Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson

neither here nor thereBill Bryson first backpacked across Europe with his friend Katz (hilariously familiar to all who’ve read A Walk in the Woods) in the early 1970s.  Twenty years later, he sets out to retrace their steps.  As in any of his travel books, no country, city, or cultural icon is spared the bite of Bryson’s humor.

Quote:
“But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned.  I don’t want to know what people are talking about.  I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.  Suddenly you are five years old again.  You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life.  Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.”

Author:
Bill Bryson is the author of various travel books, including A Walk in the Woods and In a Sunburned Country, as well as non-fiction such as At Home and The Mother Tongue.  Bryson currently lives in England with his family.

Published:  1992
Length:  254 pages
Set in:  Norway, France, Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey

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Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

ghost train to the eastern starIn Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Paul Theroux retraces some of his steps from an earlier journey documented in The Great Railway Bazaar (1975).  As he travels through more than a dozen countries in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, Theroux discovers what has changed of these familiar landscapes — and what has endured.

Quote:
“Travel can induce such a distinct and nameless feeling of strangeness and disconnection in me that I feel insubstantial, like a puff of smoke, merely a ghost, a creepy revenant from the underworld, unobserved and watchful among real people, wandering, listening while remaining unseen.”

Author:
Paul Theroux is the author of more than three dozen books, including both fiction (The Mosquito Coast, My Secret History) and non-fiction (The Old Patagonian Express, The Pillars of Hercules, Dark Star Safari).  He lives in London with his family.

Published:  2008
Length:  496 pages
Set in:  Russia, Japan, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, Sri Lanka, India, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Turkey, Romania, Hungary, Austria

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