Travel literally lost: 63

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The Independent Travel
This excerpt has been taken from a work of travel literature. Readers are invited to tell us: a) where is the action taking place?

b) who is the author?

Blackwell's Bookshops will award pounds 30-worth of book tokens to the first correct answer out of the hat. Answers on a postcard to: Literally Lost, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL. Usual competition rules apply. Entries to arrive by this Thursday.

However, I persisted & persisted & finally I got drawings of every one of the big twenty monasteries, so that such a valuable collection is hardly to be found. Add to this, constant walking - 8 or 10 hours a day - made me very strong, & the necessity I was under of acting decidedly in some cases, called out for a lot of energy I had forgotten ever to have possessed. The worst was the food & the filth, which was uneasy to bear. But however wondrous & picturesque the exterior & interior of the monasteries, & however abundantly & exquisitely glorious & stupendous the scenery of the mountain, I would not go again to the to Agrion Oros for any money, so gloomy, so shockingly unnatural, so lonely, so lying, so unatonably odious seems to me all the atmosphere of such monkery. That half our species which is natural to every man to cherish & love best, ignored, prohibited & abhorred - all life spent in everlasting repetition of monotonous prayers, no sympathy with one's fellow-beans of any nation, class or age. The name of Christ on every garment & at every tongue's end, but his maxims trodden under foot. God's world & will turned upside down, maimed, & caricatured - if this I say be Christianity let Christianity be rooted out as soon as possible. More pleasing in the sight of the Almighty I really believe, & more like what Jesus Christ intended man to become, is an honest Turk with 6 wives, or a Jew working hard to feed his little old clo' babbies, than these muttering, miserable, mutton-hating, man-avoiding, misogynic, morose & merriment-marring, monotonous, many-mule-making, mocking, mournful, minced-fish & marmalade masticating Monx. Poor old pigs! Yet one or two were king enough in their way, dirty as they were: but it is not them, it is their system I rail at.

Literally Lost 62: The book was The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson. The action took place in Illinois, USA. The winner is Sue Lomas of Leeds.