“The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us” is written by Francis Tapon, one of the most famous world backpackers.
This book is based on Francis’ trips to Eastern Europe, where he spent nearly three years traveling and exploring 25 countries. Those 25 countries include: Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Eastern Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Russia.
25 countries – 25 chapters and each one consisting of Francis’ personal adventures, the country’s history, food, language, sites, stereotypes, interaction with the locals plus lets not forget humor. There’s just a lot of humor in this book.
According to Francis by reading this book you will learn;
Why Baltic people are human squirrels
When and why Poland disappeared from Europe
Why Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia broke up
Why Hungarians are really Martians
Why the Balkans is so screwed up
Why there’s much more to Romania than Dracula.
What the future holds for Belarus, Ukraine, Russia.
plus much more!
The adventure begins above the Arctic Circle where Francis gets locked in an outhouse (which is very interesting btw!), then moves onto the Baltics, Belarus, Poland, all the way to the Balkans and finishes with Moldova, Ukraine and Russia.
And as each chapter ends, Francis explains to the readers what we can learn from each country he has visited through his unique experiences. Whilst writing this review, I became inspired to do the same so here are some key things that this book and Francis can teach us;
How to write
Tapon proves that history doesn’t really have to be boring, and that is in fact very interesting. The book is very entertaining, and most of all very insightful, which I think is a very important characteristic every travel blogger and writer should have. Through vigorous reading and practice, we can all improve our writing style and this is one book I would recommend to everyone. The Hidden Europe is also is full of humor and jokes that will definitely crack you up. This book goes to my “favorite” list and it will definitely be utilized as some kind of alternative travel guide when visiting some of these Eastern European countries.
To be objective
We all love our countries but sometimes we end up being subjective about it like a vision coming through blurred glasses. It’s time to take those glasses off and see what is in front of us, to search for objective facts and look to the future rather than the past, which Francis explains very well in the Hungary chapter. Many of us fall for that trap but nobody lives from the past and the glorious history. And not just that we are often subjective about our own country, but we are also subjective about other countries as well. As soon as we start traveling more, we see our country, our city in a different way than before. And here’s one nice quote:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain