Cycling in Egypt.

Pelotome –
around Egypt on a bicycle.

~ Around The World on a Bicycle, Thomas Stevens (1888).

My Life and Times

by Jerome K. Jerome

From £4,75

June 1886 – Published 1888.

Around the World on a Bicycle.

“From Teheran to Yokohama” was the second illustrated volume of Tom Steven’s pioneering ride around the globe and covers the second half of his journey on a fifty-inch Pope “Columbia” high-wheeler, from Persia to Japan.

After having been refused passage through Afghanistan, the Englishman took an Egyptian steamer from Istanbul to Alexandria (then under British rule), via İzmir in Turkey, and Piraeus in Greece.

After hilariously complaining about the street hawkers and beggars that follow him everywhere, he details his train journey “along the Egyptian Railway to Suez” – “a wretched hole,” – passing the 1892 battlefield at Tell El Kebir (near Kassassin), and then, on the 7th July 1896, “by steamer down the Red Sea to Aden and Karachi,” where he recommences his ride around the world towards Japan.

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


“Egypt is pre-eminently the land of backsheesh, and Alexandria, as the chief port of arrival and departure, naturally comes in for its share of this annoying attention.

From ship to hotel , and from hotel to railway – station , the traveller has to run the gauntlet of people deeply versed in the subtle arts and wiles of backsheesh diplomacy.

At any time, as you stroll down the street, some native will suddenly bob up like a sable ghost beside you, point something you don’t want to see, and brazenly demand backsheesh for showing it.

Cook’s tourists’ office is but a few hundred yards from my hotel. I have passed it before, and know exactly where it is, but one of these dusky shadows glides silently behind me, until the office is nearly reached, when he slips ahead, points it out, and with consummate assurance demands backsheesh for guiding me to it.

The worst of it is there is no such thing as getting rid of these pests ; they are the most persevering and unscrupulous blackmailers in their own small way that could be imagined.

People whom you could swear you never set eyes on before will boldly declare they have acted as guide or something, and dog your footsteps all over the city ; most of them are as “umble” as Uriah Heep himself in their annoying importunities, but some will not even hesitate to create a scene to gain their object, and, as the easiest way to get rid of them, the harassed traveller generally gives them a coin.”

~ Around The World on a Bicycle, Thomas Stevens (1888).

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