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
When was the last time you spent some time in the nature? When was the last time you’ve camped, or maybe you never have? Leave your excuses at the door, literally, and do something different. How did Francis manage to visit almost over 80 countries? He camped.
Get off the path
Paris, London and Amsterdam are awesome and surely deserve to be visited. But the world is huge and does not consist of what you only see advertised by your local tourist agency. Why not ski on the Tatra’s rather than the Alps? Or visit the Black Sea Coast rather than the Ligurian Coast? Surely some places are more famous due to its qualities but it’s not what makes your travel experience better. It’s the people you meet, the challenges you succeed in, the risks you take and the things you learn. Travel is a much better way to learn than any school. Don’t just see it through your eyes – but through your heart too.
How many times have you traveled somewhere with your friends, ate in a restaurant and never really cared about the things or people around you. How many times have you socialized with someone in a foreign country, besides just asking them to show you how to get to some point on a map or explain to you what bus to take to get somewhere. That’s just wrong. Go talk to someone, ask them about their country, their point of view, learn history from the locals, make friends and have valuable experiences. Friends make our world richer.
I won’t reveal more. There were things with which I disagreed with as well, but that is just normal and we’re not supposed to think the same – that’s what makes our experiences truly unique. In conclusion I think everyone who loves travel, history and is interested in learning new and interesting facts should read this book.
You can order the book if you visit his official website by clicking here or via Amazon.