Europe in 500 pages

I was looking back through some of my old books recently and came across my copy of “Europe by Train 1986” by Katie Wood and George McDonald.  I took this with me on my first inter-rail in (not surprisingly) 1986.

It’s amazing how brief the entries are for each country.  The entire book is just over 500 pages long, with 7 pages being enough to cover all of Poland.  Indeed the section on Eating & Nightlife in Warsaw is only 2 paragraphs long.

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These days some travel books could take 500 pages to cover “things to do in London on a Sunday morning in February – East London edition”

Things were much different back then.  Apart from the fact that several countries covered in the book no longer exist (Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia & East and West Germany), there was no internet and there were no mobile phones.  If faxes were around then, they certainly weren’t in widespread use.  In order to book a hostel you had to post off a letter or booking form to each hostel individually and include a pre-paid return envelope.  Since all countries in Europe use different stamps this wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

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