As the scion of British nobility, the 1200 mile walk that the rebellious 18 year old planned from Rotterdam to Istanbul in 1933 became more often castle-hopping than an arduous camping trip. He and his family just had too many connections with the great families of pre-WW2 European families to be left to trudging along dusty roads and sleeping under the stars -- although he did do that too. It turns into an essay on what happens to your view of the world when you get a (real) liberal education, and can't turn it off. In addition to literature, his commentary on history, linguistics, art, architecture, religion... it goes on, although music is largely left out.
These three books, and insistent coaxing from my wife, reengaged in my planned project to read, or in the case of many books, re-read the content of The Harvard Classics. The initial plan, when I bought my beautiful leather-bound set nearly 20 years ago, was to read them when I retired. They were abused by brutish Baltimore movers in the ensuing years - ones that included their transcontinental trips from Massachusetts to California to Maryland and back to California (with many stops in between).
I got distracted by the story of the books themselves, their editors, and their sometimes sleazy publishers, and abandoned what turned out to be a very arduous journey, indeed. It has some interesting parallels to that of Sir Patrick's, at lease in an allegorical way. So I am going to try again. Cynthia's version is that after 50 years from graduation from Harvard, I shall revisit the concept of the liberal education by reading The Harvard Classics as President Charles W. Eliot, arguably the greatest Harvard President, intended. I may reach my destination, but like Sir Patrick I may not live to tell about it. It is much harder than you can possibly imagine, and I am certainly not the target audience for President Eliot's journey across the civilized world.
Sir Patrick's was a decorated war hero, and the Wikipedia summary of his life is succinct and engaging http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Leigh_Fermor.