24-year-old Kris Mole from Brighton was lost. Not literally. No, he knew his way around Brighton. But he was lost in life. A compulsive gambler since childhood, Kris’ philosophy for life boiled down to: "The greater the risk, the greater the reward." Sensible decisions were not part of his being. And then one drunken night on the pebbles of Brighton beach a heart to heart with an old friend saw a financially crippled Kris proclaiming, “I am going to go and see Europe. And I am going to do it without any money. Who needs cash anyway?”
And so the Great Euro Freebie Challenge was dreamt up.
Kris would leave England, not to return before having visited every capital city in the European Union mainland and he would do it without so much as handling a penny.
Hitchhiking, dodging train fares, sleeping rough, bedding down with newly acquired friends, walking alongside motorways, scrounging leftovers, battling the elements; Kris would do whatever it took to complete his mission. And he would dedicate it to his aunt Susan, who was bravely fighting a battle of her own against cancer.
And so, on the 1st of November 2007 Kris set off for Stockholm, armed with nothing more than a rucksack full of clothes and a sleeping bag. The sleeping bag arrived in Sweden torn to shreds and was disposed of there and then.
The Great Euro Freebie Challenge was off to a flying start.
Over the next five months, Kris travelled the length and breadth of the continent, interacting along the way with a whole host of colourful characters from a multitude of different backgrounds. He accidentally flashed a woman in Sweden; got poisoned by a middle aged Indian man wearing nothing but a pair of pants and a turban in Poland; got stuck to a statue in Serbia; was attacked by a pack of stray dogs in Bulgaria; blagged his way in to a press conference at Barcelona Football Club; left his coat in Spain before venturing into the peak of winter in the Baltic states; got thrown off of trains in almost every country imaginable; almost got raped in Luxembourg; helped a stranger lose a lot of money in an Estonian casino; and made sure to record all of these plus a hundred more which he has now brought together in the book Capital Punishment, recounting the story right from day one through to the very end.
Kris brings Europe and its citizens to life in this book, and he does so with an honesty that will leave you either loving or hating him. Or liking him a little bit. Or not really having an opinion either way.
I would lay my neck on the line and say this will be the funniest book you read in 2011. It is certainly the funniest I have read in 2010.