Cycling in Serbia.

Pelotome –
around Serbia on a bicycle.

Wanderings: On Wheel and On Foot in Europe – Hugh Callan (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, was accompanied by Svetozar Igali, “a noted cycle tourist” in Budapest.

Crossing into modern day Serbia near Šarengrad, Slavonia (Croatia), they continued along the Danube through Petrovaradin, where they visited Novi Sad, before trundling their “weary way up the steep gradients of the Fruskagora Mountains for a number of kilometres” to Indjia, Batajnica, Zemun, and Belgrade – “a rare old town, battle-scarred and rugged,” -, where the two parted ways and Stevens rode “away southward into Servia” accompanied by a new partner, “Mr. Douchan Popovitz, the best rider in Belgrade”, to Grocka, and Smederevo, leaving the Danube and striking “due southward up the smaller, but not less beautiful, valley of the Morava River,” to Jagodina, Deligrad, Aleksinac, Niš. and Bela Palanka, from where Stevens would continue alone, through Pirot to the Bulgarian border at Dimitrovgrad, and onward towards Iran.

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

July 1886 – Published October 1887.

Wanderings: On Wheel and On Foot in Europe.

Setting out from Glasgow on the 3rd July, 1886, to catch the steamer to Hamburg, Hugh Callan details his 1,500 mile, high-wheeler, 33 day journey “on wheel down Europe from the German ocean to the Aegean Sea”, entering modern day Serbia (then Austria-Hungary) from Osijek in Croatia and, largely following the route of Thomas Stevens – whom he often referred, – by passing through Sremska Mitrovica, and Ruma, arriving in Belgrade on the 30th July 1886, and continuing through Smederevo, Aleksinac, and “Niš – “best known as the birthplace of Constantine the Great ; and a meet nurse it is for a man of imperial ambition.”

Here, “where Stevens and his Belgradian escort turned eastward to Pirot, as had done the Hermit and his hordes centuries before,” Callan declared “I am the first cyclist on as far as Salonica. May there never be a second, is my prayer for the second’s sake. No traveller seems ever to have gone this route. Still let lovers of the terrible and grand come here, and go no more to Switzerland.” Adding that “no lovelier country have I gone through than that from” Niš to Leskovac and Vranje, he continued onward through North Macedonia (then Turkey) to Athens, Greece.

The second part of the book is dedicated to his earlier July 1885 trip “on wheel up the Rhine Valley, from Amsterdam to Geneva, and back by Antwerp,” while Part Three follows his six week walking tour “‘on the tramp’ in Belgium and France,” in 1881.

  • By Hugh Callan.
  • Published by Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, London.

August 1888 – Published 1895.

From the Clyde to The Jordan.

Narrative of a bicycle journey” was the first illustrated account by a rider of a “modern day bicycle”, and followed Scottish clergyman Hugh Callan – the same author of “Wanderings on Wheel and on Foot Through Europe” – on his ride from Glasgow to Jerusalem, which had previously appeared seven years earlier as a more in depth series of articles in the Glasgow Herald – the Serbian section published on 12th and 27th October and 3rd November, 1888.

Charting the author’s progress on a “Singer” safety bicycle, he enters Serbia from Tovarnik, Croatia, once again emerging “from the great plain on to the Danube and Salve, beneath the towers of and the stair-streets of Belgrade,” on 28th August 1888.

Continuing on through Požarevac, Niš, and Pirot, before crossing into Bulgaria from Caribrod (Dimitrovgrad), in a somewhat prophetic sentence, he says of the red soil road, “may it never be red with other than its own clay!”

  • By Hugh Callan.
  • Published by Blackie & Son, London.


“If, as people say, we are to judge the barbarity of a people by their risibility, the Servians must be very barbarous.

All along the route the peasants come running out of house and field to see me, to stand and ‘stare with wonder’s lingering dread,’ till we have passed, when out comes the loud ‘Ha ! ha ! ha-a-a !’ in all sorts of keys and voices (but chiefly soprano).

Three or four hundred yards away, still follow the cachinnations of that half-wondering, half-idiotic laughter. One cannot help imagining that something extremely amusing is the matter with one’s self.”

~ Wanderings on Wheel and on Foot, Hugh Callan (1887).

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