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      July 2013 > Miss Jemima's Victorian Adventure, then and now

Miss Jemima's Victorian Adventure, then and now

In 1863, Miss Jemima Morrell and companions travelled to Switzerland on what was Thomas Cook’s first conducted tour of the country. In 2013, Miss Helen Mort (the ‘new Jemima’) followed in her footsteps. I was in her party for the week and here record some of the similarities and differences that we encountered, based on Miss Jemima’s diary entries.

Self-guided walking holidays in Switzerland1863, Thursday 2 July. Miss Jemima in Sierre:
We found the muscat vines the most forward we had seen, the fruit being the size of large currants; this variety is only cultivated in this valley.  At Sierre we halted for limonade gazeuse and strolled into the lanes to study entomology...”

2013, Friday 21 June. ‘Miss Helen’ in Sierre:
At Sierre, we stopped for a wine tasting with no thought of temperance. Our modern-day ‘Miss Jemima’, Miss Helen Mort, imbibed heartily, enjoying the selection of Swiss white and red wines on offer from the local region. We had the option to spit, but I didn’t notice many in the party following this course.

Self-guided walking holidays in Switzerland1863, Friday 3 July. Miss Jemima on the Gemmi:
Our toil now began as we on foot fought up its intermediate twistings. In some of the most hazardous parts a low parapet had been raised and rails placed as protection. Our mules here were rejected, as we felt, that two legs required less caution than six. We did not forget to test the marvellous echoes...echoes...echoes...”

2013, Saturday 22 June. ‘Miss Helen’ on the Gemmi:
After indulging in the champagne breakfast at the spa baths in Leukerbad, we all opted to take the cable car up the Gemmi – except for ‘Miss Helen’ who followed in her alter-ego’s footsteps and walked up the tortuous path. ‘Fit as fiddle’, she arrived at the top just as we emerged from the comfort of the cable car. 

Self-guided walking holidays in Switzerland1863, Saturday 4 July. Miss Jemima on Lake Thun:
The scenery that we passed in our half-hour’s sail must be seen to be conceived. We floated past a panorama of great beauty. We were only sorry that our limited time would not permit us to steam up the Lake to Thun, there to obtain the celebrated view from the Churchyard. At Neuhaus, a village built on an isthmus between Thun and Brienz, we landed and took a carriage for Lauterbrunnen...”

2013, Sunday 23 June. ‘Miss Helen’ on Lake Thun:
There was no ‘see’ in scenery when we sailed across Lake Thun. It poured down throughout the trip, the views shrouded in mist. No-one ventured outside, not even ‘Miss Helen’. It was still raining when we reached Neuhaus, where a cavalcade of covered carriages was waiting to take us into Interlaken for a ‘light’ five-course lunch.

Self-guided walking holidays in Switzerland1863, Sunday 5 July. Miss Jemima in Interlaken:
Bright sunshine welcomed us to Interlacken, where we took up our quarters at the Hôtel du Lac, standing on the margin of the Lake Brienz. The ladies, having got possession of the long-absent trunks, dazzled our eyes with almost forgotten splendour, while we strolled about and took note of the many hotels which are a principal feature of the place...

2013, Monday 24 June. ‘Miss Helen’ in Interlaken:
We, too, stayed at the Hotel du Lac, and we, too, wore our finery. Seven of us donned our Victorian costumes for the opening of an exhibition celebrating 150 years of tourism in Switzerland. After speeches from dignitaries and mingling over aperitifs, it was down to business – returning to the hotel for another sumptuous dinner…

Self-guided walking holidays in Switzerland1863, Monday 6 July. Miss Jemima in Lauterbrunnen:
At Lauterbrunnen we dismissed our carriage, hence-forward to depend solely on our feet for locomotion. Armed with our satchels, we started and set at naught the extortionate demands of a swarm of guides that beset us, who, seeing our independence, came down in their Terms. One pursued us who become guide and porter in one...”

2013, Tuesday 25 June. ‘Miss Helen’ in Lauterbrunnen:
We caught the train. Unlike Jemima, we went up the Jungfrau so there wasn’t time to visit the Lauterbrunnen valley on foot – though we saw it through the rain-drizzled windows of the train. Neither were we plagued by guides: on the contrary, we had with us a delightful lady, Jacqueline (pictured right), who escorted us on our travels that day – and kept the souvenir sellers at bay.

Self-guided walking holidays in Switzerland1863, Tuesday 7 July. Miss Jemima at the Giessbach:
The Giessbach is one of the prettiest of falls, though there is nothing wild about it; indeed, had the effect of a park scene. It is possible to pass behind the third fall, by means of a gallery constructed beneath the shelving rock from which it casts itself down, so as to view the landscape athwart the curtain of water...

2013, Wednesday 26 June. ‘Miss Helen’ at the Giessbach:
We drove to the Giessbach Falls in a 1950s' vintage coach. It was still raining so the falls were particularly spectacular. I don’t suppose the views have changed much at all. ‘Miss Helen’ was the first to set out on the path through the woods that zigzagged up to and behind the cascades, just as Miss Jemima had done. We followed, keen not to miss the views – and we were rewarded when the sun actually appeared! 

Self-guided walking holidays in Switzerland1863, Wednesday 8 July. Miss Jemima on Lake Lucerne:
After dinner we prepared for our ascent of the Rigi and were soon on board the steamer that was to take us along the lake to the foot of that mountain. We had a good number of passengers of a very varied character… tourists proper and common, fair-haired girls waving adieux towards the strand, and guides who had taken a passage on the boat...”

2013, Thursday 27 June. ‘Miss Helen’ on Lake Lucerne:
We, too, caught the steamer down the lake to reach the cog railway at Vitznau for the ascent to Rigi’s summit. It wasn’t too busy and we could at least enjoy the view as we approached. They’d laid on a vintage carriage just for us to travel up in, though ‘Miss Helen’ and three of the party got out half way and walked up to the hotel. This was our final night and we were looking forward to seeing the famed sunrise in the morning. Very early…

Self-guided walking holidays in Switzerland1863, Thursday 9 July. Miss Jemima on Mount Rigi:
Our view of the Rigi sunrise was, we considered, grand, but scarcely so rich in tone as those travellers who speak of its peaks as ...'burning rosy fire’ and of their white snows being ‘bathed in glowing roseate pink’. It was hard to say whether its early glory at three o’clock or its crystal purity at seven was the most exquisite..."

2013, Friday 28 June. ‘Miss Helen’ on Mount Rigi:
I staggered up the hill at 5.00am. The Alpine horn blower was already there and we were soon joined by others. ‘Miss Helen’ took one look out of her window – and rolled back over, staying snug beneath her duvet. A wise move. The rest of us waited for the sun. We saw nothing. We could hardly see each other. An inauspicious end to what had otherwise been an unforgettable trip through the Swiss Alps…

Posted: 04/07/2013 11:25:26 by | with 1 comments
Filed under: heritage, journey, opinions, photography, Switzerland

Andy Montgomery
An excellent recollection of an extraordinary journey, well, two journeys really.
I love the way you have compared the experiences of the original and the latter day Miss Jemimas and highlighted the differences travellers encounter today.
The Swiss Alps may not have changed much, but how we experience them today has - for the better I feel.
Love the images too :)
10/07/2013 17:46:20

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