A Travellerspoint blog

Europe on a Shoestring

by Lonely Planet


Outline: A multi country guidebook covering Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Britain, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Rep, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia (limited to Moscow, St Petersburg), Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and Ukraine. Mainly geared towards the the general tourist and backpacker. Offering accommodation reviews and prices. Where to eat and how much it costs. Small highlights on on political and cultural history, activities and itineraries. Trekking guides. Maps of the country and cites.


Costs: Strangely I found the opposite to most guide book flaws of outdated prices. Here Accommodation was highly inflated. Barcelona accommodation for the budget traveler starts at 30 Euro, while in reality hostels are 17-25. Therein lies the flaw of a book trying to be a backpackers and all round travel book.

Maps & Cities: The main cities are covered well considering the size, and amount of countries within the book. Don't look for too many off the beaten path references. Nor smaller towns. But for the main tourist attractions, they are covered quite well.

Countries covered: Europe is a large region, with many many countries. Trying to get one book to cover all is very hard. Yet when choosing, one can't help but think Lonely Planet has made it difficult to buy just one. Why Morocco and Russia are in here taking up European space, when several other countries like Hungary could have been expanded, I don't know. But for marketing it must work...

Overall: There is no way a book this size can cover everything. And, I don't thing it should considering who it's geared for. With that in mind this book is surprisingly good. It contains a lot of multi cross border information that most European travellers need. And the city guides are well laid out. The only real flaw within this book is that while pertaining to be for the Shoestring traveler (backpacker) it contains many hotel and eating references way our of that budget category. If they'd concentrated on the books shoestring readership a bit more instead of trying to cater to everyone then it would get a higher rating for sure.

Packing Space Guide: Its 1284 pages. 2 inches thick and weighs about 2 pounds. Won't fit easily anywhere but your daypack.

My Rating: 4/5

Buy it: Europe on a Shoestring is available from Amazon.comir?t=travellersp00-20&l=as2&o=1&a=1741045916

About the Author: Dave has been traveling around the world in search of home for 5 years, photographing and writing about his journey on his website: www.thelongestwayhome.com.

Posted by TLWH 19:00 Tagged preparation Comments (0)

Secrets of the Red Lantern

by Pauline Nguyen, with recipes by Luke Nguyen and Mark Jensen


I adore Vietnamese food. Happening across The Red Lantern in Sydney's Surry Hills was one of the culinary highlights of my 2004 visit to Australia. The dishes I sampled there were handled with a lightness of touch and balance of flavour that I've rarely experienced outside of South-East Asia.

Imagine my delight, then, upon being presented with this beautiful book. As well as a substantial collection of recipes from the team behind the food served at the Red Lantern, the book provides a chronicle of the Nguyen family's journey from war-torn Vietnam as they create a life for themselves in Australia. Whilst not a literary masterpiece, Pauline Nguyen's deeply personal writing provides an engaging insight into the struggle faced by the Vietnamese emigrants both within their troubled region at that time and as they assimilated into a new way of life.

The story enriches the enjoyment of the eminently cookable recipes that are presented alongside. The well laid out and enticing recipes demystify the preparation of Vietnamese food in such a way that even a European amateur like me can turn out delicious and authentic dishes - the likes of Chicken Thighs with Tamarind and Sesame, and Crispy-Skinned Fish with Ginger and Lime Fish Sauce are now regular dinnertime favourites in our house.

Finally, I'd like to mention the book's production. Seldom have I seen such a beautifully designed and presented cookbook. I may eventually resort to purchasing a second copy as my exisiting one has suffered terribly due to regular use in my kitchen!

You can find this book on Amazon - Secrets of the Red Lantern: Stories and Vietnamese Recipes from the Heart

Posted by magykal1 08:44 Archived in Vietnam Tagged food Comments (1)

Married to a Bedouin

by Marguerite van Geldermalsen

I'm hoping to make it to the ancient city of Petra in Jordan on my year long trip through Europe, Turkey and Egypt; so when I came across this book I was anxious to read it. Marguerite van Geldermalsen was just another twenty-something backpacker from New Zealand traveling with a friend when she came to Petra. She really didn't even know much about Jordan or Petra but was looking for adventure. Mohammad Abdallah Othman was a souvenir-seller who convinced her to stay with him in his cave. He must have been quite the salesman.

They married, had 3 children and lived in that cave, carved out by the Nabataeans 2,000 years before. Her story is fascinating, although somewhat unsettling to me. Clearly, I have my limits. She had no electricity, no running water, no heat and especially, no privacy. Hiking down to the water supply with a donkey and loading up the jerry cans with water then trekking back to her cave just doesn't cut it for me. I must say, Mohammad definitely had charisma and initiative; but even so, I just don't get it. She did become a part of their tribe and it was a very close knit community. Furthermore, she had a level of independence the other women didn't seem to share, often sitting with the men while the women clustered together in a separate tent. Marguerite and Mohammad visited her family in New Zealand and stayed for several months; he even managed to get a job. But, they both realized that they missed the closeness of the extended family back in Jordan and the free and easy way of life, dropping in on each other, constantly surrounded by friends and family. So Petra is where they made their life.

This is a compelling story of converting to a completely different way of life, language and religion. Marguerite is an interesting person and her descriptions of the various characters she lived and worked with make for great reading. I think I'll be viewing Petra with a completely different viewpoint.

If you're thinking about going to Petra or just want to read a story that you will become completely immersed in, you can find
Married to a Bedouin at Amazon.

About the reviewer

After 5 years of planning and millions of hours on-line, Claire and her husband Chuck are traveling through Europe in a motorhome for one year. Follow their journey at European Adventures

Posted by Claire312 15:38 Comments (5)

A Salty Piece of Land

by Jimmy Buffett


Being the consummate "Parrotheads" that we are, Kris (aka beerman) could not resist diving into one of our favorite musician's 2004 contribution to the literary world. He read it while I was off exploring the lighthouses of North Carolina's Outer Banks with a friend one week. With each "check-in" phone call, Kris would tell me I had to read this book when I returned home. Having personally read Buffett's other works: Where is Joe Merchant?: A Novel Tale, A Pirate Looks at Fifty and a portion of Tales from Margaritaville (got distracted and never finished it - but will!), I agreed. And, I did.

"A Salty Piece of Land" is the follow-up book to "Tales from Margaritaville" but they are not mutually inclusive. One does not have to read the first book to enjoy the second. (I know - I didn't finish Tales and had no recollection of its storyline when starting Salty.) It is a tale totally unto itself.

In this book, you will follow the trails, trials and tribulations of Tully Mars, a misplaced "cowboy in the jungle". Mars (and his trusty horse, Mr. Twain) boldly escape their existence, hired hands on a poodle ranch in Wyoming, and soon find themselves tour guides at a fishing resort in the Caribbean. An adventure spurred on by a simple conch shell given to Tully years earlier. (Okay, Tully's horse doesn't become a tour guide but he gets to go to the Caribbean just the same. Lucky horse.) Once there, Mars' life is turned upside-down. He will encounter Cleopatra Highbourne, the 103-year-old captain of the ancient schooner, Lucretia, who ultimately sends him on a life-altering quest. As his journey navigates the Caribbean as skillfully as Cleopatra's schooner, Mars is befriended by some very eclectic characters - all drawn in to help with Tully's cause. If you have a thing for old lighthouses, sea breezes, horses and any number of other things - this is a book for you!

I must admit that Buffett's writing style is a bit simplistic - no better or worse than a mix of Bill Bryson and Carl Hiaasen. (I love both.) It's an easy read but will keep you turning the pages as the main character realizes his goal in life. If nothing else, you'll love Cleopatra Highbourne. Like his songs, Buffett's books are that of a storyteller and that's what makes them interesting.

We also have Buffett's latest book, Swine Not?: A Novel Pig Tale, staring at us from the shelf and hoping we'll open the cover soon.

Isa now leaves to rediscover "Tales from Margaritaville". Hey, "Swine Not?"

You can find this book on Amazon: A Salty Piece of Land

Posted by Isadora 13:09 Comments (0)

No-Man's Lands: One Man's Odyssey Through The Odyssey

By Scott Huler

I’ve never read The Odyssey but it’s on my list of things to do on my upcoming one year trip through Europe in a campervan. In fact, I’ve downloaded it free onto my Amazon Kindle.

Scott Huler, an NPR contributor, sets off to retrace the steps of Odysseus on his twenty year journey from Troy to Ithaca. The book is great fun and, for me, very educational. In fact, I almost feel as if I’ve now read The Odyssey although I suppose it’s closer to reading the Cliffs Notes version. His style is lively, honest and personal; all the right elements for a road trip memoir, or more accurately, boat, train and bus trip. The map in the front of the book is excellent and I referred to it so often I should probably have made myself a copy for faster viewing.

The writing has a great flow to it and he manages to tell the reader the story of The Odyssey in a very accessible way while comparing it to modern times and drawing pertinent morals. Great characters, plot twists, action and adventure. Who can ask for more?

My husband and I have a general itinerary of all the places we’re going in Europe and this book covers a number of them: Istanbul, Troy, Athens, the Peloponnese, Sicily, Rome, and Naples. He also visits Tunis, Sardinia and Corsica. It would be perfect to read while we’re traveling, but we couldn’t wait. To enjoy Scott's photos, go to his website.

You can find this book on Amazon: No Man's Lands: One Man's Odyssey Through the Odyssey.

About the reviewer:
After 5 years of planning and millions of hours on-line, Claire and her husband Chuck are traveling through Europe in a motorhome for one year. Follow their journey at European Adventures

Posted by Claire312 10:39 Comments (0)

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