RAILCAR GOLD Chapter 20 . . Europe . . Part 4
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 4 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 4
George and Emma Billmeyer toured London the next two days and then were off on the London, Chatham and Dover Railway. The final stop on that railway was adjacent to the channel steamer pier in Dover.
George continued to use the tip, relayed by his Princeton classmate, of sending the majority of their baggage ahead between major stops in Europe. The day before their departure from London, the bulk of their baggage was sent ahead to the Hotel Mirabeau in Paris. Only their personal baggage accompanied them on the train.
The secret to doing the baggage forwarding was selecting hotels that offered that service. It was their employees that took care of placing the baggage on the correct trains and collecting the baggage at the destinations. This could be done on the date of travel, however to assure their belongings were there immediately upon arrival, the forwarded baggage had to be sent off the day prior to their own departure.
The channel steamer made good time in crossing the 23-miles separating Dover and Calais. George and Emma arrived in France; well in advance of their scheduled train into Paris. They grabbed lunch; where Emma was quite proud of herself, using the French phrases she had learned. As they walked through Calais, George commented, “Most of these houses are built of brick; much like York.”
On the train to Paris, a French couple sat facing George and Emma. The gentleman attempted to carry out a conversation, in English, with George; while the lady and Emma attempted to converse in French. It was later decided that the gentlemen knew English far better than Emma knew French; however Emma was able to pick up a few new phrases.
George hailed a carriage upon departing the train. They were thankful they could immediately start to enjoy Paris; not having to wait around the crowded station to identify all of their baggage. The carriage ride from the train station to the Hotel Mirabeau was wonderful. Upon entering their room, all the baggage sat there, neatly arranged for them.
George and Emma spent their first day in Paris relaxing and people watching along the river Seine.
A tour of The Louvre and shopping filled their second day in Paris. The following day, George surprised Emma with box seat tickets to a show at the Grand Opera House. Like in London, Emma found a dressmaker that did custom work and got measured for a dress they would pick up upon their return trip through Paris.
George looked forward to traveling on the Express d’Orient train between Paris and Vienna. He had heard so much about this train since it commenced operation last year.
Georges Nagelmackers was the European equivalent of America’s George Pullman. In fact it was during a trip to the United States, when Georges was exposed to the Pullman luxurious sleeper cars. Nagelmackers envisioned a similar concept on the other side of the Atlantic.
Nagelmackers founded the company La Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits, to manufacture and operate luxury sleeping and dining cars. The company utilized European railways to provide the locomotives, stations and track, while Nagelmackers provided his specialty cars and a staff to pamper his passengers. The railways were happy with this arrangement, since all of Nagelmackers passengers had to pay for a first class ticket that went directly to the railway, plus pay a substantial supplement that went directly to La Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits.
George and Emma Billmeyer marveled at their accommodations on the Express d’Orient. Right on schedule, to the second, the train starts rolling at 7:30 p.m. The city of Paris now a memory, as they head eastward into the darkness of the countryside.
Go to Part 5