Galata And The Bosporus

Galata And The Bosporus.

That "distance lends enchantment to the view," is espe-cially true of Constantinople. With us the dis-illusion commenced even on the steamer's deck; for, as is always the case in Oriental ports, we disembarked amid immense confusion. Arabic, Turkish, Greek, and Italian oaths resounded along the steamer's side, as guides and boatmen struggled for positions near its gangway. No sooner were we moored, than scores of polyglot blasphemers swarmed up the narrow passage-way and took the deck by storm. We listened to the vocal cyclone caused by their explosive shouts, and tried to understand at least a word of it, as a man drowning in a whirlpool catches at a straw. But it was "all Greek" tous,or, - if not Greek, - Armenian, Turkish, Arabic, or Hebrew. At last in this linguistic chaos we recognized a language of the Occident. The speaker was the porter of the hotel we had chosen. Under his guidance, therefore, we descended the ship's ladder to a reeling boat, wondering meanwhile if we should reach it without being torn to pieces by these human sharks. Once there, - as mothers watch their children rescued from the flames, - we counted, one by one, our articles of baggage, which somehow from the pandemonium about us came forth as unexpectedly as did Daniel from the lion's den.

Stamboul, Galata And Pera

Stamboul, Galata And Pera.

Constantinople And The Bosporus

Constantinople And The Bosporus.

On reaching the shore, we found some Turkish officers waiting to receive us. These gentlemen, possibly lest they should make a mistake in introducing us later on to the Sultan, were polite enough to express a desire to know our names. Not content with this, they wished to scrutinize the signature of our Secretary of State, to certify that one of us at least was really five feet ten inches in height, with forehead square, eyes blue, nose aquiline, and age - well, never mind the age; in fact, never mind anything, the porter said, if we would only slip a coin into their hands. For did we wish our baggage opened on the pier? Certainly not. Then would we make a little contribution to some Turkish orphanage? By all means. The effect was marvelous. Our charity so affected the officers, that they declined to open even a hand-bag. Accordingly, we exchanged smiles and salutations. They were content, and we (Allah be praised!) were safe in Galata.

Turkish Officers

Turkish Officers.

A Galata Cafe

A Galata Cafe.

Emerging from the Custom House, we speedily found ourselves in a labyrinth of dark and muddy streets, each of which seemed as innocent of a broom as a Chinese coolie is of soap. The shock was violent. The charm of all the beauty we had been admiring was dispelled. The stately mosques and palaces had nearly all disappeared, and even when we did occasionally obtain a glimpse of them, they seemed like pearls on an old and filthy garment. Moreover, we had not walked a dozen yards in Galata, before we were compelled to lift our feet like cats stepping on a hot grating. For many of these streets are paved, first with mud, second with garbage, and third, with sharp-pointed, ankle-wrenching stones, which make walking upon them perfectly excruciating. Constantinople ought to be an Eldorado for chiropodists.

A Tram Car

A Tram-Car.

A Square In Galata

A Square In Galata.

But Constantinople is improving. On a later visit to the Ottoman capital, we found a place of refuge from these pavements in its tramcars. Where we had once limped painfully along, choosing the softest stones that we could find, horse-cars now climb the steep ascent to Pera. In many streets, however, the custom still prevails of having saddle-horses waiting at the corners, like cabs in our own cities. To tell the truth, we rather preferred the older mode of transportation. For since one-half of each car is exclusively reserved for women, the other half is usually crowded - often with a disagreeable rabble. But a good saddle-horse, whose owner carries your wraps, and runs beside you as you climb the hill, gives you at least the luxury of independence and a welcome privacy.