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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stroll Through Time
A fascinating study into travel before the First World War - a time in which our grandparents and great grandparents would have discovered the continent. Informative and instructive with a light touch.
Published on 17 July 2009 by M. Kelly

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive overview
Taking 100 years (1814-1914) years to examine the growth in continental tourism from a British perspective, this is a very informative book. It is the the birth of the travel industry. Bundled in are a huge amount of facts and good illustrations. It is more staccato cameos - aspects of travel - rather than fuller stories. This has the feel of a university text on Tourism...
Published 20 months ago by Benjamin Girth


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive overview, 25 Aug 2012
By 
Benjamin Girth "NI5 MCR" (Hampstead N6) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Smell Of The Continent: The British Discover Europe (Paperback)
Taking 100 years (1814-1914) years to examine the growth in continental tourism from a British perspective, this is a very informative book. It is the the birth of the travel industry. Bundled in are a huge amount of facts and good illustrations. It is more staccato cameos - aspects of travel - rather than fuller stories. This has the feel of a university text on Tourism Studies - lots of material to go off and find out more.

An excellent social commentary, the rise of the British middle classes who were tirelessly adventurous (except those breathlessly looking for health remedies). What was the attraction of arduous travel, being parted from your money in devious ways by almost everyone, pestered as much as pampered, the joys of seasickness, bad food and sanitation? Read this book and you'll get an idea and there are plenty interesting anecdotes. The pace of innovation is detailed, speed of trains, new boats, comforts etc but also how people thought and related to each other. It was an age of great optimism which the authors have captured.

The limitation of this book is there is just too much to digest - evolving the document that became the passport we take for granted, the birth of the guide book, the invention of the restaurant (not just where but how to eat) and hotel, how the bicycle revolutionised access to the back of beyond. Then the arrival of the automobile but well before the caravan (horse drawn) had been invented. I was just getting interested in one thing when they moved onto something else. The book shows the increasingly affluent British on the move, but these were the "haves." It implies higher English standards (not least in hygiene) and a more advanced society. But this was also the England of Dickens, where being a "have not" was dire by any comparison.

I found this to be an instructive read but not a page turner. For me it would have been a better book for more focus - perhaps just on Anglo French travel. That aside, this is well researched and written - a fascinating subject which nearly all of us can relate to. As for "the smell of the continent" in 1858 the Thames was so polluted, the Great Stink and cholera were the welcome a visitor to London experienced. To travel abroad was indeed a breath of fresh air!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stroll Through Time, 17 July 2009
By 
M. Kelly "armchair traveller" (South Wales) - See all my reviews
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A fascinating study into travel before the First World War - a time in which our grandparents and great grandparents would have discovered the continent. Informative and instructive with a light touch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Travel though British eyes, 6 Oct 2012
By 
Mr. D. K. Smith (South Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Smell Of The Continent: The British Discover Europe (Paperback)
The defeat of Napoleon in 1814 brought peace to Europe after 25 years of conflict. Which meant that the British could journey abroad for the first time in a generation, and this they did in ever greater numbers as the 19th century progressed.

But if Europe was free from war, there were many other hazards, as James Munson and Richard Mullen detail in this fascinating and very entertaining book. Drawing on personal accounts, diaries and contemporary articles from our Victorian forebears, we discover the numerous pitfalls that could befall the unwary traveler.

As might be expected, some of the more insular British were often highly uncharitable to foreign habits, food and modes of transport, but others were genuinely interested in other counties and peoples and what they could learn from them.

The Smell of the Continent is an informative and enlightening read, peppered with numerous touches of humour from the authors. This book is well worth packing on your next holiday.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Waterloo to the Great war, 10 July 2010
This review is from: The Smell Of The Continent: The British Discover Europe (Paperback)
At the time of the Battle of Waterloo travel to the Continent was for the few - not least wealthy young men doing the Grand Tour. By the outbreak of World War I it was for you and me and everyone else. This readable book records what happened and how, introducing along the way a rich cast of characters, some well known (among them Byron and Gladstone), others not, some deeply eccentric, others not, but none of them boring. The detail throughout is fascinating, but it is well chosen and never overwhelms. I thoroughly recommend this book
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a spiffing book for a holiday, 25 Aug 2009
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As a traveller, OBVIOUSLY, I loved to hear how other people take their tourist pleasures.

A great read, with a lot of humour and I anticpate my copy being returned to me having been chortled over by many.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The more things change, the more they stay the same., 11 Jan 2012
By 
C. Ball (Derbyshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Smell Of The Continent: The British Discover Europe (Paperback)
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The one thing that struck me on reading this book is how little British tourists have changed over the years, whether it's Victorians interrupting Latin Mass in Italian cathedrals to look at frescos, drunken youths cavorting in fountains and public squares, or the expectation that everyone ought to speak English. As the authors themselves state, it's the numbers that have changed, not the behaviour.

This is a really enjoyable read, a look at how the British arguably invented the concept of modern tourism. Prior to 1814, when this book begins, after the end of the Napoleonic Wars when the continent was 'opened' again, only the upper classes travelled, usually on some kind of 'improving' Grand Tour. By 1914 almost everyone could afford to travel, barring of course the very poorest, and almost everyone had an expectation of an annual holiday, a concept which still lasts to this day.

This book is a sort of combination of thematic and chronological approach, looking at concepts such as transport, food, hotels, bureaucracy, money, language, arts. It looks at the role tourism had on improving sanitation in cities, on travel services; on the spread of Anglicanism on the continent; and some towns and cities, notably Cannes in the south of France, even owe their very existence to tourism. Some familiar names crop up, Lunn Poly, Thomas Cook, Baedekers, the Ritz chain.

What I found interesting throughout the book was the confidence of the travellers, the sense of superiority merely from being British, and yes, the arrogance. 1814 to 1914 was perhaps the era when British confidence was at its height, Britain 'ruled the waves', and in terms of the Continent British gold certainly ruled. But these days, such confidence and arrogance is entirely unjustified, and yet it lingers on sadly in the attitudes to so many tourists now.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cracker of a read, 31 July 2011
This review is from: The Smell Of The Continent: The British Discover Europe (Paperback)
An absolute delightful read. Three hundred and twenty three pages of well-chosen anecdotes so it incidentally covers history, geography, the social landscape, and the living conditions of Europe. And of course has the plus of revealing the ingrained views of the British traveller in 19th century. It is very hard not to find something of interest on every page and the authors are careful to provide context where otherwise the reader may become confused.

The authors have chosen a great range of sources so that what might be leadenly educational is actually a pleasure to read. There 57 pages citing the sources, an extensive index, and suggested further reading.

I cannot recommend the book highly enough.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars plus ca change..., 13 Jun 2011
This review is from: The Smell Of The Continent: The British Discover Europe (Paperback)
Read excellent review two years ago - finally got around to ordering the book, intended for a present but kept it for myself...it was the perfect way to occupy the time between arriving for hospital appointments and actually being seen! I had no idea there was so much mass tourism even prior to the first world war - the authors have amassed a vast treasury of anecdotes and information. Extremely cheering and distracting!
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