A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople - From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube

by Patrick Leigh Fermor | Biographies & Memoirs |
ISBN: 0140049479 Global Overview for this book
Registered by Neckarhex of Sinsheim, Baden-Württemberg Germany on 8/20/2010
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12 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Neckarhex from Sinsheim, Baden-Württemberg Germany on Friday, August 20, 2010
"Like a tramp, a pilgrim, or a wandering scholar", an eighteen-year-old boy set out, one wet December day in 1933, to walk to Constantinople. This book covers his journey as far as Hungary.

In that year, when Hitler came to power, adventure beckoned and youth was golden for Patrick Leigh Fermor, as he tramped up the Rhine and down the Danube towards the mysterious beginnings of the East, sleeping now in barns, now in fairy-tale castles, losing his possessions here, showered with gifts there. But there was more to discover on his picaresque wanderings than the freedom and camaraderie of the road: the languages, arts, landscapes, religions, histories and, above all, the people of a dozen civilizations unfolded before his hungry young mind, sharply outlined before the gathering storm.

"More than just a Super-travel-book... it is a reminder that the English language is still a superb instrument in the hands of a writer who has a virtuoso skill with words, a robust aesthetic passion, an indomitable curiosity about people and places, and a rapturous historical imagination" (Philip Toynbee in The Observer

This is the first of two volumes, written in the seventies and eighties (and a third volume is said to be written currently), though it can be read as a stand-alone without problems. It is, to my humble opinion, certainly one of the most fascinating and interesting books, a travelling novel despite being a personal account of a true voyage, and a work of great style and language.

For me personally, it's also a special book I registered on purpose as my 300st bookcrossing-book, and I want it to travel as a ring. I was given my first copy of it by someone from Scotland who is special to me and whom I met on a folk music festival in the middle of France. He told me that since he loved this book so much, he buys it in a second hand bookstore whenever travelling and gives it to someone he meets on that journey. I was very happy to be that someone AND to discover the book to be such a wonderful gift as well. A gift I very much would like to share with you.

Note: there are some underlinings and a few words noted down in the introduction. It didn't bother me and I hope it won't bother you as well.

This book has travelled as an International Bookring.

Thread to the German forum entry | Thread to the English forum entry
Please send me a PM if you want to participate.

1) Neckarhex
2) abigailann (UK only)
3) Non-BC friend of mine for the posting outside the UK
4) klaradyn (South Africa, sends everywhere)
5) Raluk68 (Romania, prefers to ship in Europe)
6) Colombina (Germany, sends international)
7) ETMadrid", U.K. (would like to ship in Europe only)
8) bookmaniac70, Bulgaria (prefers to ship in Europe)
9) leamhliom, Ireland (ships anywhere)
10) minesayn, Ohio, USA (prefers to ship US/Canada)
11) kobie03 Canada, ships everywhere
12) penelopewanders Switzerland (prefers to ship in Europe)
13) timcorke UK, ships everywhere
14)... back to me

15) MyChildsCloset US (can ship in the US only) (left out for the moment)
Since nobody else could be found who would to participate and part of this ring's voyage, for me, is getting the book back, it shall go back to me for the moment. Hopefully, a

Please note:
- Someone will PM you for your address, PM them back and provide your address
- When you receive the book, please make a journal entry letting everyone know that you received it
- Please try to finish it within one month
- When the end is in sight, check the book's journal and PM the next person to get their address
- Make another journal entry and let everyone know what you thought of the book
- Make a release note to let everyone know that it's in the mail
- Send the book to the next person on the list
- Last person: please let me know so I can search for new readers
If delayed make sure to let us know so that the ring will not stop.

I'd also like you to put your username and location on the inside of the back cover for this "travelling" book.

visited 9 states (4%)
Create your own visited map of The World or website vertaling duits?

Update August 2013:
The book has arrived home again. The binding is a bit worse for wear now, no surprise after so many hands it went through, so it won't be going on another bookring round. Should you be interested in reading it I'm happy to send it to you. Please understand that this will be a loan, as this copy has emotional value for me and shall always come back to me.

Released 9 yrs ago (4/6/2011 UTC) at -- By post or by hand --, -- By post or by hand/ in person -- United Kingdom


The Bookring is now travelling to its first station in the UK. Good luck and bon voyage!

Journal Entry 3 by abigailann at Abingdon, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This book has just arrived. Annoyingly, someone has underlined and numbered several words in the introduction and that written (what I presume is) their German equivilent at the top of the relevant page.

Journal Entry 4 by Neckarhex at Sinsheim, Baden-Württemberg Germany on Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Yes, I know, and I had this mentioned in my original JE. I suppose it got lost when I edited the JE for the bookring. I'm sorry that it bothers you.

Journal Entry 5 by abigailann at Abingdon, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Saturday, May 14, 2011

This was a very interesting travel-log book, telling of the time just before the 2nd War including life in Nazi occupied countries. Wha struck me the most was the reaction to a travelling student, very different to what I imagine it would be today. The only thing that let the book down, in my opinion, was the few German words which were not translated.

Sorry its taken me so long to review and send on this book, will try to pop it in the post on Monday.

Journal Entry 6 by abigailann at an Exchange, A Bookcrossing member -- Controlled Releases on Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Released 9 yrs ago (5/16/2011 UTC) at an Exchange, A Bookcrossing member -- Controlled Releases


Sent onto the next reader

Journal Entry 7 by klaradyn at Cape Town, Western Cape South Africa on Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Arrived today. Thanks for sending! I look forward to reading it!

Journal Entry 8 by klaradyn at Cape Town, Western Cape South Africa on Thursday, August 25, 2011
Let me start by saying that I'm really sorry for keeping the book so very long. I feel terrible, this has never happened to me before. And coincidentally Neckarhex PM'ed me about the book on the day that I mailed it to the next reader!

For some reason this book just took me absolute ages to read. I think perhaps the tiny, closely spaced font contributed to that.
But I did enjoy reading it. The books seems quite different from modern-day travelogues, or some of those that I've read, anyway. So many lyrical passages, they don't just give you a dry description of what something or somewhere looked like, but a very sensory impression of the place. I could feel the cold, see the snow, and so on.
Other things that I found remarkable was how easy it was to travel across borders and through towns, and the hospitality of so many people he encountered on the road. I don't see how anything even close would be possible today.

Journal Entry 9 by klaradyn at Cape Town, Western Cape South Africa on Thursday, August 25, 2011

Released 9 yrs ago (8/25/2011 UTC) at Cape Town, Western Cape South Africa


On the way to raluk68 via airmail, so it should be there within a week or so.

Journal Entry 10 by raluk68 at București, Wallachia Romania on Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Got it! Thanks :)

Journal Entry 11 by raluk68 at București, Wallachia Romania on Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Released 9 yrs ago (10/11/2011 UTC) at București, Wallachia Romania


On its way to Germany.
Enjoy it! :)

Journal Entry 12 by Colombina at Wuppertal, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Wednesday, October 19, 2011

This book arrived today in Wuppertal together with a beautiful postcard, thank you very much!
The idea of walking long distances like during journeyman years always fascinated me as I love exploring the world on foot, although I would not like to be dependent on the help of people I do not know. Last Sunday, I saw a documentary on television about four female musicians of Bavaria (South of Germany) who apparently go hiking every year without any money and trade a little concert for a meal or a place to sleep... That looked like a great experience, I would not have their courage though (and I cannot sing - people would rather chase me away from their village than offering me a place to sleep *lol*).
But now let's see how it was in 1933...

Journal Entry 13 by Colombina at Wuppertal, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Monday, October 31, 2011

It took me longer than I expected to read this travel narrative due to the fantastic treasure of knowledge the author shares with his readers, an abundance of fascinating facts regarding history and the arts of European countries, which demanded a slower reading pace for me to fully absorb the beautiful and careful descriptions of the cultures he came in contact with. His love for his fellow human beings and the world surrounding them clearly transpires through these descriptions, making them a pleasure to read.
The extent to which the number of friendly encounters he had outnumbered the number of not-so-friendly encounters still astonishes me - especially in those very dark times in Germany under the horrible Nazi regime... My favourite part though was his account on how seeing a young man reciting verses can sometimes be terribly frightening for other people... :-)
13th november: I finally contacted the next participants and received an immediate reply, so the book will continue its journey tomorrow.

Journal Entry 14 by Colombina at on Monday, November 14, 2011

Released 9 yrs ago (11/14/2011 UTC) at


I am very sorry for the delay! The book is now safely on its way to ETMadrid.
Thank you again for the book ring!
And: Happy reading to the next participants!

Journal Entry 15 by ETMadrid at London, Greater London United Kingdom on Saturday, November 19, 2011
It's here! Thank you for the beautiful card Colombina - is it your artwork I wonder? I love it. I look forward to this read. My current book is very slow-going and I then am reading a book set in Italy, where I'm soon to go on holiday. Then I will get to this, so I hope it won't take me too long.

Journal Entry 16 by ETMadrid at London, Greater London United Kingdom on Friday, January 27, 2012
I'm really glad that I have finally discovered this writer. I only heard of him recently, when it was mentioned that it was one of my husband's aunt's favourite writers. I was helping out in her bookshop shortly after her death. And it was reading his obituary that prompted me to join this bookring... Anyway, that's quite enough about people dying!

I really enjoyed this. There were some bits that really made me chuckle, and others where the lyricism is wonderfully rich - rising to a crescendo at the end. Just like klaradyn and Colombina, I too found it surprisingly slow-going, but then again, I don't think that one should ever race through anyone's account of a journey on foot! The most amazing thing is that it took him a good 40 years to get round to writing it!! There can't be many people who can recall with such wealth of memory what happened 40 years before, with or without a journal to refer to. He chose not to go into how it was he recovered one of the latter journals and I would have liked to know what actually happened.

I look forward to hopefully reading the next instalment - let's keep our ears and eyes peeled for a copy to share. I love the way you came about this book, Neckarhex.

Sorry for taking so long with this.

Journal Entry 17 by ETMadrid at Bermondsey, Greater London United Kingdom on Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Released 9 yrs ago (2/14/2012 UTC) at Bermondsey, Greater London United Kingdom


At last this has gone in the post, headed for Bulgaria. Very sorry for the delay.

I meant to say it was by chance that just as I was approaching Konstanz in the pages of this book, I got a card from a friend telling me she'd moved there and saying what a lovely place it is...

Journal Entry 18 by bookmaniac70 at София / Sofia, Sofiya Bulgaria on Friday, February 17, 2012
Arrived safely in Sofia. I`m looking forward to reading it.

Journal Entry 19 by bookmaniac70 at София / Sofia, Sofiya Bulgaria on Sunday, April 08, 2012
Just a quick update. I`ve been keeping this book a bit longer with the permission of Neckarhex. I`m about to finish it and mail to the next reader.

Journal Entry 20 by bookmaniac70 at София / Sofia, Sofiya Bulgaria on Saturday, April 14, 2012
Like most of the readers before me, it took me a long time to finish the book. As already mentioned, it`s due to its rich literary language- one doesn`t encounter it in many contemporary books; the beautiful detailed descriptions and.....the small and dense typing:-)). But it was more than worth the "struggle"! I throughly enjoyed this delightful travelog. It`s full of the curiosity and enthusiasm of a young man who doesn`t judge but perceives with an open heart, fully accepting the treasures of unfamiliar countries, languages, nations. I`d like to read the sequel as well. Thank you for sharing!

Journal Entry 21 by bookmaniac70 at Dublin, Co. Dublin Ireland on Monday, April 23, 2012

Released 8 yrs ago (4/23/2012 UTC) at Dublin, Co. Dublin Ireland


Sent to leamhliom.

Journal Entry 22 by leamhliom at Dublin, Co. Dublin Ireland on Thursday, May 03, 2012
Thank you bookmaniac70, the book safely arrived in Ireland today. I hope to start reading it this evening.

Journal Entry 23 by leamhliom at Dublin, Co. Dublin Ireland on Thursday, May 10, 2012

Released 8 yrs ago (5/10/2012 UTC) at Dublin, Co. Dublin Ireland


Please read, enjoy this book and pass it on. Share the love of reading!

Please let me know if you've found this book on www.bookcrossing.com

This is a life changing book. It tells the story of a young traveller (Patrick Leigh Fermor) travelling as a young man through pre-war Europe. It is a time that is gone forever. He was shown such kindness and hospitality by the German people. The book was written many years after WW2, and it is sad to see that Europe has changed. I would recommend this book, especially to those of us with wandelust and who love travelling. Inspirational.

Thank you so much neckarhex, for sharing this book with us!

The book is on its travels again today, to minesayn in the US.

Journal Entry 24 by wingminesaynwing at Huron, Ohio USA on Thursday, May 17, 2012
Arrived safely via the post in the United States (Huron, Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie to be exact) from leamhlion...thanks for mailing it to me, and thanks to Neckarhex for the opportunity to read this one. Will get this read and on its way.

Journal Entry 25 by wingminesaynwing at Huron, Ohio USA on Friday, September 14, 2012
Like many of the other readers of this travelogue, it has taken me a long time to read it. It is so densely written with literary language and foreign words (to me, that is...to others, I am sure it contains native languages). Some of my favorite passages were his actual diary entries as it felt more real, and less literary, less trying to impress the reader. However, having said that, thanks Neckarhex for the opportunity to read this, and see Europe pre-World War II from a different perspective.

Will post to kobie03 as soon as possible.

Journal Entry 26 by wingminesaynwing at Lewins Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador Canada on Friday, September 14, 2012

Released 8 yrs ago (9/14/2012 UTC) at Lewins Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador Canada


Mailed today, and being sent on its way to the next reader of this bookring. Thanks Neckarhex for the opportunity to read this.

Journal Entry 27 by kobie03 at Lewins Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador Canada on Sunday, September 30, 2012
book arrived. I like the postcards included showing me this books travels. Neat idea.

Journal Entry 28 by kobie03 at Lewins Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador Canada on Tuesday, November 06, 2012
I've had this book a little longer than most rings. I found the reading slow, so detailed but it gave me a sense of being there. At fist I wondered how he remembered all the details then read he kept a journal. What an interesting way to travel. Thanks for sharing.

Journal Entry 29 by kobie03 at Lewins Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador Canada on Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Released 8 yrs ago (11/6/2012 UTC) at Lewins Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador Canada


In the mail to penelopewanders.

Journal Entry 30 by wingpenelopewanderswing at Hasliberg, Bern / Berne Switzerland on Friday, November 23, 2012
This well-travelled book has now arrived safely in the Swiss Alps. It will have to enjoy the scenery a bit because it has arrived with a few other rings and I'm flat-out at work... so not much reading time. It will be safe here though, until it's ready to resume its travels. Thanks so much for making this available and for sending.

Journal Entry 31 by wingpenelopewanderswing at Hasliberg, Bern / Berne Switzerland on Sunday, January 20, 2013
Not quite sure whether to qualify this as historical or contemporary - so much is still part of current awareness, and yet rapidly sinking into a blurry past.
I feel as though I've been gorging on incredibly rich chocolate mousse - there were parts of this that I devoured, and then I would get bogged down and bloated with all the details until after several paragraphs I'd read a plural pronoun and realize I had no idea who was where or with whom.
Nonetheless, I found this a fascinating subjective view of an era. I've read much about this period, but parts of this still felt new.
I also very much enjoyed the introduction, which in my opinion should not be regarded as optional (as introductions sometimes are, in my experience), but as an indispensable start. It explains so much about the character of the writer and the whole premise of the book.
I had to laugh - the author carefully translates most if not all of the French and German in the book - but not the Latin! Just my luck - the first two are not a problem for me, but my Latin has only been picked up by a lot of guessing and comparative observations of Latin languages over the years. Presumably the author felt that any educated person would be at ease with Latin...
Another funny quirk of life - the next ring awaiting me was The Bastard of Istanbul, so although the author doesn't get there in this book, I've already begun that so am already in the heart of Constantinople!
I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to read this - I've written for the next address. I apologize profusely for having kept it so long, but I'm only just starting to come out of a very busy time. Thank you for making this available.

Journal Entry 32 by wingpenelopewanderswing at Hasliberg, Bern / Berne Switzerland on Monday, January 28, 2013

Released 8 yrs ago (1/28/2013 UTC) at Hasliberg, Bern / Berne Switzerland


After a slight additional delay because of an uncertainty about the address, this has now picked up its wandering stick again and is trudging back down the Alps and over to the UK. Enjoy! Thanks for sending, and making available.

Journal Entry 33 by timcorke at Totton and Eling, Hampshire United Kingdom on Monday, February 11, 2013
Arrived finally after being delayed at the local sorting office..ive just received a couple of other BCing books so might be a month or so before I can pass on..

Thanks for sending it!

Journal Entry 34 by timcorke at Totton and Eling, Hampshire United Kingdom on Tuesday, May 14, 2013
The book is now on its way home - apologies for the delay...

I can understand the reputation of this book as its period prose and detail creates an identity and stereotype that many modern day travellers can relate too. I also sign up to to this romantic and honest view of travelling that didn't quite reflect my own adventures in Asia and Australasia.

The big but is that it goes off on tangents and becomes quite samey; the adventure doesn't quite give it enough interest.

Ill remember this book but it'll be due to the effort and energy involved in reading it rather than the enjoyment it brought me. As a traveller, it's all about the journey and unfortunately this was more city break in a bleak grey urban area than a long hot summer across Europe.

Journal Entry 35 by Neckarhex at Sinsheim, Baden-Württemberg Germany on Tuesday, August 06, 2013
The book has arrived safely back home again. Thank you all for participating in the journey of this book! I'm happy it has been to so many different countries.

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