Blue River, Black Sea by Andrew Eames

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The river Danube flows through more countries than any other river on earth. It runs like an artery from the heart of Europe in the Black Forest to Europe’s furthest flung fringes, where it joins the Black Sea in the Danube Delta in Romania. A journey along its length takes in all of European history, and encompasses the very latest developments in what can be called the New Europe. Starting at the river’s source in Germany, Andrew Eames here takes a fascinating and revelatory journey by bicycle, boat and on foot. Along the way, he knocks on the door of the occasional Schloss in the hope of accommodation for the night and meets a real live Hohenzollern; he travels through areas of intensive heavy industry as well as completely rural areas where wolves still roam and tribal fisherman live on islands thatched with reeds. He passes through Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania and the Ukraine – as well as a brief stopover with Count Dracula in Transylvania. Blue River, Black Sea is an absorbing and highly entertaining book which explores how much we really know about the New Europe. Andrew Eames doesn’t shrink from analysing the difficult issues of race and cultural identity he is bound to encounter along the way and his book seeks to find an answer to some of the most complex problems facing Europeans today.

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To Prussia With Love: Misadventures in Rural East Germany by Roger Boyes

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‘We-have-a-house-in-the-country?’ Lena nodded solemnly. ‘Where?’ I almost shouted, briefly rattling the table. ‘No, wait, don’t tell me – it’s Todi in Umbria, right? The old manor house, the one with the lemon groves!’ ‘Alt-Globnitz.’ ‘Alt-Globnitz?’ Suddenly I felt cold. ‘Alt-Globnitz. It’s a really nice place. You will love it.’ In a desperate attempt to save his relationship with girlfriend Lena and take a break from the world of journalism, Germany correspondent Roger Boyes agrees to make a great escape from the easy urban lifestyle of Berlin and decamp to the countryside. Roger has hopes for southern Italy, but Lena has inherited a run-down old schloss in deepest, darkest Brandenburg. Needing a form of income, they decide to set up a B & B with a British theme. Enter unhelpful Harry and his Trinidadian chef cousin, a mad Scot to advise them on re-branding Brandenburg, some suicidal frogs and a posse of mad tourists. It all culminates, naturally, in a cricket match between the Brits and the Germans on an old Russian minefield. Farce meets romance in this follow-up to the successful A Year in the Scheisse.

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