OUR FIRST FOREIGN TOUR
Early in November, 1865, we started on our first trip abroad. It was very different from the easy way of travel we now have. Few tourists agencies were then in existence and we had the task of selecting our own route and contracting for transportation from place to place. Your aunt, Leonora, went as the guest of your mother and myself and of your uncle, William H. Matthews, who bore half of her expenses. When I bought exchange, or rather a letter of credit on Brown Bros., gold was at a premium of 35 percent and I had to pay $1.35 in currency for every gold dollar we spent abroad.
Our tour was a very interesting one.
We went first to New Orleans by boat; thence to Havana, thence to Cadiz,
Spain, on the steamship “Espana,” arriving there January 1,
1866. The terrible incident of the voyage was a storm on Christmas Day,
1865, in which four hundred vessels were lost. Our route was through southern
Spain (Andalusia) by way of Seville and Granada to Marseilles, thence
to Alexandria, Cairo, Memphis, the Pyramids; thence to Suez, going to
Tor on the Red Sea, at which place we took camels to Mt. Sinai. From Mt.
Sini we went to Gaza, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Jericho, the Dead Sea, the
Jordan, Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Damascus, Lebanon to the Cedars, Beirut,
Smyrna, Syria, Athens, Constantinople, up the Danube, (changing boats
three times) to Vienna, where six months after sailing we received our
first letters from home. We toured Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium,
Holland, France, England, Scotland and Ireland, finally coming home by
way of New York.
One of the most interesting incidents of our stay in Spain was a visit to the Giralda Tower in Seville. This tower is square for 250 feet; as built by the Moors. After the country was captured by the Christians, they added 100 feet of round tower on top. At the top of the square part is a belfry of 25 bells, each one named after some Saint. The largest one was named “Santa Maria” requiring eleven men and boys to move its immense clapper. We happened to reach the belfry, as a chime was being played. The director of the chimes was a blind man, who stood next to a column, and called out the bells by name, as they were to be rung. Most of them were hung between columns so that they would revolve. Many of the ringers let the ropes wind around the axles of the bells and swung their bodies entirely outside of the tower, at the imminent risk of falling 250 feet to a pavement below. We were hardly able to distinguish any tone or tune, so close to the bells we were, but when heard at a distance, the music was delightful.