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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 12 (April 1, 1928.)

Notes on Our Travels. — (Concluded.)

page 24

Notes on Our Travels.

In my last series of notes (published in the February issue), I stated that after a short stay in Paris we returned to London where we arrived on the 31st March, 1926.

Canterbury Cathedral.

Canterbury Cathedral.

We left Paris at 10.0 a.m. on Tuesday, 30th March and arrived at Calais at 1.15 p.m. after a very fast run with only one stop on the way. As it was only a few days before Easter the train was crowded, every seat being reserved some days beforehand. The ferry steamer left Calais at 1.55 p.m. and arrived Dover at 3.5 p.m. after a splendid trip across the Channel.

En route from Dover to London we broke our journey at Canterbury. The Canterbury Cathedral is a magnificient building and wonderfully well preserved. It is said to be over 850 years old, having been erected in 1070—Canterbury itself is a quaint old town with narrow streets beautifully clean and bright.

The weather in London for the Easter Holidays was particularly good, and everyone made the most of it. When ideal weather prevails London is the finest city in the world and a most enjoyable time can be spent visiting the various sights in the great city and its environs.

On the 3rd May we left London for Holland. We travelled by the London North Eastern Railway train from London to Harwich, and by the same company's steamer from Harwich to the Hook of Holland.

The steamer was very comfortable although there was a rather heavy sea. We left Harwich at 10.40 p.m. and arrived at the Hook of Holland about 5.30 a.m. next morning. A special train was waiting at the wharf to take the passengers on to Amsterdam.

We, however, were travelling to the Hague via Rotterdam and waited for the ordinary train at 8.15 a.m. Rotterdam is quite a large city and a very important inland shipping centre. Several large vessels were berthed at the Rotterdam docks at the time of our visit.

The train journey from Rotterdam to the Hague was very pleasant. The trains run smoothly and the carriages are very comfortable and scrupulously clean.

While at the Hague we visited the Peace Palace where many important International Conferences are held. The Peace Palace is a modern building and a beautiful one. Some very fine Italian marble has been incorporated in the building, and the floors are mostly of the “Mosaic” type.

The seaside resort of the Hague “Scheveningen” is a lovely spot with a long promenade facing the North Sea. The hotels and other buildings are particularly good. One of the principal attractions of Holland in May is the beautiful bulb fields as in Haarlem.

The Peace Palace at the Hague.

The Peace Palace at the Hague.

These fields at the time of our visit were a wonderful sight—acre after acre of beautiful flowers, the colouring of which was perfect. As shewing the importance of the “bulb” trade to Holland, the official figures give the value of the annual export of bulbs from that country as £1,835,000, and the weight about 50,000,000lbs.

Some of the bulbs are very expensive and a thousand guilder (£83 6s. 8d.) for a bed of page 25 some rara variety of tulips is not considered too high a price.

Leaving the Hague, we travelled to Utrecht stopping en route for a few days at Amsterdam. Amsterdam is a very interesting city and possesses some fine museums.

The country between Amsterdam and Utrecht is chiefly farming land and everywhere large herds of cattle were to be seen. The climate of Holland is genial in the summer but very cold in the winter.

From Holland we went through Germany visiting Bremen, Hanover, Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig, Dresden and Wiesbaden.

The railway station at Leipzig is a new building and is right up-to-date. There are 27 platforms for passengers, independent of those used for dealing with luggage and mails.

The only luggage handled on the passenger platforms is the passengers' hand luggage.

I had the privilege at Leipzig station of seeing the electric ticket printing machines, of which there are about thirty, at work. Each booking clerk is provided with one of these machines. The tickets are in a frame which contains eight rows of tickets for 250 stations. To print a ticket the clerk simply turns the indicator to the number of ticket required, inserts the blank cardboard ticket in the aperture and turns the handle of the machine. The ticket, dated and printed, and ready for issue to the passenger, falls out of the opening provided. The machines which I saw were used for long distance traffic. A special machine, however, manufactured by the same firm, is used for printing tickets for suburban traffic. It prints 200 tickets a minute. (Several of these suburban ticket printing machines are in use at a number of stations on the London Underground railways).

Wiesbaden is one of the chief tourist resorts in Germany, and is a very beautiful town. The buildings and parks are particularly good. A large number of English visitors (as well as a regiment of English soldiers) were at Wiesbaden during the time of our visit.

From Wiesbaden we travelled on the River Rhine to Cologne. The boat in which we travelled was an express service boat for which an extra fare was charged. The scenery on each side of the Rhine is good, and many old fortresses and castles are to be seen. From Cologne we travelled to Liege, in Belgium. Particularly interesting was the battlefield a few miles out of Liege where the Belgian troops held up the German army in 1914. This place was originally a fortification on the top of the hill, but is now a mass of ruins.

Hyacinths in Haarlem.

Hyacinths in Haarlem.

page 26

From Liege we went on to Brussels. The train left Liege at 3.58 p.m. and arrived at Brussels at 5.30 p.m. after a non-stop run. Brussels is a miniature Paris and a particularly fine city. We made several visits to Brussels and always enjoyed our stay there.

One of the most interesting places is the battlefield of Waterloo, which is about 14 miles out of Brussels. The electric tram running between Brussels and Waterloo passes through some lovely country and skirts the outside of a forest which is some sixteen miles in width.

The museums and art galleries in Brussels are particularly good. The Royal Army Museum contains a complete history of the Belgian Army from 1830 until the present day. It includes a wonderful collection of war gear, torpedoes, tanks, etc., from the war of 1914–1918.

There are three railway passenger stations at Brussels, all of which at the time of our visit were undergoing alterations and additions to provide for the increase in traffic on the Continent. The Belgian trains are clean and comfortable and a good speed is obtained. Three classes of passengers are catered for.

The City Hall of Brussels.

The City Hall of Brussels.

From Brussels we went on to Paris, where we spent a most enjoyable fortnight. We were then in the middle of summer and the weather was glorious. Paris was full of life and gaiety. The river trips on the Seine were very pleasant.

From Paris we returned to Brussels, visiting Bruges and several of the battlefields en route. Ypres has been completely rebuilt, with the exception of the Cloth Hall which is left as a memorial. (It is necessary, however, to protect these ruins with scaffolding.)

The Menin Gate Memorial, which has recently been unveiled, was nearing completion at the time of our visit.

In visiting the battlefields around Ypres we passed the Canadian monument, and at the foot of the monument was a beautiful wreath inscribed “Placed here by Teachers from Canada, Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand.” There are about 250 cemeteries in and around Ypres, all of which are maintained in perfect order. Each grave is kept supplied with flowers. Moreover, a marble stone is being erected over each grave. In cases where the name of the soldier is not known the inscription reads: “Known unto God”—an appropriate and touching inscription.

We stood on the top of Hill 60, which during the war was tunnelled by the Lancashire Miners and blown up. We also saw several of the trenches which were occupied by the British troops — covered with greenery now, but otherwise much in the same condition as during the war.

We stayed for some days at Bruges, and while there visited the tourist resorts of Ostend and Blanckenberge. The chief attractions of these places are the beautiful promenades facing the North Sea and the palatial hotels all along the waterfront. Ostend claims as its title “Queen of Watering Places.” The scene on each of these promenades was a very gay one.

We left Brussels on the 29th July, 1926, travelling from Antwerp to Harwich by steamer, thence by train to London.

After a short stay in London we went on to Ireland, travelling from London to Fishguard by the Great Western Railway Company's train, and from Fishguard to Rosslare by a steamer belonging to the same company. From Rosslare we travelled to Killarney. Killarney is a small town and the shops are of medium size. The Killarney Lakes, however, are really beautiful. These lakes are three in number and are page 27 cennected by a swift flowing stream. The scenery around Killarney has a grandeur all its own, and no one should visit Ireland without including Killarney in the itinerary.

From Killarney we travelled to Cork, and while there visited Blarney Castle. Our next stage on the journey was to Dublin. We left Cork at 4 p.m. and arrived in Dublin at 7.40 p.m.—distance 192 miles, with six stops en route. The gáuge on the Irish railways is 5ft. 3in and the travelling was very smooth. Dublin is a large city with some magnificent buildings. The shops are very good and the prices for general commodities are reasonable. The motor excursions to the outskirts of Dublin are good, and the scenery is very fine. For the greater part of the journey we travelled on really good roads. On the return journey we travelled on the coast route from Dublin to Rosslare. The train was a slow one with two changes en route, but any discomfort was more than compensated for by the beautiful scenery en route.

We had a splendid trip across the Irish Sea from Rosslare to Fishguard. From the latter place we travelled by train to London.

Before leaving England we visited Stratford-on-Avon and saw the house in which Shakespeare was born, the school where he was educated, and also the register in the parish church (where he is buried) of his baptism and funeral. We left London on the 2nd December, 1926, and travelled to Marseilles by way of Brussels and Paris. At Marseilles we joined the s.s. City of Lahore, and left there on the 11th December on our way back to New Zealand. We travelled on this boat from Marseilles to Singapore and had a most enjoyable trip.

We stayed some three months in Sydney and then visited Brisbane, Rockhampton, Adelaide and Melbourne. Our stay in Australia was very pleasant and we met with great kindness from the people.

We left Melbourne on the final stage of the journey on the 3rd of June, 1927, on the s.s. Moeraki. The passage from Melbourne to Bluff was a very rough one, and we were not sorry to arrive at the latter place. The weather at Bluff and Invercargill was perfect, and we felt glad to be back in New Zealand again.

During our tour we saw many surprisingly beautiful sights in many great countries, but we returned with the opinion that New Zealand is really a wonderful country whose scenery and other attractions take a lot of beating.

With this article my notes on our travels are concluded. If a perusal of them in the various issues of the Magazine has given pleasure to my readers I am more than gratified.

The Old Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford-On-Avon.

The Old Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, Stratford-On-Avon.