Wednesday 13 May 2015

Anne Mustoe in South America and the Penguin in Europe

I wrote about Anne Mustoe's book A Bike Ride not too long ago. She is the middle aged retired English headmistress that decided to ride her bike around the world in the 1980's. She followed the trail of Alexander the Great and it was quite an adventure.

Now I am reading about one of her other excursions. This one is Che Guevara and the Mountain of Silver by bicycle and train through South America.

Her ride is several years after the first one in A Bike Ride. I am enjoying this book but I don't think it is as good as the first one was. She begins in Buenos Aires in Argentina and rides south to Beriloche which is in the mountains. Then she crosses west to Puerto Mont and north to Santiago. She not only rides her bike but she has a friend with her much of the way. She also uses buses and trains so it is not all bicycle travel.
Again she incorporates a great deal of history into the book and this time it is following the trail of Che Guevara who previously did the motorbike tour with his mate before he became a revolutionary.  

I get the feeling that this book, although structurally sound in her better than average writing it doesn't have the passion in it as A Bike Ride does. I feel she is fulfilling a contract and is all a bit "ho hum." 

The bright spots of interest is when she backs up and writes about the people she meets in rural areas along the way. The history of Che Guevara is also interesting but it would be better to just read his Motorcycle Diaries because she tries to recreate his journey but he does it so well in his book it isn't necessary.  I would rather read about the interesting places in South America, the apprehension of traveling in some places and the people she meets along the way.  I have travelled in many of the places she mentions and I don't feel she gives the smaller towns justice.  

If you are a long distance bicyclist there is still a great deal to get out of this book but I find I get bored in several places. There is just too much sameness.   The history is thrown at the reader like a professor lecturing and you just want to put your feet up and have a little snooze. Che Guevara's life was fascinating, his life philosophy was controversial and his journeys dangerous.  I felt like she is riding on his back to put a bit of life in this story when in fact the idea she is riding her bicycle through these areas could be equally as exciting on their own, but that message doesn't seem to come through. I am almost through with this read and I have her other books that I will get to. I love a good bicycle journey and I want to read her other books but think I'll take a break once I finish this one. I am almost done by the way.

Now some exciting news for myself, Mr. Penguin and I leave on Saturday flying from Tasmania to Dubai where we will be for two nights to break up the journey on our way to Vienna, Austria. I have been to Vienna before but it was a long time ago and the weather was awful.  We were only there a day or two as well.

I have wanted to see the stables of the Spanish Riding School since I was 8 years old and the last time I was there the horses were in the countryside on holiday and the stables were closed for renovation. This year I know they are open so I am most excited. From Vienna we have no idea where we are going next.  Armed with 5  more weeks of time and a Eurail Pass we will head across Austria, go south to Italy, then across Southern France and spend some time in Spain.  We hope to get to Lisbon, Portugal and fly to Paris but we may run out of time. We want at least 5 or 6 days in Paris before we return to Australia with another 2 nights in Dubai to break up the journey.

I am taking more journal writing items, technology, cords, and a power board than I am clothes. Don't want to carry a lot. I will keep up the blog as long as I have wi-fi and I will post extra photos on my Facebook page.  I am really looking forward to wandering and will try to incorporate as many bookish places into the trip as possible. Plus coffee shops, pastries, gardens, brightly coloured flours, dogs and cats and people.  I know there is history galore, dozens of cathedrals and more museums than one can see in a lifetime. But we just want to walk.  Get to know the areas by foot, stop, eat, drink coffee, wine, cold beer. Enjoy the summer weather. Our Kindles are full of books. So my blog gets to be truly alive with travel and some Penguin hunting. 

If I see shop windows with books I will be sure to record that in the photo diary here.  I will return to more mundane things at home in July.  I plan a large book cull when I get home and some more Penguin additions to the collection. But that will be another story. 

So stay tuned.  When I know where I'll be staying you'll hear it first here.  


  1. I haven't read A Bike Ride yet, but I got a copy after reading your review.
    Your trip sounds like the one my husband and I took in 1988, just before we started our business. We spent four weeks wandering around Europe by train and rental car and then one week in England before heading back to a life of few vacations. If you've read my blog, you know I'm a huge lover of animals and that I have a special place in my heart for horses. I missed seeing the horses of the Spanish Riding School when we were in Vienna, although I got to see the building / stables from the outside. I love those magnificent animals and have to admit to a bit of envy of you! Have a wonderful trip and thank you in advance for taking us along with you!

  2. Yes I know you love animals. I love them very much. Thanks for your good wishes and hope I find some interesting things to post up for the record. I have seen the horses perform from Vienna as they do tours but have never seen the school or the stables. We'll see if we get lucky or not.

  3. It sounds wonderful. Hope you will have a splendid time on your travels. From Cat-I had to repost, accidentally deleted.

  4. My goodness you are a brave soul! Have many traveling mercies on your lovely escape; I will be wrapping up the school year.

  5. Having wrapped up 35 school years I think you are a braver person than I. I know you will be happy for the summer holidays to comeand I look forward to seeing what you get up to and what you read. All of the very best!

  6. Have a wonderful time! I wish I was going to Paris, it is such an incredible city.

  7. Thanks Christine I am looking forward to it. I have been before but it was a long time ago and quite a short stay, couple of days only. So looking forward to it.


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