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Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe (1992)

by Bill Bryson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Bill Bryson's Travels (2)

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5,388941,342 (3.74)126
Bill Bryson's first travel book, The Lost Continent, was unanimously acclaimed as one of the funniest books in years. In Neither Here nor There he brings his unique brand of humour to bear on Europe as he shoulders his backpack, keeps a tight hold on his wallet, and journeys from Hammerfest, the northernmost town on the continent, to Istanbul on the cusp of Asia. Fluent in, oh, at least one language, he retraces his travels as a student twenty years before. Whether braving the homicidal motorists of Paris, being robbed by gypsies in Florence, attempting not to order tripe and eyeballs in a German restaurant or window-shopping in the sex shops of the Reeperbahn, Bryson takes in the sights, dissects the culture and illuminates each place and person with his hilariously caustic observations. He even goes to Liechtenstein.… (more)
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» See also 126 mentions

English (88)  Italian (2)  Norwegian (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (93)
Showing 1-5 of 88 (next | show all)
Bryson simultaneously complains and laughs about his travel experiences. Like many tourists, he is looking for his impression of what a place should be like, and naturally never finds it. Still, it was entertaining but not one of his best. ( )
  VivienneR | Feb 16, 2020 |
Bill Bryson is such a joy to read. In particular, his travelogues bring out his curmudgeonly voice and dry, honest viewpoint on his environs. This is no sunny, city-sponsored assessment of the local tourist spots. No, he dishes on the homicidal drivers of Paris and Rome--and the different tactics involved--and the miserable opulence of Milan and the impatient wait for persnickety northern lights in Norway.

He underwent his travels in 1990, with the book published in 1993, so he definitely captured the mood of a particular time--especially in Yugoslavia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. I can't help but wonder how some of his commentary on other places and people holds up. Certainly, some of the language is dated, and must be regarded within the context of the time. ( )
  ladycato | Oct 24, 2019 |
An easy read. There's no doubt that Bryson has a great way with words. And his humour is very engaging, though often at the schoolboy level. Almost thirty years on from when it was first published, some of the writing feels dated and sexist with many sly sex-related remarks and jokes. Irritating. He also unabashadly repeats many cliches about various nationalities which hardly stand up to a proper examination. Having said that, some of his remarks are interesting and ring true: the surprising dirtiness of Amsterdam, the depressing appearance of central Cologne other than its immense cathedral, the point that having been tolerant for so long, the Dutch may have become over-tolerant for their own good, and the point that much of Belgium is almost a suburb of Brussels. Overall, however, I'm not sure that it's worth overlooking the irritations to get at these insights. ( )
  Kakania | Sep 5, 2019 |
In 1990, Bill Bryson tries to recreate a trip round Europe he did in the early 1970s to see what has changed.

The book had a strong opening with his trip up to Northern Norway to see the Northern Lights and there were good descriptive passages throughout. Unfortunately, Bryson's humour doesn't come across so well in this book. In his other books, covering the US, the UK, and Australia, there is an element of us laughing at ourselves which doesn't come across when he's roaming round continental Europe - it easily degenerates into they talk funny and eat funny in furrin parts. I also found his obsession with topless sunbathers and an Italian actress I'd never heard of tedious. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Jun 15, 2018 |
A pleasure - Bryson's apt observations and low-key humour are such fun to read, and it's great to get his perspective on places in Europe that we have been - and others we haven't. ( )
  AmberMcWilliams | May 11, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bryson, Billprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cosimini, SilviaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holzförster, ClaudiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McShane, MikeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mehren, HegeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pendola, SoniaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rinaldi, GiorgioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, WilliamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rogde, IsakTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schalekamp, JeanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"William James describes a man who got the experience from laughing-gas; whenever he was under its influence, he knew the secret of the universe, but when he came to, he had forgotten it. At last, with immense effort, he wrote down the secret before the vision had faded. When completely recovered, he rushed to see what he had written. It was 'A smell of petroleum prevails throughout.'"
Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy
Dedication
to Cynthia
First words
In winter Hammerfest is a thirty-hour ride by bus from Oslo, though why anyone would want to go there in winter is a question worth considering.
Quotations
"We used to build civilizations.  Now we build shopping malls."
"I had a hangover you could sell to science..."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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