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New Europe


Michael Palin - New EuropeWe filmed over a period of twenty-two weeks between 16 May 2006 and 4 May 2007, generally avoiding the very depths of winter, though snow and ice caught up with us in Turkey. My formative impressions of Eastern Europe had been in monochrome, as if the people there lived in concrete apartment blocks under permanently grey skies. Basil Pao's pictures for the book and Nigel Meakin's photographs for the BBC series are an eloquent corrective. The sun shone throughout most of our journey. Though there are far too many concrete blocks, we also saw well-kept, elegant, ancient and very beautiful cities and villages, as well as swathes of countryside farmed by the traditional methods fast disappearing from west European landscapes.

And though the mountains may not be the Himalayas, there was snow on the tops of the Carpathians and the Julian Alps in the middle of summer.

The book is made up from my diary notes, with one exception. For the first time on any of my travels I had my shoulder bag stolen. It happened on my arrival in Budapest and though I lost phone and money neither mattered a damn compared to the loss of my little black book containing all my notes on the Baltic states. There was nothing I could do but sit in my hotel room overlooking the Danube and recreate it all from memory and from muttered observations on my voice recorder. It's a tribute to the Baltics that so much came back so vividly. If some days are missed out, it's because they were rest days.
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  • Series: New Europe
  • Chapter: Introduction
  • Country/sea: England
  • Place: London
  • Book page no: 7

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  • Miscellaneous
  • Day 3 
  • Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day 34 
  • Full Circle
  • Day 22 
  • Pole to Pole