Bill Bryson – Neither Here Nor There

27Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe

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Edmond Gagnon‘s review

Jan 28, 2019  


I’ve known about Bill Bryson for some time and saw a movie about his last travel adventure, but had never got around to reading any of his material. I had ‘Neither Here Nor There’ collecting dust at home with my two shelves of other books to read, and since I was about to leave on a travel adventure myself, I took Bill’s book along to pass the down time when not engaged in sightseeing, eating or drinking.
Having traveled solo like Bryson did in this book, I can truly appreciate his adventures and misadventures in an era before the internet, cell phones, and GPS. Like him, I still love unfolding a map to plan the next day’s route. Bryson is the type of person who is comfortable in his own skin and has no qualms about travelling alone.
He is a good writer, with a sarcastic sense of humor, and an unquenchable thirst for metaphors. The book is more of a collection of snippets from the various cities and towns along his route. He likes to pound the pavement and sit in local watering holes or cafes to get a good feel of each and every place his visits.
Being the author of my own travel book, with some similarities, I generally liked the read, but found it a bit awkward at times – especially when the author went off on one of his rants. His American arrogance toward the rest of the world showed through on more than one occasion. I’m not saying that Mr. Bryson is predjudice against all foreigners, from what I’ve experienced in my travels it’s just the way some Americans are. They love to travel, but expect everything, like food, to be the same as home.

North & South, Egypt vs. Capetown

49938676_279635946044865_3597180374783885312_nWith the exception of a quick visit to Morocco many years ago, this is my first foray into the African continent. Our planned trip takes us from the top (Egypt), to the bottom (South Africa), and lastly to the eastern side (Tanzania). I split the itinerary into three segments, roughly ten days, three weeks and three weeks, giving us plenty of time to explore each destination, but also time to kick back and relax.

We’ve only been in Capetown, South Africa for six days. Comparing the north to the south, so far, it is like night and day – Egypt being the older, darker, and unfortunately dirtier country. I can accept the fact that anything four to five thousand years old ages with a certain patina over time, but I am disgusted by the country’s attitude toward garbage and litter.

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Reflecting on Egypt

img_1043We’ve been busy and on the go for eight days straight so there’s been no time to contemplate everything we’ve seen and attempted to absorb. Cathryn said it best after exploring our umpteenth temple, “it’s overwhelming.” It was meant in a good way since each and every ancient site was truly amazing. The pyramids at Giza are just a drop in the bucket of Egyptian wonders.

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Mary Queen of Scots

mary_queen_of_scots_ver3Here’s a movie for all you Outlander fans. It’s about two different Queens from two different countries trying to control their own kingdoms, while maneuvering to combine the two and decide who will rule the British Empire.

It’s a true story that takes you behind the scenes of Scottish and English royalty, revealing their personalities, quirks, ambitions and idiosyncrasies. There is plotting and deceit and treachery that offer twists and turns throughout the story.

There are only a few recognizable faces in the cast, but the acting was superb. Outlander fans might also recognize some of the scenery and at least one castle in particular. Although the flick wasn’t one we were dying to see, Cathryn and I enjoyed it, both giving it a 7 out of 10.