Whilst at the launch party for An Adventure, I met Jason Goodwin who, when just a little younger, walked in 1990 with two friends from Gdansk to Istanbul. Jason subsequently wrote On Foot to the Golden Horn: A Walk to Istanbul as a record of their adventures. It is an enjoyable read, but there is just not enough about Istanbul!
We met him for the first time in early 1990, just before we set out to walk from Poland to Istanbul. My aunt Judy asked him over for a drink. Impeccably dressed – touch of the dandy, old school, Guards… Shabby chic was not his style.
We told him our plan, to start walking from Gdansk. There was a cargo ship that made the passage to Gdansk from the Thames each fortnight, and offered berths. From the Baltic to Czestechowa, then Cracow, over Slovakia into Hungary…. It was a wonderful moment to start out across the lost lands of eastern Europe. Paddy had known them so well before the curtain dropped, and we would be among the first to go in again, to see how this disjointed Europe might re-unite. To see what and who was on the Other Side.
‘What a marvellous idea!’ he exclaimed, as if – well. As if we were the very first people ever to think of it.
On Foot to the Golden Horn: A Walk to Istanbul won the John Llewellyn Rhys/Mail on Sunday Prize in 1993, and is now available in a Kindle edition. Jason’s review of Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure was published in Country Life and you can read it here.