around Romania on a bicycle.
“But for the gipsy, free as the deer in the forest, as the bird in the air, alone with his violin, his music the breath of life to him, we scoured the country in vain.
Not a day passed without its Romany adventure.”
~ To Gipsyland – Joseph and Elizabeth Rose Pennell (1893).
My Life and Times
by Jerome K. Jerome
September 1891 – published in November 1893.
The Pennells returned with an account of their summer ride in 1891, this time swapping their trusty tricycle for two safety bicycles (Elizabeth on a Marriott and Cooper’s Ladies’ Safety), in search of the Romani “gypsies” whose culture they had originally fallen in love with in their native Philadelphia.
The book, originally serialised a year earlier in The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine (Nov 1892 – Jan 1893), picks up their ride into Hungary from Pressburg (Bratislava, then in Austria, but now Slovakia), to Raab (Győr), and Gran (Esztergom), where they struggled on the sandy roads and instead caught the boat down the Danube to Budapest, “the capital of Attila’s land.”
A more in depth account of their ride to Budapest, entitled “From Berlin to Budapest”, appeared as a twelve part series in The London Illustrated News with the Hungarian section (published 27th August 1892).
Leaving Budapest on the train to Debrecen and Máramarossziget (now Sighetu Marmației in Romania), they took advantage of the September sun, by continuing their ride in search of gypsies, through the historical region of Transylvania, taking in Baia Sprie, Baia Mare, Dej, Bistrița, Toplița, Borsec, Gheorgheni, “into the very heart of Szekerlerland” from Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mureș) to Sighișoara, Székelyudvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc), Csíkszereda (Miercurea Ciuc), and Sepsiszentgyörgy (Sfântu Gheorghe) – “those towns with the awful names, where men proudly call themselves Szeklers.”
Continuing on to Brașov, and Sibiu, the vineyards of Sebeș, Petreşti, and Alba Iulia, they ride though Turda to Cluj-Napoca, where they caught the train to Budapest.
- by Joseph and Elizabeth Rose Pennell.
- Published by T. Fisher Unwin, London.
“When we stopped, women ran up to us, and, in the white road, danced about us, ringing our bicycle-bells and chanting strange wild snatches of song, like so many bacchantes.
We ought to have liked them, I suppose, but they were too drunk.
The prophets staggered out at the noise and wanted to fight.”
~ To Gipsyland, Joseph and Elizabeth Rose Pennell (1893).