Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day: One Man, Eight Countries, One Vintage Travel Guide

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Overview

Prepare to Get Lost on the Beaten Path...

When Doug Mack picked up a 1963 edition of Europe on Five Dollars a Day, he stumbled on an inspired idea: to boldly go where millions have gone before, relying only on the advice of a travel guide that's nearly a half century out-of-date. Add to the mix his mother's much- documented grand tour through Europe in the late 1960s, and the result is a funny and fascinating journey into a new (old) world, and a disarming look at the ways the ...

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Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day: One Man, Eight Countries, One Vintage Travel Guide

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Overview

Prepare to Get Lost on the Beaten Path...

When Doug Mack picked up a 1963 edition of Europe on Five Dollars a Day, he stumbled on an inspired idea: to boldly go where millions have gone before, relying only on the advice of a travel guide that's nearly a half century out-of-date. Add to the mix his mother's much- documented grand tour through Europe in the late 1960s, and the result is a funny and fascinating journey into a new (old) world, and a disarming look at the ways the classic tourist experience has changed- and has not-in the last generation.

After a whirlwind adventure spanning eight countries-and costing way more than five dollars a day-Mack's endearing account is part time travel, part paean to Arthur Frommer's much-loved guide, and a celebration of the modern traveler's grand (and not-so-grand) tour.

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  • May11/EuropeOnFiveWrongTurns__Doug_Mack_BB_db0e7abeee1bba42ef0c3ceae7a2a43c96970944
    May11/EuropeOnFiveWrongTurns__Doug_Mack_BB_db0e7abeee1bba42ef0c3ceae7a2a43c96970944  

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The discovery of a 1963 edition of Arthur Frommer's Europe on Five Dollars a Day inspires freelance writer Mack to follow its well-beaten path to Florence, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin, Munich, Zurich, Vienna, Venice, Rome, and Madrid. With the intention of avoiding any current advice, he wanders the cities with his outdated guidebook and finds that many of the recommended restaurants and hotels are closed, booked, or beyond his budget. Comparing past travel experiences to present, he quotes Frommer's book and correspondence from his own mother's 1967 and 1975 European trips. He joins the "tourist dance," where cameras are exchanged so sightseers can have pictures of themselves at famous spots. Based on the blog he kept while overseas, this book shares that medium's anecdotal style: describing his impressions of each city's personality, relating facts about the history of tourism, and ruminating on tourist-flooded locations. Mack, at first timid and uncomfortable, learns to embrace the cliché of visiting places everyone visits. VERDICT Unlike travel books focused on local color or distant destinations, this amusing narrative chronicles a traveler's experience of Europe's hot spots and tourist culture. Recommended—Janet Clapp, MLS, North Clarendon, VT
Kirkus Reviews
A clever idea for a travel book, executed engagingly though inconsistently. Perhaps the first book by Minneapolis-based freelance writer Mack might best be considered a meta–travel book, a book about travel books, one in particular, and how it all but created the all-American practice of tourism while catering to it. The book that inspired this one is Frommer's Europe on Five Dollars a Day, first published in 1957 and discontinued a half-century later as Europe on $95 a Day). The author found a copy at a book fair, bought it for a dime and discovered that it was something of a talisman for his mother, who used it on her own European travels before marriage. So the author decided to tour Europe using only this ancient, outdated book as a guide, ignoring all updates, successors and the advent of the Internet, doing his best to go, eat and stay where Frommer had advised (knowing that his expenses will extend well past $5 per day). The problem with this concept is that most of those places have closed over the years since the book was published, and the few that remain are either booked (by folks planning ahead with that pesky Internet), radically changed and/or out of Mack's price reach. The author intersperses his travel adventures (which generally are no more unusual or entertaining than anyone else's) with notes from his mother's trip and some higher-concept musing about the impact of Frommer, the changes in travel in general and the changing notion of "tourist" from populist phenomenon to something of an epithet. In the process, Mack offers "cheers, too, to the beaten path; it's beaten for a reason" and learns "to embrace the cliché." He writes of Frommer, "he was to travel as Julia Child was to food: the public figure who arrived at just the right cultural moment and said, with a light but nurturing tone, ‘You can do this. It's not that hard. Here's how.' " A genial companion for the armchair traveler.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399537325
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/3/2012
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 715,391
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Douglas Mack has written for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, WorldHum.com, and other publications. He is based in Minneapolis with a digital home at www.douglasmack.net.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Book That Started It All 1

Florence: Authentically Overwhelmed 19

Paris: Life in a Movie Set 47

Amsterdam: Live and Let Live It Up 73

Brussels: Baffling Capital of a Baffling Continent 93

Berlin: Twice the City It Was 111

Munich: If You Brew It, They Will Come 139

Zurich: Money Matters 163

Vienna: Mozart Didn't Blog 181

Venice: Brave New Old World 209

Rome: Eternal City of Tourism 233

Madrid: Better Living Through Tourism 249

Five Lists from My Travel Notebooks 267

Further Reading 271

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2012

    Great book that tails off at the end

    The author finds an old copy of Frommer's Europe On $5 a day. His mother is delighted in that she was part of the first wave of ordinary Americans to tour Europe on the cheap in the '60's. (Prior to then, touring Europe had been pretty much an exclusive enterprise of the very rich.) Finding this ancient relic inspires the author to visit Europe using the Frommer's as his only guidebook.

    The first two thirds to three fourths of the book is absolutely fascinating - a history of the modern tourist boon, how it began and how it has morphed into something very different from its origins. The negative is that toward the end of the book, the author tires. At that point, the book, like the author, begins to flag - lose its energy. Despite that, I would highly recommend the book for its scintillating beginning. Well worth reading, particularly if you (like the author's mother) had been part of the initial tourist boom.

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