country; more than this – it's the only way for the passing traveller to ever get to know a foreign land.
One can never know Europe intimately until she has felt the joy of the open road, reeled off at least some considerable length of the long, straight, wonderful roads of France, has glided along under the shadow of the Rhine castles, followed by the side of Dutch and Flemish canals, braved the dangers of an inhospitable Swiss pass, and the almost equally dangerous leafy lanes of England, the dust and picturesqueness of Italian highroads, and has followed in the trail of the camel over the desert sands to Biskra. Such experiences will tend to place the English-speaking pension, with its banal chit-chat, in its true position in the scheme of things abroad, and give one a broader and more comprehensive understanding of foreign things.
For that most industrious traveller – the American woman with two or three months at her disposal – the automobile is invaluable as a means of covering ground and sight-seeing at the same time.
All the methods of procedure set forth above are to be considered, but perhaps the most practical is to hire a car abroad, though if the woman wishes to take her own car and chauffeur, which, in her case, is better than depending on the foreign driver, it is even a less expensive arrangement than to hire the same combination on the other side if one's time extends beyond three months, for say five or six.
Four women, a car and a chauffeur can tour the motorist's Europe for one thousand dollars a month, comfortably and easily, including the cost of ocean transport. Carefully figure up the approximate cost of the ordinary tour for that same period, and the chances are that the motor trip will not figure up appreciably higher than the other. Two hundred and fifty dollars a month is about as close a margin on which any but an exceedingly knowing and careful person can travel on day after day by automobile in Europe, visiting all the stock sights, big and little. This necessitates of course that finances be studied and that there be no leakages. The thing that mostly affects the cost of the automobile tour abroad is the disposition everywhere to put motorists in a class by themselves and make them pay for this distinction. Motorists themselves are largely to blame for this discrimination, for they have rather taken that same view of themselves.
The modern automobile has brought about conditions similar to those that were the outcome of the period when the Englishman made the grand tour of Europe in his private coach and four, accompanied by a retinue of servants, maids, lackeys, mountains of luggage and his whole family.
History has repeated itself with emphasis; the Anglo-Saxon still leads the van of luxurious travel, but it is the younger race from overseas, and it is the automobile in place of the lumbering coach that now swings up to the hotel and deposits its conglomerate load. All over Europe have sprung up hotels whose luxuriousness is a direct result of present-day touring conditions and are designed to match the luxury that comes driving up to their doors, much of it by the automobile.
What follows may apply for the most part to any of these methods, though certain it is the freedom that one has with their own car and chauffeur is something more considerable than if tied down to a schedule bargained for in a renting garage or the whims of a stranger chauffeur. At all events, in France, Germany, England even, or in Italy one is sure of getting fair treatment even in the latter case, if one arrives at a clear understanding in the first instance at any one of a half-dozen of the leading garages of cities like London, Paris, Berlin or Milan. In the provinces, too, one could doubtless do equally well, and for twenty to twenty-five dollars a day be practically the owner of an automobile for the period for which it is contracted, with no responsibilities except for the payment of the bills as rendered. You will have no question of repairs to consider, nor of the replacing of tires, nor the cost of oil or gasolene, which latter becomes petrol in England, benzina in Italy, benzin in Germany and essence in France. Usually the chauffeur's keep is at the charge of the hirer, but this could probably be arranged for by a lump sum which allowed a dollar and a half a day therefor or a little more.
Assuming that it is the European tour in general that is to be undertaken, it matters not so much as to whether the object of the tour be for luxurious enjoyment or pleasurable edification. The point is what one may get for the time and money expended. Actually one does get more in Europe than at home, and therein lies not the least of the charms of foreign travel by automobile.
It is for the woman traveller that the luxuries of the automobile have been created. She can tour Europe as comfortably as she can sit in her own boudoir. There is the specially constructed tea-basket, with thermos bottles, if she wishes to have "five o'clock" en route, reading-lamps, telephones, racks for books and papers, every conceivable device for intricate baggage arrangements.
It is possible in the present automobile trunks to stow away in perfect safety a good-sized wardrobe, such as is called for by the modern exigencies of fashionable travel. European travel is as much of a society event as Newport in summer or the Horse Show in winter, and the lady in the car needs a varied lot of garments (or she thinks she does); anyway, they are usually the chief accessories of the big touring car. A trunk, a suitcase, a dressing-case bag, a large handbag ought to satisfy madame en route, but the question of hats is a burning one. "Where can I put my hat-box?" is woman's first question, and the chauffeur spends many anxious moments trying to adjust the relation of tires and hat-boxes.
For really comfortable travel the car should not be overcrowded; two make the ideal touring party. Then if there is the maid, who, as a rule, sits beside the chauffeur, her luggage can be got down to a large suitcase, another being ample for the chauffeur's needs.
Extra baggage and heavy trunks can be sent on ahead to the points where elaborate clothes will be needed, such as the large cities or the resorts, Aixles-Bains, the Riviera, the German spas, and the Palace hotels of the fashionable watering-places. Thus will madame be prepared for the social round when she arrives on the scene. This method is preferable to overloading the car with luggage, which always interferes with one's personal comfort.
The thing that will worry the woman at the head of a retinue such as this will probably be as to how she shall carry her jewels. Indeed, this is a real problem; also it may become a real danger. The automobile may attract the old-time brigand to go into business again if this keeps up. Still madame needs her jewels to match her Paris costumes, and the Palace hotels expect one to live up to their names. It is a bad thing to intrust the jewels to the care of the maid, who, as is the habit of maids, will be apt to lose her head and the jewel case at the same time in the many flittings to and from the car that are necessary in the course of the day. The responsibility of a lot of diamonds is enough to handicap any pleasure tour.
A suggestion might be made. Have a small safe built in under the seat of your automobile for your jewel case and other valuables. This would certainly be better than leaving them to the uncertain handbag care of yourself or your maid. Naturally they should be taken into the hotel at night. It would be, however, the part of wisdom if the display of jewels were limited to only such articles as might be of actual use for the voyage. One of the principal objects of pleasure travel is to get rid of responsibility.
One does not need a five-foot shelf for the
to be used en tour, but the woman who inaugurates a convenient little
for the automobile will do a real service to the cause of travelling.
is, of course, the table, which can be let down not only for the
but also for the more important duty, on which to spread out the maps.
always wants to follow the route oneself, or ought to, for this is one
the chief joys of motoring.
If one is touring between the great resorts in the height of season it would be well to wire ahead for accommodations. If no maid or courier is along – and in truth there is no reason why there should be – the chauffeur – if he be a foreigner – could attend to this as well as arrange for the desired assortment of rooms on arrival.
With regard to the foreign chauffeur let a word be said right here. His very acquaintance with the intricacies of foreign touring gives him the opportunity to add indirectly to his profits at the expense of his employers. He knows all the subtleties of the "commission" end of the European game, which but means that his employers pay for a number of things that they have no need of and at advanced rates. The American chauffeur, with his ignorance of the language and of conditions generally, will not be led into these temptations; he will not, in most cases, understand the hints thrown out to make money off of his employers; moreover, the strangeness of his position will lead him to siding with the owners of the car in a common cause in a foreign land, in preference to conspiring against them with the wily foreigner. If he can't act as courier he will at least be more faithful to his employer's interests.
The automobile has made possible many combinations of tours abroad that the stage coach alone in a former day made accessible. The coming of the railway killed much of the romance of travel, but it has revived wonderfully under the régime of mechanical H. P.
England is lovely as a touring ground from all points of view, but it soon palls on one after they have toured the west to Clovelly, south to Canterbury and Brighton, up the Thames Valley to Oxford and Warwick, and north or west – about, even so far as the Lake District or the Trossachs.
After that, what? Nothing but the round over again. And the country inns? They have been delightful to look at in many cases, less delightful to sample in many more, and expensive every one, besides being exceedingly limited in what they have to offer. The leafy lanes of England are stagily pretty and road surfaces are almost invariably good in England and Scotland (less so in Ireland). It has been a pleasure indeed to roll over the modern Pilgrim's Way, the great North Road of coaching days and ways, the Bath Road of storied romance, or to climb Snowdon in Wild Wales, but after all, this hallowed ground is already so familiar that the automobile tourist, even woman, in England unconsciously pines for a larger horizon, a grander scale and more quaint, exotic surroundings than can be in Britain.
Sooner or later things are bundled on board a cross-Channel packet – one is not even obliged to crate the automobile – and you fetch up in the delightful land of France, certainly the most practical touring ground for automobiles in all the world.
You have been driving to the left in Britain, as is the English way, and now at last think you will get back to right-handedness. This is not so. As these lines are being written the powers that be, those who are responsible for the making and the upkeep of the good roads of France and the laws governing them, have come to the English way of thinking, and reversed the order of driving.
In France a whole new set of conditions impose themselves upon the owner or the driver of an automobile. But you do not have to pay a tax for having a device painted on the doors of your automobile, as you do in England, nor another tax for "employing a male servant" if you have a chauffeur along – as you must do in England – neither, as in England, do you have to pay an internal revenue tax for driving a car on the roads. You are free to do what you will in France for four months, and may even make what speed you like so long as you do not bowl over anything in your path, for the speed limit has just recently been abolished, too. This means something in the land of good roads par excellence.
Supplies for the automobile are dearer in France than in England, but hotels are cheaper and better, the food most decidedly so. You are stuck less in this land of the "foreigner" than you are in Anglo-Saxondom, or indeed in any other part of Europe.
From ten to twelve, or the utmost, fifteen francs a day you may be comfortably fed and lodged almost anywhere along the highways and byways of France, excepting, of course, in the resorts like Trouville, Aix-les-Bains, Nice, Cannes or Biarritz. The chauffeur will be catered for at a considerably less figure, and you will have no charges for garage for the night in the majority of instances.
Normandy and Brittany by automobile are a delightful fortnight's itinerary, and the hotels and roads are better in the former than in the latter. Along the valleys of the Seine and Marne and Loire (the latter comprising the "chateau country ") are many surprises in the way of country inns and their attendant delights, to say nothing of historic and romantic sights and scenes which will give the woman in the car a new outlook on life from what she may have had before, even though she may have had some acquaintance with the same, arrived at by a more antiquated mode of travel.
Again does fashion repeat itself. Just as in the old coaching days passengers and luggage were taken on in the courtyard of the inn, so does one often enter and leave the automobile in the courtyard of the country hotel, away from the fussy crowd that usually gathers and gapes around in the open street. Many a big and little country inn has its cobble-stoned interior court. It is almost the universal arrangement in France, in the old towns of Germany and indeed all over Europe, where the present-day hotels are direct descendants of the old posting houses. In England there are many inn courtyards still unchanged since the days when travel was by the overbalanced "mail-coach," which swerved perilously along over hill and dale and through narrow village streets, drawn by its four or six horses.
Paris and its environs usually form a part of any European automobile itinerary, but there is little pleasure to be derived until one is well free of the awful roads which immediately surround most cities, and which with regard to Paris are no exception. Better to do Versailles, Saint Germain and Fontainebleau by train, unless one could take the former in on the way to the "château country," and the latter en route to Switzerland or the Riviera.
Vichy and Aix-les-Bains may be included when bound for the Riviera, and it is about the only way they can be worked into any comprehensive tour of France. The Riviera, at almost any time between November and May, is the most delightful spot on earth. The automobile enhances its charms, though only as being a handy means of exploring the mountain hinterland of the maritime Alps, which is hardly known by the rank and fashion which spends its time tea-drinking and bridge-playing in the great palace hotels of this very worldly paradise.
The region of the Pyrenees from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean is another nearly perfect automobile touring ground. It is comfortably warm in summer and not cold in winter. Seldom are the mountain roads snowed under, though it does rain for weeks at a time at certain periods, when a dull sitting away of one's time at one or another of the tourist hotels of Pau, Luchon, Biarritz or Cambo imposes itself upon the automobilist. Roads and hotels are of the very first rank, so altogether the region is likely to become more and more popular.
Spain, as an automobiling ground, is not to be thought of, unless one is prepared for adventure, inconvenience and perhaps occasional hardship, though possibly no real danger. The customs officials, who take your deposit as you cross the frontier, may keep it, though legally they are bound to return it when you take your car out of the country, but it may take months of diplomacy on the part of the Department of State and your Embassy at Madrid to get it back again. Unless it is real sport you are looking for, cut out Spain from your automobile itinerary, for the fording of streams without bridges, getting tangled up with long rows of mule trains and the mediocre hotels, require a high development of the sporting instinct.
Switzerland for the automobilist is a sort of negative blessing. There are some good roads, and were it not for seemingly selfish interest on the part of certain local communities, tourists en automobile would be more welcome than they are. Certain of the mountain roads are closed to automobiles, and practically only the roads over the Passes of the Arlberg, the Saint Gotham and the Simplon are available to automobile traffic. One can enter at Basle or Geneva and get along to Interlaken and Lucerne, but here and there will find a side road blocked to them, while those of the Engadine are entirely closed. The anti-automobile attitude is daily becoming more and more pronounced in Switzerland. The Swiss – that nation of hotel keepers – fear that 'the automobile will take the tourist too rapidly through their little country, and they want, too, that visitors should make every use of their government-owned boats, railways and stage-coaches rather than adopt the new locomotion which can rush them through the little mountain republic in one day.
Italy is the ideally romantic touring ground, or was with those of a former generation, but to-day the automobile owner or driver – particularly the woman in the car – will have a dozen conflicting opinions about it. Sometimes the opinion is good, as the result of a delightful day, and again, what with a hundred kilometres of bad road, an unsatisfactory meal by the way and a rather scraggy lodging for the night, one will pine for the good cheer of the country hotel of France and the good roads of that delightful land. Italy should be gone over pretty closely by road if one is to come away with an appreciation of its charms, for then, and then only, when the average of the good things you have run across has outdistanced those obviously unsatisfactory, will you think the thing worth while. The story is differently told by those who have debarked with their automobile at Naples and piked across to Switzerland in three days of pleasant weather, but put in six weeks of touring north, east, south and west, as fancy wills, two-thirds of the time in a deluge, and quite another viewpoint will be opened up. When the gondolas, tied to quays at Venice, fill with water in a night and sink, one thinks there is too much dampness about to make automobiling enjoyable, even though their land gondola is safely quartered in the garage at Mestre, half a dozen miles away, as near as one may get to Venice by automobile.
The region of the Italian lakes offers much of charm to the traveller by road, but the hotels that one patronises are not of the humble order, and there is little of the romantic simplicity that one usually associates with Italy. The kind is that which was conceived solely for the tourist, and from that point of view are satisfactory enough. The roads here are good, the best in Italy.
Austria is doing much these clays to attract the automobile tourist, and as the region of the Dolomites and the Austrian Tyrol is quite as lovely as the Swiss Alps, and the people far more friendly, the motor traffic from Italy, northward over the Austro-Italian mountain passes, is heavy and is increasing in volume with every season.
Automobiling in the mountain region of Tyrol presents a combination of delights which is unusual. There are good roads, imposing mountain peaks on all sides, thrilling hair-pin turns on the roads over the passes and a primitiveness of countryside sights and scenes which is in strong contrast to the modernity with which one comes up at night in their hotel at Innsbruck and many other stopping places, which are frankly tourist resorts and nothing else, so far as catering to the stranger goes.
Eastward to Vienna is a long pull, but worth it if one has the time; so is Dalmatia if one has the time, the money and the nerve. Here things are few and far between, but as much exotic as the Chinese walls; expensive, and fraught with considerable inconvenience and some danger now that the Near East is all but aflame with revolution.
Germany in general, at least along the grand lines of communication, is good touring ground, and in the Black Forest region and down the Rhine one covers classic ground.
The road by the Rhine runs on either side and in more ways than one partakes of those of France, though it is not for good roads that one comes this way; better one should be content with the glamour of romance which still hangs over the Teuton's beloved river from Scaffhausen down through Bingen and Cologne to tidewater, where it mingles with the cold, green seas of the German Ocean.
Holland and Belgium are hardly the most suitable automobile touring grounds in Europe, the former because, as one intrepid young American woman who drove her own car once said, you are liable to forget and run overboard on one edge of the country or the other. All the same the brick roads of Holland, running their many straight miles along the banks of canals or through polders gay with massed blossoms of tulips or hyacinths, make smooth going for the motor car. One does have to pull up every once and again to allow a sluggish canal barge to idle by whilst a bridge is being swung, but canals and bridges and barges, like the spotted cows, fat little Dutchmen and women and windmills and cheeses, are some of the things for which one comes to Holland, so why overwork your automobile in a rush to get away.
Belgian roads are vile, at least those that are not good, and the former are in the majority. Here and there are some good stretches, main routes mostly, but the crossroads are something incomprehensibly bad, being paved with large, uneven blocks of stone which must have been laid centuries ago. There is considerable enjoyment to be got out of touring Belgium, even though the country is not large and the roads are as bad as they are. Particularly are some new sensations to be acquired in journeying up the valley of the Muse to Dinant, where perhaps you may even find a piece of the fine old dinanderie copperware, which will well repay you for the trouble of coming this way.
The north African itinerary, from Algiers to Tunis, is the most exotic motor touring ground open to traffic to-day. Roads excellent, hotels of a passable kind – meaning, in this case, that if they are crude they are at least founded on the best of French traditions. You will perhaps garage your automobile in a compound with a herd of camels, and once and again if you stray off into the desert you may sink hub deep in sand, but on the whole, the novelty of it will make up for any inconvenience, and no great hardships or thrilling adventures need be looked for.
The sum of European road travels for the woman automobilist will be the realisation that it is a sport for women as well as man. Take your own automobile with your own driver, or another hired on advantageous terms, and one may have a vagabondage so greatly to the liking that it will be hard to stop. Don't scorch; leave that to the brief visit which the man may make to you. If he wants to be taken across Europe in a hurry, take him, and then turn in your tracks and do the same thing over again, or something different, at a moderate speed, and you will think that you never had quite so enjoyable an outing in all your life.