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NEITHER HERE NOR THERE (original 1992; edition 1992)


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Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson (1992)


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Bill Bryson is great! I just can't stop laughing. Although it's decades old and somewhat outdated, in many ways it still is very up to date. I don't understand all the whining going on about this book, perhaps you should just let go and laugh a little?! I found this tremendously funny but then again, I am rather mean and an admitted exaggerator so suits me well, sir. ( )
  Iira | Aug 3, 2014 |
I love travel books and I can't believe it has taken me so many years to get around to reading this one! What a great trip, the odd flight here and there, but mainly place to place by train all over Europe. Bill Bryson was recreating a trip in this book that he had first experienced as a student, with his friend Katz. His observations include the hotels he stays in, what to see in different towns and cities as you wander around and what the restaurants and museums are like. It was a four star read, not five star for me purely because it was dated. This is no fault of the author - the book was first published twenty three years ago! But I did wonder whether some of the observations are still accurate - there were two oppostite views which stood out for me. One was the description of Rome - 'the Romans will decorate it with litter - an empty cigatette packet, a wedge of half eaten pizza, twenty-seven cigarette butts, half an ice-cream cone with an ooze of ice-cream emerging from the bottom, danced on by a delirium of flies, an oily tin of sardines, a tattered newspaper and something truly unexpected, like a tailor's dummy or a dead goat'. I was in Rome a couple of years ago and cannot relate to this image of rubbish in the streets - hopefully this means the city is a cleaner, tidier place now! However, the observation I agreed with wholeheartedly was this one about Liechtenstein - 'restaurants were thin on the ground and either very expensive or discouragingly empty. Vaduz is so small that if you walk for fifteen minutes in any direction, you are deep in the country. It occurred to me that there is no reason to go to Liechtenstein except to say you have been there'. Spot on! We went last year and came to exactly the same conclusion.
It would be fascinating, I think, if Bill Bryson were to recreate this trip for a third time and republish this book with an update. The sections on Yugoslavia and Sofia would be very obviously different but I wonder what else would change - the ease of ticket bookings given the availability of mobile access/wifi would undoubtedly be something that would have to be significant. ( )
  Elainedav | Jun 13, 2014 |
Summary: Bill Bryson travelled around Europe as a young man. In the early 1990s, he decided to retrace his steps. He starts out in Norway, hoping to see the Northern Lights. He then makes his way through the rest of Scandinavia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Turkey, reminiscing about his previous trip, and reporting along the way about the hassles of transportation, the odd accommodations, the highlights and lowlights of the various cultural attractions, and the attitudes of the locals he encounters.

Review: Not his best. From reading his other travel writing (Notes from a Small Island and In a Sunburned Country, and to some extent A Walk in the Woods), it's pretty clear that Bryson is, at best, a grumpy traveler. I've occasionally wondered why, if seemingly everything about travel irks him so badly, he continues to do it. I suspect that he's not really as grumpy as he puts on, but instead is dealing with the same minor inconveniences as any traveller, just amping up the curmudgeonliness for comic effect.

But the thing was, in this case, the grumpiness outweighed the humor, although there were some parts that were relatively amusing. But Bryson didn't seem to enjoy much of anything about Europe except Italy, and also ogling the asses of every young European woman he saw. (Seriously, he comments on women's bodies a lot, enough that I not only noticed but was also grossed out by it.) The biggest problem was that not only did Bryson not make me want to visit these places, it's that he didn't give me a particularly good feel for most of them, either. He doesn't really talk to the locals (other than station agents and hotel clerks and the like), and he doesn't include much of the type of history or tangents that mark some of his other travel books. So for all that he tries to point out how much cultural diversity Europe contains, all of his destinations tended to blur together, and it makes it hard to remember if this rude waiter or that crowded museum or the really terrible traffic was in Copenhagen or Vienna or where. And given how dated this book is at this point, it's hard to say how much of the impression that he does give is still accurate at this point. (So maybe this book did make me want to go to Europe after all, if for nothing else but to compare!) 3 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: It's not terrible, but it's out of date, and it's not Bryson at his best at any rate. I think it might actually be better for those with some experience traveling in Europe already, who can impose their own experiences over Bryson's grumbling. ( )
1 vote fyrefly98 | May 21, 2014 |
As the name suggests, I thought this book would be about traveling across Europe. I made it through the first chapter. The author was attempting to be so overly comical that it was difficult to tell if some scenes and dialogue were real or fiction interjected for comic effect.

If anyone is looking for a book describing the authors travels across Europe, they should look elsewhere. ( )
  jamesfallen | Feb 7, 2014 |
3.5 stars. Bryson twice travelled through Europe when he was younger. Some years later, he decides to go again and write about it. In this book, some of the places he travels through include Norway, Denmark, France, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Yugoslavia (the book was originally written in 1992), and even Liechtenstein. He will often think back to his original trip and describe that, as well as the “current” trip he was on and writing about.

I’d say this is pretty typical of his books. I enjoyed it, and there were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. I particularly seemed to like some of his comments while he was in colder places (coming from Canada, myself). It was kind of interesting to read the Yugoslavia section and wonder how much has changed. ( )
  LibraryCin | Jan 17, 2014 |
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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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"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]
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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.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0380713802, Paperback)

Like many of his generation, Bill Bryson backpacked across Europe in the early seventies -- in search of enlightenment, beer, and women. Twenty years later he decided to retrace the journey he undertook in the halcyon days of his youth. The result is Neither Here Nor There, an affectionate and riotously funny pilgrimage from the frozen wastes of Scandinavia to the chaotic tumult of Istanbul, with stops along the way in Europe's most diverting and historic locales. Like many of his generation, Bill Bryson backpacked across Europe in the early seventies--in search of enlightenment, beer, and women. Twenty years later he decided to retrace the journey he undertook in the halcyon days of his youth. The result is Neither Here Nor There, an affectionate and riotously funny pilgrimage from the frozen wastes of Scandinavia to the chaotic tumult of Istanbul, with stops along the way in Europe's most diverting and historic locales.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:21 -0400)

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Bill Bryon backpacks across Europe, retracing the same steps he took 30 years earlier.

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