LETTERS and DIARIES of Dorothy Dix

 

Dorothy Dix (Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer)

 

Travel Journal – 1926.  Eastern Europe.

 

Transcribed and Edited by Elinor Howell Thurman, 2002.

 

 

 

[Inscribed on flyleaf:]

 

Dorothy Dix

 

     Her Book

 

Being the veracious account of her trip during the summer of 1926

 

 

 

 

     Left New Orleans on June 20[.]

 

     Spent pleasant time in New York. Sailed on July 7 on the De Grasse.  When about 300 miles out we broke the turbine and retraced our steps to New York.  The sea was like glass, and there was no excitement on board.  Transferred our ticket to the La France[.]

 

 

July 17 [1926]

 

     Sailed on the La France which is a floating palace, with the food of demi-gods.  Had an agreeable and safe journey, minus any excitement.  Met two charming Richmond ladies of the old school, named Boykin who looked & talked exactly as if they had come out of the covers of Lavender & Old Lace -  Also two rather interesting young men, one named Sylvestre Dorian who was coming to Paris to [word crossed out: study] start a fashion syndicate, the other named Angely who was coming to be on the Ass. [Associated] Press –

 

 

July 25 [1926]

 

     Arrived in Paris at 11, 26.  Met by the Temple Tours who took us to the Regina where our conductor M. S. G [sic] Gelat awaited us.  He seems very capable & we leave tomorrow morning for Montreaux at 7 A. M.  Went for dinner to Margurys for sole –

 

 

July 26 – [1926]

 

      Left at 8 a.m for Montreaux -  Wonderful day thro Burgundy, across the Jura plateau and the Vosges mountain[s].  Everwhere lovely pastoral pictures of the gathering in of grain – with men & women working in the fields – oxen drawing carts filled high with wheat -  Just at sunset we reached lovely Lake Lehman & beauteous Montreaux – nestling under its beetling cliffs -  Staying at the Palace Hotel[.]

 

 

Jul 28 – [1926]

 

     Went for long motor drive – all around Lake Lehman – 175 miles[.]  First to the castle of Chillon, then to Evian to whose prosperity I have added my widows mite, then to Geneva, where we visited the cathedral where Knox & Calvin preached -  Saw the dramatic statue that has been erected to the reformers – heroic statues of the grim old men placed with their backs to a stone wall -  Also saw the tablet that has been placed on the fence enclosing the League of Nations headquarters[,] stating that the idea was suggested by Woodrow Wilson[.]  Rather cynical, seeing we washed our hands of all responsibility & left our baby on Europe[’]s door step[.]

 

 

July 29 -  [1926] 

 

     Went up to Interlaken over [a] gorgeous mountain road that crept up over the town of Montreaux & then wound its sinuous way over hill & dale, past lush meadows with cream colored cattle feeding, past picturesque cottages with their little over hanging balconies, past gorgeous vistas of mountains rising tier on tier to the skies -  Arrived Interlaken about 3 p.m in a cold drizzling rain.  Went to Savoy hotel[.]

 

 

July 30 [1926]

 

     Went on the long & lovely excursion around Syringe [Schynige] Platte, the Grindelwald & up to Murren at the foot of the Jungfrau.  Much of the time clouds obscured the view but it was sublime nevertheless with its snow capped mountains & green fields –

 

 

July 31 [1926]

 

     Left at 10 a.m. & had lovely all day trip down the mountains, along the valley of the Rhone, & thro the Semplon Pass to Milan, which we reached at 6 o’clock – staying at Continental hotel[.]

 

 

Aug 1 [1926]

 

     Had a most interesting morning, driving out to the cemetery where is the national Valhalla – also saw tombs on which were photographs of the occupants below as well as those ornamented with life sized busts of the deceased – went to the church S. Maria del Grazzie in which on the refectory wall Leonardo de [sic] Vinci painted his famous Last Supper – to the Castello Sforesco the finest medieval castle I have ever seen – to the Church of St Ambroglio the oldest christian [sic] church in Europe & to the marvelous cathedral that how often seen must always be a prayer to God in stone, and at last to the station where we set forth at 1 P.M for Constantinople –

 

     We left at 1 o’clock on Sunday and travelled during the afternoon thro’ lovely Italy – thro Verona where Shakespeare hung Juliets balcony, & wrote of the two merry gentlemen – thro the little town from whence Portia is supposed to have set forth to save her husband by her wit, by Bologna where they probably never heard of sausage & so just at dusk to Venice & about 10 o’clock to Trieste[.]

 

     The next day we rode thro’ Jugoslavia, nee Serbia[,] a rich farming land with corn that would have shamed Ohio, about 3 times as much wheat as we raise per acre, with herds of fat cream colored [word crossed out: horses] cows, pigs galore, and more geese than I knew were in the world for it appears that here are reared the fowls that make the pate de foie gras, & the meadows were white with birds -  The country looked just like middle Tenn except that it was better cultivated, & that the landscape was dotted with boys & girls, or old people herding the cattle, or geese & pigs -  No difference in the attire of the people from the country [and] people in the U.S. except that they were, if anything, better dressed – no khakki [sic] overalls & no Fords.

 

     By 3 p.m we were in [word crossed out: Bulgaria] at Belgrade, a fine & handsome city to which we will return.  In Bulgaria there were also fine crops but the wheat was being threshed in the primitive way of being trodden out by oxen – or by a sort of sled on which a driver sat while the oxen went round & round. -  Saw some interesting peasant costumes – one grand lady with her skirts up turned & embroidered inside the hem – a short embroidered jacket worn over a white blouse & a grand yellow embroidered handkerchief over her head.

 

     At about sundown we first sighted the sea of Marmora – blue as a jewel in the twilight, & at 8 P.M climbed down off of the train, worn out with our   days trip -  We took auto & were driven across Stamboul – across the famous Galata bridge to the foreign city of Pera at which we are domiciled at the Palace Hotel.

 

 

Aug 4 [1926]

 

     From my window I can see the shining waters of the Golden Horn, so called because they were fantastically supposed to represent that Golden Horn of plenty that was emptied on the city.  I can see the Galata bridge over which it is said walks the greatest conglomeration of humanity on earth – if so they walk disguised for now that Constantinople has been Europeanized there are no more gay uniforms, no fezzes[,] no baggy breeches, no embroidered tunics, no mysterious veiled ladies[.]  It might be Brooklyn on its way to punch the time clock in the offices in which it works in Manhattan except that now & then you see one of the poor human beasts of burden staggering along under a load that bends his back double –

 

     But nothing can take away the glory of the mosques with their slender carved minarets reaching up into the blue sky like visible tokens of mans aspirations towards God, & from my high balcony I see them silhouteted [sic] against a sky of turquoise blue, ineffably beautiful.  Stamboul rises tier on tier of crowded streets across the water, & the 7 towers built by Constantine hundreds upon hundreds as guard houses [words crossed out: by which] on the wall he erected about the city to defend it from the tribes of savage invaders from the north, stand still like grim warders looking down upon the town whose rise & downfall they have witnessed so often

 

     We have gone to the mosque that is called variously the Mosque of Mosaics because it has some of the first & finest of Byzantine mosaics, dating back to the 4th century, & the Mosque of Sorrows because the Moslems considered they had bowed the heart of the Christians in grief when they turned this church into a Mohammedan Mosque -  It was the Byzantines, it seems who perfected the making of mosaics whose art they had gotten originally from the Assyrians & the Venetians, who still further developed them by putting gold leaf between pieces of glass – near by this Mosque is the old wall, with its 7 towers built by Constantine, & a very interesting old cemetery with every mans tomb stone surmounted by a fez & every womans by a knob[.]

 

     Went to the old cistern of 1001 columns over an old reservoir that held enough water to supply the city for a 39 year siege.  Went to the gorgeous Sulimeneh Mosque, whose floors are covered with priceless carpets – one of which our guide, who is the biggest liar I ever met, said was insured for $2 million dollars -  The courtyard of the Mosque was full of men having coffee under the trees, & playing with their fidgety beads -  We joined them in both diversions[.]

 

     Went to the most interesting museum of antiquities I have ever seen -  The collection of sarcophegrus [sic] are particularly interesting & that of Alexander the Great, made 3 centuries before Christ is the most exquisite I have ever seen[.]  It has scenes in bas relief showing his fights & the marble is so exquisitely carved that even the teeth of a dying horse show.  The marble is tinted.  This tomb is called Alexander the Greats not because he was ever buried in it, but because it depicts incidents in his adventurous career[.]

 

     Across the way from this museum is the first Turkish palace ever built – the blue Palace, faced with blue tiles the secret of whose making is now lost.  It is full of beautiful pottery, & carved & inlaid furniture & has exquisite rugs.

 

     Went to St Sophia, one of the most famous churches ever built - & whose beauty no tongue can describe -  It was erected on the site of a temple to Venus.  It was started by the Great Constantine & completed by his son & successor [words crossed out: whose only direction to his architect][.]  Fire destroyed it & Justinian rebuilt it, his only order to his architect being to construct the most beautiful building in the world -  They rifled the temples of the heathen world they had conquered for the marble for its columns taking some from the Temple of Baalbeck – then 4 porphry [sic] columns[.]

 

     The dome is especially beautiful, being poised as lightly as a soap bubble on four large piers, & it is the only dome that has ever been constructed that can be seen from every part of the church -  Masses of gold mosaic, carvings & gilding make the walls & ceiling rich & mellow – heavy, priceless rugs cover the floor, & the pulpits are little gems of inlay work -  At intervals on the outskirts of the vast floor are little raised platforms where any preacher who can corall [sic] an audience is privileged to speak - & at one end, near what would be an altar in a Christian church is an exquisite carved lattice balcony where the Sultan & his household worshipped.

 

     But the strangest sight in all that wonderful place was an unveiled woman praying in the middle of the sanctuary, instead of making her humble devotions hidden behind the screne [sic] of the balcony[.]

 

     It is not always that you have your dream realized but the Seraglio is just as I have always imagined one to be.  It is built on what is probably the most beautiful site on earth – where a high promontory of land juts out into the water, giving an unparelled [sic] view of saphire [sic] blue sea in three directions, with the piled houses of the city across the way -  We entered thro a hughe [sic] ornamental gateway in the outer wall of defense, drove up the steep walls of the bluff on a road shaded by hoary cedar & cypress trees & dismounted before the gate leading to the court of the Jannisserarys [Janissaries]  -  The wall here is 15 ft thick & forms the walls of a guard house in which in ancient times 50 guards sat armed to the teeth.  On the walls in glass cases are the hundreds of axes used in beheading those doomed to death.  The axes are inlaid with damascene work which must have been a comfort to the victims.  Within the gate is the vast stump of a tree called the Jannissaries [sic] tree on which the hanging mostly took place – especially of any Jannissary [sic] convicted or suspected of treason.  To this tree was also sent the heads that were cut off – often on silver or gold platters - & which the families of the deceased often redeemed at a great price.  On one side of an open court is the church of St Irene, the only Christian Church that has never been turned into a Mosque & which contains many interesting relics, among them some of the weapons of the crusaders & [words crossed out: the bags chain] a few links of the chain that was stretched across the Golden Horn & guarded it for nearly 1000 years[.]  Here also are the bags of earth which in the early days were sent to the Sultan in token of submission by stricken & terrified provinces – The main part of the palace is occupied by a series of audience rooms – one contains a great bed like structure – a gigantic 4 poster with the posts sheathed with silver & ornamented with jewels & a fillagree [sic] canopy very beautifully wrought -  It has a matress [sic] covered with old brocade & on this divan the Sultan & his sons sat when receiving foreign ambassadors – a fountain at the foot of the divan was supposed to drown out the sound of the voices so those without listening at the keyhole could not hear what was said –

 

     The long building which were [sic] once the armory of the knights & fighting men has been turned into a wonderful museum -  During the war certain repairs were being made to the palace when in a forgotten cellar were found 400 cases of Ming pottery & old Turkish ware[.]  These have been beautifully placed & furnish such a collection of Ming faience as doesn’t even exist in China.  This precious ware was doubtless sent as a gift to an unappreciative Sultan who had it stored away, preferring his own gold & silver dishes, set with jewels –

 

     There is another gate called the Gate of Felicity that leads to a lovely little French pavillion, furnished in gay French furniture, & situated on the very brow of the cliff overlooking the Golden Horn, the Marmora, & the Bosphorus.  Here the Sultan & his favorite sat on the marble [word crossed our: palace] terrace & looked upon the loveliest scene on earth.

 

      Another room that was like an Arabian Nights dream come true was the Sultans private sitting room – the floor covered with gorgeous rugs – the walls of heavenly blue tiles, the doors & window embrasures of mother of pearl inlay – the walls lined with couches covered with brocades & embroideries set with precious stones – the brazier of exquisite hand wrought silver & thro’ the barred window the sea [words crossed out: seen thro] blue as a turquoise –

 

     There were dozens of other rooms – one long wing devoted to the harem – which is now being repaired -  It seems the Sultan had one legal wife, the mother of his heirs, & any number of concubines as each province every year sent him 3 of its fairest bathing beauties -  After 2 years residence in the royal harem he married them to his viziers – at whom the ladies turned up their noses ever after – considering they had made a distinct come down in life[.]

 

     Scores upon scores of other rooms there were – for here lived the imperial court for some 900 years, but it has not been occupied for 150 years & is now kept just as a show place for visitors[.]

 

     What was once the great Hippodrome is now merely a grassy park with the obelisk in the center & the famous bronze snake column consisting of 3 intertwined snakes whose heads supported the tripod of the priestess of Appollo [sic] at Delphi Greece from which it was brought by Constantine[.]  It is one of the most wonderful monuments in the world.

 

     A long & lovely ride up the Bosporus into the Black Sea completed our sight seeing.  It was Thursday the Mohammedan Sabbath which is very strictly observed.  All shops closed & everyone apparently attending their religious observances in the morning & out pleasuring in the aft - & every where we passed hundreds of people out on the banks of the sea enjoying the lovely summer day.  But it was as commonplace a crowd as you could find as the law against wearing baggy breeches, embroidered skirts & veil has wiped the picturesqueness out of Turkey completely[.]

 

     We staid at the Pera Palace Hotel which was sky high as to price, but very comfortable[.]

 

 

Aug 7 – [1926]

 

     Left in the morning via the Orient Express – which is an express only three times a week, and ambled along so leisurely it took us from Sat morning at 8.30 until [words crossed out: Tuesday Monday] Sunday at 3 to get to Sophia – We passed thro’ the loveliest, fat farming country, and saw many of the country women wearing their quaint native costume[.]  But the trip was very tiresome & made the more disagreeable to me from having partaken not wisely but too well of half ripe melons.  On the way up we were awakened in the middle of the night by 3 Bulgarian officials who suddenly flashed their lights in our faces – 4 dishevelled women more or less in the costume of Sept Morn blinked back[.]  They jabbered – we shrugged our shoulders & said we didn’t comprehend – more jabber – more shrug – then one man threw up his hands & cried out in despair “These Americans! These Americans! These Americans!” & slammed the door -  Afterwards we found out our passports werent vised [sic] right & that it was only as a great courtesy extended to our nation that we werent sent back to Constantinople.

 

     We are staying at a very delightful hotel with heavenly cooking right opposite the palace – a big handsome yellow brick mansion set in fine grounds with the loveliest acacia trees, now in full bloom – Sofia is at the foot of the mountains & I never smelt anything so cool & bracing as the air. –

 

 

Aug – 9 – [1926]

 

     A day of adventure -  At 10 we set forth in the best auto the city could muster to go to the King’s summer palace 75 miles away in the mountains -  The auto was minus most of its innards.  It hadnt had a spring in the last 10 years & carried no spare tire – the driver saying that if it was Gods will we would make the journey without needing one -  No Turkish or Bulgarian cars carry extras on the the [sic] same principle.  The roads are the worst in the world but our optimistic driver started out a clip that would have won a race on a fast track -  Rocks, ruts, stones meant nothing in his young life & we went lickety split over them, while every bone in our bodies were [sic] jarred from our sockets & we held on to our false teeth with a death grip[.]

 

     Apparently our chauffers [sic] confidence in Providence was misplaced for soon there was the sharp report of a blow out.  Fortunately it occurred by a wayside inn – a regular peasant place – by a babbling brook & we descended and had coffee while he patched the ragged old tire -  Again we hit the trail & went skedaddle around hair pin turns & again was [the] ominous sound of a blow out -  There was nothing to do but walk back to the road house some 5 miles – Mr Gestat said it was 8 – which we did.  But we were partially repaid for the days disaster by the delicious lunch of native foods they served us -  A mutton stew made with tomatoes, beans, egg plant, peppers & potatoes, & red with paprika, & [word crossed out: a] sweet peppers stuffed with rice, chopped meat etc & cooked in a cream sauce.

 

     In this region at a place called Kazanlik the finest attar of roses is made[.]  They have 80000 acres under cultivation in roses.  We intended going there – it is 300 kilometers – but after our experience with the demon chauffer[sic] we decided not to risk it.

 

 

Aug 10 – [1926]

 

     Made another abortive effort to reach the Kings summer palace, but there had been heavy rains & the car skidded from side to side over the impossible road so we gave it up & returned to town & the pursuit of Bulgarian embroidery.

 

     Went to the Russian church of Alexander Nevsky which is the most beautiful example of the Byzantine Roccoco [sic] in the world.  It was given by the Russian people to the Bulgarians after the Russians had freed Bulgaria from the Turks in the Turko-Russian War[.]  The Russians hoped to bind the Bulgarians to them by this magnificent gift but in the Great War the treacherous Ferdinand sided with the Germans & lost his crown as a result -  The present King Boris, his son, seems to be an able man & to be much beloved.  It is said he is very diplomatic & has succeeded beyond anyone else in bringing the Agrarian[s] & Royalists together.  This church has never been dedicated because the Russian Pope has been abolished by the Soviet & there is no one to perform the official ceremonies.  We see many [word crossed out: Greek] priests of the Greek church – tall bearded men with queer tall black hats with flat crowns, & long black robes.

 

    Had great fun buying some bulgarian [sic] embroidery[.]  The man spoke no word of English, I no Bulgarian -  He went into hysterics – called in all his friends & nieghbors [sic], & by means of pantomime we at last traded –

 

     I never felt such air as this -  It is so full of ozone it makes you tingle.  No wonder the B’s are such scrappers[.]  They would have to work off their pep some way, & this climate would make a jack rabbit spit in a bulldogs face[.]

 

     Left Sofia at five in the afternoon of Aug 10 on the de luxe & also the de slow for Belgrade -  Arrived at the pleasing hour of 6 A.M & went to the Palace Hotel which is being repaired.  In consequence of which we are domicilled [sic] on the 7 floor up to which we have to walk, no lift running.  But we have the most wonderful view of the Danube for miles & miles, the hotel being on a hill & we on the top of the building.

 

     Belgrade is a very progressive modern city, years ahead of Sofia in modern ways & shops, [word crossed out: and].  They surely have a boosters club for theres the greatest amount of civic building going on – new ministry buildings galore, & they are even going to repair some of the streets, which are the worst ever -  We took a slush auto ride thro solid mud -  Saw the new government buildings under construction, the new parliament building they started 15 yrs ago & have never had the money to finish, the pretty Kalmigdan gardens, the old Roman walls, the palace in which his assasins [sic] slayed [sic] Milan before pitching his & his wifes bodies out to the mob, the present king’s palace with its pretty gay green & red garden etc.  You can “do” Belgrade in a couple of hours.  At night we went to a Russian restaurant & had a splendid dinner.  It was quite gay with good music & many smart looking officers in their red & white & red & blue uniforms.  It seems that at night no trafic [sic] is allowed on certain down town streets, & so the whole street was full of promenading people –

 

 

Aug 12 [1926]

 

     Took a drive to Toptshider [Topchider], a lovely wooded park in which was the old summer palace of the King.  It is now a public park, & a new palace for the King is being built on the top of a high hill overlooking the Danube.  Our motor broke down as usual & we came home on the street car.

 

     Went by boat up the river to Zimblin which used to be the frontier town of Hungary is these parts, but is now part of Ugoslavia [sic] -  From the town the Austrians shelled Belgrade in 1814 but as they run [sic] up the white flag at the first shot the city was saved[.]

 

      Went to the museum which contains a most interesting collection of embroideries & figures in native Peasant costume.  Also hideous & badly painted [word crossed out: pictures] portraits of the various Serbian dynasties – an ugly looking lot of cut throat villains as to the men & the ladies all in dire need of brassiers [sic] –

 

     One of our most interesting hours in Belgrade was in the public market – a regular street fair – with hundred[s] of peasant women in native costume – upturned skirts with embroidered hems – gay embroidered aprons & head scarfs [sic].  I tried to buy one of these aprons but the girls husband would not let her sell it – no good Serbian embroidery could be bought as the women no longer make it for sale[.]

 

 

Aug 14 [1926]

 

     Left at 9.30 a m for Buda-Pest[,] 223 miles distant[.]  Lovely ride thro’ the richest & most fertile country, with a record breaking harvest being gathered in.  The R.R is a  gov’t owned one & at every station the employees were in uniform & also stood at attention as the train pulled out -  At every station we stopped from 5 to 10 minutes & at some we staid for an hour & a half.  These are evidently intended on making up the time table for we arrived at Buda Pest on the dot at 7 & went to the most delightful hotel, which seems doubly ravishing in memory of the awful one at Belgrade -  This hotel is called the Duna Palota, & is the old Ritz & it certainly is Ritzy -  We had dinner on the terrace – a room with real beds - & I almost wept as I saw it – a bath with hot water[.]

 

 

Aug 15-16-17- [1926]

 

     Most delightful stay in Buda Pest -  Went thro’ the fine old castle started by Maria Theresa, the mother of Marie Antoinette & finished by Francis Joseph.  This has [a] most commanding situation on a high bluff overlooking the Danube.  The grounds are terraced down to the water, & from the terrace there is a commanding view.  A noble staircase ascends to the state apartments – long salon after salon pannelled [sic] in white & gold, or with white & gold woodwork & walls lined with satin damask[.]  In each room are ornate stoves of gold & white tile.  The castle is situated in Buda -  Around it are streets of low 2 or 3 story houses dating back to the time of the Turks in which the Magyar nobility still make their homes -  The regent of Hungary lives in one wing of the palace in which the proud of the land once desported themselves.  During the war the socialist[s] looted the palace, carrying off all the furniture except a few chairs & divans, & a couple of vases.  Near by is the Coronation church, very old, in which Francis Joseph, & later Charles X & Zita were crowned -  It is a curious mixture of Gothic & Bulgarian, every inch of the interior being painted in the gay Bulgarian colors.

 

     Went thro the magnificent Parliament house, the handsomest in Europe – crossed the fine bridge of  Chains, the first suspension bridge ever built – drove thro the lovely park, & went to Margauten [Margaret] island – a lovely green island in the midst of the Danube that Francis Joseph spent much money in making an amusement park, & that is a sort of Coney island[.]  Went to the picture gallery which is of only moderate worth, & by the reproduction of the castle of Hunyadan Yanos [Janos Hunyadi], the great Hungarian patriot after whom the table water is named[.]

 

     But mostly spent our time counting our money.  It takes 700 cronen to make a cent, & 24000 to get a glass of beer – which has me permanently insolvent, not being used to dealing with matters of high finance[.]

 

 

Aug 18 – [1926]

 

     Left Buda pest at 9.30 & arrived at Vienna at 2.30 -  Delightful journey thro’ rich farming land beautifully cultivated.  Arrived in a torrential down pour & went to Grand Hotel on the inner Ring strasse – built on the site of the ancient fortifications.

 

 

Aug 19 – [1926] 

 

     Drove around the town, giving us birds eye view of the beautiful streets, the old part of the city, the many monuments etc -  Went to the Cathedral of St Stephens[sic,] one of the finest examples of gothic art in Europe.  It has wonderful old stained glass windows and an unique arrangement of altars – one being placed on each side of the great pillars of the church -  This with the candles – the lovely gilding & painting gives an effect of great richness when seen in perspective, & with the light filtering thro’ the glorious windows -  This church also has a curious pulpit, the railing of the stair being carved with rats, mice, snakes, & vermin typifing [sic] the spirit of evil fleeing from the word of God -  Another interesting feature was the “servant girls Madonna” before which many were praying -  According to the legend a maid was accused of stealing her Mistress’ ring -  She prayed to the Madonna who inspired her to paint this picture.  Before it was completed the ring was found & the girl exhonorated [sic], & ever since whenever a “madchen” gets into trouble she comes & burns a candle before this picture – which the maid vowed to the virgin & which is considered so sacred it is protected by a wire netting.  Still another interesting feature of the cathedral is the “giant” door at the oldest part of the building.  It seems when the foundations of the cathedral were being laid they came upon the giant bones of prehistoric animals which were tho’t to be the bones of giant men & suspended over the door for many years –

 

     Went to the bare, gray old capuchin church in whose [word crossed out: vaults] cript [sic] are the sepulchers of all the Hapsburg family from 1619 down to the present day -  There generation after generation of kings & their consorts & their children sleep in their iron & lead coffins[.]  Foremost is the massive, ornate bronze sarcophagai [sic] of Maria Theresa & her husband surrounded by their children – only one[,] Marie Antoinette – being buried elsewhere - Marie Christina being buried in the Christine [Maria Christina was buried in the Church of St. Augustine – see entry for August 21] -  Here also lie the mortal remains of the ill fated Maximillian & of Marie Louise, & her pathetic son L’Aiglon & here lie side by side Franz Joseph & his murdered son & wife[.]

 

     Drove out to Schonbrunn, once the favorite country seat of the Emperors of Austria, but now the city has grown around it until it is virtually a suburban ritual.  But any way it is a noble pile of buildings set upon the backgrounds of a green forrest [sic] & lovely gardens.  The furniture has been allowed to remain intact & it is virtually as it was when it was the favorite abiding place of Franz Joseph.  There are miles upon miles, it seemed, of gorgeous state apartments, the walls being hung with priceless Gobelin & Flemish tapestries – or picture[s] depicting the dead & gone victories of Austria, or commemorating the hour of triumph of some king or queen who has been dust & ashes for centuries.  Many of the rooms are pannelled [sic] in Chinese lacquer – one room in particular has the entire wall space covered with Chinese, Japanese & Persian paintings, each set in ornate frame, in a wall pannelled [sic] in mahogany -  Some of these pictures are said to be 1000 yrs old.  They were gifts to [words crossed out: the King] Maria Theresa of Austria but the setting of them cost $2,000,000 –

 

     There was also an interesting room – in whose marquetry floor was an inner circle that by touching a spring, caused it to descend to the lower floor where food was placed upon a table, & it shot up again -  This was used when [word crossed out: secret] matters of state were discussed which it was desired no one should hear – or perhaps when some amorous king or queen entertained some secret guest -  Here in a Chinese pannelled [sic] room the ill fated Napoleon 2 loved & died –

 

     In the plainest room in the palace was a black iron bed on which Franz Joseph slept & on which he died – a lonely old man whose wife [words crossed out: & child] had been murdered – whose only child had died a shameful death, & whose kingdom lay in ruins about him –

 

     Near by, overlooking a dream of a garden were Elizabeth[’]s apartments hung in red brocade but not better furnished than any well off American womans bed room & lacking totally that acme of luxury – a good bath room.

 

 

Aug 20 – [1926]

 

     Spent the morning going thro’ the city palace which since the war is used as a museum, the proceeds of which go to the disabled soldiers -  Went thro room after room with walls hung with rich tapestries, & with treasures in pictures & cabinets of Buhl [boulle], & marquetry, & mosaic but there is nothing of outstanding interest in the palace – all it has is its memories of former splendor where the proudest of the proud, the haughtiest of the haughty, the richest of the rich peacocked thro these white & gold rooms, & plotted, & intrigued, for royal favor, & were eaten of every jealousy, or puffed up with pride at the frown or smile of a man who is now a pinch of dishonored dust -  It was only these ghosts I saw in the empty, echoing rooms thro which trooped trippers & clodhoppers, & country bumpkins, who for the price of 14c could look their fill on the shell of royalty[.]

 

     [The following paragraph has been crossed out:]

     

     Of all the riches in the treasury – the crown of Charlemagne, the imperial regalia, the famous blue white diamond, the immense riches in jewels that belonged to the crown nothing remains -  All are gone & nobody seems to no [sic] whither, tho there are those who say Zita took everything that wasnt nailed down[.]

 

 

Aug 21 [1926]

 

     Went thro the Treasury where are the royal regalia – the crown of St Stephen & the crown of Austria & Hungary, resplendent with jewels – also various jeweled orders, & jeweled ornaments, among them being an amethist [sic] & an opal as large as an egg -  The crown of Charlemagne & many of the crown jewels, among them the famous blue white diamond[,] have been spirited away but Charlemagnes swords & many jeweled [sic] encrusted swords still remain to dazzle the eyes of the commoner as well as the coronation robes –

 

     When Austria became a republic it took from the church all over the state their finest vestments & ornaments so the collection of ecclesiastical garments is a marvel to behold – robes stiff with gold embroidery & sewed with jewels, & gold & silver & gem studded vessels for the mass -  Another interesting thing was the cradle of gold bronze & mother of pearl in which the infant L’Aiglon slept, & which had an eagle at its foot & golden bees swarming over it –

 

     This palace is now only a museum whose proceeds go to the invalid soldiers, & in it are cheap little shops where you can buy postcards & jim cracks[.]

 

     Maria Theresa started the splendid museum of the fine arts & housed it in a gorgeous building furnished within in many colored marbles[,] ornamented it with wreaths & arabesques in gold bronze -    There is a fine collection of pictures but they are not nearly so interesting as the wonderful collection of old armor & weapons - & the rooms full of Austrian handicrafts, glass, china, carvings[,] all sorts of objects of virtue & bigotry as Mrs Parkington said[.]

 

     Went to the church of St Augustine, plain & homely without, but beautiful Gothic within.  It has a marvelous altar & carved choir stalls & pews in bunches of six, the ends, the front & back of these being massive of carving.  It has also a wonderful tomb by Canova, one of his greatest work[s], built for Marie Christina, a daughter of Maria Theresa.  According to the legend she was about to marry a prince of Spain, but on the eve of her marriage her mother sent her to pray by the tomb of her father who had died of smallpox.  She contracted the disease & died -  The monument represents the spirit of art, & the poor with bowed head[s] entering her tomb to lay their tributes at her feet[.]

 

     In this church is a plain little chapel -  The Loretto chapel & out of it opens a small closet, bare & without ornamentation, & with 2 plain deal shelves.  On these are a dozen or more dingy looking sealed jars of silver, tarnished until they seem as dull as pewter -  They look like the jars on any cellar shelf, but each contains the heart of one of the Emperors of Austria -  It being the custom to remove the heart as soon as an emperor dies & place it here, while the body is buried in the Capuchin church.

 

 

Aug 25 [1926]

 

     Left at 9.30 for Munich – a lovely all day trip thro green farming lands, past picturesque country homes, thro’ stately pine forrest[s] [sic] – a country that looks much more Swiss than Switzerland looks like itself -  At 5 reached Salzburg & crossed the German frontier -  Arrived at Munich at 9 o’clock[.]

 

 

Aug 26 [1926]

 

     A busy day[.]  First a drive thro the picturesque old part of the city, then thro the new one – thro’ the beautiful parks, past the houses where the aristocracy used to live & where the rich profiteers now live, past the big, plain ugly yellow house where the crown prince now lives[,] past the splendid mansion of Richard Wagner crowned with many statues, & so on[.]  Went to the Glytothek which is the long German name for a museum – a fine collection of pictures with 2 exceptionally lovely Murillos.  Then to the palace, one of the finest in Europe.  The outer reception rooms are covered with fresco paintings [word crossed out: from] which Wagner is said to have set to music & from which he derived the plots of his operas -  Upstairs there are acres of the most marvelous floors of marquetry I have ever seen – the walls were covered with wonderful tapestries, there were priceless tables with tops inlaid with lapis & precious marbles, but the most interesting thing was the throne room with a raised dais of crimson [word crossed out: marble] velvet, & on either side of the long aisle leading up to it hughe [sic] figures of Bavarian kings & queens of the long ago.  Another interesting thing were 2 large rooms covered with the portraits of beautiful women.  It seems King Ludwig had an eye for feminine pulchritud[e] & whenever he saw a pretty face had it painted - & kept the picture –

 

     Went to the grave of the Unknown Soldier – a big clumsy square of stone – lifted on pediments – around it are the names of the 30,000 Bavarians who fell in the war –

 

 

Aug 27 – [1926]

 

     Went down to Oberammergau – a 3 hr trip on the fast express – a beautiful, & picturesque little town in the Bavarian Tyrol -  Everything centers around the passion play given every 10 years – Went to the big bare theatre & saw the “props”[,] the cross on which Christ & the thieves are crucified[.]  The mechanical helps are poor - & after the Christ has remained 20 minutes on the cross he has to be massaged to bring his arms to life again -  The theatre seats 3500 people & the village grows rich on it -  The people are nearly all woodcarvers -  Saw Anton Lang, a beautiful man who really does look like the pictures of Christ.  He says that in the crucifixion scene he is “hanged like a picture” by a belt around his waist, but in spite of this the strain on his arms is so great that in the 20 minutes he is on the cross he nearly faints[.]

 

 

Aug 29 [1926]

 

     Had a wonderful drive across the mts to the castle Neuschwainstein [Neuschwanstein], that the crazy Ludwig built on the foundations of what had been a royal shloss [schloss] – a sort of watchtower.  When we arrived at the foot of the mountain on which the castle is built we found we would have to walk up, so we panted and blowed the 2 miles which stick up end on end –

 

     The castle is built in replica of an old feudal mountain stronghold, of gray granite & is perched like an eagles nest on a crag that juts out on three sides of a [word crossed out: deep] chasm, hundreds of feet deep thro’ which thunders a mountain stream[.]  From its balconies & windows you command a view that sweeps for miles over valleys & the adjacent forrest [sic] covered mountains, & you look down on tall trees growing on the side of the great rock on which the castle is perched –

 

     Within it is a dream of magnificence gone wild -  The doors are of pollished [sic] wood covered with arabesques of hand wrought work, every piece of furniture & the wood work are masterpieces of carvings – the columns that divide & ornament the rooms are of marble banded with gold set with semiprecious stones.  The draperies are of brocade that would stand alone, woven with Ludwigs heraldic devices -  The seats of the chairs & divans are of gold embroidered velvet or tooled leather -  Everywhere are the blue & white lozenges of Bavaria & the Swan – a silver swan being installed as a recepticle [sic] for water in his wash basin -  This castle was only finished in 1896, & its cost was so great it was the cause of Ludwig being declared insane by his subjects & incarcerated.

 

     He was a great devotee of Wagner & every room is painted with scenes from the W operas[.]  There is a balcony, giving upon a court where they say he used to try out the voices of the singers he would summon from Vienna & Berlin, before he let them sing in his great salon –

 

 

Aug 29 – [1926]

 

     Went to the pleasant green park that used to be a royal hunting ground & that has now been opened up as a park.  At night went down to the great Hofbrau House where for hundreds of years good Bavarians have nightly assembled for steiners -  Saw whole family parties drinking from the same stein, that was often refilled, & nibbling hughe [sic] slices of horseradish[.]

 

 

Aug 30 – [1926]

 

     Pleasant trip of 3 hrs over to Nuremberg[.]  Spent afternoon in getting a birds eye view of the city – the quaintest place I have ever seen, old houses of archaic architecture with rows of tiny windows with little roofs over them, that looked like blinking eyelids rising tier on tier on the roofs[.]  Had a funny sputtering guide who said everybody of any importance came from Nuremberg – the man, a sailor[,]  who made the first globe & showed it to his friend Columbus who came here to see it, & who from it got the idea of going around the world, Albrect [sic] Durer, Hans Sachs, Adam Craft the Master, & so on -  Went to the old cathedral where Martin Luther stopped & preached on his way to Wurms to testify to the faith that was in him, & that has been a Protestant church for centuries, but for some unknown reason the protestants left the lovely altars & carvings & the exquisite holy of holies that Adam Craft carved to win his wife, the daughter of a rich man -  The legend says that the father told Adam that if he would carve higher than the church that he might have the girl[,] so he carried his exquisite creation up to the very roof then bent it & ran it along a beam -  There is also a quaint pulpit with a rat [word crossed out: carved] with a pretzel in its mouth carved on the banister[.]  This commemorates a miracle when a priest, unjustly accused of a crime was put in a cell without food, to die of starvation -  When they came to take him out he was found alive & well, a rat having brought him a pretzel every day –

 

     Went thro’ the quaint home of Hans Sachs & saw the cobbler [sic] bench at which he worked while making shoes, and where he, no doubt, composed the first 2 acts of Minnesingers -  [word crossed out: By] Over it was a candlestick & a glass globe of water that reflected the light down on his table -  Saw Albrect [sic] Durers house – very handsome & beautiful -  Saw a fountain with a half dozen bronze ladies with water squirting from their breasts, second only to the Mannekin Pis.  Went to the tower of the old Schloss, with its deep well, built in mediaeval times to supply the garrison in times of siege -  Saw the horrible instruments of torture of which there is a big collection.

 

     But most interesting of all is just the town itself with its old, old houses, & it was comforting to know that there is a law preventing any old house from being changed.  When it is restored it has to be rebuilt exactly as it was[.]

 

 

Sep 1 [1926]

 

     Motored to Rothenberg about 40 [miles] thro fields of new mown hay where women were swinging a scythe along with the men & even tiny girl children were raking up the grass.  Went thro the picturesque villages where each house had its pile of rotting manure ornamenting the front door way & smelling to heaven, past a mediaeval castle on a hill which we were told we could buy for $25,000, & so at last to the quaintest old town I ever saw except Carcasonne [sic] -  Not a new house has been built in it for 300 years - & the fronts of the houses bear enchanted plaques stating that such & such a King, or grand duke once slept within its walls[.]

 

     For Rothenberg was once a “free city”[,] a place of importance whose ruler used to make his young men soldiers - & bid them to his friend the Hohenzollern when they needed fighting men[.]

 

     They fought once too often it would appear, for the Austrians conquered them, & the Austrian general ordered the 6 leading citizens shot.  While the gentlemen were being rounded up he was offered a cup containing 4 litres of wine to drink.  Being a teetotaler, & having a sense of humor, he offered to spare the victims if any man would drink the wine at a sitting.  The 2nd Burgomaster volunteered & neatly accomplished the job & this historic incident is perpetuated in the clock when at 12 every day for hundreds of years 2 windows have flown over [open] & the figures of the general & the master drinker have popped out, bowed to each other & gone thro their little stunt –

 

 

Sep 2 – [1926]

 

    Pleasant trip to Prague, thro a lovely & picturesque country.  Passed thro Pilsen where the beer of blessed memory is made[.]

 

 

Sep 3 – [1926]

 

     Ride around Prague – chief object of interest the queer old Jewish cemetery where the Jews are buried 10 deep & stones overlap each other, & the quaint old synagogue where the orthodox still hold service.  It has an enormous banner given them for their services in the 30 years war, but which was made so big they could only hang it up in the church.  It couldn’t be carried.  Went up on the hill to the Church of St Augustine where there is an enormous silver memorial to some saint whose name I have forgotten, but who was celebrated by 2 tons of solid silver -  This church is still being built, but in the old part are some wonderful mosaics made of the many precious marbles found in in [sic] this country -  The old palace of the Bohemian kings is also being restored[.]  Passed the old bridge where the heads of the traitors used to be exposed –

 

     Czechoslavia [sic] seems very happy & prosperous & is the only country we have seen that seems to like republicanism[.]

 

 

Sep 5 [1926]

 

     Left at 9.30 & arrived at Dresden about 2 where we are staying at the Palast [sic] Hotel Webber.

 

 

Sep 6 [1926]

 

     Had a fine ride about the city which has lovely suburbs with comfortable houses set in the midst of much handsome shrubbery & beautiful parks.  There are several splendid bridges that cross the Elbe & on the further side on a wooded heigth [sic] are many fine castle-like residences near the hotel, almost across the street in fact, there is the beginning of the great palace call the Zwinger that is now a collection of museums.  The one containing the art collection is noteworthy as this is the finest art gallery in Germany[.]  It has a great number of masterpieces, among them being Raphaels beautiful Sistine Madonna[.]  It has also the Magdalene with the skull & the exquisite pastel of the Dutch girl which the Baker Cocoa uses as an advertisement.

 

            The “Green Vault” is the treasure house where are gathered together [word crossed out: all] the jewels & bric a brac of generations of saxon [sic] kings[.]  There are dozens of little cabinets made of precious woods, & marbles & inlays, of gold & silver & pearl;  knives & forks & spoons with handles made of branches of coral – queer carvings & inlays of every description – a great piece containing 136 figures representing the court of an Indian rajah[,] every figure perfect, & every one made of solid gold & jewels - & most amazing of all the royal regalia such a mass of diamonds & emeralds, & rose saphires [sic] as it is impossible to imagine[.]

 

     Went to the opera one night & heard The Tales of Hofman [sic].

 

     Motored out to the Bartei, a queer rocky formation from which we had a magnificent view of the Saxon Switzerland[.]

 

 

Sep 9- [1926]

 

     Left for Berlin[,] arrived at 11 -  Had lunch & went for ride around the city -  Out Under [Unter] den Linden, and to Charlottenberg, the beautiful house built for the Empress Charlotte -  Here in an exquisite mausoleum are buried Queen Louise & her husband & Queen Amelia & hers -  The tomb of Amelia, representing her as lying asleep on her couch is one of the loveliest statues I have ever seen -  The windows of the mausoleum are of blue glass & throw a weird light upon the marbles.  Went thro the Tiergarten, an exquisite park & out the avenue of victory built by the Ex-Kaiser which has a golden winged statue of Victory at the end & along the avenue statues – 37 – of the Hohenzollern family, the Catholics on one side & the protestants on the other –

 

 

Sep 10 [1926]

 

     Lovely day -  Drove in auto thro the city & Tiergarten past Charlottenburg to the landing place on the river Havel from which one starts for Sans Souci -  The scenery is beautiful as the river widens out into a lake bordered with fine country seats that run down to the water which is alive with pleasure craft -  We alighted at Pottsdam [sic], & took motors which drove past the barracks once occupied by the crack military regiments, & the handsome houses of the officers, & the Garrison Church filled with the flags Germany has taken.

 

     Sans Souci is the splendid summer palace built for Fred [sic] the Great.  It is a gorgeous one story structure with many rooms in it reminiscent of Voltaire who was his great friend & frequent guest -  Voltaires own room, designed by Fred’k has raised decorations showing a stork which is supposed to indicate Voltaires love of travel, a parrot, because he bathed so much, a fox for his slyness, & a squirrel because he was so dainty about his food -  The grounds are beautifully landscaped, & each of the many terraces is lined with grape vines, figs, oranges, peaches etc growing behind glass.

 

     “The New Palace” near by also built by Fred’k was his winter home -  It is a magnificent structure whose most interesting features are the 3 female figures supporting a crown[.]  These are Mme de Pompadour, Elizabeth of Russia, & Maria Theresa of Austria – the 3 countries, dominated by women, who fought against Fred’k & to whom, he sardonically said, he owed his victory.

 

     The late Kaiser made this palace his summer home, but there are no relics of his stay as he claimed all the furniture as his personal property & they were sent to him last Nov.  In one small room is a small door in a wall thro which a servant passed his morning coffee to the Empress who served it herself.

 

     At the end of the rose garden the Empress is buried n a small pavillion [sic] which used to be her favorite lounging place[.]  No one else lies beside her – her son who committed suicide being buried in the Peace Church by his grandfather & mother.

 

     Went to the Friederich Museum which has fine collections of old masters & to the Dom, the splendid church in which the Kaiser worshipped – The handsomest & most interesting thing in Berlin to my thinking is the magnificent monument built by the Kaiser to his grandfather, William[.]

 

 

Sept 14 [1926]

 

     Went to Hanover, the capital city of Hanover – a pretty old city with nothing of particular interest in it[.]

 

 

Sept 15 [1926]

 

     Motored to Hildesheim, a very interesting & quaint old city that has many interesting old houses carved & painted in gay colors that go back to the 15 hundreds -  Each story of these houses[,] & some of them are 6 or 7 stories high[,] juts out beyond the one below it.  The old church is quite picturesque & has sunk until its windows are almost on a level with the ground.

 

 

Sep 17 – [1926]

 

     Went to Cologne thro Essen, & the big manufacturing centres -  Everywhere acres of factories, & forrests [sic] of smokestacks & armies of working people.  Essen is where the big guns were made during the war[.]

 

 

Sep 18 [1926]

 

     Lovely drive thro Cologne which is a splendid old city – The old part with its remnants of Roman walls, for it was one of the outposts of the Roman Empire, is very picturesque, the new part with its lovely villas smothered in flowers very prosperous. The cathedral is beautiful – pure Gothic & next to the one at Milan in loveliness, I think.

 

     Bought cologne that smells like all the gardens of Araby.

 

 

Sep 19 [1926]

 

     A Heavenly day – Indian summer [,] drove up the Rhine – past old feudal towers & ruined castles, each with its legend -  A full moon came up & added its touch of glory just as we passed the rock on which the Lorelei sat & sung [sic] her song of enchantment - & in the dusk we could almost see the mice devouring the wicked bishop in the tower to which he fled[.]

 

 

Sep 20 – [1926]

 

     Lovely drive in the morning all over & around about Wiesbaden.  Went to the bath house & saw scores of fat men & women taking the cure to the accompaniment of music & flowers – after lunch mounted our faithful train & made the 57 minute run to Frankfort[.]  Had interesting drive thro city – the old part much like Hildesheim with gaily painted houses jutting out from story to story until they almost touched across the street[.]   Saw the red brick house with iron barred windows where the Rothschilds used to live - & the palace where the head of the family lives now -  In the 12 century the Jews bought the city from Cologne & made it a free city.  Ever since it has been the headquarters of the Jews & the money center of Germany[.]

 

 

[This is the last entry in the journal.]

 


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