Book Review: No Cool Europe By Train In A Heatwave Jules Brown

Book Review: Not Cool. Europe. By Train. In A Heatwave.

Growing up I was surrounded by trains. I lived near the Swindon Steam Railway Works, my grandfather had worked in the railways. My father’s a big steam train fan and we had a model railway in our loft, which I played with as a kid. (Stop chuckling, it was actually quite a cool multi-track, multi-train set up complete with model village. Ok yeah that does now sound pretty geeky!).

Anyway, when I was invited by author Jules Brown to read his travel memoir Not Cool, Europe By Train. In A Heatwave how could I resist?

I didn’t do a gap year to go off travelling in my teens, my travel bug kicked in at 20 having started a ‘grown up job’ which gave me the cash to explore. But for this author, the travel bug started at seventeen with an InterRail pass, Phil Collins ‘In The Air Tonight,’ on loop, as he headed off on his first adventure across Europe, which led to his travel writing career. I’m not envious in the slightest, nope not me… well ok maybe a little bit.

Where Are We Touring To?

Not Cool, Europe. By Train. In a Heatwave takes readers on a 9 day 9 country and 9 Cities adventure across Europe. Crazy I know, but that’s just how this author likes it. Jules Brown’s tour by train starts in Berlin and includes stops at Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Liechtenstein, Zurich and Milan. Oh and the author also finds time to hop on board Europe’s Best Train Ride (apparently). Find out how Jules got on…

Book Cover Notes

A laugh-out-loud train journey across Europe with a travel writer who should know better.

Inspired by the budget InterRail trips of his youth, veteran travel writer Jules Brown thought he’d try and visit 9 cities in 9 countries in 9 days. Sadly, that wasn’t his only mistake.

It soon turned into a hot and steamy adventure (no, steady on, not that kind) by rail across Europe, taking in Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Ljubljana, Zagreb, Liechtenstein, Zürich and Milan.

A tale of relaxing train rides to famous tourist destinations and guidebook sights? Not so much. All aboard for an offbeat travel adventure with a very funny writer seriously in danger of losing his cool.

Share Your Own Adventures

My Thoughts

In the opening pages of the book, the author admits that the idea for this book was fuelled by a glass of wine. The second glass convinced him it was a good plan and by the third glass he had a full itinerary. This sounds just like my travel planning strategy, what could possibly go wrong? Ummm did someone mention heatwave?

Jules Brown admits to having a fondness for travelling by rail. He still has his old InterRail pass from his teenage gap year, which brings back the memories.

There is simply no better way to see a country than to climb aboard its railways and while away the miles. I love the smell of stations, the sounds and the whistles, and the way that you can always understand a timetable even if you can’t speak the language.

Having handed in his Rough Guides travel press pass, he decides to explore Europe by train once more. Only this time it’s for pleasure (except for the heatwave) and to write this book. So is that classed as a holiday or a work trip? Anyway, this time their are a couple of rules:

  1. Spend only one night in each place – the travel by train is the point of the journey
  2. no chasing around European capital cities ticking off famous sights and iconic attractions

OMG, why do we do that when we go on our holidays. I pack so much into my itinerary I have to come home for a rest!

This book had me chuckling all the way through. I liked how the writing focused on the experience of rail travel across Europe rather than on rushing around each city ticking off the MUST-SEE top 3 attractions from Trip Advisor. The authors many years of travel experience comes across well in his writing. The extraordinary amount of time and effort it takes to plan and research his trip was really insightful.

As for the Man in Seat 61, well what a revelation! I’m ashamed to admit I hadn’t heard of this delightful resource. I lost an afternoon wandering around this website making mental notes of rail trips I should do. Must focus… must finish this book review. That’s the beauty of reading travel memoirs, you will always pick up handy tips and travel hacks from those more experienced travellers who have been there and done it.

Three Take Aways From The Book

  • The Bernina Express (Europe’s Best Train Ride) looks like something we should all add to our Bucket Lists. Here’s the authors You Tube video diary.
  • Check the weather forecast before you go. It’s NOT COOL trying to lug a heavy backpack the size of a toddler on your back in a heatwave.
  • Avoid travel cliches. No more ‘hidden gem’, or ‘off the beaten track’ comments in my blog posts from now on then, got it 🙂 I’m off skiing next month, I promise no ‘Snow-capped mountains’ comments on my Instagram too.


An engaging read, with lots of witty observations and mouth watering food and beer. Oh and did I mention there were trains and a heatwave? What a great trip.

Having devoured this book over a weekend, I had a craving for Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino, which Jules assures us anyone can make. He was right and it was delicious, thanks Jules.

I really liked this quote from Jules in his final pages of the book:

Every journey I made, every place I visited, added a layer to the person I slowly became; and in time the layers added up to a travel writer. An experience here, a bit of language there, some cultural knowledge, an appreciation of difference, an embrace of new things – these are the layers that the world can give you.

Where To Buy The Book

Amazon UK

Further Book Info:

  • Published Date: 30 September 2020
  • Publisher: Trust-Me Travel
  • Page Count: 200

About The Author

Author and Travel Writer Jules Brown. Book Review of Not Cool Europe By Train.
Author Jules Brown

Jules Brown took his first solo trip around Europe when he was seventeen, and he’s been travelling and writing professionally ever since, publishing his first travel guide – to Scandinavia – in 1988.

An experienced Travel Writer, Jules Brown wrote Rough Guide travel books for over thirty years. He has eaten a puffin in Iceland, got stuck up a mountain in the Lake District, crash-landed in Iran, fallen off a husky sled in Canada, and got stranded on a Mediterranean island. Not all of those things were his fault.

Where To Find Jules Online

Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

I hope you’ve enjoyed my book review of Not Cool Europe By Train In A Heatwave by Jules Brown. I’m looking forward to reading the authors others travel memoirs;

Never Pack an Ice-Axe. Tales From a Travel Writer’s Life

You’d think a long-time travel writer would have some great travel tips. You’d think.

Jules learns about travel the hard way, whether it’s setting out on his first European hitch-hiking adventure, writing about offbeat destinations for Rough Guides, or braving the shouty waiters of Naples on the hunt for the world’s best pizza.

Not everything goes according to plan – what happened in Bali stays in Bali – but during a life in travel, Jules has racked up enough useful tips to fill a book. Just not this book.

Hit the road with Jules – from Scotland to the South Pacific – and you’re guaranteed a great story, a good laugh and an occasional heartfelt sob. As long as you don’t listen to his advice, you’ll be absolutely fine.

Order Now: Amazon UK | Book Depository

Don’t Eat the Puffin: Tales From a Travel Writer’s Life: 1

It’s the job of his dreams. Get paid to travel and write about it.

Only no one told Jules that it would mean eating oily seabirds, repeatedly falling off a husky sled, getting stranded on a Mediterranean island, and crash-landing in Iran.

The exotic destinations come thick and fast – Hong Kong, Hawaii, Huddersfield – as Jules navigates what it means to be a travel writer in a world with endless surprises up its sleeve.

Add in a cast of larger-than-life characters – Elvis, Captain Cook, his own travel-mad Dad – and an eye for the ridiculous, and this journey with Jules is one you won’t want to miss.

Order Now: Amazon UK | Book Depository

Find ALL Jules Brown Travel Books Here

Many Thanks To Jules Brown

Many thanks to Jules Brown for my copy of the book in exchange for an honest book review. All opinions in this review are my own.

You Might Also Like:

  • Wish You Were Here – Travel Anthology of holiday memoirs from 20 award-winning travel authors
  • A Year In The Life – Visiting 26 subcultures of Britain incl. Morris Dancers, Drag Queens and Naturists. Yes really!
  • Solo – A Guide To Travelling The World Alone


  • Jules Brown

    Hey Michelle, thank you SO much for this amazing review! I love the bits you’ve highlighted – the real essence of travel in my opinion – and you have very kindly skirted over all the occasions when I look like a total eejit or get on the wrong train…Your blog is fantastic, the first place to come for travel and books I reckon!


      You’re very welcome Jules. Your book was a joy to read, I can’t wait to tuck into ‘Never Pack An Ice-Axe’ as my next read.
      Thank you so much for your comments on my blog. You’re the first person who has kindly shared any feedback, which is really appreciated.
      Take Care

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