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It's Not About the Tapas: A Spanish Adventure on Two Wheels

3.32  ·  Rating Details ·  653 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
Single, stressed, and living amid the hustle and hurry of modern Hong Kong, Polly Evans had a vision: of mountains and orange groves, matadors and promenades–and of a glorious, hassle-free journey across Spain by bicycle. But like any decent dream, Polly’s came with its own reality: of thighs screaming with pain and goats trying to derail her, of strange local delicacies a ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published June 27th 2006 by Delta (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,181)
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Feb 05, 2008 Nan rated it it was ok
Shelves: put-down
I skipped through the last half of the book because Evans gets rather mean-spirited about the residents of the small towns she stops in. She also seems to dislike retired people who go on holiday in the places she visits. This cycle of going to a new town, writing about how boring it is, disparaging the locals and making fun of elderly women's hair colors got old after 100 pages.

Her writing style is nothing new - it's the voice of the post-"Bridget Jones" 20 or 30 something female writer who's t
Apr 20, 2015 Shauna rated it liked it
Shelves: travel, non-fiction
"I knew the country and I spoke the language after a fashion"
"I knew how to order a beer"
"I set myself a target of a thousand miles and six weeks in which to cover them"

And yes, all 91km of this author's Spanish adventure where planned, a glass of wine in hand. (view spoiler)

In It's Not About the Tapas: A Spanish Adventure on Two Wheels, you will find:

-Despotic Catholic Monarchs -Th
Sep 12, 2009 Sandy rated it it was ok
I gave Polly Evans' It's Not About the Tapas two stars because I liked the Rick Steves-esque treatment she gives the history of the regions she travels through. That is to say, she gives a tongue-in-cheek synopsis of historical events to keep things light and humorous, even if some of it is speculation.

What I found completely off putting about her story is the depiction other people she encounters. The only people "as good" as she is are her friends that visit for the last couple pages of the bo
Jan 02, 2008 Leslie rated it liked it
This was a hard read for me. I'm traveling to Spain in a few months and I liked the play-by-play descriptions of travel and tourism and sights and sounds, but Polly Evans is so disdainful of the locals and customs that it made me feel bad. This book was a gift from someone who thought I would find it funny. A lot of other people have found it funny, so my reaction shouldn't be seen as the norm. I think the reason I didn't laugh was because I didn't find humor in ridiculing the people of Spain, w ...more
Jan 09, 2015 Veronica rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no-one
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
A rather unpleasant little book which I skim-read. Polly Evans leaves her high-pressure job in Hong Kong to cycle 1,000 miles round Spain on her own. It's admirable to achieve this, but unfortunately Polly's brand of "humour" relies on sneering at everyone she meets because they are not up to the exacting standards set by her and her well-off, sophisticated friends. Crowded places are sneered at because they are full of tourists. Worse still, elderly tourists, who despite being wrinkly, ill-clad ...more
Nov 08, 2007 Lisa rated it it was ok
I wasn't very impressed with this book. Unless you want to know all about the history of Spain... from somewhat recent history, to the 1400's, then you might enjoy this... It was a little too heavy on the history for my likings...
Karen Bordner
Feb 02, 2014 Karen Bordner rated it did not like it
I love travelogues - books about people who go to a different countries than their own and write about it. But this book was horrible, tiring, boring.
Our author decides to leave her job in Hong Kong and bicycle through Spain. She arrives in Spain and discovers that the Pyrenees have mountains (surprise!) and the mountains are steep!
She begins her trip and finds NOTHING she likes about the country. (". . . dull, dreary little towns. . . ") All of the locals seem stupid or dirty. All of the littl
Catherine Gillespie
The book is a travel memoir written by a girl who leaves her job in Hong Kong to take a six week bike ride across Spain. As with many books in this genre, the book includes a lot of history woven in about the places she visited. I really enjoyed that, as it gave a well-rounded sense of the areas she visited. At times the narrative is funny, if a little snarky.
Truly, not every trip is a voyage in self-discovery, but one would imagine that six weeks spent biking in a foreign country all by ones
Stacey Neve
May 15, 2014 Stacey Neve rated it liked it
I am likely moving to Spain in a few months and I have been looking for some good travel books about Spain to read before I leave. This sort of fit the bill.

I do think Polly Evans captures a sense of place as she bikes from one city or town to another and I enjoyed the local history she provides for each stop along her route.

What I didn't like is her judgmental and mean-spirited attitude towards the locals. Everyone, including people who want to give her directions or talk to her about a shared
Nov 10, 2013 David rated it liked it
Shelves: cleanskin
* Cassette edition read by Lucy Scott. Pre Lance Armstrong coming clean.
Better than expected and not quite as "girly" as I was concerned it would be
"Single, stressed, and living amid the hustle and hurry of modern Hon Kong, Polly Evans had a vision: of mountains and orange groves, matadors and promenades -- and of a glorious, hassle-free journey across Spain by bicycle. But like any decent dream, Polly's came with its own reality: of thighs screaming with pain and goats trying to derail her, of strange local delicacies and overzealous suitors. In fact, like any great traveler, Polly had bitten off more than she could chew -- and would delig ...more
Jan 22, 2009 Carolyn rated it liked it
Tapas is the Spanish word for appetizers. Originally, according to legend, King Alfonso "The Wise" ordered all restaurants to serve appetizers, in between drinks, after he himself was "cured" by such a treatment after being ill. However, the likelihood of this scenario might actually be more legend than fact, hyped up over centuries of alcoholics indulging in appetizers so they can drink more. Regardless of that fact, this second installment of my reading list was made on behalf of practicality, ...more
IT’S NOT ABOUT THE TAPA’S is the first travel book written by Polly Evans from her series of adventures across the world. Set in Spain IT’S NOT ABOUT THE TAPA’S was quickly joined by other travelogues set in South America, New Zealand, China and Canada. For some unknown reason this was the last of her books that I have read, and I am glad I saved it for last as I don’t think it is her best work. She starts off really well and had me in stitches as she brings Hong Kong alive and her reasons for l ...more
Feb 20, 2009 Natalie rated it did not like it
Okay... only kind of read. I picked it up late at night when I knew I needed to sleep,but my frame of mind was such that I wanted something different to think about before I went to bed so I picked up this book and read various parts of it before putting it down a half hour later, deciding that I didn't ever want to pick it back up again. Think woman trying to be quirky and funny, but instead coming off as stuck in herself... or wait, is that me. In any case, I found her "I have to include meani ...more
I really WANTED to like this book - it was the only book in our little library that was about bicycle touring, and the fact that it was about Spain - a country that I have visited before - made me hopeful that I'd find an easy connection. Unfortunately, it didn't quench my thirst for bicycle travel, nor did the writing whisk me off to Spain. Somehow it took me weeks to slowly plod through the book, even thought the book is written in a very easy flowing first-person narrative. I didn't like the ...more
Robert C.
Feb 23, 2016 Robert C. rated it liked it
Polly Evans seems to me to be quite a miserable person. In this book she recounts her adventures as she cycles 1,600 kilometres from one end of Spain to the next. To pad the book she includes quite a bit of commentary about the history and culture of the various places she visits and cycles past.

Her peak experiences seem to be on the tops of mountain passes or contemplating the buttocks of famous Spanish cyclists. Her worst experiences are in hotels, hostels and other places to sleep.

She loses w
Apr 07, 2010 Mike rated it it was amazing
This reads like a brisk ride through a pleasing, scenic country road with nothing but clean air zipping into your nostrils, prompting a smile that won't stop.
It's Not About the Tapas is written by Polly Evans, a former Hong Kong-based British journalist out to regain some physical strength after deadlines, and such added on some flab. You can feel the personal and spiritual victories each kilometer, or word, gives her.
It heled my reading, knowing very well some of the places she peddled through
Feb 20, 2015 Judy rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel-tales
This was a fun tale of a young British woman who quit her job in Hong Kong and rode 1000 miles around Spain on a bicycle to recover from the rigors of magazine publishing in Hong Kong. In the process she found she was able to do more physically than she originally thought when she hit her first mountain, and got a chance to eat all sorts of Spanish specialties while losing weight. In the process of narrating her tour she also passed on a lot of interesting pieces of Spanish history.
Feb 02, 2016 Lesley rated it it was ok
Shelves: gave-up-on
80 pages in, and the book follows a predictable pattern: talk about Spanish history, talk about cycling history, complain about/make fun of every person, place, and thing the author meets. I skimmed random passages throughout the rest of the book and was disappointed to see the pattern appeared consistent throughout. There's a lack of introspection and appreciation that I just couldn't get over.
Tim Owens
Mar 15, 2016 Tim Owens rated it really liked it
Polly Evans takes a bike tour of Spain. The journey begins in San Sabastian through the Pyrenees to Barcelona. She flies to Granada and continues the biking to Madrid. She meets interesting people and customs. She reveals some history of her destinations which helps spice the story. Her accounts of where she stays, the food and the terrain she bikes through make for a good travel story. This is a dream trip for an avid biker.
I am not sure that it is the author's fault that I found this book difficult to finish. I am not sure I was her intended audience. However, she was unable to hold my attention to the end.

I enjoy reading travel books - I like visiting places that I may never get to. I especially like revisiting places I have been so I hear another perspective, another's story. That is why I picked this book up. I loved Spain and plan to return someday.

When I go back, I will not be riding a bike as Polly Evans did
Jun 02, 2010 Shelly rated it liked it
I'm impressed with Polly's bravery and ambition as well as the amazing fortitude it would take to bike a thousand miles ALONE let alone in a foreign country!
I kept asking myself if I could do it and while I'm optamistic I could with a companion I'm sure I could not do it alone.
I was suprised by the amount of history that was included in the book. It was a nice touch and gave the book unexpected depth.
I found it smart the ways she would interject tidbits of history regarding the town she was curr
Автор чрезмерно высокомерна и с пренебрежением пишет о других людях. Хотя, на мой взгляд, сама является не очень умным человеком, постоянно попадаюшим по собственной глупости, невнимательности или небрежности в неприятные ситуации. После двух недель, проведенных в поездках по Испании, могу сказать, что мое мнение о коренных испанцах лишь в малой части соответсвует той картине, что показала Полли Эванс. Единственное, что мне понравилось - небольшие отступления по ходу повествования об истории и к ...more
Carol Wakefield
Sep 01, 2016 Carol Wakefield rated it it was amazing
My favorite kind of travel book. Prolly combines a generous dollop of history, vivid descriptions of countryside and urban areas, and all with self deprecating humor. Her cycling has its own pleasures and miseries. Lots of quiet giggles the occasional guffaw and a new view of Spain.
Helen Youings
Aug 30, 2012 Helen Youings rated it really liked it

I enjoyed this!

I'm sure we've all had those moments when we think cycling round Spain is a good idea....but it remains just that. I have a grudging admiration for anyone who has a mad idea and then puts it into action!

Not only do we share Polly Evans' crazy journey round Spain but we also learn quite a bit about the history of Spain and the history of the tour de France. The title of the book is an obvious nod to Lance Armstrong's autobiography "It's not about the bike".

I also love her comic l
Jul 21, 2010 Rocio rated it it was ok
It was a hard read to get into...spent almost 5 days when it should have taken 1.
Overly descriptive, too many adjectives - Funny because she states that Spaniards like to use adjectives a lot....

I did like the bits about the history even if some were a little exagerated for comical purposes.

I will agree with a lot of the reviews that although very descriptive of the scenery and physical appearance of the people she encounters her writing is that of a bewildered foreigner in culture shock.

The boo
Michael Romo
While a journalist in Hong Kong Polly Evans decided to tour Spain by bicycle alone. This book, a mixture of travelogue and history lesson, takes us on an informative tour of Spain.
May 18, 2009 Katie rated it it was ok
Why travel alone if you don't want to talk to people? Why travel at all really? While this Brit is supposed to be funny and has some other good travel books out there, I thought this one wasn't worth the crumpets. Sure there is some sarcasm spread on like marmalade but overall, it doesn't read like she had a good time. Who bikes through remote areas of Spain to stop in tiny towns if you don't like the idleness of the sleepy villages? And, sure traveling alone as a woman you need to have your wit ...more
Aug 31, 2015 Wendy rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up
I like my travelogues to be rather less cynical than this. One reviewer calls Polly Evans 'mean-spirited', and I think that sums her up perfectly. Ninety pages in and she seems to have only disparaging things to say about the people she meets. Haven't we moved past the times when we portrayed people from different cultures as boring, stupid, or a little off their rocker Polly? There also seems to be a lot of filler in this book, as if perhaps she didn't really pay attention, nothing fun really h ...more
Patricia Eichenlaub
May 30, 2016 Patricia Eichenlaub rated it really liked it
An entertaining read for someone who has been to Spain.
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