Back to Istanbul
On Foot across Europe to the Great Silk Road
Bernard Ollivier, Dan Golembeski, Bénédicte Flatet
- 240 Pages
- November 7, 2023
- ISBN: 9781510776821
- Imprint: Skyhorse Publishing
- Trim Size: 6in x 9in x 0in
After trekking nearly 7,500 miles, from Istanbul, Turkey to Xi’an, China, French travel writer Bernard Ollivier thought he had put the Silk Road behind him—enough for a retiree to rest on his laurels! But that was before meeting his now-partner-in-life Bénédicte Flatet. Why, she asked, hadn’t he set out from France? After all, the city of Lyon was once Europe’s silk capital.
Now, at seventy-five years old, Ollivier decides to lace up his walking boots and head out to complete his Silk-Road journey, once and for all: 1,900 miles, from Lyon to Istanbul. Only this time, he won’t be alone. Flatet has long yearned to hike side-by-side with Ollivier, so the couple sets out together . . .
This unexpected fourth volume in Ollivier’s Silk Road series (Out of Istanbul, Walking to Samarkand, and Winds of the Steppe) is a wonderful bonus for the author’s fans: not only is it the enthralling continuation of his long walk across Asia, it’s a new journey unto itself, across Europe, full of delightful firsts, such as the inclusion of short chronicles by Flatet. Through ten countries—from familiar France and Italy to the more mysterious Balkans—the intrepid pair invites us to discover the sometimes happy, sometimes tragic history of those they encounter, and to share in their daily lives. Back to Istanbul is both a fervent appeal for greater understanding among peoples, and a magnificent declaration of love.
Bénédicte Flatet is a singer, musician, actress, stage director, and scriptwriter. She has performed in plays, musicals, and street opera worldwide, including at the renowned Avignon Festival. She has been with the Petit Théâtre Dakôté in Central France since 2004, and, in her free time, is a devoted organic gardener. She resides with Bernard Ollivier in Normandy, France.
Dan Golembeski has worked as a French and Linguistics educator, a summer study abroad director in France, and has conducted fieldwork on language contact in Canada. An occasional, albeit fervent traveler, he increasingly crosses borders with words. He lives in Petoskey, Michigan.
“A journey with heart.”— The New York Times
“Ollivier takes us on an absorbing walking tour of the Silk Road, experiencing many of the same marvels and dangers as the ancient caravans. . . . Though having an episodic feel, Ollivier's account brims with a sojourner's passion and an insatiable hunger for new vistas and peoples.”—Kirkus
“Bernard Ollivier is a man eager to learn about the world around him, a writer who opens his readers’ eyes. As a journalist, he knows how to extract life’s real secrets from people’s memories. Truth is, in heading out onto the Silk Road, he wasn’t seeking history, but wisdom. And he finds it in the exceptional openness of nomads. This is the gift he offers to us.”—Dominique Gerbaud, president, Reporters Without Borders
“Ollivier is a traveler. He doesn’t consider himself a writer. As a result, his prose is at times better than that of professional travel writers: he writes simply, focused not on fancy phrasings, but on providing a true-to-life account of his experiences. He doesn’t travel in order to write or publish a book. He travels as do so many of Conrad’s protagonists: for self-discovery.”—Le Monde
"Though Ollivier's walk in this book comes to an end, it continues to evoke images and prod the reader’s wonderings long after it has been set aside, such is the author’s unrelenting candor and bent for description. In the end, it is not a solitary journey you read about, but one in which the reader is with him every step of the way."—Rick Antonson, author of Full Moon Over Noah’s Ark: An Odyssey to Mount Ararat and Beyond