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Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day: One Man, Eight Countries, One Vintage Travel Guide

3.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  338 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
Prepare to Get Lost on the Beaten Path... When Doug Mack picked up a 1963 edition of Europe on Five Dollars a Day, he stumbled on an inspired idea: to boldly go where millions have gone before, relying only on the advice of a travel guide that's nearly a half century out-of-date. Add to the mix his mother's much- documented grand tour through Europe in the late 1960s, and ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by TarcherPerigee (first published April 1st 2012)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,006)
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Jun 04, 2013 Malcolm rated it it was ok
A neurotic, post-modern traveler decides to use Arthur Frommer's Europe on Five Dollars A Day to guide his travels today. An interesting conceit, to be sure, and I was interested to see how that turned out. Unfortunately, it was not as interesting in the telling as it was in the living of it, I'll wager.

The style of this book, like so many of this sort of book, was chatty, almost "bloggish." It probably could have been better edited too. It had some charming parts, to be sure. But a great deal
Mrs. Lapacka
Jun 09, 2012 Mrs. Lapacka rated it liked it
Three stars...fours stars...It was hard to decide. I LOVED parts of this book. Doug Mack captures all of the best parts of travel beautifully; the delicious thrill of being lost as long as you have a working credit card in your pocket, the fact that meeting other tourists and forming relationships with them based purely on the fact that you speak the same language can be the best part of the trip; the self-awareness that you get when traveling alone; the challenges of figuring out the layout of ...more
Jul 02, 2012 Julie rated it it was ok
I think if the author had actually followed his original premise of only staying in places in the original Frommer's Europe on $5 a Day, only eating in recommended restaurants and seeing the recommended sites, this book would have been a lot more interesting. Instead, it's just another travelogue and a not very interesting one at that.
Rich Saskal
Sep 23, 2012 Rich Saskal rated it liked it

It's a great premise: tackle modern-day Europe using a 1963 Frommer's guidebook for direction.
I suspect the premise was better-suited to something the length of a magazine article, rather than a book.
Basically, all the restaurants Frommer cited are closed or have become unholy tourist traps, and the hotel business has changed a lot in 49 years.
To be fair, there's plenty to offer in this book, including a thoroughly researched, engaging look at the postwar history of US travel to Europe.
The premi
Mar 22, 2012 G-Funk rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 04, 2012 Frank rated it it was amazing
Here is the book for the armchair traveler. Doug Mack started his adventure with an Arthur Frommer's classic "Europe on Five Dollars a Day" travel guide of the 60s. He traveled to 8 countries including Italy where in Florence he heard a tourist responding loudly "Holy crap, look at that adorable little old man in that absurdly lush vineyard-where's my camera;" Paris, France where he was told, "Impossible!Maybe $500 dollars a day"; to Amsterdam where Arthur's guide palled compared to the real 201 ...more
Aug 17, 2012 Anne rated it it was ok
The author comes across as whiny and self-pitying. He's clearly more of an armchair traveler. Absolutely loved his mother, though. Now she's the real deal! His obsession with German food was annoying. Just go to Mickey Dee's already if you're so paranoid!

I understand what he was trying to accomplish using a vintage travel guide, but it became exasperating, especially when it came to using maps. Why he'd want to use a 50 + year old map is anybody's guess (I would say for comedy relief, but this b
Jennifer Shepard
favorite quotations:

"The middle ground between the roads less traveled and most trampled. Call it the frontage road to the beaten path. This, I suspect, is what many tourists are actually after: the just-right combination of foreign and familiar, everyday local life and tourist amenities. A sense of place and community, plus easy access to the landmarks, but without tourism's most tawdry trappings."

"The most important travel app is the off button. And, the most important travel guides are some
Monica Fastenau
Dec 23, 2014 Monica Fastenau rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. Part travel memoir, part history of tourism, it covers Doug’s journey through eight European countries using the (obviously outdated) Europe on Five Dollars a Day by Arthur Frommer. Inspired by his mother’s Tour in the 1960s using this book, Doug visits several of the cities in the book and attempts to follow Frommer’s recommendations for places to stay, visit, and eat at, a process Doug calls “Frommering.” Of course, this leads to much confusion, as many of the place ...more
Ellen Marchessault
Feb 07, 2016 Ellen Marchessault rated it really liked it
Shelves: carleton-author
Enjoyed the beginning a little more than the end; he got pretty philosophical in the final few chapters. But all-in-all a VERY enjoyable read! Glad to see a Carleton author make good!
Stefani Akins
May 18, 2014 Stefani Akins rated it liked it
Much has been written in previous reviews of this book, and after initially scoffing at them, I now find myself agreeing with a good number. The basic idea behind Doug Mack's trip to Europe is endearing: after finding an old copy of Frommer's Europe on Five Dollars a Day, he decides to follow in his mother's footsteps across the continent, using said old Frommer's as his only guide. Naturally, he quickly finds out that after 50 years, things have changed, although this seems to continue to perpl ...more
Nov 25, 2013 Carmen rated it it was ok
I really thought the author would have more fun with this concept than he did. He often professed a love of sarcasm but that 'sarcasm' rarely translated to real wit. He's precisely the type that needs to travel and reflect and be forced into new perspectives - though it didn't translate well into a good read for others.
Nov 05, 2012 Tara rated it it was ok
terrible. not funny, not insightful. chapter after chapter of the narrator being shocked that there are tourist destinations in europe.

the gimmick was the Frommer guide. In almost every instance frommer's choices were gone. so the point of this exercise was...?
Debra Daniels-zeller
Jul 14, 2014 Debra Daniels-zeller rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir, travel
This book is a hilarious account of Doug Mack buying a copy of a vintage travel guide and attempting to retrace a travel route laid out in the 1950s. I'd heard of Frommer's Europe on $5 a day, but how much has this route changed since the book was first published? Amazingly many places were still there, but many more had been replaced with chain restaurants or had simply closed for business. Mack says, many of the big tourist attractions now feature a Starbucks at the end, and since the 70,s a w ...more
Feb 27, 2016 Hparsley rated it really liked it
I sincerely enjoyed reading this book - almost from start to finish. The author had me laughing several times and I was easily able to relate to many of his stories of exploring Europe alone. I liked the premise of the book: purposely being a tourist in terms of staying on the beaten path but coming at it from a different angle. It was interesting to see how things had changed from the 1963 version of Europe on $5 a Day by Arthur Frommer - and what was the same. In general, it fueled my inspirat ...more
Nov 29, 2014 Andrea rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
This work was not really a travel memoir as much as an attempt to re-create another's travels from decades earlier. Mack focuses not on his experiences but on the differences that a half-century has wrought, even in the grand cities of Europe, which we Americans think of as ever-constant. I wish I could give this a 3.5. I enjoyed Mack's writing and appreciated his analysis of the self-evolution of the traveler and tourist culture. But his mournful attitude was occasionally wearying. The light hi ...more
Jason Shaffner
Jun 29, 2014 Jason Shaffner rated it did not like it
What a jerk. Not because he seems constantly put-out to have spend time in great cities of Europe (though true). Not because he whines and gripes incessantly (though he does). Not because he is woefully out of touch with reality... No, Doug Mack is a jerk because he wasted a potentially ingenious premise -- touring Europe based on a 50-year-old travel guide. It is a great idea, enough to entice many to buy...

But this is the garbage he has to say, again and again, ad nauseum. "The canals were br
Cindy Dyson Eitelman
Apr 26, 2015 Cindy Dyson Eitelman rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013-14
It's hard to review a book that you neither liked nor disliked. Although Goodreads' 1 to 5 star rating system attempts to soften the impact of a 2 by labeling it, "It was ok," a 2 rating still seems like a "D" to me. And a D, although kinder than an F, is still a failing grade.

I finished it, but if it had been fifty pages longer, I probably wouldn't have...and that observation alone says "2". Why my negative vibes? Just this--it reminds me of the Peanuts comic strip. I love Peanuts, and Charlie
Mar 16, 2012 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
I won this in a Good Reads giveaway-a free book--I really wanted to read it as I was an expatriate--many years ago and I often thought of how it would be if I went back to the places I had traveled to.
I did not use any guide books that I remember back then--except one whose title I have forgotten.I was in Amsterdam and took the Euro rail to Brussels from there- Interesting re the red light district of Amsterdam & The Anne Frank House--I related to so much of what he saw and felt there.I als
May 29, 2012 mandyfujita rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book free from goodreads first reads. The first fifty or so pages was hard to read. I was having a hard time feeling sorry for a person going to Europe and feeling sorry for himself for being there alone. Doug was moping and complaining about everything and was hiding in his hostel as much as he could so he wouldn't have to talk to people. He might as well not have gone on holiday if he was going to end up like that.

The story got more interesting when Doug planned to go on a se
Laura (booksnob)
Nov 29, 2013 Laura (booksnob) rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir, 2013
One day, Doug Mack is out with his mom scanning stacks of used books when he stumbles upon a worn copy of Frommer's, Europe on 5 dollars a day, written in 1963. It just so happens that his mother used the exact same travel guide on her Grand Tour of Europe in 1967 and she was so excited that Doug found a copy of it, she was jumping up and down.

When Doug and his mom got to talking, he discovered that her trip was well documented as she had saved all her letters and postcards to his father and hi
Jean V. Naggar Literary
Aug 13, 2012 Jean V. Naggar Literary rated it it was amazing

"Refreshing in its intelligence, candor, good-humored self-deprecation, and insightful redemption of the much-maligned tourist, Mack’s account is a trail-reblazing testament to the transformative power of travel in the modern world, and to the enduring richness of those well-trod places where authenticity, history, culture, and fame compose their own never-ending narratives." --National Geographic Traveler

“Exciting and disastrously funny.” --Twin Cities Metro

“A clever idea for a travel book, exe
Feb 18, 2016 Christine rated it liked it
In one sense, this book has a ridiculous premise. To use a 40 year old travel guide & expect hotels & restaurants therein to still be operational? Madness. Also, pointless. But I definitely liked the author's idea of going traveling unspoiled by countless online photos and reviews. Too much advance research does (or can) ruin the majesty and spectacle and fun of visiting foreign places. And I enjoyed his commentary on how tourism and travel has changed over the years. Overall worth a rea ...more
Aug 24, 2015 Adrienne rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
In “Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day,” Doug Mack, finds an early 1960s edition of Frommer's Europe on $5 a Day and, remembering his mother’s reminiscences of her European trip, takes it to Europe with him, following the advice that is about 50 years out of date. He also takes his mother's post cards and letters from her “grand tour" in the 1960s. He’s proud of his guide book and of finding hotels and restaurants that are going concerns although perhaps not as charming as they were in the 1960s. Mac ...more
Jul 08, 2012 Helen rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Adults
I loved this book! It's hugely enjoyable and deflates so many of the "required wonders" of the European sightseeing trail - but in a good way. The concept of trying to visit places in Europe from a 60s Fodors guide was amazingly funny and did lead to adventures/discoveries galore. I thought the author was very sympathetic and wise - this is ostensibly a travel memoir but it's very funny and totally absorbing, touching even, at the same time. You will want to continue reading this book and probab ...more
Jul 12, 2012 Jane rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
It took me a couple of months to finish this book. I did enjoy specific parts, such as the introduction & the end, but found myself wishing the wisdom imparted in the conclusion could have been shared throughout the main body. For me, the writer's need to constantly stimulate his experiences with his words, funny at first albeit, started to drag on me. I wondered if it were an avoidance technique. On a side note, the word ubiquitous is a wonderful word, perhaps an unfortunate lesser used wor ...more
Oct 03, 2015 Cheryl rated it it was ok
Shelves: travelogue
This was my first travelogue.
Since I was planning that trip to Europe, I wanted to read about other's opinions and travels in Europe.
The chapter on Florence was interesting while the author wander around the city with an old guidebook. It actually made me want to visit Florence because I felt that I have learnt something from the travelogue in Florence.
The chapter on Paris was ok too. However beyond that was many complaints, many self searching and many comments that were better left unsaid. I
Apr 04, 2016 Joanne rated it it was ok
Mack retraces steps from Frommer's old travel guide Europe on 5 Dollars a Day.

Not that interesting.
Apr 14, 2013 France rated it it was ok
I expected something more.. captivating when I read the title. Though the concept and premise itself is an interesting one, each chapter felt more suitable for something like a weekly feature in a newspaper or magazine instead. The chapters were long enough to establish a small, minimal glimpse into each city, but not long enough to keep the reader interested. Before you got into the interesting parts of each city, the chapter had ended and you were moving on to the next place.

I did enjoy the w
Nov 21, 2014 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2014
Having been that tourist/traveler, reading those travel guides, trying to find the famous places while avoiding the other tourists, let me say I completely understood this book. It's an ambitious project, to try to trace back to all that Frommer's original Five Dollars A Day book had, but it was well done. It diverges, but it always comes back, and it's peppered with interesting asides about author Mack's mother's European travel when she was much younger, the way travel and tourism has changed, ...more
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“I wore only black socks, because I had heard that white ones were the classic sign of the American tourist. Black ones though,- those'll fool 'em. I supposed I hoped the European locals' conversation would go something like this:

PIERRE: Ha! Look at that tourist with his camera and guidebook!
JACQUES: Wait, but observe his socks! They!
PIERRE: Zut alors! You are correct! He is one of us! What a fool I am! Let us go speak to him in English and invite him to lunch!”
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