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The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us (Wanderlearn Series) [Illustrated] [Hardcover]

Francis Tapon
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 April 2012
For many Westerners, Eastern Europe is about as appealing as a deodorant-free French armpit. That didn't scare Francis Tapon because not only did he learn how to rough it by walking across America four times, but he is also half French, so he kind of smells too. Francis spent nearly 3 years travelling and backpacking in 25 Eastern European countries. It started with a 5-month trip in 2004. He returned in 2008 to spend 3 years exploring all the countries again. The Hidden Europe is Book Two of the WanderLearn Series. There are 25 chapters (one for each country). Each chapter: Examines an Eastern European country's history, food, language, sites, stereotypes, and drinking habits. Covers Francis Tapon's personal adventures in that country. Ends with a short summary of what practical things you can learn from that country. Francis Tapon yearned for a European adventure, but Western Europe seemed too tame and passe. So he travelled for 3 years visiting every Eastern European country - all 25 of them. The Hidden Europe cleverly mixes insightful facts with hilarious personal anecdotes. It's profound, yet light. Francis Tapon is a sharp observer who helps you distinguish a Latvian from a Lithuanian, while not confusing Slovenia with Slovakia. You'll also 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. How Slovenians learn languages so quickly. Why the Balkans is so screwed up. Why there's much more to Romania than Dracula. Which Moldovan tradition saves marriages. What the future holds for Belarus, Ukraine, Russia. Why communism was a dream ...and a nightmare. You'll understand a side of Europe that is still mysterious and misunderstood even 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union. Francis Tapon is an ideal guide in a book that will become a classic travel narrative.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Wanderlearn; 1 edition (28 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976581221
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976581222
  • Product Dimensions: 4 x 14.8 x 21.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 418,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

To learn more about Francis, visit his webpage at

Origin: Francis Tapon's mom is from Chile and his dad is from France. He was born and raised in San Francisco, California. He's been to nearly 80 countries, but we keeps coming back to this magical city because he loves earthquakes.

Languages: He spoke Spanish at home, French at school, and English everywhere else. He can get by in Slovenian, Portuguese and Italian, barely survive in Russian, and speak a few other languages like a two-year-old.

Education: He has a degree in Religion from Amherst College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. So he is well prepared to start a church and make lots of money off of it.

Work: He co-founded SIGHTech, a successful Silicon Valley company. He also worked at Hitachi Data Systems and Microsoft.

Backpacking: He's walked across America 4 times: thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, and in 2007, became the first to do a round-trip on the Continental Divide Trail. He's walked across Spain twice (traversing the Pyrenees and El Camino Santiago). In 2009, he was nominated a one of the seven finalists to the California Outdoors Hall of Fame, which "features nominees who are world-renowned for their skills and who have helped inspire thousands of others to take part in the great outdoors." Although he "barely missed induction," he was quite honored to be nominated. Some think that they nominated him because he's evangelized about the glories of backpacking 10,000 miles, but we know the real reason: they're impressed that he backpacked for 45 days without a shower.

Author: He wrote Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America, which is based on my AT experience. He also produced a 77-minute movie on his round-trip on the Continental Divide Trail. His latest book, The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us, just came out in 2012. It's a book about his 3.5-year adventure in 25 Eastern European countries.

Current activity: He is about to spend 3 years traveling to all 54 African countries.

Things Francis has never owned: A television, couch, bed, chair, or spaceship. (He's disappointed about the last one.)

Books he's read: To learn what thinks about some of the books he has read recently, read his book reviews on Amazon.

Goal in life: Visit every country on the planet and share the experience with anyone who cares to listen.

Product Description

About the Author

Francis Tapon is a public speaker, world traveller, and life coach. Author of Hike Your Own Hike: 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America, he has travelled to over 75 countries. He was born and raised in San Francisco. He is a first-generation American, born of a French father and a Chilean mother. He has a degree in Religion from Amherst College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lessons from Eastern Europe 10 Dec 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I got acquainted with Francis Tapon almost two years ago, when he contacted me and offered pieces of his new book under preparation to be published in the Journal of Eurasian Studies [...] Since the July-September 2010 issue of our journal his writings can be read, the first couple of chapters unabridged.

I have not met Francis in person yet, but I immediately felt a deep connection. His deep humanity, sharp wit, and open mindness are characteristics that make him instantly a very likeable person and an ideal author. Next to that, his life is pretty much an open book. In his first book, `Hike Your Own Hike -- 7 Life Lessons from Backpacking Across America', published in 2006, he formulates his life-vision in very practical terms using the completion of the Appalachian Trail as background. `Hike Your Own Hike' is not only an interesting mountaineering guide but rather a book full with life management advices.

Francis Tapon takes the theory distilled in his first book and eats his own cookies. He lives his own life according to his `sermons'. And the product this time is a book on Eastern Europe, `The Hidden Europe -- What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us', based on a several years of traveling through every country of that part of the world. A voluminous book that you cannot put down once you commenced reading it. In it the author takes the reader to a journey through each country of Eastern Europe (25 in total), mingling personal experiences with his understanding of the region's recent and past history, reflections on human nature in general, and drawn conclusions from all of these factors. As with his each writing the volume is soaked with humanity, wit, and (self-)criticism.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learned so much!! 20 Sep 2012
This is a great book it is a prefect combination of light hearted stories and interesting facts about different p[laces around eastern Europe. Perfect for anyone who travels and enjoys learning new things about different cultures.

After reading you find yourself telling your friends and family all about your new found knowledge of places you've heard of but actually knew little about, until reading The Hidden Europe. A combination of a funny and intellectual book that keeps you going back again to soak up the quirky facts about eastern Europe.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book will inform and entertain. 15 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Francis Tapon's book is a must for anyone with an interest in this part of the world. His writing is both informative and entertaining.

This is not a mere travelogue of "must sees" but a balanced view of the history of these fascinating countries and an attempt to dispel many of the myths too.

A turbulent region but Francis manages to keep a balanced stance and never descends into mere politics.

You will also meet some really fascinating characters and gain a desire to visit some of these countries yourself.

I have friends from many of these countries and I love the fierce pride they have for their homes and cultures. I think Francis manages to capture the reasons for this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book 3 Sep 2013
The Hidden Europe is an amazing book really well written and easily read by everyone. Francis is giving plenty of background information for each country he visited and interesting facts on the people, food and way of life. Also he is providing on the background fascinating facts & figures on each country. Reading the book and having been to most of the countries really made me wanted to go back to each one of them and explore more. Really enjoyed reading the book and look forward to the new one when it comes out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book 9 April 2014
By Sara
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really enjoy this wander around Eastern Europe and the lessons learned are interesting. But for me the most interesting part is the history of many of the countries. I found the book to be insightful, not too serious and the writing was easy to read and pleasent. Having travelled moderately in those countries and always enjoyed my vacations immensley, the insight seemed accurate.

An unusual travel/culture book and a very pleasant read.
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