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The Bible in
Spain, George Borrow - Once upon a time, The Bible in
Spain was as famous as The Da Vinci Code is today. Within weeks
of its publication, it became one of the greatest bestsellers of the 19th
century. England bought thousands of copies. American pirate editions alone
ran into 20,000 copies each. It was translated into every important European
tongue and was read avidly by men like William Thackeray, Theodore
Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Charles Darwin and everybody who was anybody
in that age of taste and sophistication.
Despite its outmoded title, The Bible in Spain is not a religious
book but a tale of pure adventure. It tells the exploits of the brilliant
polyglot George Borrow, who was sent to Madrid in 1835 to sell Spanish
language Bibles. The country was at civil war; the Church objected strongly
to translated scripture; the roads were infested by bandits, beggars and
outcasts. Yet Borrow would not be stopped by any of it. To the consternation
of the gentle English parsons who employed him, he soon turned his sleepy
mission into a veritable crusade against ignorance, corruption, sabotage and
the fervent opposition of priests and prelates. Several times it landed him
in jail. He was nearly killed, by accident, assault or execution, as he rode
on horseback all over the Peninsula to peddle his forbidden books. He hid
with peasants, travelled with smugglers, found a hospitable shelter in the
caves of Spanish Gypsies. At the same time Borrow was dealing with Prime
Ministers, Ambassadors, high aristocrats and famous academics.
Out of this unlikely mixture of incidents, he later welded The Bible in
Spain – a book packed with raw emotion, great adventure and unique
insight, which reveals the heart of Spain as it was during the political
perils of the 1830s.
For more information, please go to
Barnes & Noble or
George Borrow page on Classic Travel Books.
Bridle Roads of Spain, George Cayley -
Think of the words
“forgotten classic,” then look at this book.
For resting under the words “Bridles Road of
Spain” is the most beautifully written equestrian travel account of the 19th
century. Even in that age of bold and prolific Long Rider authors, no other
work enjoyed this book’s unique mixture of dashing exploits and enchanted
writing. For this was no mere “boy’s own adventure.” Rather, it was the
keen-eyed memoir of a mounted poet, whose unique journey recorded a beloved
country and then passed into literary oblivion itself.
Oh, to be twenty-five, young and in love.
For that was what George Cayley was, when he set out in 1852 to ride across
one of the most romantic countries in the world. Accompanied by a fellow
wandering spirit, the young Englishmen donned the dashing clothes of
caballeros, bought two fiery steeds called the Moor and the Cid, then never
Travellers seldom realize they are
witnessing the passing of an age. Yet having just arrived from England, with
its enthusiastic embrace of the mechanical marvels of the Victorian age,
Cayley appreciated and wrote about the still-tranquil life he discovered in
A student of the classics, he wrote movingly
about the landscape before the intrusion of the motorized age. The young
horseman saw no trains, just lonely mountains. He found few good roads, but
plenty of sun-swept villages. He enjoyed scanty fare, but mixed with
jubilant people. His journey took him through a slumbering Espana, from
brooding Gibraltar, past glorious Granada, round Ronda, across Segovia and
on to the peaks of the Pyrenees.
Thus, it was while he was intoxicated with
the magic of Spain, that Cayley stumbled on the birthplace of that country’s
greatest literary work of art. At the village of Argamasilla del Alba, the
young writer made a pilgrimage to the cellar where “Don Quixote” had been
written. It was there, in a damp, underground cell that Miguel Cervantes had
penned the magnificent novel, while draped in chains.
The words Cayley wrote about Cervantes and
“Don Quixote” serve as a signpost to us today.
“Rare heart, bright focus of human
sympathies, which in one book couldst stuff so much good-fellowship, and
wit, and truth, that all thy fellow-men, generation after generation, must
go on reading it for ever and a day; while every one of the millions who
read, feels towards thee as a personal friend,” the Englishman wrote about
Those kind words, written to enshrine the
deeds of his fellow author, now ring true when applied to Cayley’s
masterpiece of equestrian travel literature.
Click here to go to Amazon.co.uk for more information or
Barnes & Noble.
|Round and About Spain - The Second World War had recently
concluded, and life in England was still full of hardship and rationing. Is
it any wonder then that when a visiting Spanish professor urged Aimé to
explore his sunny country, the ever-wandering Tschiffely jumped at the
chance? The only problem was that the English government prohibited any of
its citizens to depart overseas with more than £50. Such a paltry amount
would barely allow Tschiffely to stay alive and it immediately ruled out the
idea of him buying and riding horses in search of Spanish adventure. Yet
just when things look as bleak as a foggy London morning, a British
motorcycle company offered to donate one of their new machines to the
stranded traveller. The resulting trip saw Tschiffely joyfully roaming five
thousand miles during a four month exploration through the country he
labelled "the land of the unexpected." From Finisterre to Gibraltar, the
fluent Spanish speaking Aimé chatted to everyone including bootblacks,
beggars and Benedictines. In a country which abounds in poetry and history
he tracked down Phoenician legends, then danced till dawn with Gypsies.
Someone once said, if Spain didn't exist, someone would have to invent it.
Likewise we would feel the need to invent Aimé Tschiffely, that literary
angel of the Long Rider's world, who wandered across the globe and through
For more information, please visit
Barnes & Noble or
Spanish Pilgrimage, Robin Hanbury-Tenison
is the delightful story of Robin and Louella Hanbury-Tenison’s journey to
Santiago de Compostela in 1989.
For a thousand years a long, hot and
dangerous journey over the mountains, the dusty plains and the rich
countryside of Spain has led millions of Christian pilgrims to the great
cathedral of St. James at Compostela. The story is as old as medieval
history and the route is still alive with the churches, monasteries and
shrines built by the faithful.
Robin Hanbury-Tenison’s other bestselling travel books will be delighted to
hear that once again he and his wife Louella went to Santiago de Compostela
in a traditional way – riding on white horses over long-forgotten tracks.
It was a family pilgrimage as their four-year-old son, Merlin, went with
them. In the process they discovered more about the people and the country
than any conventional traveller would learn. Their adventures are vividly
and entertainingly recounted in this delightful and highly readable book.
journey Robin came to experience a true ‘green pilgrimage,’ an ecological
equivalent of the search for religious faith in medieval man. His
fascinating book draws together conclusions from a lifetime of exploration.
Click here to go to Amazon.co.uk or
Barnes & Noble
Riding the Milky Way, Babette Gallard -
On the warm
spring day when Babette Gallard and Paul Chinn decided to ride 1600
kilometres along the St James Way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, he had
never ridden before, she had only ever ridden under duress, their horses had
yet to be found and the dog was a passing whim they were trying to forget.
“Riding the Milky
Way” tells the story of their journey, but it is not about hardships and
heroes. In fact it was a motley and uninspiring crew that left Le Puy en
Velay, France, in July 2005. The humans, broke, burnt-out and vaguely hoping
that early retirement would save their health and sanity. The horses,
plucked off the equine scrap heap in France and still grappling with their
new roles as something between mount and mountain goat. The dog, doing his
best to understand why he was there. But seventy-five days later humans,
horses and dog reached their destination, having overcome all the
challenges, and most importantly having found they had become an inseparable
amusing and informative book sweeps the reader along with each member as he
or she, horse or dog, progresses step by step towards a goal that has become
more than just Santiago. At the same time, the author is uncompromisingly
honest about the mistakes they made. She not only explains how to avoid the
pitfalls they encountered but also tells the reader what is expected of
riders making this ancient pilgrimage.
Packed with sketches and
photographs, this book will inspire even the most timid traveller, while
also giving practical guidance for someone wanting to do a similar journey.
Finally, it is much more than just a good read. It is an excellent, if
sometimes irreverent, guide to the legendary St James Way.
Go to Amazon.co.uk or
Barnes & Noble
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