Around the World on a Bicycle

In 1884, the 29 year old Thomas Stevens set out from San Fransisco on the 'modern mechanical invention' of the Penny Farthing to circumnavigate the globe on his 'big wheel'. His book - "Around the World on a Bicycle" - was published in 1888 and his writings are presented here in blog form. Read more in the archive.

A trip to the barber

On top of the gasthaus is a rude observatory, and before starting I take a view of the country. The outlook is magnificent; the Austrian Alps are towering skyward to the southeast, rearing snow-crowned heads out from among a billowy sea of pine-covered hills, and to the northward is the lovely valley of the Danube, the river glistening softly through the morning haze.

On yonder height, overlooking the Danube on the one hand and the town of Mölk on the other, is the largest and most imposing edifice I have yet seen in Austria; it is a convent of the Benedictine monks; and though Mölk is a solid, substantially built town, of perhaps a thousand inhabitants, I should think there is more material in the immense convent building than in the whole town besides, and one naturally wonders whatever use the monks can possibly have for a building of such enormous dimensions.

Entering a barber's shop here for a shave, I find the barber of Mölk following the example of so many of his countrymen by snoozing the mid-day hours happily and unconsciously away. One could easily pocket and walk off with his stock-in-trade, for small is the danger of his awakening. Waking him up, he shuffles mechanically over to his razor and lathering apparatus, this latter being a soup-plate with a semicircular piece chipped out to fit, after a fashion, the contour of the customers' throats. Pressing this jagged edge of queen's-ware against your windpipe, the artist alternately rubs the water and a cake of soap therein contained about your face with his hands, the water meanwhile passing freely between the ill-fitting' soup-plate and your throat, and running down your breast; but don't complain; be reasonable: no reasonable-minded person could expect one soup-plate, however carefully chipped out, to fit the throats of the entire male population of Mölk, besides such travellers as happen along.

Posted in stevens blog by Thomas Stevens on Saturday 30th May 1885 (19:00 +0200) | 2 Comments | Permalink

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