Sidor som bilder
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

It is more for the traveller's advantage to take one set of horses through the journey than to trust to the chance of engaging them from one town to another - a method, subject to delay and vexation from the uncertainty of finding them at all times, and from the manœuvres of petty inn-keepers, who will often pretend that none are to be had, and will throw every impediment in the way of his departure. Besides which, by such an arrangement, the employer must inevitably pay back-fare for every day, whereas, if he engage the same voiturier for a length of time, he may so arrange his tour, in a circle as it were, as to discharge him within one or two days' journey from his home, and thus considerably reduce the amount of the back-fare. It is sufficient to pay only half the usual drinkmoney for the days reckoned as back-fare, i. e. half a franc per horse.

It is adviseable, before setting out, to have an agreement drawn up in writing, including the stipulations which have been recounted above. A piece of money, called in German daraufgeld, in Italian la caparra, is then given by one of the contracting parties to the other, after which the bargain is held to be concluded.

There are many excursions in Switzerland that are not to be made in a travelling carriage: in such cases it must either wait for the traveller, or be sent round to meet him at an appointed spot.

The system of vetturino travelling, with all its advantages and disadvantages, has been so fully explained in the Handbook for North Germany, that it is unnecessary to enter again into fuller details here than have been given above.


The char-à-banc, the national carriage of French Switzerland, may be described as the body of a gig, or a bench, as its name implies, placed sideways upon four wheels, at a very little distance from the ground. It is surrounded by leather curtains made to draw, whence it has been compared to a four-post bedstead on wheels. There is a larger kind of char, in which the benches are suspended by thongs, not springs, across a kind of long waggon, and are arranged one behind the other. The char-à-banc is a very strong and light vehicle, capable of carrying two persons, or three at a pinch, and will go on roads where no other species of carriage could venture. It is convenient, from being so low that one can jump in, or alight without stopping the horse, while it is going on; but it is a very jolting conveyance. Such a carriage is to be hired even in the smallest Swiss villages, and the ual charge, including the driver,


$ 9. Guides



is twelve French francs a-day; but the charge will be doubled by back-fare if the driver cannot reach home the same night, after the time when he is dismissed.


The services of a Guide are needful when the traveller is about to plunge into the recesses of the mountains on foot. He makes himself useful, not only in pointing out the way, but in acting as interpreter to those unacquainted with the language of the country, and also in relieving the traveller of the weight of his knapsack or travelling-bag. As a general rule he may be said to be indispensable in ascending very lofty mountains, in exploring glaciers, and in crossing the minor passes of the Alps, not traversed by high roads, but by mere bridle or foot paths, which, being rarely used, and in many places not distinctly marked, or confounded with innumerable tracks of cattle, will often bewilder the inexperienced traveller not acquainted with the mountains. Nevertheless, travellers having a good knowledge of German, in addition to some experience of mountain journies, and provided with Keller's map, may cross some of these passes alone with impunity; but there are others, such as the Bonhomme, Col de Ferret, Mont Cervin, Mont Moro, Ramin, &c., which no one would be justified in attempting without a guide. When snow is threatening to fall, or after a snowstorm has covered the path and obliterated the footsteps of preceding travellers, a guide may be required in situations where, under ordinary circumstances, his presence might be dispensed with.

Guides by profession are to be met with in most parts of Switzerland; those of Chamouni (in Savoy) are deservedly renowned, being regularly bred to their profession, and subjected to examination as to character and fitness before they are admitted into the fraternity. They are enrolled in a corps, placed under the control of a syndic appointed by the Sardinian Government. (Route 115.) In Switzerland they abound at Interlachen and Thun, Lucerne, and all the other starting-points from which pedestrian excursions are begun. Here, again, the traveller had better trust to the innkeeper to recommend a fit person; but it is advisable not to hire one for a length of time beforehand. He ought not to be too far advanced in years.

The established rate of hire is six French francs a-day; but, in addition to this, there will be a claim for money to return, if dismissed at a distance from home, unless the employer find him a fresh master to take back. For this sum the guide provides for himself, and is expected to discharge all the duties of a domestic towards his employer.

For the most part, the guides may be said to be obliging, intelligent, and hard-working men. Few who have employed them but can bear testimony to their coolness, intrepidity, and tact, in moments of danger-in the difficult pass, in the midst of the snowstorm, or among the gaping clefts of the glaciers. It is in such

[merged small][ocr errors]

situations that their knowledge of the mountains, their experience of the weather, their strong arm and steady foot, are fully appreciated. The traveller should always follow the guide in crossing glaciers, and, in going over tracts covered with snow, should allow him to choose what his experience teaches to be the safest path. In dangerous situations the guide advances a-head, with cautious step, sounding with his pole beforehand as in a sea beset with shoals.

A little civility and familiarity on the part of the employer-the offer of a cigar from the traveller's own case, or a glass of brandy from his private flask-will rarely be thrown away; on the contrary, it is likely to produce assiduity and communicativeness on the part of the guide. Many of them are fine athletic men, and to carry for 8 or 10 hours a-day, and for a distance of 25 or 30 miles, a load of 30 or 40 lbs. weight, is made light of by them.

Some travellers content themselves with Keller's excellent map to guide them, and employ a mere porter to carry their baggage for them. Such a man is paid less than the professional guides; 3 or 4 fr. a-day will suffice for them; others are satisfied with taking a guide only to cross the mountains, from one valley into another, where, as before observed, they are really indispensable. Those who travel in chars or on horseback will find that the driver, or the man who accompanies the horse, will usually serve as a guide, and render unnecessary the employment of any other person in that capacity. At Chamouni, however, the guides must be hired distinct from the mules. Let it be observed that, when the travelling party includes ladies, a guide is required to attend on each, during a mountain excursion, to lead down the horses, where the path is steep, and to lend their arms to the fair travellers, when the exigencies of the case require them to dismount, and proceed on foot.

Even the aged or invalid female is by no means debarred the pleasure of taking a part in difficult mountain expeditions. Those who are too infirm either to walk or ride, may be carried over the mountains in a "chaise-à-porteurs" (Germ. Tragsessel), which is nothing more than a chair, carried in the manner of a sedan, upon poles, by two bearers; two extra bearers must be taken to relieve in turn, and every man expects 6 fr. per diem, and 3 fr. returnmoney for the days required to reach home.

10. HORSES AND mules.

Previous to 1800, or even later, until Napoleon commenced the magnificent carriage-roads over the Alps, which will assist in immortalising his name, the only mode of conveying either passengers or goods across them was on the back of horses or mules. Even now, upon all the minor passes, almost the entire traffic is carried on by means of them. In other instances, where the beauties of scenery attract an influx of strangers, mules are kept for their conveyance, even where they are not required for the transport of merchandise.

The customary hire of a horse or mule throughout Switzerland,

xxiv § 10. Horses and Mules.

§ 11. Swiss Inns.

generally fixed by a printed tariff, amounts to 9 fr. a-day, including the man who takes care of it; at Chamouni it is 6 fr., but there a guide must also be taken. Back-fare must be paid if the animals are dismissed at a distance from home, and at so late an hour of the day that they cannot return before night.

The ponies that are used in the Bernese Oberland, on the Righi, and in other parts of Switzerland, are clever animals, that will carry you up and down ascents perfectly impracticable to horses unused to the mountains; but they are far distanced by the mules of Chamouni and other parts of Savoy. Their sagacity, strength, and sureness of foot are really wonderful. The paths which they ascend or descend with ease are steeper than any staircase, sometimes with ledges of rock, 2 or 3 ft. high, instead of steps. Sometimes they are covered with broken fragments, between which the beasts must pick their way, at the risk of breaking their legs; at others, they traverse a narrow ledge of the mountain, with an abyss on one side and a wall of rock on the other; and here the mule invariably walks on the very verge of the precipice- a habit derived from the animal's being accustomed to carry large packages of merchandise, which, if allowed to strike against the rock on one side, would destroy the mule's balance, and jostle him overboard. In such dangerous passes, the caution of the animal is very remarkable: he needs no rein to guide him, but will pick his own way, and find out the best path, far better than his rider can direct him; and, in such circumstances, it is safer to let the reins hang loose, and trust entirely to his sagacity, than to perplex him by checking him with the curb, at a moment when, by confusing the animal, there will be risk of his losing his footing, and perhaps tumbling headlong.

It is interesting to observe the patient animal, on reaching dangerous ground, smelling with his nose down like a dog, and trying the surface with his foot, before he will advance a step, as the poet has accurately described him: —

"Shunning the loose stone on the precipice

Snorting suspicion — while with sight, smell, touch,

Trying, detecting, where the surface smiled;

And with deliberate courage, sliding down,

Where, in his sledge, the Laplander had turn'd
With looks aghast.' Rogers.


Switzerland is well provided with inns; and those of the large towns, such as the Baur, at Zurich, Gibbon, at Lausanne, the Faucon, at Bern, the Bergues and Couronne, at Geneva, the Bellevue, at Thun, the Three Kings, at Basle, yield, in extent and good management, to few hotels in either France or Germany. The great annual influx of strangers into the country is of the same importance to Switzerland that some additional branch of industry or commerce would be, and renders the profession of host most lucrative. Many of the Swiss innkeepers are very wealthy; it is not uncommon to find an individual in this capacity who is magis

trate, and it constantly happens that they are persons of such influence in their canton or commune that it is difficult to obtain redress against them for an injury or act of insolence, owing either to the interest they possess with the courts, or to their being absolutely themselves the justices.

The approach to one of the first-rate hotels in the large towns, in the height of summer, exhibits rather a characteristic spectacle. The street before it is usually filled with several rows of vehicles of all sorts, from the dirty and rickety calèche of the German voiturier, to the neat chariot of the English peer, and the less elegant, but equally imposing, equipage of the Russian prince. Before the doorway is invariably grouped a crowd of loitering servants and couriers, of all nations and languages, and two or three knots of postilions and coachmen on the look-out for employment. During the height of the season, should the traveller arrive late in the evening, the chances are against his being admitted, unless he have sent or written beforehand to secure rooms. This object may sometimes be effected by the means of a fee to the courier of another party about to set out at an earlier hour.

Couriers, voituriers, guides, and boatmen, are apt sometimes to sell their employers to the innkeepers for a gratuity, so that travellers should not always implicitly follow the recommendations of such persons regarding inus; and it is hoped that the list of inns, drawn up with much care, and given in this book, will render the traveller in future more independent of their recommendations. The innkeepers hitherto have been very much at the mercy of this class of persons, who invariably fare sumptuously, and certainly not at their own expense. It not unfrequently happens that the attendance which ought to be bestowed on the master is showered upon his menials. Whenever a new inn is started, it is almost invariably by the lavish distribution of high gratuities to coachmen, couriers and the like, and by pampering them with the best fare, that the landlord endeavours to fill his house, to the prejudice both of the comfort and the purse of their masters. With few exceptions, therefore (which are specified in the following pages), the writer has generally found himself best off in the old established houses.

It may be laid down as a general rule, that the wants, tastes, and habits of the English are more carefully and successfully studied in the Swiss inns than even in those of Germany. At most of the large inns, there is a late Table-d'hôte dinner at 4 or 5 o'clock, expressly for the English; and the luxury of tea may always be had tolerably good. Several wealthy innkeepers have even gone so far as to build English chapels for their guests, or have endowed a clergyman with a stipend to perform the church service on Sundays, as at Thun, Lucerne, &c., as an inducement to English travellers to pass the Sunday with them. Cleanliness is to be met with almost everywhere, until you reach the S. slopes of the Alps and the approach to Italy. În canton Bern, in particular, the inns, even in the small and remote villages, are patterns of neatness, such as even fastidious travellers may be contented with.



« FöregåendeFortsätt »