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The search at the Belgian custom-houses, especially on the French and German frontier, is strict, and frequently vexatious. Travelling carriages are not subject to duty on entering Belgium, when they are accompanied by their owners; when they are new, and not so accompanied, they are subject to an ad valorem duty of 7 per cent.
French money is current throughout Belgium; indeed the currency of Belgium has the same coins and divisions as the French. The smaller Dutch coins are also met with, and travellers should beware of confounding cents with centimes. At Brussels, even in good shops, cents are charged. A cent being r of a guilder is equal to 2 centimes.
The Bank of Belgium issues notes of the value of 1000, 500, 100, 50, and 20 francs. Dutch Willems or 10-guilder pieces are the best gold coin for Belgium (see § 2. HOLLAND).
20. POSTING.—BARRIERS AND ROADS.
Two Belgian or French leagues make a post (equal to nearly 5 miles English, or about 1 Germ. mile). The precise length of the lieue de poste is 3,898 mètres=4,263 yds. English=2 Eng. m. 743 yds. 1,600 mètres=1 Eng. mile. In many places the roads are measured in kilomètres. A kilomètre =1093 yards, or 4 furlongs and 213 yards, or 5 furlongs less 7 yards; in round numbers, of an Eng. mile.
Posting in Belgium is arranged nearly upon the old French footing. The following tariff is extracted from the "Livre de Poste," published at Brussels:
The charge for each horse per post is 1 fr. 50 centimes, or 30 sous.
75 centimes, or 15 sous.
It is usual to give at least 1 franc per post to the postilion; indeed, it is customary with English travellers to allow him 2 francs, or 40 sous, per post. He may, however, be restricted to the sum fixed by the tariff, when he has conducted himself improperly. (Posting in France is now regulated by kilomètres : the charges per kilomètre are, for 2 horses at 4 sous each, 8 sous for a horse, for a third person, 3 sous. Postilion 16 sous).
To make a constant practice of giving the French and Belgian post-boys 40 sous a-piece appears quite unnecessary. Our countrymen who do this can hardly be aware that they are paying at the rate of 4d. a mile (English), in a country where the necessaries of life are far cheaper than in England-while at home the customary rate of payment for a postilion is only 3d. a mile. This extravagant remuneration is, besides, contrary to the express injunction of the French "Livre de Poste," which says, -"Les voyageurs conservent donc la faculté de restreindre le prix des guides à 75 centimes, à titre de punition; et ils seront invités par les maîtres de poste, et dans l'intérêt du service, à ne jamais dépasser la rétribution de 1 fr. 50 centimes par poste."
The posting regulations allot one horse to each person in a carriage; but allow the traveller, at his option, either to take the full complement of horses, at the rate of 30 sous each, or to take 2 or 3 at 30 sous, and to pay for the rest at 20 sous, without taking them. Thus a party of 4 persons in a light britzka may be drawn by 2 horses, paying 2 francs extra for the 2 persons above the number of horses; or 3 persons may travel with 2 horses, paying 80 sous for their horses per post. Where the carriage is so light as not to require as many horses as there are passengers, it is, of course, a saving of ten sous a post for each horse, to dispense with them, and it renders unnecessary the use of shafts.
Tariff for Belgium, Piedmont, Savoy, and part of Switzerland; allowing 30 sous for each Horse, and 40 sous for each Postilion, per post.
The above table supposes that the full quota of horses are attached to the carriage. the following table is drawn up for cases in which some of the horses are dispensed with, and 20 sous paid instead.
In fixing the number of horses to be attached, the postmaster takes into account the nature, size, and weight of the carriage, and the quantity of luggage; a landau or berlin always requires 3 horses at least, generally 4; a chariot will require 3, while a britzka holding the same number of persons will need only 2. Royal Posts. Half a post extra is charged upon post-horses arriving at or quitting Brussels, and of a post extra on quitting Ghent, Liége, Mons, and Namur. 1 franc is charged for greasing the wheels. No duty is paid on travelling carriages in Belgium when they are accompanied by their owners.
21. TRAVELLING BY DILIGENCES, OR HIRED CARRIAGES. — -BARRIÈRES. Diligences are conducted nearly on the same footing as in Holland (§ 4.); they belong to private individuals or companies. They are frequently illmanaged and uncomfortable.
Hired Carriages. Persons not travelling in their own carriages, and unwilling to resort to the diligence, may have a voiture with two horses at the rate of about 25 francs a-day, and 5 francs to the driver; but they must, at the same time, pay 25 francs per diem back fare, making 50 francs per diem for carriage and horses.
Barrières.-There is usually a toll-gate every league in Belgium. The tolls are fixed at 10 centimes for a 4-wheeled carriage, and 20 centimes for each horse, including the return. The barrier is marked by a lamp-post at the road-side. It is customary to pay the tolls to the post-boy instead of stopping at each, by which much time is saved.
Roads. Most of the Belgian roads are paved, which renders travelling over them very fatiguing, especially for ladies. The effect produced by them on carriage wheels is most destructive: a single day's journey over these chaussées will sometimes cause them to split and start, unless they are made very stout. The postilion should be desired to drive on the unpaved ground at the side as much as possible (allez sur le chemin de terre). After rain, however, when the side of the road is a mass of mud, and in frosty weather, when the deep ruts are as hard as stone, it would be difficult for him to comply. Private carriages are now taken on the railroad.
Belgium, from the level surface of the country, is peculiarly well suited for railroads, which can be constructed at much less cost here than in England, N. Germ.
and have in consequence extended their ramifications through all parts of the kingdom, Mechlin is the point at which the two main lines intersect, traversing Belgium from east to west,. the other from north to south. Most of them have been constructed at the expense of the government of Belgium, but with much economy.
The rate of travelling is only 12 or 15 m. an hour: but the fares, even in the first-class carriages, are less than in England; not exceeding 1d. a mile; indeed, travelling in Belgium has been rendered exceedingly cheap by the railways, for those who have no carriages and very little baggage. Baggage is all weighed, and charged for separately at a high rate, except such small packages as may go under the passenger's seat. If the traveller wants to stop at several towns in succession, it saves much time and expense of porterage to send on the baggage to the farthest point, to await his arrival. The delay caused by weighing the baggage at every station, which is considerable, owing to there being only one weighing machine, is also avoided. A receipt is given for the baggage, referring to a number affixed to each article, on producing which at the point of destination, the whole is safely delivered to the owner. Baggage sent on to Cologne will not be detained at the frontier of Prussia, but will await the arrival of the owner at Cologne before being searched.
The charges for conveying carriages are also high, especially for short distances. For a four-wheeled carriage from Ostend to Liége, 129 francs; from Antwerp to Liége, 71 francs. It would save expense to send on a carriage under charge of a servant at once from Ostend to Liége, and vice versa.
There are 3 Classes of Railway Carriages: 1. Diligences, or 1st class, roomy, and provided with stuffed cushions and glass windows. 2. Chars-à-banc. The new carriages of the 2d class are great improvements upon the old ones: they afford ample accommodation, and contain 30 people, have cushioned benches and glass windows. The old chars-à-banc were detestable. 3. Waggons have wooden benches, and are open above and at the sides in summer, and covered in winter.
The management of the railroads is better conducted now than at first, but still complaints are made of inattention and want of civility on the part of the Travellers will act wisely in looking carefully to see that the change they receive in paying for their tickets is correct.
Fares fixed by the Minister of Public Works in the undermentioned Places, for the Removal of Private Carriages from the Railway Stations to the Interior of the
The above fares comprise every expense that travellers have to pay, and postmasters or postilions have no right to exact more under any pretence whatsoever. A party travelling with their own carriage will find the expenses, including conveyances to and from the stations, very little below that of posting.
As the stations are placed in the suburbs of the different towns, a good deal of time must usually be allowed for going to and from the station. The Omnibuses which traverse the streets of the towns, to collect passengers, set out so long before the time of the starting of the train, tarry so long in the streets, and arrive often so much before the time of starting, that they increase rather than remove the evil. At the same time it must be said, that it is necessary to reach the station about a quarter of an hour before the train starts, at least at the stations where there are many passengers, owing to the delay arising from weighing the luggage. The fare is a franc, or 1 fr. with luggage.
Most of the Station Houses at the smaller stations are small and inconvenient, and without any accommodations. At Brussels, Ghent, and Bruges, however, large and handsome stations have been built. At the smaller stations there is frequently no separation in the waiting-rooms between the passengers of different classes; and the traveller, locked in until the moment when his train arrives, must often endure the society of Belgian boors, redolent of garlic and tobacco. The moment of departure and arrival is marked by hurry, crushing, and confusion. Sometimes, too, a first-class passenger who has paid for his ticket is thrust into a second-class carriage, because there is no room for him elsewhere. Whenever the train arrives at a branch rail, a portion of the passengers are transferred to other carriages. Travellers, therefore, should be attentive to the notice given by the conducteur at Bruges, Ghent, Malines, and Mouscron. At Mechlin, where four lines converge, the confusion and delay from the crossing of trains, the changing of carriages, and shifting of baggage, is very great. Travellers must take care first that they are not run over, and next that they are not carried off by the wrong train in a direction opposite to that in which they intended to go.
22 A. VIGILANTES.
In all the Belgian towns, and at the Railway stations, a species of Cab, called Vigilantes, may be hired, which for 1 franc, or, before 7 o'clock in the morning, for 1 fr., will convey the traveller and his baggage to any part of the town, and release him from the pestilent myrmidons and commissionaires of the inns. The tariff of charges is usually hung up in every carriage.
23. BELGIAN INNS.
The average charges are, for a bed, 1 to 2 francs. Dinner, table-d'hôte, 2 to Dinner-à-part, 5 francs. Supper, table-d'hôte, 1 franc 50 cent. to 2 A bottle of Bordeaux (ordinaire) wine, 3 francs. Breakfast, with eggs
and meat, franc 50 cent.; tea or coffee, and bread and butter, 1 franc to 1 francs; servants, 75 centimes to 1 franc each. In the principal inns of the large cities, the charges are higher at Brussels they are very dear. Prices have risen in Belgium within the last few years.
24. GENERAL VIEW OF BELGIUM.
In many respects the preliminary description of Holland (§ 8.) will apply to Belgium; the long connection between the two people having produced similarity in the habits of both, though, it must be confessed, there are great distinctinctions in character. The northern and eastern provinces of Belgium, in their flatness, their fertility, and the number of their canals (§ 10.) and dykes (§ 9.) can be geographically regarded only as a continuation of Holland.
This portion of Belgium teems with population, so that, in traversing it, it has the appearance of one vast continuous village. The southern provinces, on