To Chicago and Back
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To Chicago and Back (Bulgarian: До Чикаго и назад) is a travel book written by Bulgarian writer Aleko Konstantinov in 1894, describing his visit to the United States in order to see the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. It was the first major book by the author, and together with Bay Ganyo they are considered to be his most notable works. A lot of the book is written in a humorous, satirical tone, with occasional more sober reflections.
Konstantinov had previous experience with travel abroad - he had visited the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1889 and the General Land Centennial Exhibition in Prague in 1891. At the time, Bulgaria had left the Ottoman Empire less than 20 years ago, the country was still less developed than Western Europe and relatively few Bulgarians had had the chance to travel abroad.
The book starts in Paris, with the author and the group of friends who accompany him on the journey taking a train to the port of Le Havre, where they board SS La Touraine to cross the Atlantic on board. On arriving in New York, he describes being underwhelmed by spotting the Statue of Liberty from the steamship. A customs clerk fails to understand the group's nationality, and when Bulgaria is pointed out to him on a map, he writes it down as Turkey, causing amusement and derision among the Bulgarians. They found accommodation in Broadway Central Hotel.
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