This journal recounts the author's travels in Europe between December 1863 and September 1865. His first entry, in December 1863, documents his recent transatlantic voyage from New York to Liverpool, including rough weather while on the Atlantic Ocean. He composed entries sporadically through September 1865, recording his impressions of cities and people he encountered while traveling. After spending a few days sightseeing in London, he left for Paris, where he remained until March 1864. While in Paris, he attempted to learn French, saw numerous famous buildings and other sights, attended balls, and befriended local students.
He stayed in Italy from March to April, during which time he climbed Mount Vesuvius, visited Pompeii, and became acquainted with a pastor, with whom he traveled to Elba for a visit of about a month. He remained in the country after leaving Elba and provided descriptions of prominent Italian cities he encountered on his way to Geneva, Switzerland, such as Leghorn and Florence. After his stay in Geneva, he left his journal and most of his possessions behind as he traveled throughout Switzerland and northern Italy with only a knapsack, an experience he wrote about after his arrival in Heidelberg, Germany, which he reached before August 14. Once in Heidelberg, he recorded his thoughts about the local culture, the influence of university students, and visits to a local castle. Though his entries became more sporadic after August 1864, the journal reflects his subsequent travels to Bavaria and throughout Germany, northern Italy, and Austria, with detailed descriptions of scenery and of his experiences. While in Germany, he occasionally commented on Gothic architecture, and one late entry relates his experiences on a recent deer hunting trip. The final entry was composed around mid-September 1865.