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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 76

Travelling Experiences

Travelling Experiences.

In later years I have seen a good deal of countries in the northern parts of Europe, having travelled by way of the Rhine and the Danube to Vienna, Buda-Pesth, and other parts of Austria and the Styrian Alps to Warsaw and Moscow, which, in its way, is most interesting and original. In the centre of the city there is an elevated and wide, level, rocky platform, called by a Tartar name the "Kremlin," on which there is a Royal palace, a cathedral, and an arsenal with gilded domes. This eminence has a grand aspect page 70 viewed from below, and commands a magnificent panoramic view of the city and the windings of the river, together with a multitude of gilded towers and cupolas of churches in the streets, and a chain of hills in the distance. In Moscow Russian and Oriental customs are mingled, and there is much true piety as well as religious superstition to be seen in the devotional manners and customs of the half Oriental population. From Moscow I returned to St Petersburg, after an absence of more than half a century, by a railway admirably conducted, with most luxurious stations, in striking contrast to the humble dwellings of the Russian peasants in their villages. I made a pleasant trip from St Petersburg to Stockholm, touching at several places on the coast of Finland, situated on narrow, rocky inlets, covered by pine trees; whilst steaming down the Neva the last glimpse we had of Russia was a reflection of sunset on the immense gilded dome of St Isaac's Church, shining like a brilliant evening star. Stockholm is built partly on rocky islands and partly on the mainland of Sweden, connected by bridges; and passengers are also carried in elegant, open-air, little steamers to all parts of the handsome city, or to public gardens, where it is very pleasant to spend a summer evening, and enjoy good music, as well as the comforts of excellent cafés which abound in this gay and polished Scandinavian capital, from which it is easy to journey by lakes page 71 and canals to the wealthy commercial city of Gottenburg, on the shores of the Cattegat. In that northern climate, so severe in winter and so pleasant in summer, the working classes, who appear well-to-do, enjoy their summer festivals in picnic meetings amongst the stately pine woods that surround the city. In Sweden and Norway one is never disturbed by the importunities of beggars, so troublesome in Italy; and, although there is not any show of great wealth, there are few signs of abject poverty. Of Norway, so often and so well described by travellers, I can only say that a trip to its deep inlets or fjords, running far into the land, under the shadow of lofty snow-capped mountains, in one of the well-appointed steamers which go there and to the North Cape in summer from London, Hull, Leith, and Aberdeen, is a delightful way of passing a few weeks, where there is no darkness, only a brief twilight, and the air is warm without being oppressive.