I had but few fellow-passengers. The weather was indeed fine and mild; but the season was not far enough advanced to lure travellers into the wide world, excepting men of business, and those who had cosmopolitan ideas, like myself. Most of those on board were going only to Presburg, or at farthest to Pesth. The captain having mentioned that a woman was on board who intended travelling to Constantinople, I was immediately surrounded by curious gazers. A gentleman who was bound to the same port stepped forward, and offered his services in case I should ever stand in need of them; he afterwards frequently took me under his protection.
The fine mild weather changed to cold and wind as we got fairly out into the great Danube. I wrapped myself in my cloak, and remained on deck, in order to see the scenery between Vienna and Presburg, which, no doubt, appears lovely enough when nature is clad in the garment of spring; but now I only saw leafless trees and fallow ground—a dreary picture of winter.
Hainburg with its old castle on a rock, Theben with its remarkable fortress, and farther on the large free city of Presburg, have all a striking appearance.
In three hours’ time we reached Presburg, and landed in the neighbourhood of the Coronation-hill, an artificial mound, on which the king must stand in his royal robes, and brandish his sword towards the four quarters of the heavens, as a token that he is ready to defend his kingdom against all enemies, from whatever direction they may approach. Not far from this hill is situate the handsome inn called the “Two Green Trees,” where the charges are as high, if not higher, than in Vienna. Until we have passed Pesth, passengers going down the river are not allowed to remain on board through the night.
This morning we continued our journey at six o’clock. Immediately below Presburg the Danube divides into two arms, forming the fertile island of Schutt, which is about forty-six miles long and twenty-eight in breadth. Till we reach Gran the scenery is monotonous enough, but here it improves. Beautiful hills and several mountains surround the place, imparting a charm of variety to the landscape.
In the evening, at about seven o’clock, we arrived at Pesth. Unfortunately it was already quite dark. The magnificent houses, or rather palaces, skirting the left bank of the Danube, and the celebrated ancient fortress and town of Ofen on the right, form a splendid spectacle, and invite the traveller to a longer sojourn. As I had passed some days at Pesth several years before, I now only stayed there for one night.
As the traveller must change steamers here, it behoves him to keep a careful eye upon the luggage he has not delivered up at the office in Vienna.
I put up at the “Hunting-horn,” a fine hotel, but ridiculously expensive. A little back room cost me 45 kreutzers (about one shilling and eightpence) for one night.