Book Review: Discovering Hidden Europe with Francis Tapon

Rabu, 23 Mei 2012

So many books, essays and articles have been written about Europe, that there is not much to say anymore. Or is there?

Apparently, Francis Tapon still has a thing or two to argue when talking about Europe, the hidden Europe, the most unknown part of the Old Continent, that fascinating region from Germany eastward that still bears mystery and retains much of its old charm.

Reading his book, The Hidden Europe, you will embark on a journey of the unknown, that will still keep the European features of a rich culture and fascinating artistic traditions, with the additional benefit of visiting places that are seldom mentioned anywhere else.

The book, however, has a deeper mission than merely describing beautiful countries. As the author himself says, "the purpose of this book isn’t to just share Eastern European
insights. Its purpose is also to stir curiosity in you. I hope to
inspire you to wander and learn. I want America to open its borders
and brains not just to the brightest minds of Eastern Europe, but to the
brightest minds of the world."

Humor, vivid descriptions, anecdotes stemming from seven years of wandering around that not-so-remote European region, more or less straightforward interactions with locals and, last but not least, a stunning set of photos as the perfect closure, are the main ingredients of this unusual journey.

Despite its 700-something pages, you will read the book straight through. The topics you will find throughout the piece are all of deep importance, but Tapon's light style meets the challenge to make them pleasant (and hilarious!).

Please, travel vicariously through Francis Tapon's words towards unsung destinations, hostile-looking yet stunning landscapes, harsh weather conditions and their correspondent human attitudes in facing Mother Nature's tests, be amazed at the unexpected hospitality, if not pure candor, of Eastern Europeans towards foreigners, learn about Finland (you didn't know it was in Eastern Europe? Discover why), Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova and the other countries and populations that make Eastern Europe such a demanding travel destination.

You will be enriched by this book, you will learn what "Eastern Europe can teach us" and you will be more encouraged and curious to book there your next trip.

To buy The Hidden Europe, click here.

Christmas Magic in Paris

Kamis, 17 November 2011

Christmas is coming, and where better to spend this merry time of year than in one of the most magical cities in the world? Paris certainly doesn’t hold back when it comes to winter festivities; you’ll find the city streets lavishly decorated with Christmas lights and street vendors selling hot chestnuts and winter warming crêpes on every street corner. The whole city comes to life with a Christmas buzz as the 25th of December fast approaches… Be sure to not miss out on any of the Parisian winter magic this year!

Shop till you drop.

I’m sure you’re aware that Paris is a prime shopping destination throughout the year, however to experience ‘la crème de la crème’ of Parisian shopping, the weeks building up to Christmas are without a doubt the most special shopping weeks of all. Everything from high street shops to department stores to small and exclusive boutiques make an exceptional effort and although the sales officially start in January, they will often offer their customers fantastic winter deals – perfect if you’re looking to get good value for your money on Christmas gifts! The fabulous 10 story shopping centre - Galleries Lafayette is particularly impressive at this time of year. You’ll find an enormous Christmas tree in the middle of the building and each of the 63 stores are immaculately decorated.

There are also many Christmas markets where you’ll find handmade arts and crafts, typical French sweet treats such as nougat and Yule log, and much more! They’re the perfect place to pick up a unique French present or two. The biggest market stretches all the way along the Champs-Elysées to Place de la Concorde. There are also two markets which feature a ‘Santa’s Village’ where you have the chance to meet the big guy himself! They’re both located in the 6th arrondissement; Sant-Supice and Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

Get your skates on!

There is nothing more magical than wrapping up in your favourite coat, hat, gloves and scarf and going ice-skating in an open-air ice rink. Parisians are no exception – the city offers several ice-skating options. For an unforgettable experience it is actually possible to ice-skate on the Eiffel Tower! If you fancy gliding through the air; this 57 foot high ice-rink holds up to 80 daring ice-skaters at once. For something more down to earth (and a much shorter queue!) the much larger ice-rink outside Hotel de Ville is an equally festive and enjoyable experience.

Time to meet Mickey Mouse…

If you’re in Paris with children or you just want to let your inner-child loose, than a visit to Disneyland Paris is a must! The theme park goes out of its way to fully embrace the Christmas sprit. With special shows and parades, characters and staff in Christmas themed costumes and even a Disney themed Christmas market, there’s no better time to experience the magic of Disney.

Don’t forget to relax

After a hectic day of running around Paris admiring the sights, lights and shops you’ll certainly appreciate a warm and welcoming place to go back to. The best option for those after a relaxing and enjoyable holiday is to rent a Paris apartment. There are plenty of Paris apartments for rent in the city centre and renting an apartment is an easy way to bring convenience, luxury and space during your stay in Paris.

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