Mitchell tells the story of his bicycle journey in a laidback fashion. Even when he’s battling against wind and rain, it doesn’t seem to faze him much. His descriptions of some of his meals made my mouth water. And who wouldn’t want to travel around to little villages all over Europe, staying in bed & breakfasts (a.k.a., a very nice person’s spare bedroom), and sampling local delicacies at the town café (or pub)?
This was also an educational book. Mitchell is a lover of the sun and sun lore. He intersperses stories from his journey with stories from world cultures. He covers everything from mythology to the development of the heliocentric view of our solar system. Most of this was interesting. Some of it I could have lived without (there’s a lot of sacrificing to the sun god in world history). And as a Christian, I didn’t really appreciate him lumping Biblical events in with world myths and trying to explain how these stories evolved over the past five million years.
A minor pet peeve – his writing style really bugged me at the beginning. He is a great user of run-on sentences. For example: “They wore wide-brimmed straw hats held in place with white bandannas tied beneath their chins, and they all had round, nut-brown faces, with rosy cheeks and white teeth, and many of them wore full-cut blue or brown skirts and heavy shoes.” Seriously? Why isn’t that three separate sentences? After awhile, though, he either stopped writing like this or I stopped noticing, because eventually it no longer annoyed me.
As an armchair traveller, I like being able to learn as I read. But in my opinion, this book could have used more travel narrative and less history lesson, especially since his worldview didn’t agree with mine. I picked it up because the idea of riding a bicycle from Spain to Scotland intrigued me. That’s the story I was hoping to read. It was in there, but there was a lot of other stuff that got in the way.