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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 6 August 2006
Like many travel books and books about anything to do with places and the people who inhabit or frequent these places, there is an added benefit to having experienced it yourself.To get this book, you don't have to have walked the Camino but it most certainly adds flavour if you have. Or more specifically there is an added glee when you witness Moore's beautiful slapstick unravelling as he makes his way across northern spain to his final destination of Santiago. His struggles are your struggles, the people he encounters you've encountered, and best of all he gives voice to the secret thoughts that played over and over in your mind as you wandered along the way. So if you've walked the Camino I urge you to read Spanish Steps, if you're thinking of walking the Camino I urge you to buy it and read it as soon as you return home, and if you have all ready read it I urge you to walk the Camino and read it again and finally if you have no intention of walking anywhere farther than the corner shop or the bus-stop I urge you to read it and laugh yourself silly. Above all Enjoy.
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on 28 June 2005
Tim Moore has taken me on some extraordinary journeys in the past, from the Tour de France to the Monopoly board via the arctic deserts of Iceland, but I found this one easily the most enjoyable. If you don't fall in love with the infuriating but utterly endearing donkey he takes with him on this Spanish pilgrimage, I'll eat my cat...
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on 1 October 2004
A book about a pilgrim travelling across Spain with a donkey is not the sort of book I would normally read, and indeed if someone other than Tim Moore had of written it, I wouldn't have even picked it up. But that would have been a mistake.
After "French Revolutions" and "Do Not Pass Go", Spanish Steps starts off slowly, rather like a donkey being pulled towards Santiago. However Moore's humour comes to the fore quickly, I laughed out loud at his struggles to keep his ass under control, the way Shinto the donkey is "an unlikely babe magnet", and his struggles with Spain, the Spanish and everyone and everything else he encounters on the way to Santiago.
Moore's reminiscences of his journey are equally humourous, sad, mellon-collie, frustrating, thought provoking and heartwarming, and that is normally within 2 pages of the book. Along with this he paints a picture of Spain that, knowing Spanish people as I do, is remarkably accurate.
Altogether this is an excellent read, don't be put off by the book's concept - this is a travel book, about a voyage of discovery, with a donkey in tow, and a mighty fine book it is too. Unless your name is Shinto you shouldn't have to be dragged down the road to read a copy of this
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on 22 September 2006
This is the Spain that I know, the northern regions, especially Galicia.

We have a bit of an in-joke in our family about FLAN and it's nice to see someone else with the same sense of humour.

Of the two protagonists, it's difficult to work out which of them is the more photogenic, but I think the four legged one wins on points.

Santiago de Compostela is actually quite a lot nicer than poor Tim's experience but his descriptions of the wretched outskirts of the very nice cities there is totally accurate.

I'm just off to buy all his other books now. I'm so pleased I read this as it's introduced me to a really funny writer.
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on 2 February 2005
Having read (and thoroughly enjoyed) Moore's other books, with the exception of Do Not Pass Go, which I plan to get to at some point, I had high expectations for this one. For anyone who hasn't read anything by Moore, the usual drill is that he embarks upon some sort of journey or "quest" (cycling the Tour de France, doing the Grand Tour, that sort of thing), and writes a highly amusing, historically informative book about his travels.
The premise for this book follows much the same pattern -- Moore decides to walk across Spain on a pilgrimage to Santiago, as thousands of Christians have done before him. But he doesn't go alone. Put off by the thought of having to carry bags of clothes and supplies while trekking under a burning sun, he enlists the help of Shinto the donkey, who becomes his reluctant companion, local celebrity, the centrepiece of many a tourist holiday snap and the cause of many of the funnier moments in this book.
If I were to be honest I'd have to say that Spanish Steps probably doesn't have quite as much in the way of embarrassingly-loud-laughter-on-the-bus moments as his previous efforts do, but the funny bits when they do come (and they're still pretty frequent -- often, as I mentioned above, as the result of Shinto and his bridge-hating, Moore-taunting antics) are every bit as good as I've come to expect from the author who wrote the funniest book I've ever read (Frost on my Moustache). Some of his descriptions of refugio living conditions and his fellow pilgrims -- a highly eclectic group of whom we see a lot along the way -- are priceless.
For all Moore's comedic, often cynical, outlook, there are some deeply poignant moments in the book, and no shortage of historical information. The end even brought a wee tear to the eye.
Like all Moore's books, it's great fun to read and has both utterly hilarious and deeply moving moments (the former outweighing the latter by a fair bit, admittedly). I thoroughly enjoyed it and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to others.
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on 10 September 2006
I've just finished Spanish Steps and I'm still wiping the tears from my eyes, and not all of them are tears of laughter.

A truly entertaining yet also surprisingly touching read, Spanish Steps is another Tim Moore classic. Laughter and tears, high jinx and low ebbs, fascinating history and hysterically funny observations, it had everything I hoped for from one of my favourite authors. (And the photo of Shinto rolling on the ground in the Plaza de Toros still has me chuckling every time I look at it - I love that donkey!)

A real pilgrims-eye view of life on the road to Santiago, Tim Moore tells it like it is and how it was for pilgrims present and past. From not even knowing about the Camino de Santiago I now feel I've walked it, donkey and all!

Bring on the next adventure..!
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on 10 October 2005
Enjoyed reading 'Do Not Pass Go' and am enjoying 'Frost On My Moustache', but they're not in the same league as far as laughs per page go. Despite his obvious deprivations and hardships, Tim Moore has almost made me want to do the pilgrimage. However, I have got a somewhat lavatorial sense of humour, which may account for why I laughed myself weak at some of the passages.
I have ordered several copies to give various people for Christmas in the hope that it gives them as much pleasure as it gave me...
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on 28 July 2014
Brilliant! Funny, heartwarming, inspirational. The author certainly suffers for his art! I constantly wondered whether he would have packed the whole thing in had he not had a novel to write and a family to feed from the proceeds. Tim Moore has my complete admiration for his staying power and his approach to human endeavour. A great read.
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on 17 April 2007
This is a very entertaining travel book. The Santiago de Compostella wasn't something I had heard of before ( a pilgrimage across Spain) - so it was an education too. An amazing undertaking in itself, it makes the average Sunday afternoon walk look a bit feeble. Tim Moore writes very well, often with great humor, taking a wry look at the people he meets along the way. Shinto, the donkey Tim takes along (although never rides) emulating the pilgrims of old - quickly becomes the star of the show, and it is obvious that Tim Moore developed a real affection for his four legged companion. At the end of this book, as Tim bids Shinto a sad goodbye, I found myself sorry to see these engaging travellers go their separate ways.
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VINE VOICEon 27 June 2015
...that vehicle being Shinto the donkey. The journey to Santiago de Compostela provides Tim Moore with the perfect material for his mix of travelogue and insight. Every bit as good as his earlier travels, my only regret is that I've now read all of his books. The star of the tale is clearly Shinto, and Tim's affection for his companion is very touching. The photos add much to the tale. A wonderful read.
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