The End of Elsewhere: Travels Among the Tourists


309 pages
ISBN 1-55199-082-2
DDC 914.04'56




Reviewed by Christine Hughes

Christine Hughes is manager, Policy Coordination, Developmental Services
Branch, Ontario Ministry of Community, Family and Children’s Services.


There are many books written in the travel literature genre, but few
cover as much territory as The End of Elsewhere. Grescoe starts his
nine-month, 10,000-kilometre odyssey at Cabo Fisterra (“The End of the
Earth” on the Galician Coast in Spain) and ends it at Tianya Haijiao
(“The End of the Earth” on the Chinese island of Hainan). In between
these two destinations, he makes his way through Europe, the United Arab
Emirates, Turkey, India, Nepal, Thailand, and China. As a tourist,
Grescoe experiences almost every form of travel available, including
hiking, coach tour, mountaineering, driving, cruise ship, eco-tourism,
and backpacking. The point of his book is to participate in the total
tourist experience. In addition to describing the various locations
visited and some of the unique people encountered along the way, Grescoe
also provides details on the history of tourism and some of the reliable
guidebooks used by travellers, including the Michelin, Let’s Go, and
Lonely Planet offerings. He also draws on the musings of such well-known
travel writers as Herodotus, Goethe, Boswell, and Waugh. This is an
entertaining read. Each of the 12 chapters begins with a number of
point-form notes that offer a hint of what will follow. For example, the
chapter detailing his European bus tour contains such teasers as “My
Coach Awaits Me—Thomas Cook Started it All—My Roommate Thinks I’m
Gay—The Tour Guide Is a Lush—The Bus Has No Bathroom.”

By the end of the book you have galloped around the globe through
cities ranging from Paris, Rome, Corfu, and Istanbul to Mumbai,
Kathmandu, Bangkok, and Hong Kong. You get a glimpse into Grescoe’s
own life, as well as snippets of a number of interesting characters he
encounters along the way. His personal reminiscences give the reader a
better understanding of why people travel and why tourists act the way
they do. Overall, the book is a refreshing, interesting blend of
history, anthropology, and travelogue. Grescoe lives in Montreal and has
written about foreign cultures for such publications as the Times of
London, National Geographic Traveler, the New York Times, and the
Independent. His first book, Sacré Blues: An Unsentimental Journey
through Quebec, won several awards for non-fiction.


Grescoe, Taras., “The End of Elsewhere: Travels Among the Tourists,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed October 1, 2023,