On the 130th anniversary, I recreated part of the journey of the first person to cycle around the world on a bicycle. Taking it one day at a time. View the archive.


By Stuart Lowe on

In Budapest Thomas Stevens visited the National Exhibition of 1885. I'd seen a painting by Róber Nádler of the exhibition and wanted to find it. I biked over to Heroes' Square where I found a tourist office. The tourist office said the building looked a bit like one of the train stations but then did some sleuthing online (they had an advantage over me as they could read Hungarian). It turned out that the building had been damaged during World War II and was subsequently destroyed. Even without the building I was still able to walk around the park area, sit under the trees and wander around a food festival (although I couldn't get food as it looked like you needed a Mastercard).

Heroes' Square

Feeling hungry, I headed back towards the centre of the city. On the way I found an all-you-can-eat Hungarian bistro. The lady at the front seemed as though she couldn't care less about my custom. When I asked what it consisted of she said "Hungarian food" and pointed to the back of the room. I had a look and thought it looked OK but wasn't sure what to do. Do I wait to be seated? Do I just pick up a plate and help myself?

I must have looked lost because a Colombian man came to my rescue explaining the system to me in Spanish. I don't know Spanish but my French and Italian gave me the gist. I was to go an help myself to as much as I wanted within two hours. Thanks to the anonymous Colombian man for his help.

The food consisted of roast potatoes, boiled vegetables, rice, pasta, chicken wings, soups, sauces etc. I stocked up. There was a grill area but that looked as if it might be extra so, for simplicity, I ignored it.

Of all countries I've visited on this ride, Hungary seems to have the most normal people on bikes. The bike paths are like the UK - bitty with parts that look like they suffered a bombing campaign after they were constructed. Despite that, there are plenty of families, elderly people, couples, teenagers out on their bikes in both the cities and villages. Very few have helmets. Riding a bike is normal and an acceptable way to get around.

I rode down to the Danube, admiring the parliament building on my side of the river and the amazing, gothic, structures on the opposite bank. I crossed the big, angled bridge and joined thousands of others enjoying the Sunday atmosphere on the island of Margit-sziget where I mostly lazed away under the shade-trees.

Later I headed back into the centre and suddenly found a section of the city notabale for the number of American accents. I assumed this meant I'd found the most touristy spot. I had an expensive lavender icecream.



Budapest Parliament building