The greatest dream of my life, to see, with my very own eyes, the beauties and wonders of the tropical world, the hard nostalgia for those woods full of game from the Indian Archipelago, determined me to go on a hunting trip to Sumatra, together with my friend K.The schedule and the preparations for the trip were ready in no time, and we settled the 16-th of November 1895 to be the day of departure. At 3 p.m. we arrived in Bucharest; at 4 p.m. we were invited by Mr. De Sch. at a farewell lunch, where we had bananas for desert, so as to have an idea about the delicate fruit of the tropics. Four hours later we went to the railway station, where we found more friends, together with their wives. We bid them farewell and Mr. W. handed me a carafe of Marasquino, which we had carried along during our trip to North Africa, two years before, and which was still untouched, to our surprise. After that we got on the train and, accompanied by the hubbub of a breaking pipe, we left the station. At Fetesti we took a snack, a few minutes later we gently passed the great Danube bridge and at 9.40 p.m. we arrived in Constanta, where our friend W. was already looking for us, at the railway station. First we went to the hotel, and afterwards at our friend's place, where we drank a few bottles as farewell. Sunday, the 17-th, we made a few walks, we bought our tickets, we made our luggage, and at mid-day we got on the ship "Meteor;" at 2 p.m., on a sunny weather, we set off. We had a great supper at 7 and at 8 we reached the entrance to the Bosphorus. The trip from Constanta on the Black Sea has nothing special. On the right you can see the coast with its Emmie Burim Cape, then the cities: Burgas, Sizebolu, Achtebolu and Midia, while getting closer to the northern bay of Bosphorus. On your right rise the Eski Fanaraki Cape and the fort Kilia, meant to defend the fortress from an enemy landing coming from the Black Sea. Then the ship enters the Bosphorus, between the shores protected by big cannons and by castles from Rumili Feber on the European Coast, and those from Anadoli Fener on the Asian Coast.In the middle of the waves, before the European lighthouse, there stretch the Kyanaic rocks. The strait is 550-1950 meters large, 27 kilometers long, and 55 meters deep. Through almost the entire year there is a strong stream from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, and, due to the narrowness of the northern entrance, to the sudden changes of the wind, and to the numerous fogs, sailing is quite dangerous in winter. The shores are, in fact, beautiful but unapproachable mountains, over 200 meters high. The whole strait is a chain of capes that advance into the sea and thus give birth to a series of wonderful bays, beyond which there are dark valleys with various cypresses and true plane trees. The shores are rich in beautiful landscapes and in palaces, castles, ruins, alcoves, villages, villas and gardens.Only at 10 kilometers from the Golden Horn, and after the ship has passed through the tightest spot, between Rumeli Hissar and Anadoli Hissar, towns famous for their historical castles, can you catch a glimpse of "The Queen of the Cities," looking like wrapped in a vale of steam; you can see it better, however, when the ship enters the sweet Asian waters, where there rises a gracious marble palace, and when it passes by the place called Bebeck, hidden in a bay and surrounded by vegetation, behind Kandelli Cape, carpeted with woods, when the ship reaches the most southern part of the Bosphorus, which widens towards the Marmara in the shape of a funnel. Here we can see a long line of villages: Arnautkoi and Kurutochesme at Vainkou, descending from Mount Ternier, on the same side Tschenglekioi, in front of this Ortakoi, famous for its glamorous musk, across which rises the marble palace Beglerbeg, at the foot of Mount Bulgurlu. On the shore, on the right, the vast imperial palaces from Tschiragan, above them the white, shining walls of Ildiz Kiosk, and the admirable marble palace Dolmabagtsche. On the left shore there lies Scutari, behind it a wood of cypress trees, and above it the pyramid-like mountain Aidos. On the same line with Selim's yellow barracks, which rules over the Haidar Pascha bay, the city Kadikoi, bathed by the Sea of Marmara, behind the lighthouse Feneraki, the islands of the Princes, the elevated southern coast of Ismid bay, and the row of hills of the Bithynian Olympus, covered with snow even in summertime, at the foot of which lies Bursa. The ship stops next to the Tophane suburb in front of Cape Serai, strewn with grandiose buildings and Agia Sophia, and we are at the entrance to the Golden Horn, framed by houses, spread as in an amphitheatre, of Istanbul, Pera and Galata.Even before landing on the roadstead of Tophane next to the Galata customhouse, the ship is surrounded by a load of boats and kayaks lead by captains who shout calling the passengers even from the sea. After the quarantine formalities, which do not include the passengers, are through, and after giving the ship a license for free traffic, all the people from the boats, including: pilots, porters, and hotels salesmen, are thrown, with great noise, aboard the ship, all willing to put a hold on the passengers and their luggage. In this big cluster and turmoil, you have to keep a sharp eye on your suitcases. We waited for the delegation of the German Embassy, which came after a short while, and which led us to the hotel, with our guns and luggage, without going through any formalities at the Turkish custom house.After lunch, I went to Istanbul, where I looked for my friends K and R, whom I found working. The joy of seeing each other again was ecstatic. We hadn't met for a long time. We talked a little, then we visited the big factory in minute detail, then I suggested a walk along the streets of Istanbul. We visited the Bazaar, the very small part that is left of it, unfortunately, because most of it was destroyed two years ago, in the great earthquake; only 1/3 still stands today, out of which half is a ruin. From there we headed for the Seriskierat, along the beautiful Fire Tower, towards the High Gate, where there had recently taken place the Armenians' massacre. The High Gate is formed by a long building surrounded by an Italian-style hall-room, with a façade with columns in the middle, and houses the grand vizier's executives, those of the internal and foreign affairs. Then we visited the seraglio, in the eastern part of Istanbul, where the ancient Byzantium and the acropolis used to lie. In the same epoch Arcadius' castles, Empress Placidia's palace, Hodegetris, St. Mary's Church, the Mangana palace and monastery, as well as the palace of the grand imperial authorities were located here. *On the 28-th of January, in the morning, we went to the railway station and, from there, to the royal headquarters of Kandy. On the 72-kilometers long way that the train covers in 4 hours and a half, you can see nature's extraordinary beauties, and an enchanting mountain panorama. We also had a restaurant wagon on the train.Here we met Mr. Hagenbeck, who dwelled in Colombo and who owned a zoo. During our trip we saw fields of rice displayed on terraces, descending from the mountains to the valleys. There were also many tea plantations. At half past 11 we arrived at Kandy, we sent our luggage to the Queen Hotel; we got on a carriage and set off for the botanical garden of Peredania. This garden is, for sure, one of the most beautiful in the world. The vegetation is more than luxurious and overabundant. Nowhere else in the world is there such a copious tropical expansion. There are thousands of enchanting orchids. There is also a small museum in the garden, where the products of Ceylon are exposed, out of which the beautiful wooden crafts amaze the viewer. The average temperature here is of 22.7ºC. From there we returned to Kandy, that used to be the royal residence of the Singhalese kings, today the dwelling place of an English governor. There are a lot of Buddhist and Brahman temples in town, Dalache Malagara, the first and the most important one, being surrounded by a deep water-ditch, where, in the past, crocodiles were kept. Today instead of crocodiles we find peaceful tortoises. The stairs and portals of the temple prove the antiqueness of the stone sculpture. The long passages are carpeted with numerous paintings that figure the horrors of hell. The real temple lies in the middle of the yard. At its entrance there are 4 giant elephant teeth. Inside the temple there reigns Buddha, cross-legged, sitting on a lotus flower, armed with jewelry. We are shown a tooth, said to have belonged to Buddha, in fact a piece of ivory, 10 centimeters long, kept in a silver vase, hanged on a hook that rises from a silver lotus flower that stands on the bottom of the relic. The priests wear togas made of yellow silk and all have their hair shaved. On the left side of the temple there is the former royal palace, now the home of the authorities, while on its right there is the former royal room for audiences, now the session room of the supreme court. The hall is open on all its sides and its roof stands on wooden pillars beautifully shaped. In town there is a beautiful large place, surrounded by walls, in the middle of which there is an island on which there is a communal bath for women.Before the lake there is a large lawn, a place for cricket. We walked along the lake and we climbed on the hills, from where you can see a beautiful panorama. Because of a sudden rain we had to postpone any other trip. At the hotel we met the manager. He could speak German and he was familiar with Bucharest, as he had lived there during the war between Russia and Turkey. In the evening, Mr. Hangebeck came from his second zoo in Nuahelia. We had a great time. In the morning, by carriage, we visited the hills around Kandy. There are good roads on all sides and the view from the mountains upon the valley is magnificent. Back in town, during a walk, we met the Arab Pasha, forced to return here by the English. At 10 a.m. there was a great procession in Buddha's honor. The first row was made of standard bearers with trumpets, then came the fantastically dressed dancers, then the big elephants with golden saddles on which there stood four priests, protected from the sun by big yellow curtains. They were followed by 30 sacrifice-bearers, who carried in yellow bags the sacrificial rice. The procession went to Buddha's temple, while the elephants climbed the stairs of the Hindu temple, across the road, and waited there. In exchange for a small amount of money they did all sorts of tricks.At 10:40 we returned to Colombo by train. On the road we saw four galipot flowers in bloom. They blossom when they are 50 years old and then they wither away. The yellow flower, though very delicate, is as big as a tree.On the 30-th of January we paid a visit to Mr. Hangebeck and then we visited his beautiful zoo. Here I saw, among others, a beautiful zebu. From there we went to the museum, which has a rich collection of astonishingly beautiful blind beetles and butterflies. We also visited the famous Raffles library, bought a few things, then tickets from the P. et O. Comp. Agency and, at 3 o'clock we stepped on the board of the English steamer "Perramata," a huge, 175-feet long ship. At 5 p.m. the anchor was lifted, and a crowd of young divers sang "Bumatrara" as farewell. With a great grief we left Ceylon, the real "Heaven on Earth."
by C. A. Eberle