Thirty kilos, about sixty-six pounds, are allowed free in the luggage van, but for an extensive tour it is better to send trunks ahead by some agency, and travel with only the valises taken with you in the carriage. Carriages and touring-cars rolled up, pretty wives to fetch their husbands to claim their wives.
As Minister to Spain, in a letter Oct. Even if one barely knows a word of the language, it is not foolhardy to explore the distant provinces.
Commit a few simple sentences to the memory and have courage in using them, for Spanish is pronounced just as it is spelled, with a few exceptions soon observed. The merest beginner is understood. When a trip into Spain is planned it would be well to send for information about the kilometric ticket to the Chemins de Fer Espagnols, 20 Rue Chauchat, Paris. They will mail you, gratis, a pamphlet with a map of the country, where is marked the number of kilometers between the cities; from this it is easy to calculate how large a ticket to buy.
The more kilometers taken at one time, the cheaper it is. Thus a ticket of 2, k. We got a 10, kilometric ticket for two people, first class, good for ten months, paying for it pesetas. If the ticket is bought outside of Spain you pay for it in francs, whereas if bought in Spain, you pay in pesetas, which are about fifteen per cent less than francs.
It is only on one or two short local lines that these tickets are not accepted. Unfortunately the new rail from Gibraltar up to Bobadilla, by way of which many tourists enter Spain, is one of these disobliging minor lines. In fact many who start their trip from the south have found difficulty in procuring a kilometric ticket till they reached Seville or Granada; this confuses the traveler, and makes him decide the ticket is too complicated for practical use.
If he comes to visit merely the southern province of Andalusia, which is what most people see of Spain, with a run up to Madrid for the pictures, then, unless several are traveling as one family, there is little gained by the carnet, since a few hundred unused miles are sometimes wasted.
But for the complete tour of Spain the kilometric ticket is the most satisfactory arrangement. Besides the reduction it makes in the fare, it saves the confusion of changing money in the stations. You go to the ticket office before boarding a train, have the coupons to be used torn off, and are given a complementary ticket to hand to the conductor on the train. It is well to buy the official railway guide as it saves asking questions, for Spanish trains, though they crawl at a snail's pace, start at the hour announced, and arrive on the minute set down in the time-table.
Thirty kilos, about sixty-six pounds, are allowed free in the luggage van, but for an extensive tour it is better to send trunks ahead by some agency, and travel with only the valises taken with you in the carriage.
These the mozo, or porter, carries directly from the train to the hotel omnibus, which—another good custom of the country—is always in waiting, no matter at what hour the arrival. First class travel in Spain is about the same as second class elsewhere; second class is like third class in France, except on the express route from Paris to Madrid, and in Catalonia, where second class is comfortable. A hasty sketch of our tour may help later travelers.
We entered from the north, by Biarritz, a far better way of seeing the country in its natural sequence than the usual landing at Gibraltar. One feels that the north of Spain, in the truest degree national, untouched by the Moor, has never had justice done it. If a transatlantic liner touched at one of the northern ports, such as Vigo, Santander, Bilbao, it would open up an untrodden Switzerland with fertile valleys and noble hills.
No pleasanter summer tour, on bicycle or afoot, could be made than through the Basque provinces, Asturias, the national cradle of Spain, or in beautiful Galicia with its trout rivers.
In summer the climate is cool and pleasant, and the most isolated valleys are so safe that any two women could travel alone with security. Time must not be a consideration in touring these unfrequented cities of middle Spain, for their local trains are few and far between.
Only twice a week is there direct communication between Salamanca and Medina del Campo, the junction station on the express route. But if you accept once for all the slowness of the trains, the occasional odd hour of arrival or starting, the inconvenience of a distantly-set station, you cease to fret and scold as do most hurried travelers.
We ended by finding the long railway journeys rather restful than otherwise. Also I found the topography of the country of endless interest during the long train trips; to climb up to the great truncated mountain which is central Spain, to see how the still higher ranges of mountains crossed it, how the famous rivers flowed, the setting of the historic cities,—I never tired of looking out on it all.
Somehow I have got tucked away a distinct picture of Spain's physical geography, no doubt due to the leisurely railway journeys, which are not so slow that the proportion of the whole is lost, as foot or horse travel would be, nor yet so fast as to jumble the picture, as with the express trips in some countries. Spain is not beautiful like Italy, nor of the orderly finished type of England or France; she has few of Germany's grand forests. There is no denying she is a gaunt, denuded, tragic land; the desolation of the vast high steppes of Castile is terrible.
Only the fringing coasts along the Atlantic and the Mediterranean are fertile. Nevertheless, unbeautiful as is the landscape, it possesses an unaccountable magnificence that grips the mind; we never took a night trip unless forced to it, so strangely interesting were the hours spent in looking from the car window. After Salamanca we went to Segovia, then across the Guadarramas to the Escorial, and slightly back north by the same mountains to Avila. Again passing through the hills, whose cold blue atmosphere Velasquez has made immortally real, we went to Madrid.
From there, south, we struck the beaten tourist track with pestering guides and higher prices in the hotels. Up to this we had driven, on arrival in a town, to the first or second hotel mentioned in Baedeker, and the average charge had been seven pesetas a day, all included.
The provincial hotels gave a surprisingly good table; excellent soups, fresh fish, the meats fair, and all presented in a savory way; the fact that many men of the town use the hotel as a restaurant has much to do with the generous menu. The rooms were cold and bare, but clean, for not one night of distress did we spend during the eight months' tour. Of course certain modern comforts were completely lacking, but we were grateful enough for clean beds and wholesome food.
The taking of money for hospitality is thought degrading by this chivalrous people, so the traveler should not judge them by the innkeeper class with whom he comes in contact. I found courtesy as a rule and honesty even in the inns; having valises that could not lock, I yet lost nothing. From Toledo on, we began to go, not to the best hotel mentioned in the guide book, for that now had an average charge of twenty-five francs a day, but we chose some minor inn, such as the Fonda da Lino, in Toledo, once the first hostelry in the city before the "Palace" variety was started for the American tourist.
We had spent October and November in seeing the northern provinces whose piercing cold made us only too glad to settle for the four winter months in Andalusia; a day at Cordova, a fortnight in Granada, a trip to Cadiz, and the bulk of the time in Seville, the best city in Spain for a prolonged stay, though Barcelona also can offer good winter quarters.
In April we went north into Estremadura to see the Roman remains, then returned to Madrid for another sight of its unrivaled gallery, and also because all routes focus from the capital like the spokes of a wheel.
After spending some weeks there, in the beginning of June we left Spain by the Port-Bou frontier, stopping at Gerona on the way out. Thus we had seen some twenty-five Spanish cities—some twenty-five glorious cathedrals! Any spot along the southern fringe is suitable for the winter, any spot along the northern coast for the summer, but in high cold middle-Spain travel for pleasure must be limited to early autumn or late spring: As to guide books, Baedeker is as good as any, though the Baedeker for Spain is not equal to that firm's guides for the rest of Europe.
Askew for sixty guineas. There is a frieze of Old Testament scenes too high to be well seen, but below them the New Testament story is told from the Annunciation to the Doubting Thomas after the Resurrection.
Murray's "Hand-book" is more entertaining, but is rather to be kept as amusing literature than used as a guide book, much of it being the personal opinions and prejudices of Richard Ford, and bristling all over with slurs at Spain's religion. It does not seem reasonable for English-speaking travelers to see this original country through the eyes of a clever but crochety Englishman who wandered over it on horseback eighty years ago: There are two bits of advice I would give to those who would thoroughly enjoy traveling in the Peninsula.
Pick up as soon as possible something of the tongue or you miss shadings that give depth and strength to the impression. If one knows Latin or French or Italian, it is easy to read Spanish. And I would beg every unhurried traveler to carry in his pocket the "Romancero del Cid," Spain's epic, and "Don Quixote," her great novel, the truest-hearted book ever written.
I defy a man to while away a winter in Spain with el ingenioso hidalgo his daily companion, or sit reading the "Cid" above the Tajus gorge at Toledo, and not learn to love this virile, ascetic, realistic, exalted, and passionate land, where a peasant is instinctively a gentleman, where a grandee is in practice a democrat, where certain small meanesses, such as snobbishness, close-fisted love of money, are unknown.
The second advice is to bring to Spain some smattering of architectural knowledge, or half the charm of lingering in her old cities is lost,—also is lessened one's chance to catch unaware the soul of this mystic, profoundly religious race.
Here I should end, as I head these lines of introduction with the words: And yet, just as it is well nigh impossible in Spain to dissociate the churches themselves from the religious scenes daily witnessed under their Romanesque or Gothic arches, so I cannot help begging the traveler, along with his smattering of architecture to bring a little liberality toward a faith different perhaps from his own, a little openness of mind.
To one who goes to Spain in the holier-than-thou attitude, she is dumb and repellent,—she who can be so eloquent! This record of the journey through Spain will be called too partial, and yet I started without the slightest intention of liking or praising her. A month before going to Spain, on reading in the Bodleian Library certain accounts of St.
Teresa, about whom I had but vague ideas, I exclaimed in distress, "What a morbid mind! With the cant and smug self-conceit of northern superiority, I expected among other jars a shock to my religious belief. And after eight months I left Spain with the conviction that magnificently faulty though she is with her bull-fights, a venal government, and city loafers, she can give us lessons in mystic spirituality, in an unpretentious charity, in heroic endurance, in a very practical not theoretic democracy.
Rugged and wild, wind-swept, and bleak, and drear, She has a ruined splendor all her own, It seizes even while you ask in fear The reason man should choose this waste for home. Her cities rise, ascetic, lofty, proud, Forever haunted by high souls that dare, And from her wondrous churches rings aloud A heaven-storming radiance of prayer; With psalm, with dance, with ecstasy's white thrill, Her mystics dared to lose themselves in God, Theirs was unflinching faith, fierce, varonil, A force as true to nature as the sod.
Upon her ashy mountain height she stands, Eager to step into the forward strife, Her eyes are wide with hope, outstretched her hands To meet the promise of new coursing life: Steadfast her cities to the desert face, Snow mountains loom across the silent plain: Take courage, O exalted tragic race!
Christ's always faithful grand old Spain! LOYOLA "The only happy people in the world are the good man, the sage, and the saint; but the saint is happier than either of the others, so much is man by his nature formed for sanctity. T HE Basque is still one of the sturdy untouched peoples of the earth; they make still the unmixed aborigines of Spain. Their difficult dialect remains a perplexity to the etymologist, some believe it to be of Tartar origin. They themselves claim to be the oldest race in Europe and that their language came to Spain before the confusion of tongues at Babel.
They derive their name from a Basque phrase meaning "We are enough," that fittingly describes their character of self-sufficiency; the mere fact of being born in the province confers nobility.
Life for centuries in the isolated valleys that never were conquered by Moor or foreign invader has bred in the Basque a passionate independence. To-day the Basques must pay taxes and serve in the army like the rest of Spain, but their soldiers are usually employed in the customs, or as aids to the local police.
The sinuous valleys now serve as the passageway for the rushing mountain river, now spread out into a plain where the villages are set. Each town has its shady alameda, its plaza, and a court for playing pelota, a kind of tennis, the game of the province.
There are frequent casas solares,  or family manor houses; one of these I remember wedged in with its neighbors, in Azcoitia, unnoticed by the guide book, only by chance we looked up and found it looming above the narrow pavement; blackened with age and scarred as if crashed with blows of warring times, it was a speaking record of old Basque life. In any other country but Spain, the carelessly rich and unrecorded, such a fortress-house would be a lion in the district,—from this very unexpectedness Spanish travel is of unflagging charm.
The men and boys sit before their doors making the cord soles used in peasants' shoes; the women in groups of twenty or more, wash clothes in the public trough or down by the river.
The industry of all is unflagging.
The roads are among the best built in Spain, along them go creaking carts, each wheel made of a solid block of wood bound in iron and emitting a prolonged agonizing squeak. The cream-colored oxen that drag them have their yokes covered with sheepskin, another century-old custom. The carts sometimes carry pigskins filled with wine, three legs in the air, and the unique casks are mended with a kind of pitch that lends a disagreeable flavor to the wine, but these highlanders will not yield an old usage.
No sooner did we cross the Puente Internacional that connects France with its neighbors over the Bidassoa River—scene of historic meetings—than we found ourselves in the wooded Basque provinces of the northern Pyrenees.
The country was fertile, the small farms cultivated with activity; on the hills were heavily-laden chestnut trees, in the valleys, orchards: Not far from the frontier the train skirted what appeared to be an inland lake surrounded by hills, when suddenly I noticed an ocean steamer and some fishing smacks lying at anchor, and looking closer I saw that a narrow passage led through the hills to the ocean breaking outside,—another of Spain's unheralded effects.
This was the beautiful inland Bay of Pasajes, the port from which young Lafayette sailed for America. To find a plaza de toros here in the north was disconcerting.
Spain's national game has withstood the will of kings, Papal bulls, the dislike of a large proportion of the Spanish people who petitioned the Cortes in for its abolishment, and the odium of foreign races. Our guide book gave but the slightest information. It was raining drearily.
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