Spain by Jan Morris

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Spain is one of the absolutes. Nothing is more compelling than the drama, at once dark and dazzling, of that theatre over the hills – the vast splendour of the Spanish landscape, the intensity of Spain’s pride and misery, the adventurous glory of a history that set its seal upon half the world . . . Passionate, evocative and beautifully written, Spain is a companion to the country: its people, its history – and its character. First published in 1964 and no less compelling today, Jan Morris’s classic work is back in print, bringing Spain, its glory and its tragedy, vividly to life.

Spain

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Italian Neighbours: An Englishman in Verona by Tim Parks

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“Am I giving the impression that I don’t like the Veneto? It’s not true. I love it. But like any place that’s become home I hate it too.”
How does an Englishman cope when he moves to Italy – not the tourist idyll but the real Italy? When Tim Parks first moved to Verona he found it irresistible and infuriating in equal measure; this book is the story of his love affair with it. Infused with an objective passion, he unpicks the idiosyncrasies and nuances of Italian culture with wit and affection. Italian Neighbours is travel writing at its best.

Italian Neighbours: An Englishman in Verona

Continental Drifter: Taking the Low Road with the First Grand Tourist by Tim Moore

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They stuck their coaches on ride-on, ride off ferries, whisked through France and Italy moaning about garlic and rudeness, then bored the neighbours to death by having them all round to look at their holiday watercolours’ Many people associate the Grand Tour with the baggy shirted Byrons of its 19th century heyday, but someone had to do it first and Thomas Coryate, author of arguably the first piece of pure travel writing, CRUDITIES, was that man. Tim Moore travels through 45 cities in the steps of a larger-than-life Jacobean hero incidentally responsible for introducing forks to England and thus ending forever the days of the finger-lickin’-good drumstick hurlers of courts gone by. Coryate’s early 17th century bawdy anecdotes include being pelted with eggs, pursued by a knife wielding man in a turban and, finally, being vomited on copiously by a topless woman with a beer barrel on her head:- For once, Tim Moore has no trouble keeping up the modern-day side. And his authentic method of travel to replicate these adventures? A clapped-out pink Rolls Royce, of course.

Continental Drifter: Taking the Low Road with the First Grand Tourist

The Summer of My Greek Taverna: A Memoir by Tom Stone

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The story of a man in love with a place, a woman, and a dream. Tom Stone went to Greece one summer to write a novel — and stayed twenty-two years. On Patmos, he fell in love with Danielle, a beautiful French painter. His novel completed and sold, he decided to stay a little longer. Seven idyllic years later, they left Patmos for Crete. When a Patmian friend Theológos called and offered him a summer partnership in his beach tavérna, The Beautiful Helen, Stone jumped at the chance — much to the dismay of his wife, who cautioned him not to forget the old adage about Greeks bearing gifts. Her warning was well-founded: when back on Patmos, Stone quickly discovered that he was no longer a friend or patron but a competitor. He learned hard lessons about the Greeks’ skill at bargaining and business while reluctantly coming to the realization that Theológos’s offer of a partnership was indeed a Trojan horse. Featuring Stone’s recipes, including his own Chicken Retsina and the ultimate moussaka, The Summer of My Greek Tavérna is as much a love story as it is the grand, humorous, and sometimes bittersweet adventures of an American pursuing his dreams in a foreign land, a modern-day innocent abroad.

The Summer of My Greek Taverna: A Memoir

A Season With Verona: Travels Around Italy in Search of Illusions, National Character and Goals by Tim Parks

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Is Italy a united country, or a loose affiliation of warring states? Is Italian football a sport, or an ill-disguised protraction of ancient enmities?
After twenty years in the bel paese, Tim Parks goes on the road to follow the fortunes of Hellas Verona football club, to pay a different kind of visit to some of the world’s most beautiful cities. From Udine to Catania, from the San Siro to the Olimpico, this is a highly personal account of one man’s relationship with a country, its people and its national sport. A book that combines the tension of cliff-hanging narrative with the pleasures of travel writing, and the stimulation of a profound analysis of one country’s mad, mad way of keeping itself entertained.

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The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner

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What makes a nation happy? Is one country’s sense of happiness the same as another’s? In the last two decades, psychologists and economists have learned a lot about who’s happy and who isn’t. The Dutch are, the Romanians aren’t, and Americans are somewhere in between…
After years of going to the world’s least happy countries, Eric Weiner, a veteran foreign correspondent, decided to travel and evaluate each country’s different sense of happiness and discover the nation that seemed happiest of all.
·He discovers the relationship between money and happiness in tiny and extremely wealthy Qatar (and it’s not a good one)
·He goes to Thailand, and finds that not thinking is a contented way of life.
·He goes to the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, and discovers they have an official policy of Gross National Happiness!
·He asks himself why the British don’t do happiness?
In Weiner’s quest to find the world’s happiest places, he eats rotten Icelandic shark, meditates in Bangalore, visits strip clubs in Bangkok and drinks himself into a stupor in Reykjavik. Full of inspired moments, The Geography of Bliss accomplishes a feat few travel books dare and even fewer achieve: to make you happier.

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This Cold Heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland by Gretel Ehrlich

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In an unforgettable tribute to the far latitudes, Gretel Ehrlich travels across Greenland, the largest island on earth.
Greenland is the largest island on earth. All but five percent of it is covered by a vast ice sheet, an enduring remnant of the last ice age. Despite a uniquely hostile environment, it has been inhabited continuously for thousands of years.
Greenlanders retain many of their traditional practices. Some still hunt on sleds made from whale and caribou with packs of dogs; others fashion harpoons from Narwhal tusks; entranced shamans make soul fights under the ice. The modern population lives on the edge of a stone- and ice-age world and has reached a unique understanding of it.
Ehrlich mixes stories of European anthropologists who have recorded the ways of the Inuit, with artists who have lived briefly on Greenland’s fringe in order to try to capture its extraordinary pure light. She travels across this unearthly landscape in the company of men and women who have a deep bond with it, and with them she discovers the realm of the Great Dark, ice pavilions, polar bears and Eskimo nomads. She learns about hunting and endurance, inuit languages, legends and ghosts. Conjuring up Greenland’s cruel, beautiful landscape, she shows that it is a land endowed with magical and mysterious properties. St Brendan, the sixth century Irish monk, described one of its huge glaciers as ‘a floating crystal castle the colour of a silver veil, yet hard as marble and the sea around it as smooth as glass and white as milk.’ It has lost none of its power to enthral.

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