Welsh Newspapers

Search 15 million Welsh newspaper articles

Hide Articles List

9 articles on this Page



AMONGST THE REUNIONISTS IN SWITZERLAND- I.-THE JOURNEY OUT. The kind interest which was evinced by many z, 11 -friends last year in a few stray jottings concerning a. trip to Grindelwald and other points of access to the Bernese Oberland tempts me to venture upon some little account of a visit paid this year to Lucerne in connection with the Reunion Con- ferences orgmised by the Rev. Dr. Lunn. Last year I travelled with the first conference party for Grindelwald. It numbered 140, and Holborn Via- duct station on the morning of our departure pre- sented a lively scene, the majority of the party not having been abroad before, and being in con- sequence in a state of great agitation as to their luggage, etc. This year we were quite a staid and sober body. We numbered all told 36, and on arrival at Holborn Viaduct on the morning of August 25th there was nothing to indicate any special excursion. The party included the Rev. j C. A. and Mrs Berry, of Wolverhampton, the Rev. Prebendary Webb-Peploe, the Rev. F. W. Bourne, the Rev. Thomas Raw, and a body of fourteen Lancashire lads and lasses, who had arranged to apend their holiday in Switzerland en parti. A ,Tory jolly lot they proved to be. We left London a few minutes before ten o'clock, and an unevent- ful run through beautiful Kent was beguiled by chatting with our courier, an Italian named Agostino Rovai, who has been on the road for many years, a wonderfully temperate man for his class, and with an interesting family history which there is no need to repeat here. On the way one learns a wrinkle or two as to the passing of contraband articles through the customs, etc. The hand luggage carried by travellers is fre- quently examined by the guard or another official while the train is in motion. When starting the juurney you enter into friendly conversation with this individual, pass a franc into a hand which curls up to receive it with a movement as natural as that of a fish's fin, and you are safe. As he has broken the law by receiving a tip, he cannot very well report you if you happen to do so. The same useful information is available in case a second-class traveller wants a first-class carriage. The officials are always open to enter into a little axegociation of the kind indicated above. The only thing necessary is to know how to go about it. In this and other equally righteous ways we occupy the two hours which the London, Chatham, and Dover express requires to perform the journey to Dover. Here, without any delay, we take our jp laces on the Princess Henrietta, one of the splen- did steamers of the Belgian Mail Packet service, which accomplishes the journey to Ostend, under favourable conditions of wind and tide, in a little over three hours. The passage was a delightful ,one-a calm sea, a perfectly clear sky, a pleasant breeze, and a company on board in the best of spirits. Some, as usual, retired below, and parted lovingly with some of the property they had brought with them, but there were comparatively few cases of illness. A couple of hours' sail and we are in view of the coast on the other side of the channel, and in a little more than another hour the white houses, the crowded piers and magnificent esplanade of Ostend com » into sight. Our friend the courier is now busy looking after Jus family, getting them and their luggage to. gether ready for disembarking, and as he stands bag in hand waiting to pass along the gangway I notice he is audibly reflecting, in language which I feel sure he never opened a Sunday School with, on the follies of excursionists attempt- ing to bring all their household requisites with them as luggage. At Ostend station a cold lun- cheon, packed in boxes, awaits the Reunionists. The circular issued to each member informs them that "as n-arly two hundred knives and fork were lost last year, the restaurateur will not again undertake the responsibility, and those who de- cline to eat cold chicken with nature's appliances only, must bring their own knive3 and forks." This circumstance involves no practical difficulty, and the train has not proceeded far before the tender Ostend chickens have disappeared. By the courtesy of the railway authorities we are provided with through coaches to Basle, and by putting the courier's information into operation we find ourselves in exceedingly comfortable quar- ters. It is worth noting that although the sea passage to Ostend is considerably longer than that to Calais, the railway journey from Ostend to Basle is very much shorter than that of any other route. There is one other important element in favour of this route which is worth mentioning, And that is the courtesy of the Customs officials. Both at Ostend and on the German and Swiss frontiers the examinations are of the most nominal character,-a circumstance the importance of which will be appreciated by all who have had experience of the French customs. Shortly after jour o'clock we leave Ostend, and are soon speeding along through a. agricultural district. The crops, however, have been nearly all gathered in, and we miss the interesting glimpses of busy harvest workers which formed so pleasant a feature of the journey out last summer. The fields are now deserted, and the country presents a picture of peaceful repose. At six o'clock we stetlm into Brussels, and from here on the route is one of exceptional interest. Beginning with Waterloo, and passing through Metz and Strass- burg, it traverses the scenes of some of the greatest historical events of the present century. The line, as described in Bradshaw, runs out of Brussels through several cuttings, skirting the extreme northern border of the Soignies Forest to Boitsfort, a noted suburban pleasure resort with a lake. We penetrate the forest, and our interest is aroused by one of the party pointing out the route which the British troops followed on their way to Waterloo. Some distance to the right of La Halpe, the next station, is the field of Waterloo, and as we pass along the higher ground a glimpse is caught of the monumental lion on the battlefield. Continuing the journey througbt a hilly broken region we reach Sterpenich. Here we qnit Belgian territory, and entering the Dutch portion of the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg, have our luggage overhauled at Bettingen, run across a few miles of level country, and reach Luxemburg. Southward from Luxemberg our course lies towa'ds. Lorraine, crossing the German frontier by Bettemberg. The customs official travels with the train, and while it goes at full speed he startles us by popping into the carriage and asking us to show p 11 our luggage. It is a very formal matter, the .9 bags are chaiked without one having been opened, and the official, woo tells us with some pride that he knows London, disappears through the door as suddenly as he came. The country through which we are now travelling is for the most part level, without special characteristics, but right and left for many miles every acre is memorable. It Passing Maixieres, by Devant-les-Pouts, the train rolls over ground whereon were enacted the last of the tragic scenes around Metz; where on the 6th and 7th October, 1870, the French made their desperate but unsuccessful attempt to escape from Metz along the road to Diedenbofen, once better known as Thionville. The battl-Seld of Gravelotte is away to the right; Mars-la-tour is also on the right and south of Gravelotte; and while pondering the memories such scenes awaken we arrive at Metz." It is now one o'clock on Saturday morning, and those of us who are awake are glad of the opportunity of a few minutes exercise up and down the platform which the brief wait allows. Swerving to the east from Metz, we pass in a short time over the battlefield of Courcelles, where the retreat of Bazaine to- wards Chalons, to effect a junction with Mac- Mahon after the disasters of Weissenburg and Worth was first arrested, and at four o'clock find ourselves at Stnssburg. Dawn is rapidly break- ing, it is a magnificent sunrise, and looking back we have an excellent view of the famous Cathedral. Our course lies between the Vosges mountains on the one kattd and the Rhine on the other. Following the course of the III we pass Benfield, tk centre of tobacco cultivation, and later on, Behlettatadt, an old place which capitulated to the Germans in October, 1870. Gradually the tobacco plant gives place to the vine, and after traversing a country of great interest Basle ia peached. There is jtiofc time to get breakfast and to pass our luggage through the customs, and the journey is resumed through striking and pleasant scenery. From Olten we get distant but very fine views of the greater peaks of the Bernese Oberland. By the by the little lake of Sempach, the name of which recalls memories of Arnold Von Winkelried. is reached, Pilatus and the Rigi loom into view, then the left bank of the Reuss is touched, a tunnel under Gibraltar" traversed, and a few minutes after nine o'clock on the morning of August 26th, we are at Lucerne.






[No title]