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.

Reaching Budapest

Stone-yards thronged with busy workmen, chipping stone for shipment to cities along the Danube, are a feature of these river-side villages. The farther one travels the more frequently gypsies are encountered on the road. In almost every band is a maiden, who, by reason of real or imaginary beauty, occupies the position of pet of the camp, wears a profusion of beads and trinkets, decorates herself with wild flowers, and is permitted to do no manner of drudgery. Some of these gypsy maidens are really quite beautiful in spite of their very dark complexions. Their eyes glisten with inborn avarice as I sweep past on my "silver" bicycle, and in their astonishment at my strange appearance and my evidently enormous wealth they almost forget their plaintive wail of "kreuzer! kreuzer!" a cry which readily bespeaks their origin, and is easily recognized as an echo from the land where the cry of "backsheesh" is seldom out of the traveller's hearing.

The roads east of Nezmely are variable, flint-strewn ways predominating; otherwise the way would be very agreeable, since the gradients are gentle, and the dust not over two inches deep, as against three in most of Austro-Hungary thus far traversed. The weather is broiling hot; but I worry along perseveringly, through rough and smooth, toward the land of the rising sun. Nearing Budapest the roads become somewhat smoother, but at the same time hillier, the country changing to vine-clad slopes; and all along the undulating ways I meet wagons laden with huge wine-casks.

Reaching Budapest in the afternoon, I seek out Mr. Kosztovitz, of the Budapest Bicycle Club, and consul of the Cyclists' Touring Club, who proves a most agreeable gentleman, and who, besides being an enthusiastic cycler, talks English perfectly. There is more of the sporting spirit in Budapest, perhaps, than in any other city of its size on the Continent, and no sooner is my arrival known than I am taken in hand and practically compelled to remain over at least one day.

Posted in stevens blog by Stuart on Saturday 06th Jun 1885 (17:00 +0100) | Add a comment | Permalink

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