A 55-year-old woman and her husband uproot their lives to take a yearlong European tour in Bohr’s debut memoir.
Relatively few people get the opportunity to travel abroad for a significant amount of time, exploring culture, history, and cuisine in different parts of the world. Bohr got not one, but two such chances. Her first, as a graduate student, was a bare-bones, laissez-faire journey, but her second, as a wife and mother who qualified for senior discounts, was a much more carefully planned-out affair. In fact, it took Bohr and her husband, Joe, many years to plan their own “gap year,” in which they hoped to visit more than 20 different countries. Most readers may find their preparations daunting, if not downright terrifying: they developed and executed a calculated savings plan, quit their jobs, and sold half of their worldly belongings. By sticking to their schedule and budget, they managed to see several nations throughout Europe and even took a foray into Africa. The journey, which may seem like an all-but-impossible undertaking, is made very real through Bohr’s frank accounts of their planning, discussions, and decision-making over several years to make their trip a reality. Bohr frequently details the histories of the sites they visited, often providing as much background information as a comprehensive travel guide. Some readers may wish that she had included pictures or illustrations to complement her descriptions, however. At more than 350 pages, this isn’t a memoir to breeze through. Indeed, at times, the lengthy, myriad descriptions and leisurely pace may remind some of watching a friend’s vacation slide show. Bohr shines, however, when she provides glimpses of herself as a whole person, not simply a traveler; for example, her disappointment about their visit to Morocco, where she experienced pushy salespeople, con artists, refuse-filled streets, and dispiriting poverty, is at once visceral and relatable. Her book is an excellent choice for armchair travelers who want to see the sites but are in no particular hurry to do so.
A travelogue filled with historic places, but its personal stories provide its highlights.