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Please suggest books (not travel guides) about Spain and Portugal

Please suggest books (not travel guides) about Spain and Portugal

Jan 13th, 2008, 04:44 AM
  #1  
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Please suggest books (not travel guides) about Spain and Portugal

I am going to Northern Spain and Portugal in May. I would like to do some reading about the two countries such as travel logs like "A year in Provence" (about France) or "The Lady in the Palazzo" (about Italy). Is there a similar book about Spain or Portugal?

Also we will be staying 2 nights in Santiago De Compostela and I am very interested in reading about the historical background of this pilgramage site. I do love historical fiction as well as nonfiction.

Thanks, Margo
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Jan 13th, 2008, 05:56 AM
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"Driving Over Lemons" by Chris Stewart(Andalusia)

"Fumbling" by Kerry Egan

"Off the Road" by Jack Hitt (a walker's modern pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela-excellent!)

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Jan 13th, 2008, 06:13 AM
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There are numerous books about and by people who have walked the Camino (Pilgrimage) across northern Spain all the way from Roncesvalles to Santiago. My favorite is 'Off the Road,' by Jack Hitt (pronounced Height). Unfortunately, it's out of print right now but you may be able to find a copy at one of those book liquidation places. After my first copy wasn't returned to me I found another at a book liquidators in Philadelphia.
Santiago is where many believe the Apostle James the elder is interred beneath the main Altar of the Basilica.

There's an Incense Censer called the Botafumeiro that is swung over the people on Church Holy Days. It's about the size of a washing machine and it can be terrifying to see the smoking cauldron swinging down toward you. One account says its purpose was for the incense to overpower the smells of pilgrims who hadn't had a proper bath since starting on their pilgrimage.

Your best chance to see it would be Pentecost Sunday after 11AM Sunday Mass or probably after the Pilgrims' Mass (6PM Saturday).
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Jan 13th, 2008, 06:28 AM
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Hemingway- Death in the Afternoon (bull fighting). The Sun also Rises...and I think For Whom the Bell Tolls (I get Farewell to Arms and for WTBT confused).
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Jan 13th, 2008, 07:32 AM
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Some classics:
Laurie Lee As I walked out one Midsummer Morning

Voices of the Old Sea by Norman Lewis (about the Costa Brava area)

Rose Macaulay Fabled Shore

Orwell Homage to Catalonia

Michener's Iberia also has a lot of interesting information

Re the Jack Hitt book, I just checked amazon.com and there is a paperback 2005 edition, plus a list of used copies for sale.
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Jan 13th, 2008, 07:58 AM
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I recommend "The Collected Traveler- Northern Spain". It is a collection of articles about Northern Spain.
cruiseluv is offline  
Jan 13th, 2008, 08:18 AM
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I highly recommend "Roads to Santiago: A Modern-day Pilgrimage through Spain" by Cees Nooteboom. It's one of the best books on Spain I've read in the travel literature genre. He is Dutch, but the book was translated into English around 1997 (it was first published in 1992) and should be readily available from booksellers. It is nonfiction travel writing.
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Jan 13th, 2008, 11:34 AM
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Oh, goody! This is just the info that I was looking for. I'll definitely try to find the Jack Hitt book. I think I read the Michener book a few years ago but I might reread this as well.

Susan--Is "Fumbling" a contempory book? Which part of Spain?

Any suggestions about Portugal?
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Jan 13th, 2008, 12:17 PM
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"Fumbling:A Pilgrimage Tale of Love, Grief and Spiritual Renewal on the Camino del Santiago" 2004
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Jan 13th, 2008, 12:23 PM
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I loved Alentejo Blue by Monica Ali, "the story of a village community in Portugal, told through the lives of men and women whose families have lived there for generations and some who are passing through. For Teresa, a beautiful girl not yet twenty, Mamarrosa is a place from which to escape. For the dysfunctional Potts family, it is a way of running from trouble (though not eluding it). Vasco, a cafe owner who has never recovered from the death of his American wife, clings to a notion that his years away from the village, in the States, make him superior. One English tourist fantasizes about making a new life in Mamarrosa; for her compatriots, a young engaged couple, Mamarrosa is where their dreams fall apart.
At the opening of Alentejo Blue, an old man reflects on his long and troubled life in this seemingly tranquil place, and anticipates the homecoming of Marco Afonso Rodrigues, the prodigal son of the village and a symbol of the now fast-changing world. When Marco does finally return, villagers, tourists, and expatriates are brought together, and their jealousies and disappointments inevitably collide."


Saira is offline  
Jan 13th, 2008, 01:02 PM
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It's Not About the Tapas -
a story about a woman biking solo through Spain
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Jan 13th, 2008, 01:46 PM
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There is a charming book about Portugal, which I'm afraid is out of print, but worth seeking out. It was written a long time ago, by Susan Lowndes, who married a Portuguese man. She traveled extensively in Portugal, and wrote about it in the lovely tradition of those English travelers with whom we are all probably familiar. It is called A SELECTIVE TRAVELER IN PORTUGAL.
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Jan 13th, 2008, 02:00 PM
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I enjoyed Nobel prize winner Jose Saramago's Journey to Portugal
and the chapter on Portugal in Frances Mayes "A Year in the World"
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Jan 14th, 2008, 01:55 PM
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Jan 14th, 2008, 03:31 PM
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Hmmm Margo, We will be in Asturias, Galicia, and north Portugal in May as well. I cannot help with a book but I am curious about your itinerary.
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Jan 14th, 2008, 03:46 PM
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I see someone already recommended James Michener's Iberia. It is a great read---not fiction, and very interesting. He obviously had a great love for Spain.
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Jan 14th, 2008, 05:48 PM
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Besides second "Off the road",I just finished "Pigrim's Road" by Bettina Selby, quite good also.
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Jan 15th, 2008, 06:28 AM
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Hi Bobthenavigator--
I had to do a web search to find out where Asturias was. I will be taking an organized tour this time because my two sisters and a friend want to travel together and we wouldn't all be able to fit in a car with our luggage. So the tour stays 2 nights in Lisbon, 2 nights in Oporto, 2 nights Santiago de Compostela, 1 night Oviedo, 2 nights, Santander, and 2 nights Madrid.
This itinerary appealed to me because I have not been to Santiago.

While in Santiago we have a chance to take "an excursion to the spectacular Rias Altas which are green-clad, fjord-like estuaries and the fascinting coastal city of Corunna with its Roman lighthouse".
Are you planning to go to this area?What other places do you recommend?

Margo
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Jan 15th, 2008, 06:50 AM
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I was also going to mention James Michener's "Iberia". His book "The Drifters" also takes place a good deal in Spain.
I lived in Lisbon for a year and when I got back ran into a book called "A Cottage in Portugal" by Richard and Barbara Hewitt. It's about an American couple that decides to buy and renovate a small cottage in Sintra and tells of all their dealings with the locals. I loved it since spent so much time in that area.
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Jan 15th, 2008, 07:43 AM
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Hi Margo,

Would you mind sharing the name of the tour company that you are using?I have friends that want to do that area but don't want to do it on their own and don't want to drive.

Thanks!
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