The day is most lovely, the fields are deserted, and the roads and villages are alive with holiday-making peasants. In every village a tall pole is erected, and decorated from top to bottom with small flags and evergreen wreaths. The little stone churches and the adjoining cemeteries are filled with worshippers chanting in solemn chorus; not so preoccupied with their devotional exercises and spiritual meditations, however, as to prevent their calling one another's attention to me as I wheel past, craning their necks to obtain a better view, and, in one instance, an o'er-inquisitive worshipper even beckons for me to stop - this person both chanting and beckoning vigorously at the same time.
Now my road leads through forests of dark firs; and here I overtake a procession of some fifty peasants, the men and women alternately chanting in weird harmony as they trudge along the road. The men are bareheaded, carrying their hats in hand. Many of the women are barefooted, and the pedal extremities of others are incased in stockings of marvellous pattern; not any are wearing shoes. All the colors of the rainbow are represented in their respective costumes, and each carries a large umbrella strapped at his back; they are trudging along at quite a brisk pace, and altogether there is something weird and fascinating about the whole scene: the chanting and the surroundings. The variegated costumes of the women are the only bright objects amid the gloominess of the dark green pines. As I finally pass ahead, the unmistakable expressions of interest on the faces of the men, and the even rows of ivories displayed by the women, betray a diverted attention.
Near noon I arrive at the antiquated town of Dachau, and upon repairing to the gasthaus, an individual in a last week's paper collar, and with general appearance in keeping, comes forward and addresses me in quite excellent English, and during the dinner hour answers several questions concerning the country and the natives so intelligently that, upon departing, I ungrudgingly offer him the small tip customary on such occasions in Germany. "No, Whitsuntide in Bavaria. I thank you, very muchly," he replies, smiling, and shaking his head. "I am not an employe of the hotel, as you doubtless think; I am a student of modern languages at the Munich University, visiting Dauhau for the day." Several soldiers playing billiards in the room grin broadly in recognition of the ludicrousness situation; and I must confess that for the moment I feel like asking one of them to draw his sword and charitably prod me out of the room. The unhappy memory of having, in my ignorance, tendered a small tip to a student of the Munich University will cling around me forever. Nevertheless, I feel that after all there are extenuating circumstances - he ought to change his paper collar occasionally.
An hour after noon I am industriously dodging loose flints on the level road leading across the Isar River Valley toward Munich; the Tyrolese Alps loom up, shadowy and indistinct, in the distance to the southward, their snowy peaks recalling memories of the Rockies through which I was wheeling exactly a year ago. While wending my way along the streets toward the central portion of the Bavarian capital the familiar sign, "American Cigar Store," looking like a ray of light penetrating through the gloom and mystery of the multitudinous unreadable signs that surround it, greets my vision, and I immediately wend my footsteps thitherward. I discover in the proprietor, Mr. Walsch, a native of Munich, who, after residing in America for several years, has returned to dream away declining years amid the smoke of good cigars and the quaffing of the delicious amber beer that the brewers of Munich alone know how to brew. Then who should happen in but Mr. Charles Buscher, a thorough-going American; from Chicago, who is studying art here at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, and who straightway volunteers to show me Munich.
Nine o'clock next morning finds me under the pilotage of Mr. Buscher, wandering through the splendid art galleries. We next visit the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, a magnificent building, being erected at a cost of 7,000,000 marks.
We repair at eleven o'clock to the royal residence, making a note by the way of a trifling mark of King Ludwig's well-known eccentricity. Opposite the palace is an old church, with two of its four clocks facing the King's apartments. The hands of these clocks are, according to my informant, made of gold. Some time since the King announced that the sight of these golden hands hurt his eyesight, and ordered them painted black. It was done, and they are black to-day. Among the most interesting objects in the palace are the room and bed in which Napoleon I. slept in 1809, which has since been occupied by no other person; the "rich bed," a gorgeous affair of pink and scarlet satin-work, on which forty women wove, with gold thread, daily, for ten years, until 1,600,000 marks were expended.
At one of the entrances to the royal residence, and secured with iron bars, is a large bowlder weighing three hundred and sixty-three pounds; in the wall above it are driven three spikes, the highest spike being twelve feet from the ground; and Bavarian historians have recorded that Earl Christoph, a famous giant, tossed this bowlder up to the mark indicated by the highest spike, with his foot.
After this I am kindly warned by both Messrs. Buscher and Walsch not to think of leaving the city without visiting the Konigliche Hofbrauhaus (Royal Court Brewery) the most famous place of its kind in all Europe. For centuries Munich has been famous for the excellent quality of its beer, and somewhere about four centuries ago the king founded this famous brewery for the charitable purpose of enabling his poorer subjects to quench their thirst with the best quality of beer, at prices within their means, and from generation to generation it has remained a favorite resort in Munich for lovers of good beer. In spite of its remaining, as of yore, a place of rude benches beneath equally rude, open sheds, with cobwebs festooning the rafters and a general air of dilapidation about it; in spite of the innovation of dozens of modern beer-gardens with waving palms, electric lights, military music, and all modern improvements, the Konigliche Hofbrauhaus is daily and nightly thronged with thirsty visitors, who for the trifling sum of twenty-two pfennigs (about five cents) obtain a quart tankard of the most celebrated brew in all Bavaria.
"Munich is the greatest art-centre of the world, the true hub of the artistic universe," Mr. Buscher enthusiastically assures me as we wander together through the sleepy old streets, and he points out a bright bit of old frescoing, which is already partly obliterated by the elements, and compares it with the work of recent years; calls my attention to a piece of statuary, and anon pilots me down into a restaurant and beer hall in some ancient, underground vaults and bids me examine the architecture and the frescoing. The very custom-house of Munich is a glorious old church, that would be carefully preserved as a relic of no small interest and importance in cities less abundantly blessed with antiquities, but which is here piled with the cases and boxes and bags of commerce.
One other conspicuous feature of Munich life must not be over-looked ere I leave it, viz., the hackmen. Unlike their Transatlantic brethren, they appear supremely indifferent about whether they pick up any fares or not. Whenever one comes to a hack-stand it is a pretty sure thing to bet that nine drivers out of every ten are taking a quiet snooze, reclining on their elevated boxes, entirely oblivious of their surroundings, and a timid stranger would almost hesitate about disturbing their slumbers. But the Munich cabby has long since got hardened to the disagreeable process of being wakened up. Nor does this lethargy pervade the ranks of hackdom only: at least two-thirds of the teamsters one meets on the roads, hereabouts, are stretched out on their respective loads, contentedly sleeping while the horses or oxen crawl leisurely along toward their goal.
Munich is visited heavily with rain during the night, and for several kilometres, next morning, the road is a horrible waste of loose flints and mud-filled ruts, along which it is all but impossible to ride; but after leaving the level bottom of the Isar River the road improves sufficiently to enable me to take an occasional, admiring glance at the Bavarian and Tyrolese Alps, towering cloudward on the southern horizon, their shadowy outlines scarcely distinguishable in the hazy distance from the fleecy clouds their peaks aspire to invade. While absentmindedly taking a more lingering look than is consistent with safety when picking one's way along the narrow edge of the roadway between the stone-strewn centre and the ditch, I run into the latter, and am rewarded with my first Cis-atlantic header, but fortunately both myself and the bicycle come up uninjured. Unlike the Swabish peasantry, the natives east of Munich appear as prosy and unpicturesque in dress as a Kansas homesteader.
Ere long there is noticeable a decided change in the character of the villages, they being no longer clusters of gabled cottages, but usually consist of some three or four huge, rambling bulldings, at one of which I call for a drink and observe that brewing and baking are going on as though they were expecting a whole regiment to be quartered on them. Among other things I mentally note this morning is that the men actually seem to be bearing the drudgery of the farm equally with the women; but the favorable impression becomes greatly imperilled upon meeting a woman harnessed to a small cart, heavily laboring along, while her husband - kind man - is walking along-side, holding on to a rope, upon which he considerately pulls to assist her along and lighten her task. Nearing Hoag, and thence eastward, the road becomes greatly improved, and along the Inn River Valley, from Muhldorf to Alt Oetting, where I remain for the night, the late rain-storm has not reached, and the wheeling is superior to any I have yet had in Germany. Muhldorf is a curious and interesting old town. The sidewalks of Muhldorf are beneath long arcades from one end of the principal street to the other; not modern structures either, but massive archways that are doubtless centuries old, and that support the front rooms of the buildings that tower a couple of stories above them.
As toward dusk I ride into the market square of Alt Oetting, it is noticeable that nearly all the stalls and shops remaining open display nothing but rosaries, crucifixes, and other paraphernalia of the prevailing religion. Through Eastern Bavaria the people seern pre-eminently devotional; church-spires dot the landscape at every point of the compass. At my hotel in Alt Oetting, crucifixes, holy water, and burning tapers are situated on the different stairway landings. I am sitting in my room, penning these lines to the music of several hundred voices chanting in the old stone church near by, and can look out of the window and see a number of peasant women taking turns in dragging themselves on their knees round and round a small religious edifice in the centre of the market square, carrying on their shoulders huge, heavy wooden crosses, the ends of which are trailing on the ground.
All down the Inn River Valley, there is many a picturesque bit of intermingled pine-copse and grassy slopes; but admiring scenery is anything but a riskless undertaking along here, as I quickly discover. On the Inn River I find a primitive ferry-boat operated by a, fac-simile of the Ancient Mariner, who takes me and my wheel across for the consideration of five pfennigs-a trifle over one cent -and when I refuse the tiny change out of a ten-pfennig piece the old fellow touches his cap as deferentially, and favors me with a look of gratitude as profound, as though I were bestowing a pension upon him for life. My arrival at a broad, well-travelled high-way at once convinces me that I have again been unwittingly wandering among the comparatively untravelled by-ways as the result of following the kindly meant advice of people whose knowledge of bicycling requirements is of the slimmest nature. The Inn River a warm, rich vale; haymaking is already in full progress, and delightful perfume is wafted on the fresh morning air from aclows where scores of barefooted Maud Mullers are raking hay, and mowing it too, swinging scythes side by side with the men. Some of the out-door crucifixes and shrines (small, substantial buildings containing pictures, images, and all sorts of religious -emblems) along this valley are really quite elaborate affairs. All through Roman Catholic Germany these emblems of religion are very elaborate, or the reverse, according to the locality, the chosen spot in rich and fertile valleys generally being favored with better and more artistic affairs, and more of them, than the comparatively unproductive uplands. This is evidently because the inhabitants of the latter regions are either less wealthy, and consequently cannot afford it, or otherwise realize that they have really much less to be thankful for than their comparatively fortunate neighbors in the more productive valleys.
At the town of Simbach I cross the Inn River again on a substantial wooden bridge, and on the opposite side pass under an old stone archway bearing the Austrian coat-of-arms. Here I am conducted into the custom-house by an officer wearing the sombre uniform of Franz Josef, and required, for the first time in Europe, to produce my passport. After a critical and unnecessarily long examination of this document I am graciously permitted to depart. In an adjacent money-changer's office I exchange what German money I have remaining for the paper currency of Austria, and once more pursue my way toward the Orient, finding the roads rather better than the average German ones, the Austrians, hereabouts at least, having had the goodness to omit the loose flints so characteristic of Bavaria. Once out of the valley of the Inn River, however, I find the uplands intervening between it and the valley of the Danube aggravatingly hilly.
While eating my first luncheon in Austria, at the village of Altheim, the village pedagogue informs me in good English that I am the first Briton he has ever had the pleasure of conversing with. He learned the language entirely from books, without a tutor, he says, learning it for pleasure solely, never expecting to utilize the accomplishment in any practical way. One hill after another characterizes my route to-day; the weather, which has hitherto remained reasonably mild, is turning hot and sultry, and, arriving at Hoag about five o'clock, I feel that I have done sufficient hillclimbing for one day. I have been wheeling through Austrian territory since 10.30 this morning, and, with observant eyes the whole distance, I have yet to see the first native, male or female, possessing in the least degree either a graceful figure or a prepossessing face. There has been a great horse-fair at Hoag to-day; the business of the day is concluded, and the principal occupation of the men, apart from drinking beer and smoking, appears to be frightening the women out of their wits by leading prancing horses as near them as possible.
My road, on leaving Hoag, is hilly, and the snowy heights of the Nordliche Kalkalpen (North Chalk Mountains), a range of the Austrian Alps, loom up ahead at an uncertain distance. To-day is what Americans call a "scorcher," and climbing hills among pine-woods, that shut out every passing breeze, is anything but exhilarating exercise with the thermometer hovering in the vicinity of one hundred degrees. The peasants are abroad in their fields as usual, but a goodly proportion are reclining beneath the trees. Reclining is, I think, a favorite pastime with the Austrian. The teamster, who happens to be wide awake and sees me approaching, knows instinctively that his team is going to scare at the bicycle, yet he makes no precautionary movements whatever, neither does he arouse himself from his lolling position until the horses or oxen begin to swerve around. As a usual thing the teamster is filling his pipe, which has a large, ungainly-looking, porcelain bowl, a long, straight wooden stem, and a crooked mouth-piece. Almost every Austrian peasant from sixteen years old upward carries one of these uncomely pipes.
The men here seem to be dull, uninteresting mortals, dressed in tight- fitting, and yet, somehow, ill-fitting, pantaloons, usually about three sizes too short, a small apron of blue ducking-an unbecoming garment that can only be described as a cross between a short jacket and a waistcoat - and a narrow-rimmed, prosy-looking billycock hat. The peasant women are the poetry of Austria, as of any other European country, and in their short red dresses and broad-brimmed, gypsy hats, they look picturesque and interesting in spite of homely faces and ungraceful figures. Riding into Lambach this morning, I am about wheeling past a horse and drag that, careless and Austrian-like, has been left untied and unwatched in the middle of the street, when the horse suddenly scares, swerves around just in front of me, and dashes, helter-skelter, down the street. The horse circles around the market square and finally stops of his own accord without doing any damage. Runaways, other misfortunes, it seems, never come singly, and ere I have left Lambach an hour I am the innocent cause of yet another one; this time it is a large, powerful work-dog, who becomes excited upon meeting me along the road, and upsets things in the most lively manner. Small carts pulled by dogs are common vehicles here and this one is met coming up an incline, the man considerately giving the animal a lift. A life of drudgery breaks the spirit of these work-dogs and makes them cowardly and cringing. At my approach this one howls, and swerves suddenly around with a rush that upsets both man and cart, topsy-turvy, into the ditch, and the last glimpse of the rumpus obtained, as I sweep past and down the hill beyond, is the man pawing the air with his naked feet and the dog struggling to free himself from the entangling harness.
Up among the hills, at the village of Strenburg, night arrives at a very opportune moment to-day, for Strenburg proves a nice, sociable sort of village, where the doctor can speak good English and plays the role of interpreter for me at the gasthaus. The school-ma'am, a vivacious Italian lady, in addition to French and German, can also speak a few words of English, though she persistently refers to herself as the " school -master." She boards at the same gasthaus, and all the evening long I am favored by the liveliest prattle and most charming gesticulations imaginable, while the room is half filled with her class of young lady aspirants to linguistic accomplishments, listening to our amusing, if not instructive, efforts to carry on a conversation. ' It is altogether a most enjoyable evening, and on parting I am requested to write when I get around the world and tell the Strenburgers all that I have seen and experienced. On top of the gasthaus is a rude observatory, and before starting I take a view of the country. The outlook is magnificent; the Austrian Alps are towering skyward to the southeast, rearing snow-crowned heads out from among a billowy sea of pine-covered hills, and to the northward is the lovely valley of the Danube, the river glistening softly through the morning haze.
On yonder height, overlooking the Danube on the one hand and the town of Molk on the other, is the largest and most imposing edifice I have yet seen in Austria; it is a convent of the Benedictine monks; and though Molk is a solid, substantially built town, of perhaps a thousand inhabitants, I should think there is more material in the immense convent building than in the whole town besides, and one naturally wonders whatever use the monks can possibly have for a building of such enormous dimensions.
Entering a barber's shop here for a shave, I find the barber of Molk following the example of so many of his countrymen by snoozing the mid-day hours happily and unconsciously away. One could easily pocket and walk off with his stock-in-trade, for small is the danger of his awakening. Waking him up, he shuffles mechanically over to hia razor and lathering apparatus, this latter being a soup-plate with a semicircular piece chipped out to fit, after a fashion, the contour of the customers' throats. Pressing this jagged edge of queen's-ware against your windpipe, the artist alternately rubs the water and a cake of soap therein contained about your face with his hands, the water meanwhile passing freely between the ill-fitting' soup-plate and your throat, and running down your breast; but don't complain; be reasonable: no reasonable-minded person could expect one soup-plate, however carefully chipped out, to fit the throats of the entire male population of Molk, besides such travellers as happen along.
Spending the night at Neu Lengbach, I climb hills and wabble along, over rough, lumpy roads, toward Vienna, reaching the Austrian capital Sunday morning, and putting up at the Englischer Eof about noon. At Vienna I determine to make a halt of two days, and on Tuesday pay a visit to the headquarters of the Vienna Wanderers' Bicycle Club, away out on a suburban street called Schwimmschulenstrasse; and the club promises that if I will delay my departure another day they will get up a small party of wheelmen to escort me seventy kilometres, to Presburg. The bicycle clubs of Vienna have, at the Wanderers' headquarters, constructed an excellent race-track, three and one-third laps to the English mile, at an expense of 2,000 gulden, and this evening several of Austria's fliers are training upon it for the approaching races. English and American wheelmen little understand the difficulties these Vienna cyclers have to contend with: all the city inside the Ringstrasse, and no less than fifty streets outside, are forbidden to the mounted cyclers, and they are required to ticket themselves with big, glaring letters, as also their lamps at night, so that, in case of violating any of these regulations, they can by their number be readily recognized by the police. Self-preservation compels the clubs to exercise every precaution against violating the police regulations, in order not to excite popular prejudice overwhelmingly against bicycles, and ere a new rider is permitted to venture outside their own grounds he is hauled up before a regularly organized committee, consisting of officers from each club in Vienna, and required to go through a regular examination in mounting, dismounting, and otherwise proving to their entire satisfaction his proficiency in managing and manoeuvring his wheel; besides which every cycler is provided with a pamphlet containing a list of the streets he may and may not frequent. In spite of all these harassing regulations, the Austrian capital has already two hundred riders.
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