Swiss Holiday Diary 1908. By Margaret Wilson McNee
(born 1881 in Glasgow, Lanarkshire)
July 17th 1908
We drove to Charing Cross in a taximeter and enjoyed the ride immensely. Mrs Smith met us as we alighted, and shortly after, we met the other members of the party and got introduced to those we did not know. We made a raid on Cooks Office and had some money changed getting 25 francs for an English sovereign. I watched the bundles, and a good thing too as Js parasol was nearly broken by a porter with a barrow. A saloon carriage was engaged for us, so after trailing our traps up the platform, we all got in. We were a very merry party and made a great deal of noise. Our leader, as Jean supposed, is a small man and jolly. We had our first glimpse of Brown Morgan, who is much better than he is braw. It rained all the way to Dover, but our tongues went so fast, that we took little note of weather or scenery, till the sea came in sight. It was more than a trifle rough and we began to tremble in our shoes.
The train took us right to the pier, and we found, after we had, with much tribulation got our luggage on board, that the second class accommodation was very stuffy. We decided to pay the extra 2/- and got chairs on the first class deck. Going out of harbour we got a woeful toss! I staggered along to the neb of the boat & settled down there. The breeze helped to keep me from distinguishing myself. I was soon joined by a considerable number of sea sick folk. I felt pretty bad. As we got out however the boat did not roll so much and we all began to recover. We reached Ostend about 8 oclock. Fortunately we had no rain in crossing.
The hoisting of bundles once more began, and we had to open our boxes for the Customs examination. A chalk mark was put on them and we passed on to the train. We had some trouble in getting our luggage stowed away, as our particular carriage was crowded, having 7 instead of 6. Nan & Phys & Lois & Aggie proceeded to make tea. It was a messy performance & I thought not worth the trouble. The train conductor came along & said something unintelligible to us. But he did not put a stop to the tea making. I should not have been surprised if he had, as owing to the jolting of the train, tea was being distributed in all directions.
By and bye we composed ourselves to sleep without meeting with much success. Our necks felt thrawed and there was always an interruption of one kind or another.
At Brussels we stopped for some time and most of the party had coffee for which they paid 5 pence and ½d for the man ie the waiter. Beery and I prowled up and down the platform in search of fresh air but we found it not. We should have followed the example of two ladies who went out of the station and visited one of the Squares. While we were out one of the English ladies had her handbag stolen. Her tickets had been taken out and laid on the seat and all this happened with a lady sleeping in the compartment! Everybody blamed a man with a straw hat who had been prowling about the carriages.
From Brussels to Luxembourg we spent the time in trying to sleep between the intervals of showing tickets. At the latter place, we had to arouse ourselves for tickets and Customs, but the operation was not serious. The officer said, Rien a declarer and we groaned No on which he took his departure. Here we had to alter the time on our watches, and put them an hour forward.
Between intervals of sleep we could see that the country around was pretty flat, and cultivated in queer little patches of one kind and another, - maize corn french beans &c & vines. There were a great many Lombardy Poplars and at a distance they often resembled gigantic green pailings. For some time I watched the scenery from a window at the end of the passage. I wanted fresh air to blow my headache away but I did not get it, as one of the men of the party took up his post beside me, and smoked like a furnace. Truth to tell, we were a splendid collection of tired, sleepy, headachey dogs. Phys was pretty well bowled over, but was always able to make a row, if occasion demanded it.
We reached Basle before mid-day and there we had lunch. We expected breakfast as our tickets only provided for that. When we were halfway through lunch, we were told, that we had so much extra to pay. We rather objected to this way of doing things. However we enjoyed the lunch, which consisted of soup & bread, meat, potatoes & vegetables, sausage, veal &c, salad, fruit juice, ice cream, biscuits & cherries. The waitress brought in the dishes on large salvers and we helped ourselves.
We left our luggage in the dining room and went for a walk in Basle. Our aim was to cross the Rhine. We went down a rather nice Street, which has an avenue of trees with a walk down the centre, instead of the usual pavement. There were seats amongst the trees where on the weary might rest. We rather enjoyed this walk.
By & bye we came to a cross where with the use or abuse of French and German, we contrived to make a man understand, that we wanted to get to the Rhine. He directed us and eventually we got to the bridge. The bridge is very high and the river great, broad, lovely and swift flowing. We crossed to the other side and descended a flight of steps to the river bank, then walked along under a nice row of trees to the next bridge. We should have liked to continue our walk, but time did not permit so we mounted the steps which took us to the bridge. On crossing this second bridge we soon found ourselves in the fruit and vegetable market, and saw the Police Station outside only. We had to negotiate a man to show us the shortest way to the station. He could not understand, till Phys asked me: What is the German word for station? I said, Bahnhoff. The man heard me and pointed. We followed his direction as far as possible and met J. Then we collared another gentleman, and did our best to ask if we were far from the station. He understood us latterly, poor man, and said: two minoots. We got to the station in time for our train and were joined by the party from Calais.
We were all very tired and headachey by this time, and wished that we were at the end of our journey. I dozed a little so did not take much notice of the scenery. We stopped for a short time at Berne & as seen from the train it seemed to be a very fine town. The scenery from here began to be a little more Swiss like. How thankful we were to reach Spiez!
The Hotel bus took our luggage and most of us walked to the Hotel as it was not far away. We were lucky enough to get a bedroom in the Harhaus, possibly because we wanted a bedroom for three. Some of the others had to go to the Chalets round about. We were taken to our flat in the lift and our boxes were brought to us by the porter. We had begun to undress when we discovered that Ts box was a missing. Without giving us time to cover our nakedness Attie Phemie rang the bell for a maid and one soon appeared. We proceeded to talk to her in English, and we thought she understood, as she beamed and said, Ha ! Ha!. Still she made no effort to get the other box, so T explained once more, that we wanted another box like mine, but with the initials E.W.McN. Ha Ha was the only answer we got. It now began to dawn on us that Ha Ha did not mean I understand, but we foolishly enough, did not ask the maid, what language she spoke. Instead we attacked her with a mixture of French and German. T told her she wanted un andere which seemed to sink in, and she went further to explain that andere was outside. Unfortunately she said Hinaus, which means to go out; the maid, thereupon, jumped to the conclusion, that one was to be taken out, and promptly seized mine. I collared her before she got to the door. I dont know if she suddenly got enlightened, or whether she though t the best thing was to let us alone for a little, at any rate she went out, and in a short time came back with Ts box, which had evidently been travelling round the Hotel in search of an owner. The look of joy on Ha Has face as she brought that case in, was something to see.
This business settled, we had a good wash up, which was very refreshing after our travels. Not knowing at what hour dinner was to be we hurried into the first garments we could lay our hands on. We have been lucky in getting a very nice bedroom. Our beds amused us mightily. The bedsteads are wooden. We have a spring mattress (like our sofa springs) then a little wedge-shaped hair mattress at the top & last of all the hair mattress. There are two square pillows, one large the other smaller. We have only one felt-like blanket and the he-bo mat, but what took our fancy as much as anything were the funny fat cushion-like quilts. T can never resist the temptation to give them a punch in the middle. The floor is of polished pine with a rug in front of each bed. We have a wardrobe, a table, commode, trunk stand, basin stand with three of everything, 2 towels each and a chair for each. Our window opens like a door onto a little verandah all our own, with chairs. Here we can sit, even in rainy weather. We look right over to the Chalet in which Beery & Phys live. We are really very comfortable.
We had a good dinner, soup, fish, roast, salad, fowl, pudding, cherries &c. I was too headachey to enjoy it. After dinner we visited one anothers rooms then we got to bed as fast as possible. Never were we more ready for it.
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