Around Bulgaria on a Bicycle

Pelotome –
around Bulgaria on a bicycle.

~ Around The World on a Bicycle, Thomas Stevens (1887).

My Life and Times

by Jerome K. Jerome

From £4,75

June 1885 – Published 1887.

Around the World on a Bicycle.

“From San Francisco to Teheran” was the first illustrated volume of 29 year old English immigrant Tom Steven’s pioneering ride around the globe. The book covers the first half of the novice rider’s journey on his fifty-inch Pope “Columbia” high-wheeler, with a handlebar bag containing socks, a spare shirt, a raincoat that doubled as a tent and bedroll, and a pocket revolver.

Leaving California, on 22nd April, 1884, he became the first cyclist to cross the United States in the process, sailing from New York to Liverpool, and continuing his journey in May 1885 through Europe, he arrived into Bulgaria at Caribrod (today Dimitrovgrad, Serbia), passing through “a country of goats and goat-herd” to Sofia, arriving in the Bulgarian capital on the 23rd June 1885,

“The road southward from Sofia is abominable,” proclaimed Stevens; “It is the worst piece of road I have encountered in all Europe,” while “mud is the principal element of the road leading out of Ichtiman and over the Kodja Balkans” to Pazardzhik, and Philippopolis (Plovdiv) – “most beautifully situated”, – before riding through Haskovo and Harmanli – “the last town in Roumelia” – crossing into what was then Turkey at Mustapha Pasha (now Svilengrad in Bulgaria) and today’s border at Erdine, where he continued onward towards Iran.

  • By Thomas Stevens.
  • Published by Sampson, Lowe, Marston, Searle and Rivington, London.


“When my English passport is produced he examines it, and straightway assures me of the Bulgarian official respect for an Englishman by grasping me warmly by the hand.

The passport office is in the second story of a mud hovel, and is reached by a dilapidated flight of out-door stairs. My bicycle is left leaning against the building, and during my brief interview with the officer a noisy crowd of semi-civilized Bulgarians have collected about, examining it and commenting unreservedly concerning it and myself.

The officer, ashamed of the rudeness of his countrymen and their evidently untutored minds, leans out of the window, and in a chiding voice explains to the crowd that I am a private individual, and not a travelling mountebank going about the country giving exhibitions, and advises them to uphold the dignity of the Bulgarian character by scattering forthwith.

But the crowd doesn’t scatter to any appreciable extent ; they don’t care whether I am public or private ; they have never seen anything like me and the bicycle before, and the one opportunity of a lifetime is not be lightly passed over.

They are a wild, untamed lot, these Bulgarians here at Zaribrod, little given to self-restraint.”

~ Around The World on a Bicycle, Thomas Stevens (1887).

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