From an early age, I have been travelling a lot. Many reasons have led me all across Europe to the extent that I have had ample opportunity to get to know our old continent. I also have wandered in the lands of the Pharaoh, Syria and Palestine. The differences, the directness of the received impressions of countries and people, of states and things, have offered me instruction, satisfaction and joy. No wonder that, from early on, a wanderlust developed in me which grew stronger with the years and finally culminated in the desire to accomplish a voyage around the world. This wish has been fulfilled.
Thanks to the most graceful providence of His Majesty, I was granted the benefit to travel a good part of my voyage on board the torpedo ram cruiser “Kaiserin Elisabeth”, one of the jewels of our glorious fleet. According to the highest intentions, “Kaiserin Elisabeth” was tasked with a cruise across the East-Asian seas. This voyage was intended to offer the opportunity of further practical education to parts of the navy as well as doing maritime and scientific research. Furthermore, the deployment of such an imposing warship to distant seas served as a powerful display of the monarchy’s eminence and assisted to promote its trading interests effectively. The reasons for the deployment of the ship were sufficiently compatible to combine part of my travel route with that of “Kaiserin Elisabeth”.
With a thankful heart for the providence that has guided me and for those who have assisted my endeavour from the start I say that all has combined itself to let me reach my goal that I have set for myself. Not curiosity that drives globetrotters across the world, not only the predilection for hunting, although by itself it can claim to expose the traveller directly to primordial nature, not the desire to see strange displays of pageantry across the oceans, to admire exotic glamour have destined me to spend nearly a year far from home. What pushed me was the pursuit of the following: to achieve insight from personal observation of other parts of the world into foreign institutions and communities, to come into contact with foreign peoples and humans, to learn from foreign cultures and customs, to enjoy the sights of wonderful works of art and foreign nature and its inexhaustible allure. In the open sea – on firm ground: in princely palaces – in meagre huts; in metropolises – in solitary wilderness; in lush lowlands – in clear mountain heights have I found what I have been looking for. Rich in experiences, in rare prizes, in collections have I returned home.
To collect all the thousands of impressions that assailed me and to remember in old age what I cherished as a young man, I have written daily notes during the entire voyage. In this, I was also thinking about those staying home. Those who could not experience directly the incomparable allures, would – if only in a weak form – be enabled to participate indirectly in this journey across the world by my offering of my own recollections. Thus, I offer my beloved ones and my friends my diary. It contains sights, experiences, thoughts, lessons and hopes to find a level of interest among those for whom it is intended to the extent that it induces affection and friendship.
Franz-Ferdinand von Österreich-Este