Book Review: Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day

Doug travels Europe by using an outdated travel guide and muses on the changing nature of tourism. | A book review from Newbery and Beyond

I really enjoyed this book.  Part travel memoir, part history of tourism, it covers Doug’s journey through eight European countries using the (obviously outdated) Europe on Five Dollars a Day by Arthur Frommer.  Inspired by his mother’s Tour in the 1960s using this book, Doug visits several of the cities in the book and attempts to follow Frommer’s recommendations for places to stay, visit, and eat at, a process Doug calls “Frommering.”  Of course, this leads to much confusion, as many of the places in the book have closed down or been replaced by something else.  Doug explores the dilemma of every modern traveler–is it better to be a tourist, seeing all the great sights and visiting tourist traps, or should a traveler pursue a more “authentic” experience in some tiny village in the country?  As you might expect, the answer is a qualified yes to both.  Doug finds the charm in following the beaten path, despite issues of “authenticity,” and he also discusses how it might even be more responsible to follow the crowd rather than beat down a new path to a smaller area, less capable of handling visitors.

I’ve only visited one of the cities he went to (Vienna), and I found that he really captured my own feelings about the city.  He muses on how overexposed we can become, researching every hotel, every sight, every restaurant, until there is no real purpose in visiting–there’s nothing new to see there; we’ve already seen it all online.  Doug learns to let go, to enjoy the tourist experience, to meet people of many different cultures and accept the changing nature of the “historical” cities of Europe, and most of all, to enjoy getting lost.

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

Do any of you have good/bad/hilarious experiences with using travel guides?  I’d love to read your stories in the comments!

About Monica

I am obsessed with all things books. I'm a music teacher by day and a freelance editor by night.

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