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.

Danubian roustabouts

Notwithstanding music until 11.30 P.M., yesterday, we are on the road before six o'clock this morning - for genuine, unadulterated Hungarian music does not prevent one getting up bright and fresh next day - and about noon we roll into Dunaszekcső, Igali's native town, where we have decided to halt for the remainder of the day to get our clothing washed, one of my shoes repaired, and otherwise prepare for our journey to the Servian capital. Duna Szekeso is a calling-place for the Danube steamers, and this afternoon I have the opportunity of taking observations of a gang of Danubian roustabouts at their noontide meal. They are a swarthy, wild-looking crowd, wearing long hair parted in the middle, or not parted at all; to their national costume are added the jaunty trappings affected by river men in all countries. Their food is coarse black bread and meat, and they take turns in drinking wine from a wooden tube protruding from a two-gallon watch-shaped cask, the body of which is composed of a section of hollow log instead of staves, lifting the cask up and drinking from the tube, as they would from the bung-hole of a beer-keg. Their black bread would hardly suit the palate of the Western world; but there are doubtless a few individuals on both sides of the Atlantic who would willingly be transformed into a Danubian roustabout long enough to make the acquaintance of yonder rude cask.

After bathing in the river we call on several of Igali's friends, among them the Greek priest and his motherly-looking wife, Igali being of the Greek religion. There appears to be the greatest familiarity between the priests of these Greek churches and their people, and during our brief visit the priest, languid-eyed, fat, and jolly, his equally fat and jolly wife, and Igali, caress playfully, and cut up as many antics as three kittens in a bay window. The farther one travels southward the more amiable and affectionate in disposition the people seem to become.

Posted in stevens blog by Stuart on Wednesday 10th Jun 1885 (19:00 +0200) | Add a comment | Permalink

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