Fragrance in Travel Literature-Austria



"My holiday in Austria"

LIZZIE SELIXA

For those who are fond of wild flowers,
there is never-ceasing occupation and amuse-
ment at Ischl. A rich collection might be
made of dried specimens with very little
trouble. In many places the banks used to
be quite covered with the small dark pink
cyclamen, which perfumed the air for a long
distance with its delicate scent. Seven sorts
of gentians I found in the neighbourhood,
some most lovely, like small sapphire stars ;
others of that large deep blue sort which
we have in our gardens in England.

A little wood near our inn was quite
perfumed by quantities of the small lilac —
Primula farinosa. The butterflies, too, are
most beautiful ; and a very great variety
may be seen fluttering about. There are
many kinds of the Argus tribe, large and
small, pale blue and dark brown, almost
black. I observed one beautiful large white
butterfly, spotted with black and scarlet, just
out of the chrysalis. Its wings were heavy
"with the morning dew, as it crept off a
leaf and settled on my hand. It would
have been a rare prize for a collector.
There were also several sorts of Fritillaria,
the dark green, the silver-washed, and ano-
ther small sort.


"Pictures in Tyrol and elsewhere"
Tuckett, Elizabeth

The road was execrably bad, and often very steep, but
full of beauty of woods and meadows in all the glory
of spring. The path wound down the sides of a steep
ravine, with a torrent far below breaking in white showers
of foam over the stones and between the dark stems of the
firs, and carrying away in its course branches freshly torn
from the pines, red and odorous, with great jagged edges
of brown bark, that came sweeping down, holding out
their broken twigs like hands of drowning men, and some-
times getting caught out in quiet little eddies, where they
may rest for years, and weld themselves into the rich marl
of the banks, till the moss covers them lovingly and
flowers grow out of their heart, or a bright-eyed water-rat
builds its nest in a soft bit of fibre.


Lovely clematis with bright blue blossoms hung from
the rocks ; the woods, as ever, were full of the sweet spring
fragrance ; birds sung in the trees, and the torrent roared
with a mighty voice as the masses of water fell with a
great leap into the hissing cauldron below, and rocks and
hill-side showed out dimly through the whirl of spray.
It is only with an effort that the mind can so far triumph
over matter as properly to appreciate such a scene, when
the boots l)elonging to it are in the uncomfortable position
mentioned above.


The little
woods skirting the end of the glacier are full of beauty,
and near by there is a waterfall that in any other place
would alone be an object of pilgrimage. The water-
meadows were like a brilliant flower-bed, gay with patches
of gentians and forget-me-nots, masses of purple primulas,
yellow pansies, and delicate little soldinella; and clustering
round the stones and rocks were sweet-scented daphnes
and white crocuses, which sprout up on the barest-looking
ground a few hours after the snow has melted from its
surface.


These meadows, and the woods which skirt them, had a
wonderful charm for us. A broad river flowed through
the midst, often spreading itself over the valley when the
warm sun melted the snows, and when the waters drew
back again into their stony channel, grass, and moss, and
flowers sprang up on the instant into vivid life; the tiees
cast their twisted roots about the soil to hold it fast, bind-
ing it with gray lichens and little fir twigs, and a soft
carpet of dead leaves from last year's store; and before
the hay was grown and there could be the sweet summer
scent of mown grass drying in the wind, there was every-
where a garden of flowers, golden and violet, with soft
pink blooms, and the blue gentians with their bright little
eyes ; the stones were encrusted with orange and scarlet
lichens, and gray fringes hung in festoons from the old
trees ; the ice in great billows and ridges came down into
the grass, turning it back in long furrows in its steady
advance year by year, and down the rocks rivulets of cold
snow-water trickled from among the stones, bubbled up
under the moss, and turned into a sudden cloud of spray
as they sprang from any jutting crag mto the river at their
feet; and far above, as solemn sentinels, the great snow
mountains closed around the valley. Days among the
Alps, though full of commonplace adventure and merri-
ment, and the prose of ordinary life a little carica.tured,
are rich in deeper thoughts and feeling. There is a
stronger spell than the mere love of exercising their
muscles or the desire to conquer a new peak that takes
men to the mountains, and he must have a poverty-
stricken soul who does not return humbler indeed, but
calmed and strengthened by a fresh revelation of the
Divine power in which his life can rest.

The scene was very lovely in the morning light, and as
we came into a more sheltered country, it was wonderful
to see what spring had done with the help of a few days
of brighter weather; the snow had melted from the dark
green of the firs and pines, the beeches shone between them
with their soft powdering of golden green buds, some
newly-cut hay scented the air, and was drying on high
poles, but as yet the fields w^ere undisturbed for the most
part, to our great content, and brilliant with flowers. Often
they seemed covered with a crimson or lilac or purple haze
of colour, where some especial plant had made its home ;
a delicate rainbow, sparkling through the dew, might have
fallen on the grass, and been held captive by the swift-
spun webs of the busy little gossamers. Filling up every
distant view, a fair snow-peak shone in its winter drapery,
white and glistening, looking a great deal higher than it
really was through the magic aid of its adornment, and
pleasantly imposing on our senses, though one of the
travellers, who was scientific and learned in theodolites,
always endeavoured to anchor us to facts and the stern
ti'uth of things.


Our path lay by the side of the
Danube, which rolled in a grand stream of deep green
water between steep rocks richly clothed to their summits
and lower banks covered with houses, the town spreading
itself out along both sides of the river. We ascended by
a steep wood walk between the stems of the firs and hazel
and beech trees, the air was scented with wild flowers and
new-mown hay, a pleasant breeze tempered the hot sun,
and the shady woods looked wonderfully inviting with
numberless tempting little paths losing themselves in their
depths.

We were roused this morning at seven
by the sound of a solemn chant of many voices singing
out of time and to no particular tune, and, hurrying to
our windows, we watched a long procession of priests and
banners, men, women, and boys following, and all joining
with a great fervency of heart and voice in this propitiatory
act, which is, they hope, to insure a good and plentiful
harvest. The scene before us was indescribably lovely,
the lake calm as a mirror, with mountains brown and
grey and soft blue, and distant snow edges reflected on
its surface, and the Kloster and church, rising from a
narrow strip of flat land just above the water, sending long
white quivering pictures almost across the narrow See.
Instead of the clearly defined peaks and jutting crags and
glory of last evening, or the cold brightness of the night,
there was a glow of warmth and colour, a blue light like
heat made visible, a hum of insects in the air, and a
sweet scent of morning and fresh spring beauty.

"Tyrol and the skirt of the Alps"

Waring, George E

Our view into this valley of grandeur was from a sweet-smelling
hay -field, where cheerful women and girls were raking the windrows,
where fragrant-breathed cows were drawing hay-wagons, and where
sturdy men were busy loading the fresh-cured crop.


The cow-herds, finishing their meal, rose from the table, crossed
themselves, stood facing the east, and devoutly repeated a long prayer,
with due genuflection and bowing of the head, and then trudged away
to their work. The woman of the house showed us her simple smniner
dairy and her loom, inspected our novel outfit, and sent us on our
way rejoicing. She could spare no hay for our horses, and we marched
on to the hut of a bald and barefooted little old man, who made us
welcome, and stood in blue-eyed wonder as we told him we had come
from beyond the great sea. His loft not only fed our beasts, it fur-
nished Jane a fragrant couch, where for two hours she slept away the
weariness of her saddle, and awoke refreshed for her further ride.

We set out at four o'clock. It was still quite dark, no gleam of
dawn appearing in the sky, which, studded with stars, was only less
black than the high mountains whose serrated edges were cut in sharp
silhouette against it. Two black pedestrians and one black man on a
black mule were hardly distinguishable between the black house fronts
along the main street of Cortina. The stars shone brightly over the
gray roadway, and far away to the south, over the crest of the Croda
Malcora, Jupiter twinkled with weird green light. We were soon
climbing a country road, past farm -houses and barns and running
fountains, through fields studded with rows of wheat-sheaves or redo-
lent with the odor of half-cured hay. As we crept up the side of the
valley the great gleam of the morning-star came suddenly over the
sharp mountain-top, big and brilliant, like a fire-balloon just launched
from the crest of Sorapis.

"The Tyrol : with a glance at Bavaria"

HENRY D. INGLIS,

It was dusk before I left the elevation I had
attained, to return to the village, and almost as
dark as it is at any time in the month of June,
before I reached Brenner, where already all was
hushed for the night: all the doors were closed;
the villagers were already in bed ; and I had even
to knock twice at the door of the inn before I was
admitted. The old ladies, however, had not for-
gotten me: the cold fowl, and some pastry, were
served up unbidden ; and a cordial of aniseed, to
which I have a particular aversion, was pressed
upon my acceptance. As for my bed, nothing
could be cleaner, or more fragrant, for I might
have supposed myself lying upon a bed of thyme.
The sheets too were frilled, and the pillow was
of brocaded satin. Nor had the bodily comfort of
the traveller been the only source of my hostesses'
care. A little vessel with holy water, was sus-
pended on the wall ; and above my head was an
image of the Virgin. Such a day's journey as mine
had been, deserved a sound sleep; and after a
night's rest that a ploughman might have envied,
I rose not very long after the sun; paid a very
cheap bill; and was soon clear of the village of
Brenner, and descending the southern side of the
mountain.

I noticed in several
places, the effects of the storm that had overtaken
me at the castle of the Tyrol : the road was carried
away in several places, so as to render it totally
impassable to any kind of vehicle ; and half fields
of grain, and the soil along with them, had been
swept into the Adige : uncertain indeed, is the
tenure by which the people of these upland valleys
hold their possessions. In some parts, the hay
harvest was getting in ; and the sweet fragrance
carried me in a moment to the rich meadows of
England. I suspect, that the sounds and smells,
which in foreign lands occasionally fill our hearts
with a gush of pleasure, owe part of their impres-
sion to the associations to which they give birth,
although the mind may be totally unconscious of
their existence; and cannot detect the links that
have led it to mingle with present impressions,
former and distant images and recollections, that
give to them a more exquisite relish.

The scenery in the neighbourhood of Nauders
will challenge a comparison with anything that is
to be found in any country. I walked in the after-
noon towards the Inn, and the celebrated pass,
called the Funsterminz. Nothing can exceed the
union of the picturesque and the grand, which this
extraordinary defile presents. So deep does the
Inn flow so gigantic are the rocks that form the
defile, that, without any poetical exaggeration, the
stream does appear like a glistening thread: the
rocks too, are entirely covered with wood; and,
among many cascades, there is one not less than
five hundred feet in height. I gathered abundance
of magnificent wild pinks here, almost as large,
and quite as fragrant, as carnations ; and columbine,
which half covers the banks, and mountain dahlia,
and mint, and many other beautiful and sweet-
smelling flowers.

No scene appears utterly desolate when a sum-
mer sun flames upon it. Nature has everywhere
her charms, if man will but open his heart to
receive her impressions : and when strolling in the
afternoon up the bank of a dark rivulet that
descends from the mountains, so bright and warm
was the sun, so majestic the objects it illumi-
nated, so sweet the wild scent that rose from the
herbage, and so happy-looking, the dumb crea-
tures that quietly cropped it, that I scarcely felt
inclined to compassionate the dweller of this far
upland valley.

I left Mittewald early next morning ; and soon
after, ascending the Iser, entered the Tyrol. The
scenery now became finer and bolder than it had
yet been : it might be called truly Alpine : snow
peaks began to appear; and around, were all the
indications of a high elevation. Soon after enter-
ing the Tyrol, the road crosses, and leaves the
Iser, now dwindled into a mere brook, within a
league or two of its source ; and passes through a
small mountain village, called Scharnitz. From
this place of Seefeld, where I halted to breakfast,
the scenery becomes still more striking; and an
extraordinary number and variety of wild flowers
cover the slopes and rocks by the way side. I
gathered abundance of that beautiful and sweet
smelling flower, the fringed pink ; as well as of the
wild polyanthus, and the rose d'amour : the box
shrub in flower, formed in many places a thick
underwood: large and beautiful heart's-ease, en-
tirely covered some fields; and on every knoll,
and slope, and rocky nook, little companies of
summer flowers, unknown to me by sight or name,
were nestling, enjoying sweet fellowship ; nod-
ding to each other; all silent, but all smiling. I
gathered no fewer than thirty-two different species;
thirteen of which, are cultivated in the English
garden.

"The spell of Tyrol"

McCrackan, William Denison

Within the sweet-scented forests of the
lower slopes, the hares, squirrels, and some
lesser game birds seek shelter and protection.
On the timber line the splendid blackcock
flies, while beyond the utmost trees, on green
oases, watered by the melting of snow, the
chamois graze on the watch, and the marmot
colonies dig their holes. Up there the
stretches of grass are brilliant with clusters
of vivid blue gentians, the slopes rejoice in
the friendly red of the alpine roses, massed
against green hillsides in ordered rows, or
bordering the sharp edges of the crags like
decorative hedges. On bare summits, and
beside the abrupt precipices, the edelweiss,
hiding from the curiosity seeker, imitates the
limestone and the granite with its inconspicu-
ous gray and buff.


Before reaching Franzensfeste, the train
passes through a heavily wooded defile, known
as the Sachsenklemme, where many of the
Saxon allies of Marshal Lefebre were over-
whelmed or captured by the Tyrolese during
the war of 1809. The village of Mittewald
reposes here, peaceful amid sylvan scenes,
the scent of the forests rising under the touch
of a genial sun, and only a cannon-ball or two
fixed over the door of an inn recalling other
days of stress and war.

Cloudy days, too, have their charm on the
aim, days when a silent mantle of mist or haze
settles upon the scene, inviting meditation and
the sweet solace of an alpine quiet. The day
may have dawned surpassingly fair and clear,
but suddenly, from many quarters, the clouds
are detected creeping upon us like some
stealthy enemy, to surround and hedge us in.
They prove to be a welcome, kindly enemy,
that means no harm. They come from
around the corners of the ridges, over the
mountain saddles, and between the peaks.
They feel their way along the precipices, and
advance fitfully over the green, halting once
and again to scout and reconnoitre the ground.
Little streamers and separate cloudlets are sent
on ahead, or to the sides, and there they hover
timidly till the main body of clouds overtakes
them, and the whole mass pushes forward to
capture the landscape with a gentle and moist
caress. The clouds blot out one by one the
landmarks of the aim, the farther slopes, the
little alpine lake, where the cattle drink, and
the isolated cedars that have stood the storm
and stress of a century. Finally the mist cuts
off from view the near-by huts and the graz-
ing cattle as they munch the damp grass,
dotted with many perfumed flowers. A
pleasant stillness pervades the aim, a peace-
ful, protective hush enfolds it, until such time
as a clearing gust shall blow through the ra-
vines. The clouds have for the present brushed
aside distracting sights. We seem to be at sea,
or up in the air, separated from the humdrum
human occupations of another world.


When we emerge on the other side, we are
in the midst of the real mountains at last.
Whatever of tameness the flat floor of the
Zillerthal proper may express, here all be-
comes rugged and dramatic. The very rocks
along the boiling Zemmbach make the
stranger welcome, for they are covered with
a red growth that looks like rust, but when you
rub it on your hands, it emits the familiar and
lowland perfume of the violet. Thus does
this rock vegetation teach the homely lesson
that oppression may even be made to serve
the purposes of good.

The majority of visitors to the Rosengarten
are happy if they can only wander about at
the foot of these tall standard roses, and sniff
their perfume from below. The whole dis-
trict of the approaches is rich in natural
beauties. Nowhere else in the Tyrol are the
brooks more crystalline, when they flow over
their beds of white stone. The Karersee itself
is a small lake which reflects the Latemar as
clearly as the Diirrensee does Monte Cristallo,
and its blue has the same silvery sheen as the
famous Blue Lake, on the way from Spiez to
Kandersteg in Switzerland. This, too, is a
region of many hamlets and summer hotels.

As we mount across the pastures, to cut the
zigzags of the carriage road, the Cimon della
Pala grows even greater, improving on ac-
quaintance, as really great personages usually
do. When we reach the top of the pass, it
becomes the dominant peak. Under the foot
gentians and Alpine roses bloom with an in-
tensity of colour such as is rarely seen else-
where in the Alps. The little star gentians
make vivid spots of Prussian blue, where they
gather in bunches on the green pasture. Else-
where, beside the more widely heralded beau-
ties of the gentians, the Alpine roses, and the
edelweiss, the flora of the Alps is rich in the
perfumed pink of the simple mountain carna-
tions; white flags, soft as silk, often stand
timidly by marshy springs or damp water
courses, and flutter sweetly in the passing air;
great yellow anemones, bold and brave on
rocky uplands, turn to flimsy bunches of hair
as seed-time draws near; exquisite asters
match their pale lavender petals against the
complementary saffron of their centres. There
is the little button of cinnamon red that smells
like vanilla; and the very grass, aromatic
with thyme and sweet-smelling herbs, has a
sheen and shimmer of its own on the smooth
mountainsides.

Many a spot will be found where noble
beech-trees abound, rearing their smooth gray
trunks amid the tender green of their foliage.
At their bases and in the sockets of their
branches these beeches are adorned with rich
green moss of opulent depth and smoothness
well designed to set off the gentle mouse
colour of the trunks. Elsewhere larches
spread their pale green lace-work to the sky,
and carpet the ground with fragrant needles.
Beneath the trees hypaticas and anemones
dot the ground in spring, and in places fa-
voured by woodland rills and quiet pools
sweet-smelling cyclamen balance themselves
gracefully on their stems and nod to the way-
ward breeze.

Here most of the young people of the Grod-
nerthal and neighbouring districts spend a
week or two by turns during haying time. It
is their summer holiday. They work under
the brilliant sun in long rows; they eat five
times a day, picnic-fashion, in jolly groups
on the fragrant ground; and at night they
sleep on the new-mown hay in the barns, while
outside the vast billows of the alp darken and
dampen with the dew. When all the slopes
and level stretches of the Seiser Alp are bare,
they descend in troops, dressed in their very
best, each mower wearing in his hat a bunch
of mountain pinks and rosemary.

To the east of Bozen rises the mountain
group to which the poetical name of the
Rosengarten has been given. The roses in
this garden are of rock, and only bloom at
sunset! They are literally flowers of stone.
Their thorns are sharp pinnacles of chalk and
magnesia, and their fragrance is the keen,
sweet smell which rises from beds of snow,
and wastes of stone, and stretches of summer
pastures!


Hence, let us rejoice in Innsbruck, while
the dear old peaks of the limestone ridge look
down as severely as they may, or withdraw
within their circling clouds; let the rapid Inn
whirl by in a gray flood of melted snow, while
the winds sweep across the meadow-lands, or
whisper through the rustling patches of corn;
let the sun lighten the mountain flanks and the
groups of young trees in the forests; let the
smell of flowers hover over the sloping pas-
tures, while the smoke of pine-wood fires, ris-
ing from many a high-placed aim, denotes the
meek and humble homes of the sturdy toilers
in the heights.

The tournament grounds have now been
changed into a sweet and silent grove. Parties
of peasants wind their way among the trees,
singing antiphonally. The soft sward under
the pines muffles every footfall. The breeze
sighs peacefully in the branches. The wood-
land smell is sweet, and in this moist shelter,
away from the glare of the country road,
there is great calm and serenity, so that the
voices of a jolly party, coming along the
forest-path, drop to whispers as each person
comes within the quiet circle of the trees.

Beneath the trees hypaticas and anemones
dot the ground in spring, and in places fa-
voured by woodland rills and quiet pools
sweet-smelling cyclamen balance themselves
gracefully on their stems and nod to the way-
ward breeze.


It is a great privilege to know the aim at
any time, even in the hour of the clouds. But
in the heights, clouds and mist do not always
mean rain, for they come and go uncertainly,
flitting and drifting before the wind. There
may be the smell of fog, and the touch of the
hand may grow moist, but the dwellers on the
aim go about their work unheeding and un-
mindful of the change. A sudden break may
come at any time, and even while we look,
behold the peaks stand out once more clean cut
against the blue, the landmarks of the aim
return one by one to view, and the cattle are
seen again "browsing unconcernedly and con-
tentedly just where the clouds found them and
left them.

On moonlight nights, when the Ampezzo
valley, back of Toblach, is flooded with a
shower of gold, and Monte Cristallo gleams
above the black forests, the full fantasy of the
scene becomes apparent. There is much
peace in the soft touch of the air on such
nights, and the woodland smells come fresh
and pure to the nostrils.

The Obstplatz, however, is distinctly of
Bozen and not of Bern, for the fruits and
flowers, brought there for sale, look and smell
of the semi-tropical southern foot of the Alps.
Even almonds, figs, and melons grow in the
open air. There is no longer much costume
in Bozen, but you will generally see what is
left of it on the Obstplatz. There the women
vendors wear short white sleeves, caught
above the elbow by an elastic or ribbon. A
bright kerchief is folded over the shoulders
and bosom, with a corner pointing down the
back. It is especially the women who sell
mushrooms and yellow-red gourds for drink-
ing vessels, who cling to the local costume.
If the men wear green hats with feathers, that
is all that can be expected of them nowadays.

The writer entered the Rosengarten from
the Romance side, one July day, from Perra,
in the Val Fassa. The path lay through a
valley whose very name, Val Vajolett, seemed
to conjure up the smell of flowers. As the
path mounted^ the rich firs slowly degen-
crated into shrubs, and then ceased altogether.
There followed the white rocks of the upper
solitudes, the characteristic Dolomite debris;
then occasional snow-patches lay in the shade;
and finally the peaks of the Rosengarten itself
rose in a ring, forming a vast cauldron.