"On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube"

A Time of Gifts, title

"On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube" is the subtitle of the first volume of the trilogy, and since the title itself is explained by Paddy in the main text, the subtitle is the first topic I will take on.  Superficially this is just a simple and literal description of the walk.  He started at the Hook of Holland, was aiming for Constantinople, and gets as far as the Middle Danube by the end of this volume.  However the Hook of Holland is really the port of Rotterdam, while Constantinople had been renamed Istanbul even before Paddy set out on the walk, and long before his account was published. The choice of these names was, therefore, both deliberate and romantic - as 'From Rotterdam to Istanbul' does fall flat by comparison.

When Paddy set out in 1933 mass tourism was already nearly a century old. As today, the prospective traveller had access to any number of detailed travel guides.  Perhaps the most popular in Paddy's time were Karl Baedeker’s of series of handbooks for travellers.  With their distinctive red biding, these handbooks were published in Leipzig, but aimed squarely at the affluent English middle classes.  Paddy himself references them in his letters, and very likely consulted them in advance of his walk.  The two excerpts below describe the alpha and omega of his walk, the Hook of Holland and Constantinople.  The first is dismissed in one short paragraph by Baedeker, and the second receives many pages of expansive and romantic description.

"The Hook of Holland, Dutch Hoek van Holland (Bad-Hotel ; Railway Restaurant), an insignificant village at the end of the Nieuwe Waterweg [New Waterway], which was constructed in 1866-90 at a cost of 30,000,000 fl. and now affords the shortest communication by canal between Rotterdam and the North Sea, has since 1892 been an important place for the passage to England. The station adjoins the landing-stage of the steamers. — Express through-trains in connection with the steamers run to and from this station to Cologne, Bale, Berlin (466 M., in 16 hrs.), Osnabrück, etc.; the express-trains between the Hook and Nymwegen stop at Rotterdam (Maas Station) and Dordrecht only."

Belgium and Holland, including the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg: Handbook for Travellers (Leipzig: Baedeker, 1910) pp 294

"Constantinople, Turk. Stambul or Slamboul, Ital. Costantinopoli, Slav. Tsarigrad (emperor's town), capital of the Turkish empire and residence of the Sultan (since 1909 Mohammed V., b.1844; successor of Abdul Hamid, p. 544), is the seat of the government (the 'Sublime Porte'), and also of the Sheikh ul-Islam, of the patriarchs of the Greek and Armenian churches, and of a papal legate. It lies on the Sea of Marmora, at the mouth of the Bosporus, in 41° N. lat. and 28° 58' E. longitude…"

The Mediterranean: Seaports and sea routes, including Madeira, the Canary Islands, the coast of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia: Handbook for Travellers (Leipzig: Baedeker, 191l) pp 540