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Walking in Circles

Wander off the beaten path in this collection of essays about the excursions of two pedestrians in Europe. Rather than racking up miles in the obvious museums, husband and wife meander through the streets of Paris in search of the perfect thrift store, intense dark chocolat, and radical poster art. In Ireland, after tramping over limestone karst and occupying neolithic forts, they seek, and find, an ancient well of bardic inspiration. The island of Angelsey and its circular trails confounds them at first, renders them lost, yet still surrenders its oldest secret when they secure the important key—all for a ten-pound deposit at the market. Everywhere they go, they take their time, savoring the weather and the land, availing themselves of each restorative café experience. You may think you know Europe, but these humorous and thoughtful essays will take the reader to places where curiosity can always find something new.

I owe a lot to my wife, Susan T. Landry. We wanted to tour ice age caves on our honeymoon in France, but she thought it would be foolish to wait for the wedding, so we went right away. It’s been like that ever since. Spurred by her enthusiasm and meticulous planning, we’ve toured around Europe, following mutual whims, interests, and opportunities. We make a good team; even when we argue, we’re both too interested in where we are to stay mad. Walking is the mainstay of our travel; it promotes flânerie and an educational pace. And public transport, though sometimes less convenient than a car, always provides a window into local culture. I’m pleased to have a travel companion who’d rather walk or take the bus; it’s kept us in the flow of reality and peeled away some of the layers that insulate the tourist.