RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 20 . . Europe . . Part 1
RAILCAR GOLD is a historically accurate multi-generational fictional tale of hidden treasure, primarily set in York County, Pennsylvania during the latter half of the Nineteenth Century. This is Part 1 of Chapter 20 . . . Europe. A new part will be posted every Thursday. Recent chapters stand alone, starting here; however new readers may want to start at the beginning.
CHAPTER 20 . . . EUROPE . . . Part 1
Emma Billmeyer insisted on throwing an engagement dinner for Becky and Dan, even thought she was leaving, with George, for Europe in only two days. Dan and Becky were honored when George and Emma insisted that they get married in the Parlor of the Billmeyer House.
Everybody wanted to hear the details about the trip to Europe. George Billmeyer originally envisioned a three-week business trip; to understand if there were any unique ways European railways were handling freight transfers between narrow gauge and standard gauge railroads. He wanted to discover if there were any new railcar related product offerings that Billmeyer & Small should get into; especially with the anticipated downturn in demand for narrow gauge railcars.
One of George’s Princeton classmates had recently been to Europe and wished he had done more leisurely sightseeing; mixed in with the fast-paced, hustle-and-bustle of his business trip. Emma and George benefited from that insight and planned a five-week business and leisure trip to Europe.
George proudly pronounced, “Emma has the whole itinerary memorized. Go ahead, quiz her on it.” Becky quickly jumped in, “Name all the cities you’ll be visiting; however I want them named in the order you will be visiting them.”
Emma rattled off, “We’ll travel by train from York to New York City and cross the Atlantic via steamship to Liverpool. We’ll travel by train to London, where I’ll be busy spending money in the stores while George goes off to do some business for a few days. We next take a train to Dover, with a steamboat crossing of the English Channel, to arrive at Calais and travel by train to spend a few days in Paris. We’ll pass through Strasbourg and Munich on an express to Vienna. I understand the Express d’Orient train is quite the experience. Several days in Vienna will be followed by train travel to witness several Narrow Gauge transfer station operations in Switzerland, where we’ll be staying in Zurich and then Geneva. Returning to the English Channel by train through Dijon and Paris. Finally we’ll retrace our route back through London, Liverpool and New York City; arriving back in York by late November.”
Mary Billmeyer asked her brother George, “I know I’d be apprehensive about traveling so far from home, for such a long time; aren’t you?” George Billmeyer held up his copy of Palmer’s European Pocket Guide with Telegraph Code for Travelers, announcing, “With this 276 page guide, I’m prepared for anything.”
Dan asked, “What kind of money will you be using?” George turned to page 9 and read:
Carry in actual money (English gold by far the most convenient, except for going to France—then French gold,) only so much as will pay expenses on ship-board and last during the few days that may happen to elapse before reaching the point at which the first draft is made payable. All beyond this should be taken either in bills-of-exchange on bankers in one or more of the great cities to be visited.
Charlie Billmeyer asked, “Was anything in the book a surprise?” George admitted, “I was warned from my friend, who loaned me the copies of this book, to carefully read the section on Fees. Quoting from the first two paragraphs on page 21:”
The system of gratuities that prevail in Great Britain and on the Continent is the greatest of all annoyances of European travel, not so much for the money it consumes as for the perplexities it makes, and the perpetual irritation of being asked at every step to give an indefinite sum for real or fancied services.
When you have engaged cabmen, guides or other individuals whose rate of service is regulated by a tariff, you will be about right if you add ten per cent for a gratuity. The usual fee in a restaurant on the Continent is a sou on each franc of the bill; thus if you have ten francs to pay, you give half a franc or ten sous to the waiter.
William Billmeyer became curious about the whole title of the travel guide. Bill inquired, “I’d like to know more about this Telegraph Code for Travelers.” George Billmeyer knew more about the Telegraph Code for Travelers then he’d care to admit.
Go to Part 2