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DISCOVER EUROPE by Berry, Averbuck, Baker, Christiani, Elliott, Garwood, Ham, Maxwell, McLachlan, Schulte-Peevers, Bermoes, and Williams, is an 847 page guidebook in the LONELY PLANET series. The book is printed on glossy paper, and every other page or so has a glossy photo, color map, or multi-colored drawing. The book has eight chapters, which are color-coded, as indicated below. The chapters are:
(1) INTRODUCTION (yellow).
(2) BRITAIN and IRELAND (dark green).
(3) FRANCE (orange).
(4) SPAIN (light blue).
(5) ITALY (red).
(6) NETHRLANDS and BELGIUM (light green).
(7) GERMANY (dark blue).
(8) AUSTRIA, SWITZERLAND, CZECH REPUBLIC (purple).
(9) GREECE (light green).
(10) History, politics, food, sports, beaches, credit cards, transportation (white).
From the map in the INTRODUCTION, it is apparent that some countries were not included, e.g., Portugal, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Croatia, and Poland. The INTRODUCTION provides a large photograph of Coliseum in Rome, Eiffel Tower, gondolas in Venice, Hofburg Palace in Vienna, canals in Amsterdam, The Alhambra palace in Granada (photos on pages 19, 297, 374, and 375), Roman ruins in Bath, Ireland, Gaudi’s architecture in Barcelona (photos on pages 21, 332), Giant’s Causeway in Ireland (photos on pages 25, 164); ski slopes in Chamonix (photos on pagtes 27, 251), rolling hills in Tuscany, and other delights.
The book is abundantly practical, as it uses a quarter-page or half-page photograph to attract the reader’s attention to the page, where the same page typically contains a dozen little paragraphs, each containing a blurb about a restaurant, museum, architectural wonder, commercial tour, theater, shopping attraction, or hotel. Within most of these paragraphs is a telephone number and a web site address (see how practical this book is?)
PHOTOGRAPHS. Most of the photos concern old buildings, and not landscapes, and certainly no anonymous photographs of children romping in a park, or anonymous photos of a flower bed. Because of the huge nature of this book’s topic, it was an excellent decision of the editor for the photographs to dwell mainly on one topic, namely, old buildings. At any rate, when you contrast Europe with the United States, it is evident that Europe excels in old buildings (while the U.S. is deficient), and the United States excels in amazing scenery, e.g., Crater Lake, Yosemite, Napali coast in Kauai, Arches National Park (while Europe is relatively deficient in amazing scenery).
The old buildings include CASTLE HOWARD in England (pages 50-51), OXFORD UNIVERSITY (p. 59), ROYAL ALBERT HALL (p. 92), HADRIAN’S WALL (a Roman ruin, pages 124-125), ROSSLYN CHAPEL in Scotland (p. 144-145) with a color drawing pointing out locations of statues of interest, such as LUCIFER THE FALLEN ANGEL, and detailed carving called THE APPRENTICE PILLAR (pages 144-145).
The photos include CARCASSONE an ancient fortified city in France (pages 174-175, 261), THE LOUVRE (pages 183, 196-197), NOTRE DAME (pages 190-191) with thumbnail photos showing gargoyles, wooden panels showing Bible stories, the North Rose Window, and the Great Bell. Other photos from France are MONT ST. MICHEL (p. 226, 228-229) with thumbnail photos showing bell tower, ramparts, causeway, and La Merveille (a hallway with ribbed vaulting), CHATEAU DE CHAMBORD (palace made in 1519 with a double helical staircase), PONT DU GARD (Roman aquaduct made in 19 BC).
The photos from Spain include, MUSEO DEL PRADO, with thumbnail phtos of paintings by Velazquez, Rubens, and Goya (pages 304-305), PARK GUELL (p. 345) which has whimsical buildings designed by Gaudi, MUSEO GUGGENHEIM (pages 354) which has even more whimsical architecture, designed by Frank Gehry.
Photos from Italy include TREVI FOUNTAIN (p. 382-383), and we read that, “Italy, the land that has turned its lifestyle into a designer accessory, is one of Europe’s great seducers,” VATICAN MUSEUM with photo of spiraling staircase (p. 401), PANTHEON (a 2000 year old temple with a photo showing interior view of its dome (p. 409), GALLERIA VITTORIO EMANUELE (p. 427) which is an astonishing shopping mall with a huge glass ceiling, where we read, “You can ward off bad luck by grinding your heel into the testicles of the mosaic bull on the floor,” LEANING TOWER of Pisa (p. 461), POMPEII ruins (p. 469-471).
In the chapter on NETHERLANDS, we see photos of windmills (pages 484-485), RIJKSMUSEUM and apartment buildings, and BELFORT TOWER, all characterized by soaring structures with a vertical emphasis (pages 488-489), more windmills (pages 511, 516).
In the chapter on GERMANY, we see photos of CHECKPOINT CHARLIE (p. 556) and read that it is now a tourist attraction, NEUSHWANSTEIN CASTLE (pages 7, 557, 603), SCHLOSS SAUSSOUCI palace in Potsdam (p. 583), and we read that admission to this palace is by a timed ticket. The photo shows that a dozen statues are attached to the building, just under a dome.
From Switzerland, we see photos of MATTERHORN (pages 630, 681), and BERNESE OBERLAND train passing through a scenic mountainous landscape (p. 721), and from Czech Republic, we see photos of PRAGUE CASTLE (p. 701) and we read that entry to the castle grounds is free, but going into St. Vitus Cathedral requires a ticket.
In the chapter on Greece, we see photos of DELPHI amphitheater (p. 730-731), and METEORA (p. 735, 757) a monastery built on top of a tall butte located in Kastraki, ACROPOLIS (p. 742), 744-745), with thumbnail photos showing statues of women named “Carpatids” who serve as columns to support the roof, built in 415 BC, TEMPLE OF POSEIDON, and TEMPLE OF ATHENA NIKE, and PALACE OF KNOSSOS (p. 766, 768-769).
THE TEXT. I will reproduce only one sample of the text. This is from MUSEE PICASSO. We read that the phone number is 0142712521. We read that the website is www dot musee-picasso dot fr. We read that the street address is 5 rue de Thorigny. We read, “One of Paris’ most beloved art collecitons opened its doors again after massive renovation works in summer 2013. Housed in the stunning mid 17th century Hotel Sale, the Musee Picasso woos art lovers with more than 3500 drawings, engravings, paintings, ceramic works and sculptures by the grain maître (great master) Pablo Picasso (1881-1973).” As you can see, the author is not ashamed of packing huge amounts of information into a tiny paragraph!
It is understood that each of the countries in this book have their own guidebooks in the LONELY PLANET series, as well as from other publishers. Also, it is recognized that at least a dozen of the cities in Europe have their own guidebook. Despite the huge nature of the task of covering all of Europe (except for Portugal and Denmark), this book takes itself very seriously, and plunges into fine-grained detail on every page. This is a virtue of this book, and of all of the other LONELY PLANET guidebooks.