The first entry of a journal which provided the material for some of the best travel writing of the 20th century. While I am enjoying other Leigh Fermor books on his later travels, I don’t think they match the sweep or freshness of those recounting his walk across Europe. Perhaps because he took in more terrain, or a wider range of cultures, or a younger sensibility.
Elsewhere he mentions the loss of a journal, which still hurt him years later, like an old wound.
‘When he had cleared away, I took a new and handsomely-bound journal out of my rucksack, opened it on the green baize under a pink-shaded lamp and wrote the first entry whie the cruets and the wine bottle rattled busily in their stands. Then I went on deck.’
Source: Patrick Leigh Fermor, A Time of Gifts (London: Penguin Books, 1977), p. 31