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.

Away in a manger

For some kilometres out of Raab the road presents a far better surface, and I ride quite a lively race with a small Danube passenger steamer that is starting down-stream. The steamboat toots and forges ahead, and in answer to the waving of hats and exclamations of encouragement from the passengers, I likewise forge ahead, and although the boat is going down-stream with the strong current of the Danube, as long as the road continues fairly good I manage to keep in advance; but soon the loose surface reappears, and when I arrive at Gonys, for lunch, I find the steamer already tied up, and the passengers and officers greet my appearance with shouts of recognition. My route along the Danube Valley leads through broad, level wheat-fields that recall memories of the Sacramento Valley, California. Geese appear as the most plentiful objects around the villages: there are geese and goslings everywhere; and this evening, in a small village, I wheel quite over one, to the dismay of the maiden driving them homeward, and the unconcealed delight of several small Hungarians.

At the village of Nezmely I am to-night treated to a foretaste of what is probably in store for me at a goodly number of places ahead by being consigned to a bunch of hay and a couple of sacks in the stable as the best sleeping accommodations the village gasthaus affords. True, I am assigned the place of honor in the manger, which, though uncomfortably narrow and confining, is perhaps better accommodation, after all, than the peregrinating tinker and three other likely-looking characters are enjoying on the bare floor. Some of these companions, upon retiring, pray aloud at unseemly length, and one of them, at least, keeps it up in his sleep at frequent intervals through the night; horses and work-cattle are rattling chains and munching hay, and an uneasy goat, with a bell around his neck, fills the stable with an incessant tinkle till dawn. Black bread and a cheap but very good quality of white wine seem about the only refreshment obtainable at these little villages. One asks in vain for milch-brod, butter, kdsc, or in fact anything acceptable to the English palate; the answer to all questions concerning these things is "nicht, nicht, nicht." - "What have you, then?" I sometimes ask, the answer to which is almost invariably "brod und wein."

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Posted in stevens blog by Stuart on Saturday 06th Jun 1885 (08:00 +0200) | Add a comment | Permalink

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