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

3.31 of 5 stars 3.31  ·  rating details  ·  529 ratings  ·  82 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, 284 pages
Published June 27th 2006 by Delta (first published 2003)
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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...more
"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...more
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
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...
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...more
Karen Bordner
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...more
Stacey Neve
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...more
* 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
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
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
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
Helen Youings

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...more
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...more
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
A good travel memoir is a wonderful compliment to a vacation and I looked forward to reading It's Not About the Tapas during our recent ten day visit to Spain. Fortunately our experience was 180 degrees different from my Polly Evans account of her bike ride through rural and urban areas of Spain. She is so cynical and sarcastic in describing her travels that I doubted the credibility of the historical facts presented as well. Fortunately, I enjoyed my visit to Spain much more than I enjoyed read...more
At first I was put off by the author's sarcasm and exaggeration, but I got used to it and ended up enjoying the book. I liked reading her perspective on places I've visited-- Trujillo, Merida, Ronda, Sevilla, Granada. She's got a generally negative take on Spain and Spaniards, and that gets a little old, but I did enjoy the bits of history she threw in, and she has an appealing writing style, all in all. She's written other travel books. I wonder if she liked New Zealand or the Yukon better than...more
Carla Conant
I couldn't put this book down. I've lived in Spain and found some of her descriptions to be dead on. I was shaking with laughter when I read about the little old women who wear black and cross themselves all the time and gossip over coffee. I've experienced the physical and mental strain of traveling alone in Europe, albeit not on a bike. The highs, lows, and disappointments you experience traveling alone are like none other and Polly accurately and deftly captured those feelings. I am eager to...more
It is not very easy to write an interesting travel story. And Polly Evans is not making it any better. The story is rather dull and boring. It's difficult to get into the story and the country she writes about. I've been living in Spain for many years, and this book does not make you want to go visit the country.
I stopped reading halfway through the book, even though I wanted to continue. She tries to write a funny story, but ends up laughing about the dull villages and the locals.
Definitely interesting if you like Spain, as she provides a lot of history and background information in the context of each of the cities she visits. However, she basically complains the entire time about the locals and hotel conditions, etc. (although her attitude does improve towards the end.) If you like biking or Spain, I'd sort of recommend reading it, as long as you have her negative attitude in mind. I found it to be kind of a slow read.
This book surprised me! I had low hopes for the simple Spanish travel book in which a British woman describes the highs and lows of her 1000-mile cycling adventure through Spain my mom sent in a care package. It must have been on sale... But the author easily weaves little-known facts and historic bits about the places she's visiting into her travel diary, and the result is a light and interesting book. Good for summer sunbathing.
Morgan (Turbo)
Lots of people agree. Not a great a book. Basically she concludes the best part of bike touring is eating what you want and not getting fat. Really? I was hoping for a little bit more
Maria (Ri)
I think I'd really enjoy meeting Polly, even, or especially, when she is oily grimy after a day of cycling. She is quite entertaining and I loved reading about her biking adventures. I also like reading the word "chuff" used without any apology or irony. ;) While some of the history bit was interesting, at times it got tedious and I longed for the author to just hop on her bike and continue along.
Why don't these travel writers ever put pictures in their books? Evans is OK- she's nowhere near as funny as Bill Bryson & does tend to shove in a little too much from her background research re history & biography. I did enjoy her wry observations about people & many pop-culture references more than the heavy history. She talks a lot about food, too. Enjoyable, if a bit on the windy side.
Megan Suckut
I really liked it in the beginning but soon started to feel bad about the jokes made toward the rural Spaniards in the latter half. The bicycle stuff was really fun to read, as were the food descriptions. There was a lot of history, and history is my thing, but I could see how it could turn readers away. Overall a fun read but gets glazed over by the end, it seems.
Being half Spanish and having lived in Spain for quite a few years, I must say I was quite skeptical when I first started reading this book but it turned out to be a very enjoyable read.I really liked the historical bits Evans inserted in her travelogue and was pleasantly surprised that there were few inaccuracies throughout the book. A lighthearted, amusing book:)
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