on…’A Time of Gifts’: On Foot to Constantinople – From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube by Patrick Leigh Fermor

Posted: 22/03/2011 in Literature, Review, Travel
Tags: ,

A meander through Europe – literally

The simple concept of this journey was to walk from the hook of Holland to Istanbul following the two main arteries of Europe: the Rhine and the Danube. The book was written from pre-war notebooks so some of the language is slightly unfamiliar at first. Once you get over your modern rational English bias the gentle pace and detailed descriptions will pull you through the slowly changing landscape of Europe. You will feel the cold of blizzards through dense woodlands and then warm up to drink schnapps in a Bavarian Inn. Despite the poetic prose and flawless rhythm the real strength of this book is the sheer scale and range of knowledge shown by PLF. I was never let down by his ceaseless curiosity, a curiosity which feeds off the assortment of characters he conversed with and the books he pored over en route. PLF is clearly a gifted Linguist and he has more than a passing interest in History, Folklore, Anthropology and Geography. This book also spurred me on to travel into Central Europe and see things for myself. I cannot think of any book which examines so deeply a Europe which many people are starting to forget. Sometimes people read travel literature to find information about where they are going. I recommend this book not only as a guide,  but also as a historical parallel to a continent which has since been ravaged by wars and political upheaval.


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