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.

Female charms

While we are making our toilets in the morning eager faces are peering inquisitively through the bedroom windows; a murmur of voices, criticizing us and our strange vehicles, greets our waking moments, and our privacy is often invaded, in spite of Igali's inconsiderate treatment of them whenever they happen to cross his path.

Many of the inhabitants of this part of Slavonia are Croatians - people who are noted for their fondness of finery; and, as on this sunny Sunday morning we wheel through their villages, the crowds of peasantry who gather about us in all the bravery of their best clothes present, indeed, an appearance gay and picturesque beyond anything hitherto encountered. The garments of the men are covered with braid-work and silk embroidery wherever such ornamentation is thought to be an embellishment, and, to the Croatian mind, that means pretty much everywhere; and the girls and women are arrayed in the gayest of colors; those displaying the brightest hues and the greatest contrasts seem to go tripping along conscious of being irresistible. Many of the Croatian peasants are fine, strapping fellows, and very handsome women are observed in the villages - women with great, dreamy eyes, and faces with an expression of languor that bespeaks their owners to be gentleness personified. Igali shows evidence of more susceptibility to female charms than I should naturally have given him credit for, and shows a decided inclination to linger in these beauty-blessed villages longer than is necessary, and as one dark-eyed damsel after another gathers around us, I usually take the initiative in mounting and clearing out.

Were a man to go suddenly flapping his way through the streets of London on the long-anticipated flying-machine, the average Cockney would scarce betray the unfeigned astonishment that is depicted on the countenances of these Croatian villagers as we ride into their midst and dismount.

Posted in stevens blog by Stuart on Sunday 14th Jun 1885 (14:00 +0200) | Add a comment | Permalink

Tiny strudel logo strudel.org.uk