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Alex Drace-Francis

If you get off the train at Bucharest's Gara de Nord and walk out of the front entrance, you will see (across the busy traffic) a park, flanked on the righthand side by Dinicu Golescu Boulevard. Some distance down this road there is a statue of Dinicu Golescu. Dinicu owned most of the land on which both the park and the boulevard are situated. Perhaps more importantly, in 1826 (or was it 1827?), he did something none of his fellow countrymen had ever done before: he published an account of his travels.

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Wendy Bracewell and Alex Drace-Francis

In writings about travel, the Balkans appear most often as a place travelled to. Western writings about the Balkans revel in the different and the exotic, the violent and the primitive – traits that serve (or so commentators keep saying) as a foil to self-congratulatory definitions of the West as modern, progressive and rational. However, the Balkans have also long been travelled from. The region’s writers have offered accounts of their travels in the West and elsewhere, saying something in the process about themselves and their place in the world.