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Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe (original 1992; edition 1998)

by Bill Bryson

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4,251None1,161 (3.76)74
Member:sefhill
Title:Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe
Authors:Bill Bryson
Info:Black Swan (1998), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:comedy, travel

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

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Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
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 |
I like Bryson, not only because he is a good writer, but also because he is usually similar in humor and mood to me when I travel. He sinks when everyone else happily body surfs. He is fascinated by all the things that can kill you. He wobbles and hobbles, just like me. And he likes a good view enjoyed with good food and good company in a soft, comfortable breeze. Well, that's not very American, but that's him alright.

So why didn't I like NHNT that much? There were several reasons, the main one being that Bryson, for the first time in the books I have read by him, really sounds like an American tourist. He complains a lot, but mainly he makes the mistakes that lead to his misery. He acts not like a seasoned traveler, but an amateur, monolingual, ignorant American (he is actually only monolingual...) He also lets his hatred towards the Nazis blur into a hatred of Germans and anything German in his trip, which I find to be, again, very American, and very, uhm, hypocritical?

Nevertheless, he is still fun to read and his sense of humor is in good shape. His encounter with the gypsy thief and the repercussions are hilarious. The comparisons between the time he backpacked through Europe with Katz in the 70s and this trip are interesting. His observations about the mood and life style of the different nationalities and places are spot on in many cases. His encounters with the Australians are just hilarious.

It's a pity Bryson spends far too little time in Istanbul, perhaps the only city that could have offered him the cultural and culinary wealth that could equal or even exceed Paris and Rome in his trip. But as most westerners, Bryson doesn't know what he is missing. He visits the Blue Mosque and walks the Galata Bridge, and of course the obligatory (and if you ask me completely overpriced and overhyped) Hagasofia (Ayasofya)... And that's it. What a pity, to visit Istanbul and to miss almost everything it has to offer. Also a pity that he did not make his way through some of the cities bordering Bulgaria and Greece, such as Edirne, which could have been a truly interesting experience for Bryson. But alas, not a very "European" one... ( )
  bluepigeon | Dec 15, 2013 |
Bill Bryson always makes me snort with laughter somewhere in his books. Most likely it is when he has gotten himself into some silly situation. In this book it was when he was in Sofia, Bulgaria and he was making his way back to his accommodations after drinking way too many beers. He had a very fuzzy notion of where he was going because it was not a hotel but a room in a private home and he had neglected to get the address. So he wanders around the district he thinks it is in hoping to see something familiar and finally he spots the plank across a hole in the sidewalk that he remembers as leading to the apartment block. He starts across the plank but then loses his footing and ends up with his feet on either side of the plank. But the hole in the sidewalk is deep and only the plank stops him from plunging into it. Of course the part that come into contact with the plank is that very sensitive area of a man's anatomy. Yikes is not what he said, I am guessing.

This book is about Bryson wandering around Europe covering some of the ground that he and a friend travelled when they were young. The friend, Stephen Katz, has turned up in a few of Bryson's books and is never portrayed in a flattering manner. But they seem to continue to be friends and their interactions are always good fodder for the books. So, although Bryson was alone in his travels this time, he reminisces often about his wanderings with Katz which was good for a few snorts of laughter too.

I really enjoy Bryson as a reader of his own books. He has a wry, deprecating tone that brings the writing to life. Maybe because of that tone I can't say that this book made me want to travel to the places Bryson visited but I enjoyed the book nevertheless. ( )
  gypsysmom | Jul 25, 2013 |
Well written, but I found his attitude toward travelling off-putting. The expectation that everywhere else should be exactly as convenient as home permeated the writing. ( )
  AaronHarun | Jun 10, 2013 |
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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
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]
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to Cynthia
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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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"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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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)

(see all 6 descriptions)

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

(summary from another edition)

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