Walking the Woods and the Water

Walking the Woods and the Water

In Patrick Leigh Fermor's Footsteps, From the Hook of Holland to the Golden Horn

Book - 2014
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In 1933, the eighteen-year-old Patrick Leigh Fermor set out in a pair of hobnailed boots to chance and charm his way across Europe, "like a tramp, a pilgrim, or a wandering scholar." The books he later wrote about this walk, A Time of Gifts, Between the Woods and the Water, and the posthumous The Broken Road are a half-remembered, half-reimagined journey through cultures now extinct, landscapes irrevocably altered by the traumas of the twentieth century. Aged eighteen, Nick Hunt read A Time of Gifts and dreamed of following in Fermor's footsteps. In 2011 he began his own "great trudge"--on foot all the way to Istanbul. He walked across eight countries, following two major rivers and crossing three mountain ranges. With only Fermor's books to guide him, he trekked some 2,500 miles through Holland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. His aim? To have an old-fashioned adventure. To slow down and linger in a world where we pass by so much, so fast. To discover for himself what remained of hospitality, kindness to strangers, freedom, wildness, adventure, the mysterious, the unknown, the deeper currents of myth and story that still flow beneath Europe's surface.
Publisher: London, UK ; Boston, MA : Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2014.
ISBN: 9781857886177
Branch Call Number: 914.04 HUNT
Characteristics: vi, 330 pages : maps ; 22 cm.


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Jan 09, 2020

A terrific book especially if you are a traveller. Patrick Leigh Fermor's two complete books, and a third reconstructed from diaries, describe his trek in the 1930's from Holland to Istanbul in the late 1930's. They are travel classics, with well-handled rich prose. Fermor travelled on foot, sometimes sleeping in haystacks, sometimes spending a week with aristocrats who passed him from friend to friend. Possessed of a gift for language and making friends, Fermor described how the costumes and dialects changed from village to village as he walked, a world that was soon to disappear due to World War II, urbanization, and communism. They should be essential reading for anyone interested in travel. Nick Hunt followed the same route, describing the many changes, many involving paving the landscape and replacing native architecture with the brutalist buildings of the late 20th century, and like Fermor, staying for free with people met on line and supporters of his endeavours. He also drinks and attends bars with the people he meet. As the countries he passes through decline in obvious wealth, the people are increasingly hospitable and generous, repeatedly refusing to let him pay for meals and drinks, celebrating him as a traveller. He visits the mansions of the Hungarian and Romanian aristocrats who hosted "Paddy", all of them either converted to mental health facilities or schools, or in ruins. Highly recommended.

Sep 21, 2015

What a trek! I followed the footsteps every bit of the way across territory with familiar names which I was surprised to find I knew little about. Part travelogue, part introspection, part history, the route was sometimes rough both literally and literately . I occasionally got lost in a sea of words as Nick got lost in a morass of explanations with words that eluded me. But we kept on together and the trip was more than worth it. Like the walk itself, I took it in small pieces with occasional rest stops, after which I was more than eager to get back on the road.

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