Book review: Europe @ 2.4km/h

Travel memoir takes paraplegic through Europe.
Travel memoir takes paraplegic through Europe.

EUROPE @ 2.4km/h

Author: Ken Haley

Publisher: Wakefield Press

RRP: $32.95

COVERING 26,000kms by train, bus, plane and ship would be an arduous undertaking at the best of times.

But for Ken Haley, who became a paraplegic in 1991, travelling throughout Europe was a wonderful, invigorating adventure.

Ken is one of Australia's most widely travelled authors and has visited 131 countries in depth.

A journalist by profession, he has held posts on the foreign desk of the Times and Observer in London, as well as stints in places like Bahrain, Hong Kong, Athens and Johannesburg.

In this second travel memoir, wheelchair traveller Ken crosses Europe, from Russia to Portugal via the Arctic.

Hardly out to break any speed-records at 2.4 km/h, our intrepid traveller with his trained eye for detail, decides that his enforced slowness allows him to closely observe the more unusual.

Bypassing the more famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Coliseum, Ken takes the less travelled routes and ends up in some strange situations.

A firm believer in the "unfamiliarity principle", Ken's best moments in his journey take the form of pleasant surprises.

Seeing the world from a seated position, Ken regales us with his many encounters, meeting many delightful, helpful characters as well as some odd-balls along the way.

From the unusual to the sublime, Ken whets our appetite and draws us into the fascinating cultural and historical milieu of Europe with his keen eye and his penchant for the unfamiliar.

Here's a witty, absorbing read by a man who shrugs off adversity with determination and humour.

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