Thursday, April 17, 2008

Retrospective Book Review – Europe on $25 A Day

There has been so much news lately about airline failures and mergers, we thought we’d do something fun and different. A few nights ago we pulled another old travel book off our shelf – Europe On $25 A Day. (Yes, we know the “original” was $5, but we weren’t travel aware when that book came out. So, this was one of our first budget-travel guidebooks.)

This 1985 edition of Arthur Frommer’s famous work (his photo is still on the back cover) is truly fun from a historical perspective. The book deals almost exclusively with the great cities of Europe – London, Paris, Vienna, and many more. Still, it doesn’t neglect Greece and Scandinavia, and does have several introductory sections on planning and logistics.

We were especially fond of material such as that about making reservations in advance: “...the cost of conducting an air-mail correspondence over reservations is a relatively heavy one...” The section on bathrooms in the room (now called “en-suite”) was also pretty fun to re-read. And given the budget profile, the $25 per day was to include “hotel[s] for from $12-14 per person..., breakfast for $2, lunch for $3.50, dinner for $5.” And The Big Splurge section revealed “the whereabouts of ‘luxurious’ meals that may run as high as $7 to $10.”

Despite the prices and other obvious changes over time, the few maps in the book are still usable – Europe hadn’t changed all that much physically (except for the wars) for several hundred years before the book was published, so it’s unlikely it has changed much in the 20-odd years since. No photos, but the words make up for it.

Find a used bookstore, pick up a copy of any of the old Frommer’s Euro guides, and read the sections of places you’ve recently visited. We guarantee you’ll be entertained.