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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

3.34  ·  Rating details ·  816 ratings  ·  124 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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Jan 07, 2008 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
Nov 03, 2011 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
Jun 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jan 09, 2015 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
Sep 08, 2009 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 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
Oct 18, 2007 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... ...more
Karen Bordner
Feb 02, 2014 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
Sep 06, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: travelogue
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. ...more
Oct 22, 2013 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
Jan 26, 2016 rated it liked it
An interesting little read. It's not very engaging and the author/narrator doesn't seem to have much personality other than to complain the entire away about animals, the landscape, the Spaniards, and everything else. She also has a very annoying tendency to become very condescending towards the various Spaniards she meets along the way, mocking them, their style of speech, how they talk, how they dress, right down to how they dye their hair. It made for a less than enjoyable read. The book rede ...more
Jun 29, 2017 rated it liked it
This bike travelogue of solo bike travel through Spain had a lot of fun parts, including little anecdotes about Spanish history that was perfect to read as I headed to Spain for the first time. The descriptions of the hills and navigating the maps was useful too, as I have no doubt that many solo women cyclists encounter lots of misinformation in a misguided attempt to keep them safe on the roads.

However, the book's main flaw is that the author spends a lot of time fat-shaming others on her jour
Doris Smith
Sep 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel-writing, spain
This is a fun read especially if you have visited Spain yourself. Author Polly Evans decides that life in Hong Kong is too crazy and she will quit and go bike riding in Spain....say a thousand miles. Never mind that she does not own a bike nor is in shape for that kind of riding. Other complications include her map reading skills and undisciplined eating habits. Soon she is riding in Spain with a change of clothing, and other necessities such as nail polish. Her panniers are overloaded and make ...more
L.L. Van
May 04, 2021 rated it did not like it
She is trying to be funny but insults the Spanish people and comes across as a very privileged person. She cycles not much also, she takes taxis, buses and planes. I was put off more and more about the comments on mountain people, but when I got to the point when she got so annoyed her flight was cancelled, I really couldn't take more. Taking a plane from Barcelona to Malaga is not only unsustainable (why not a train?), but also not the point of a cycling trip in one country, in my opinion.
JD AReader
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: travel
Soooo condescending. This lady cycles through Spain bashing everybody and everything she sees/experiences there. It’s a pity since she may be able to write something good. Her writing could be fluid and humorous – sometimes. The historical information added was interesting – and the only reason I finished the book. Still, all these positive facts are overshadowed by her arrogance and distasteful disrespect!
Aug 11, 2018 rated it liked it
I read this on the plane and it was a lovely travel and poolside paperback. Yes, some annoying and invigorating things happen. No, I would never be able to cycle up and down the Pyrenees in a million years. But, otherwise, it felt very much like something that could happen to anyone and without a terribly dramatic or romantic adventure. It doesn’t seem to leave the author very much changes as a result and is generally enjoyable during but not a terribly memorable book.
Metal Nyankos
Mar 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-2020, travel, humor
This was an okay read. I really enjoyed the mix of history and travelogue, but Evans tried a little too hard to be funny and was pretty disparaging about many of the towns and villages she stopped in (and mean and oddly dismissive to the locals, as others have said). But, this book came out in 2003 and I'm willing to chalk my issues with this book (in large part) up to that. Still, her book is worth reading and there were times Evans made me laugh aloud so there's good in this travelogue too. ...more
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Bike riding is a favorite exercise for me, especially along a beautiful lake or stream, but I would never want to do what Polly Evans accomplished in Spain on her bicycle. History of Spain, humor about her experiences traveling solo through Spain and food figure prominently. Loved her self-effacing sense of humor and her determination to accomplish her goal.
May 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
I read this book because I am going to Spain and picked it for a book club where we read by topic, and this month is travel. Ms. Evans decides to cycle 1000 miles through Spain. The history sections of the places she visits were interesting, but I didn't find much humor in her descriptions of the people in the small villages she visits. ...more
Regina Rex
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Funny travel writing. I get associations to a female Bill Bryson. She comes with a lot of facts as she rides her bike through Spain. But just half of the facts and anecdotes are interesting. Most of the time a negative outlook on the Spanish people, which annoyed me a lot.
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
Polly Evans is a biker and a storyteller. Even though I don’t bike and knew almost nothing about Spain when I started, I enjoyed reading about her travel. Through her stories you pick up not only the local flavor but also some history. Glad I read it!
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Overall, I enjoyed this one. She has some interesting history tucked into her travel narrative, but she did become a bit snarky towards the end of her adventure. Not sure I’ll travel with her anytime soon...
Mar 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: bicycling, travel
Fun! Relating the true perils of touring, no legs to start. Sharing deep knowledge of Spain while interacting with interesting locals, trying new food& drinks. Me. Evans allowed us to follow along as she explored the Spainish way of life.
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
it's just a bit dull. Urbanite has a life moment, buys a bike she knows nothing about and sets off to a foreign land. Turns out that she doesn't really like cycling, or Spain. Waxes lyrical about tapas, but not revealing anything particularly interesting. Gave up after a few chapters ...more
Kate Dalgleish
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Reading this book while travelling Spain is highly recommended :)
Jan J
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
It was ok-kinda dated.
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
Some parts were interesting, but overall not my favorite read. I did enjoy reading about the smaller places she visited in Spain.
Aug 05, 2018 rated it liked it
A fun read! Parts memoir, travel guide, history lesson, and motivational story; definitely made me want to get on my bike and travel the country!
Jessica Dartnell
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Loved the idea behind this book, but was disappointed in the writing. Though there is a lot of interesting Spanish history, the author also does a lot of repetitive complaining.
Susan Morris
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Not a bad read. Learned some interesting things about Spain, though at times she is rather harsh about those she encounters in small villages. (Own)
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