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The Grand Tour: The European Adventure of a Continental Drifter Hardcover – July 16, 2001

3.3 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Has there ever been a funnier man to travel Europe, and return to tell about it, than Tim Moore? Doubtful. Certainly not the man who spawned the concept of the Grand Tour, that mainstay of young 17th- and 18th-century English aristocrats sent around Europe to be cultured but who usually spent more time in bawdy depravity than in cathedrals. That is Thomas Coryate, who walked to Venice and back in 1608. Coryate was the first man to take the trip for pleasure rather than commerce and with the specific intention of boasting on his return (in fact, he penned the first travelogue). Moore follows Coryate's footsteps from France to Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, and home again, but with a few unusual props of his own--an absurd billowing purple velvet suit and a clapped-out 1980 Rolls Royce that proved impossible to park on medieval streets. (After the pompous car offends a French peasant, Moore cooks up endless versions of "This is not my car..." fibs.)

Remarkably, Moore finds that not much has changed since the slightly short man in tights wandered the continent. The city walls and medieval alleys look as if knaves could be lurking close by, while the single-track stone bridges, grand chateaux, and humble villages he sees were ancient even in Coryate's day. Moore is even able to find the places of torture Coryate describes so gleefully, including the unmarked round stone "on which if any banckerupt do sit with his naked buttocks three times in some public assembly, all his debts are ipso-facto remited." Of course, not everything is the same--while there are still picnickers on the roof of Milan's cathedral, there are also mobile phones, and bowling is now considered an art in Italy. Coryate got himself into all sorts of scrapes with his pretentiousness, belligerent arrogance, and eye for the ladies. Moore is equally adept at slapstick, which he tells with self-deprecating humor--playing James Bond at a casino in Baden-Baden, pilfering grapes in homage to Coryate--and he's just as much a cheapskate with his pan-European survey of pizza parlors and MacDonald's bathrooms. In some fantastic fluke of time, Coryate finally found his perfect travel partner in Moore, and the result is a hilarious jaunt through Europe, past and present, that's not to be forgotten or, for that matter, repeated. --Lesley Reed

From Publishers Weekly

In The Grand Tour: The European Adventure of a Continental Drifter, British travel writer Tim Moore (Frost on My Moustache) entertainingly recounts the history of a civilizing ritual for the backward Brits. Moore dates this privileged and often quite dissolute practice to Thomas Coryate, a 17th-century courtier whose travel memoir, Coryate's Crudities, recounts disastrous and ribald adventures. Ensconced in a used Rolls Royce and a red velvet suit, Moore sets out to retrace Coryate's journey. Coryate was no gentleman Moore says that his book, "[a]s well as sounding really very mad... was clearly an extended fart anthology" yet as Moore points out, he's an appropriate forefather for the many infamously vulgar English travelers. Moore's own raucous journey will delight American audiences.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (July 16, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312281560
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312281564
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.3 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,603,349 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on July 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If you're expecting a book detailing the re-visitation of the places Thomas Coryate, an English courtier who in 1608 made a leisure walking tour across Europe, visited some 400 years ago, told in a neat documentary form that could easily be transferred to a script for a PBS documentary.... Step away from The Grand Tour. If you're expecting the good, the bad, and the just plain odd, then the sixteen bucks you'll pay for this book may just be the best investment you could make. Tim Moore retraces Coryate's steps in a garish, tempermental 1980 Rolls Royce that is impossible to park on medival streets and spawned numerous 'this is not my car' jokes, and an even more loud, unprotective purple suit. Living on a shoestring budget, Moore manages to get himself into situations that you thought only existed in Grandpa's elaborate, embellished stories of when he was your age. My particular favorite was his escapades in Venice. Yet in the midst of the slapstick humor, Moore manages to take the Old World Europe, which proved to be dry and stale for many, and bring life and vibrancy back to them. Maybe it was just the purple suit, but Moore proves his passion for life that many travelers lack, and ought to have-especially if you're in Europe. Dave Barry for the more refined tastes, if you thrive on intellectual humor then this may just be your next favorite book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
During the 17th century, and up to the time of the French Revolution, it was fashionable among young Englishmen of means to embark on a Grand Tour of the continent for the purpose of intellectual enlightenment or, more likely, just to wallow in the fleshpots and taverns. One of the first to record his experiences was Thomas Coryate, who made the 5-month roundtrip from his Somerset home to Venice in 1608. His travelogue was subsequently published as "Coryats Crudities" in 1611. In the autumn and early winter of 2000, author Tim Moore retraced Coryate's route, and tells us all about it in THE GRAND TOUR.

Moore's outbound route takes him to Venice via Montreuil, Amiens, Paris, Fontainebleau, Nevers, Lyon, Chambéry, Mont Cenis, Turin, Milan, Cremona, and Padua. Homeward bound, Tim transits Garda, Bergamo, Como, Splügen Pass, Chur, Zurich, Basel, Strasbourg, Durlach, Heidelberg, Worms, Mainz, Frankfurt, Coblenz, Bonn, Cologne, Emmerich, Nijmegen, Dordrecht, and Zierikzee.

Any travel narrative is made invariably more entertaining if spiced with tales of hardship. Moore's is no exception, though his travails were largely self-imposed. Choosing to journey in shabby style, he purchased a clapped-out, 1980 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow for 4,750 pounds sterling, with a subsequent 2,186 in necessary repairs to make it roadworthy and presentable. By the end of his Grand Tour, after 3,142 miles, the Roller had reduced the author to pitiful whimpering. Frugal by nature, or the acquisition of wheels having reduced him to penury, or both, Moore spends most nights either sleeping in his car or in fleabag hotels that barely reach the level of "budget accommodations". Personal hygiene was often maintained by a dip in the local, public swimming pool.
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Format: Hardcover
I did laugh out loud while reading this amusing & sardonic traveler's tale, reminiscent of Michael Palin's books chronicling his BBC-funded world travels, David Sedaris' language lessons and of course Bill Bryson's comic travelogues. The author follows in the 400-year-old footsteps of the first European Grand Tour - a bit of a dry itinerary but still fun to read, especially if the reader has visited (or plans to visit) some of the stops on Moore's journey. Who wouldn't crack up as Moore describes tourists in Milan "wearing '13 trillion lire for a Coke - is that a lot?' faces?" Enjoyable for anyone who loves travel: the good, the bad & the ugly.
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Format: Paperback
This is my first Tim Moore book and I am enjoying his wicked style. I am a UK native and found it curious that Moore, (or the publishers) decided to leave it in its original form. Many of his humorous references are to such things as well-known 1970s BBC TV programs like the The Good Old Days or the Two Ronnies,(p.18 paperback version). These references are too obscure for the American market, and I feel it should have been edited to make the experience greater for American readers. Maybe it doesn't matter if you don't know what you're missing...
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Format: Hardcover
Grand Tour is an unusual work for Tim Moore - in addition to his usual generous helpings of laughter, he also serves the reader a fair amount of information and some poignancy.
I think the alterations in Moore's usual style arise from his subject, Thomas Coryate, whose 1608 trip through the Continent inaugurated the British tradition of the grand tour (Coryate also introduced the fork, the umbrella, and the travel narrative to his native land). Coryate was a serious and pompous traveler who couldn't resist copying down every engraving and measuring every column he encountered. Moore responds by doing some actual research and interrupting his usual hysterical rants with actual facts.
Unfortunately, Moore hasn't quite mastered seamless blending of information and narrative, and as a result this book is a bit slower and denser than his other two books. And although Moore manages to evoke quite a bit of sympathy and sadness for Coryate, he never seems totally comfortable with more serious writing. The result is a somewhat uneven book that takes a while to get moving.
But Moore finally hits his stride while writing about Venice, and Grand Tour takes off. The last half of the book is laugh-out-loud funny, a marvelously fun romp that makes the whole book worth reading. And Moore throws in a few unusual extras on top of the laughs; he conveys a clear picture of the Europe of 1608 as well as the Europe of today, and an even clearer picture of Thomas Coryate. Though much of the book had me rolling with laughter, I finished with a lump in my throat for the man Moore calls "poor old Tom."
All in all, Grand Tour is well worth buying. However, if you haven't read any Tim Moore, this book probably isn't the best place to start - try Frost on My Moustache or French Revolutions first.
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