Book Review: “The Turk Who Loved Apples” by Matt Gross

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The TurkThe Turk Who Loved Apples And Other Tales of Losing My Way Around the World.  The title resonates words I’ve spoken before to pals who have leaned closer to my teaser statement to listen anticipatedly about an encounter I had while traveling.  Matt Gross, who wrote a column for a few years in the New York Times called Frugal Traveler, shared stories, scenarios and “sod off” moments  he experienced as a traveler before, during and after working for “All the news that’s fit to print”.

I found myself in a smiling melancholy stupor while paging through his narratives.  My travels as a traveler, not to be confused with tourist, could relate to many of his experiences.  Travelers are off the beaten path looking for connections with locals where a tourist is souvenir hunting.  Grosses flashbacks proved challenging to set the book down for a day.  The book was not breathtaking white knuckled “what’s going to happen next?!”  Instead, it was saturated with tangents.  In the midst of his storytelling, he reflected upon an experience that he interrupted his original story for this adjacent recollection which led into a riveting annex.  When the chapter was finished, the third tall tale was revealed, the second yarn was tied and the first story was complete.  Gross provided innumerable adventures and to listen to them unwind was a rare treasure.

Gross did share his formula for frugal traveling-which he, understandably, after a few columns about traveling frugally, believed was sufficient.  He hinted on Air, Lodging and Food.  How one spent their money was up to them.  Spend more and do not complain was sage advice.  He was right on target with the airfare, offered brave solutions for lodging such as sleeping on a strangers couch.  Of course, ones in new territory-why not give it a shot and see if the couch owner will take you around their city, show you their favorite places and offer a bed bug free couch!  And food, why I never thought to check out a church dinner while traveling?  What a terrific idea!

Mr. Gross shared his tortuous feelings about being lonely and how some circumstances forced friendships to materialize.  Those friendships allowed him to “leave trace memories all over the world”.  He touched the hurdles one must accept when traveling to places where the street signs are unfamiliar and do not resemble the American alphabet. But the amusing ability to easily speak Spanfranglish-Spanish, French and English in one sentence was a joy.  And how eating what Americans consider repulsive food is an attempt to fit into a new culture or a dare to invite giardia.

I read this book on a train, in a car, on a boat, at work, in a condo, in an apartment, in a house and a campsite.  Those turfs are a menial amount compared to the formidable locations immersed by Gross.  Pick up this book.   Read it cover to cover.  Recommend it to your friends.  If you are confident, share the book with your family members.  Make a date to gather and reminisce.  Be inspired to reveal your travel shenanigans or plan a trip to view the Tabula Peutingeriana.

 

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by Jill Otradovec

Jill thrives on travel has been fortunate to be a road tripper and train traveler. She’s visited all 48 contiguous U.S. States with the impressive assistance of sofas and floors belonging to friends and family and a fantastic mechanic. Though her current passport has one stamp and a pathetic layer of dust, she is a card holder of the Smithsonian Institution and National Park Service (which have been used this year).

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