Fifty Miles Wide is a travelogue about cycling through Israel and Palestine and meeting local people, hearing their stories as well as discovering the complicated history of the area.
Julian Sayarer met a mix of people on his journey: artists, refugees, soldiers, shop keepers and fellow cyclists. He gained insights into their daily lives, their struggles, their survival and their hopes for peace and a different future.
Sayarer blends the hard truths with poetic descriptions of nature and his experiences of one man and his bike on an open road. With this book he gently lends his voice to those whose stories need to be heard, and he tries to make sense of the plight of all these people who are living side-by-side with little room and a maelstrom of force just waiting to ignite.
I learnt a lot while reading this book and I shall remember it for a long time. My favourite parts were the stories from the people Sayarer met. I also liked the sections that described the scenery. I wasn’t so sure about some of the deeper philosophical thoughts that Sayarer had whilst on the open road, many were a little strange for me.
Overall, an interesting piece of travel writing and one I would recommend reading.
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Ten years after breaking a world record for a circumnavigation by bicycle, award-winning travel writer Julian Sayarer returns to two wheels to write life at the roadsides of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. His journey weaves from fertile Mediterranean hills of the Galilee, down to the Bedouin of the sparse Naqab desert. He speaks with Palestinian hip-hop artists not sure if music can change their world, Israeli cycling activists who hope that bicycles can, and Palestinian cycle clubs determined to go on bike rides despite the military checkpoints that bar their way.
Riding through stories of Israel and Occupation in Palestine, talking to people at the roadside, the bicycle becomes a medium for more than just travel in this complex land, cutting through tensions to find truth, and some hope. The book reads as a meditation on making change; how people keep their spirit in dark times and continue to believe a different world is possible.