Eastern Europe

Africa

Nadine Hudson

Why does too much often mean too little?

NH is a woman in her twenties from Switzerland who is struggling with mental health issues, most notably an eating disorder. She decides to embark on a backpacking trip through Asia. She travels on her own for a while, then she runs into a British traveler, marries him, and they continue to go on…

Xiao Peng's "Ten Years Of Backpacking"
Austria

Xiao Peng

If this guy writes so well and goes to so many cool places, then just why is this book he wrote so bad?

Xiao Peng is a young Chinese white-collar worker who decides that he wants to see the world. He first travels around China, then ends up as an exchange student in the Netherlands. From there, he sets out to…

Colette Modiano's "Twenty Snobs and Mao"
China

Colette Modiano

What happens when a fashion-conscious European woman visits China at the height of socialism?

Colette Modiano is working as a travel coordinator in France when she decides to assemble a group of wealthy Europeans and embark with them on a trip to China. It is the year 1966, and getting a glimpse on Mao’s…

Nicolas Bouvier's "The Way Of The World"
Afghanistan

Nicolas Bouvier

Is this a great piece of poetic travel writing, or has it just been overly polished?

In 1953, Nicolas Bouvier, law student from Switzerland, and his friend take a Fiat on a road trip to Afghanistan. They make their way through Yugoslavia and Turkey, hang out in Iran for a while, and they eventually…

Wolfgang Büscher's "Berlin - Moscow"
Belarus

Wolfgang Büscher

Will the search for the “Russian soul” ruin what is otherwise a good book?

Wolfgang Büscher is a journalist who has a thing for walking, so it seems rather natural that he would decide to venture into Eastern Europe on foot. He starts in…

Philippe Valéry's "On The Silk Road"
Afghanistan

Philippe Valéry

Is this just a rather particular writing style, or is it another author distancing himself from his story?

Philippe Valéry is in his thirties when he decides to walk from Marseille in France to Kashgar in China. He gets a few sponsorships and starts on his trek, walking through…

Guillaume de Rubrouck's "Account of the Mongols"
Armenia

William of Rubruck

How is it possible that sometimes 750 years don’t leave a trace?

in the middle of the 13th century, a Franciscan monk called William of Rubruck gets dispatched to Mongolia by his king, Louis IX of France. He is travels from Constantinople to Karakorum, where he is supposed to find out if the Mongolians (who have recently conquered large parts of the known world) can be persuaded to form an alliance against the Muslims…

Karl Bushby's "Giant Steps"
Alaska

Karl Bushby

Who in their right mind would have thought it was possible to cross the Bering Strait on foot?

in the late 1990s, Karl Bushby, a former paratrooper from Britain, sets out to do something extraordinary – he decides to walk all the way from Southern Chile to his home in Hull, England. So he flies down to Patagonia, walks to Central America, swims through the Darién Gap, gets a trolley built, continues on to Alaska and does some more swimming and wading – this time through the Bering Strait…

Johann Gottfried Seume's "Stroll To Syracuse In The Year 1802"
Austria

Johann Gottfried Seume

Why is this book still so awesome after so many years?

in the early 19th century, Johann Gottfried Seume, an editor from Leipzig, decides to embark on a trip to Italy, just like Johann Wolfgang Goethe and many others did before him. This is pretty fashionable among the rich and famous at the time, and for many it’s part of their Grand Tour…

Heinrich Heine's "Travel Pictures"
Germany

Heinrich Heine

These travel stories from 19th century Germany remain recommendable, but why?

in the early 1820s, Heinrich Heine is already a pretty successful German poet/journalist. He goes on several journeys to Berlin, Poland, the Harz, the North Sea, Italy and England. He travels mostly on foot, and he writes mostly about nature and society…

Jehan de Mandeville's "The Travels"
Afghanistan

Jean de Mandeville

Why is it so much fun to read Medieval travel stories that we know are at least partly untrue?

in the 14th century, English knight Jean de Mandeville claims to have traveled around much of the known (and unknown) world, much like Marco Polo before him or Johann Schiltberger shortly after, or Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuda at the same time…

Sven Hedin's "In The Heart Of Asia"
China

Sven Hedin

Are we looking at a career-obsessed explorer or at a blueprint for Indiana Jones?

at the height of the Great Game between Tsarist Russia and the British Empire, Swedish explorer Sven Hedin decides to follow in the footsteps of Ferdinand von Richthofen (who coined the term “Silk Road”) and Nikolai Mikhaylovich Przhevalsky and explore the Chinese Northwest…

Michael Olbert's "Chatwin's Guru And Me"
Albania

Michael Olbert

What happened to this otherwise decent book that caused it to be so annoying?

in the mid 2000s, Michael Olbert is a huge fan of Bruce Chatwin, who in turn was a huge fan (and a personal friend) of Patrick Leigh Fermor. Olbert is looking for guidance, but since Chatwin has long died, he decides to trace Fermor’s footsteps through Europe. And while the Fermor famously completed his journey through Europe on foot, Olbert decides to rely on public transportation in order to find him…

Patrick Leigh Fermor's "A Time of Gifts / Between the Woods and the Water"
Czechia

Patrick Leigh Fermor

Is there anything not perfect about this travel book?

Patrick Leigh Fermor is only eighteen years old when he decides to take a walk through Europe – all the way from Amsterdam to Istanbul. He walks for more than a year, picks up a few languages, talks to people, learns about history, and keeps a meticulous diary…

Josef Martin Bauer's "As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me"
Armenia

Josef Martin Bauer

Does it matter to us if it all really happened this way?

in the early 1950s, accomplished German writer Josef Martin Bauer comes across Cornelius Rost, a man who claims to have escaped from one of the Soviet prison camps in Siberia. The story sounds hardly believable, but Bauer decides to write a book about it anyway…