These days, there is so much information online, that it is worth planning the practicalities of your travel by consulting the internet for the most up-to-date information on prices, opening times etc. I still like to travel with the odd hard copy though, so long as it’s not too heavy and bulky, but do try to get the most recent publication!
Lonely Planet Guides are the ultimate guides and are also available online: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/. In fact, my daughter Jenny, who writes a travel blog: https://traveladventurediscover.com had three of her articles selected for the Lonely Planet Pathfinders monthly roundups (March, April and June, 2016), moving her to the next level of Lonely Planet Assignment Pathfinder. See: https://traveladventurediscover.com/2016/03/08/best-things-about-travelling-in-your-van/; https://traveladventurediscover.com/2016/04/12/23-ways-to-travel-south-east-asia/ and https://traveladventurediscover.com/2016/06/14/favourite-feasts-of-south-east-asia/. Also, check out: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/pathfinders/signup.
Lonely Planet Guides generally all follow a similar format, so I will describe the Lonely Planet guide we used for France. It starts with:
Quick Reference Guide on the inside cover: Symbols and Price Ranges used; Exchange Rates; Rough Costs; Useful Phrases; Business Hours; Telephone Codes; Emergency Numbers; and Conversions.
Colour Map with key points of interest highlighted and a reference page number, followed by :
Glossy colour plates featuring Classic Destinations; Food and Wine; Festivals and Events; Activities; and Arts and Architecture;
List of Contributors;
Getting Started :When to Go; Costs and Money; Travel Literature; Internet Resources; and the Top 10 (Adventures/ Culinary Experiences and Shopping Sprees);
Variety of Itineraries (Classic Routes/ Roads Less Travelled/ Tailored Trips);
Snapshot of Contemporary France;
French Culture: National Psyche; Lifestyle; Blogosphere; Economy; Averages; Do’s and Don’ts; Population; Sport: Football, Rugby, Cycling and Tennis; Multiculturalism; Media; Religion; Women in France; the Arts: Classic and Modern Literature, Top 10 Literary sights, Cinema, Music, Architecture and Painting;
Environment : the Land; Flora and fauna; National Parks; Environmental Issues and Conservation Organizations;
Food and Drink: Staples, Regional Specialties, Drinks, Celebrations, Where to Eat, Vegetarians and Vegans, Dining with Children, Habits and Customs, Cooking Courses and Vocabulary.
The majority of the book is devoted to a detailed description of each different area of France, including:
Introduction and Highlights;
Black-and-White Regional Map;
Geography and Climate;
Sights and Activities;
Food and Drink;
Getting There and Away: Air; Bus; Train; car and Motorcycle; Bicycle Hire; and
Feature Boxes on relevant history, festival, food, people, crafts etc
The directory at the back covers all the practical information required:
Accommodation; Activities; Business Hours; Children; Climate Charts; Courses; Customs; dangers and Annoyances; Discount Cards; Embassies and Consulates; Festivals and Events; Food; Gay and Lesbian Travellers; Holidays; Insurance; Internet Access; Legal Matters; Local Government; Maps; Money; Photography and Video; Post; Shopping; Solo Travellers; Telephone; Time; Tourist Information; Travellers with Disabilities; Visas; Volunteering; Women Travellers; and Work; as well as a detailed section on:
Getting There and Away:
Air: Airports; Airlines; Tickets; Climate Change and Flying; Carbon Offset Schemes
Bus: Discount Passes; Eurolines; Intercars
Cars and Motorcycle: Eurotunnel;
Train: Rail Services; Train Passes; Eurostar
Sea: Ferry Travel
Getting Around: Air; Bicycle; Canal Boating; Bus; Car Hire and Distances; Autoroutes; Licences; Insurance; and Road Rules; Hitching; Taxis; Train; and Tours.
Health: Insurance; Vaccinations; Deep Vein Thrombosis; Jet Lag; Health Car; Environmental Hazards; Sexual Health; Womens’ Health and Travelling with Children.
Language: Pronunciation; Etiquette; Gender and Essential Vocabulary for: Accommodation; Conversation; Directions; Signs; Emergencies; Health; Numbers, Paperwork; Question Words; Shopping and Services; Time and Dates; Transport; and Travel with Children.
Finally, there is a Glossary; a few blank pages for notes; the Index; a Map of World Time Zones, and a Map Legend.
Alastair Sawday’s Special Places to Stay: British Bed & Breakfast for Garden Lovers 2007
Sawdays is another well-known travel company from Bristol, England, which searches out special places to stay in Britain, Ireland; France; Italy; Spain and Portugal. It was founded by Alistair Sawday, a keen environmentalist and sustainability advocate. He was a Green Party candidate, founded the Avon Friends of the Earth and was Vice-Chair of the Soil Association. His company was honoured with a Queen’s Award for Sustainability, as well as being voted Independent Environmental Publisher of the Year twice.
This delightful book starts with an introduction explaining the Sawday philosophy and how to use the book and general and regional maps.
There are detailed descriptions of over 60 Bed-and-Breakfast establishments with beautiful gardens with contact details, addresses and websites; directions; number and type of rooms; price; meals; closed times and coded symbols (Wheelchair accessibility; Children, Dogs, Smoking, Credit cards; Vegetarian meals; Licensed; Working farm; Swimming pool, Bicycles; Tennis court; Local walks and Fine Breakfast Scheme).
In the back is a Bird Calendar; a list of Garden Organisations; a Brief History of Garden Styles; Lists of Garden Books and Gardens to Visit and a Map of the National Cycle Network.
It is well worth reading their blog: http://journal.sawdays.co.uk/ and looking at their Collections: Garden Lovers; Ethical; Family Friendly; Good for Groups; Cosy Boltholes; Coastal; and New to Sawdays. See: https://www.sawdays.co.uk/collections. I also like the look of Go Slow England: Special Local Places to Eat, Stay and Savor by Alastair Sawday. See: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5153994-go-slow-england.
Here are some more local guides.
Twenty Best Walks in Australia by Tyrone T Thomas 1989
Tyrone Thomas has written a number of guides to bushwalks throughout Australia and this particular book covers 20 hikes, which he considers to be the best in Australia, a number of which we have done, including Sydney Harbour; walks around Blackheath in the Blue Mountains; Mount Gower and Malabar Hill on Lord Howe Island; Mt Kootaloo circuit on Dunk Island; Green Island, near Cairns; Mt Warning on the NSW-Qld border; Katherine Gorge, Northern Territory; the Grampians; the High Country and Wilson’s Promontory in Victoria; Mt. Kosciusko; and Cradle Mountain, Lake St. Clair and Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania.
Each walk is graded as one day/ overnight and easy/medium and hard. The book contains comprehensive track notes; maps; and distance, time, weather, transport and access details, as well as points of interest, warnings and navigational advice. The walks selected give an excellent overall view of the huge diversity of walks and environments in our vast continent and is particularly aimed at international visitors with limited time, though is still very useful for locals, and its light weight compact format makes it very portable for bushwalkers.
Seventy Walks in Southern New South Wales and A.C.T by Tyrone Thomas 1998/ 2004
A recent addition to our library, now that we live in this area and are keen to explore this new area.
Produced in a similar format to all his books with introductory brief notes on distance; time required; best time to visit; grade; environment, map reference and last date reviewed; followed by comprehensive track notes, accompanied by maps, diagrams; ink sketches of native flora and a few colour plates.
There are also notes on safety precautions, first aid in the bush; and equipment and food suggestions for bushwalking. While we have already visited the National Botanic Garden in Canberra, Big Hole in Deua National Park; Mt Bushwalker; and local areas like North Head; Bournda National Park; Mt Imlay and Merrica River, we look forward to using this guide to plan walks like Mt Dromedary near Tilba Tilba; the Nadgee Wilderness; Bendethera Caves; Pigeon House Mountain; the Monolith Valley; the Castle and the Kosciusko region. It’s good to know we have so many wonderful spots to explore!
Walking Round in Circles: Twenty-seven Circular Walks in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park by Jane Scott and Patricia Negus 2007
A beautiful book, which we bought after our trip to Western Australia, after visiting the home and art studio ‘Swallows Welcome’ of the artist Patricia Negus (https://www.mrros.com.au/member/patricia-negus/) in Margaret River in April 2011. She and her husband Tim built a mud-brick Chapel of the Flowers to house all of her 102 beautiful wildflower paintings. Dawn Klok designed the leadlight windows and the porch mosaic was made by local artist, Jenny Hunt.
Patricia teamed up with Jane Scott, the author of this book, and Ray Forma to form Cape to Cape Publishing and they have produced a number of books about the Margaret River region.
I love this particular book as it has such beautiful illustrations and photos and holds fond memories of the walks we enjoyed in this beautiful national park, using this book as a guide. Below are some of her illustrated pages in this book.
The great thing about this area is that while you can do the entire walk from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin, it is also possible to walk small sections and this book is an excellent guide to the 27 walks available.The following photos are from our wonderful beach walk at Cosy Corner:
Accompanied by clear maps, each walk is described in great detail and is broken up into smaller sections with details on access, distance and time, warnings where necessary and interesting notes on points of interest like whale watching; bush tucker; plants of granite outcrops or the limestone coast; historic settlements; the timber industry; fungi and orchids; caves; butterflies and moths; and creatures of the open ocean or intertidal zones.
There are also notes on bush safety; first aid; geology; springs and tufa deposits; tides and currents; weather and climate; and native vegetation in the front and a bird list and bibliography in the back.
It is such a beautiful area, especially when the wildflowers are in full bloom! We loved our walks at Cosy Corner (photos above) and Cape Clairault (photos below), where we saw 6 rock parrots amongst the boulders on the beach. The sand was pure white; the waters aqua; and the coastline so unspoilt and natural! I could not recommend a visit to this incredible area nor this beautiful book highly enough!Random Thoughts on Travel
And for those of us, who may not be able to travel at the moment, some consoling thoughts! Often the experience may not necessarily match up with the expectations! The next two books which explore this theme.
Slow Travel : Sell the House, Buy the Yacht and Sail Away.. by Mari Rhydwen 2004
For all those people, who dream of getting a yacht and sailing away, it is well worth reading this book for the realities of life on the open sea, especially if you are satisfying a spouse’s desire! I feel a bit guilty because I lent it to a friend, who was then totally put off the idea!!!
Despite the downsides of petty officialdom, bribery and corruption,the threat of piracy and rollercoasting from boredom and total exhaustion to moments of sheer terror, it’s also a journey of discovery about life on water, learning to sail, visiting isolated natural spots, diving in the world’s best reefs and letting go of notions of personal identity like work, material possessions and personal space. A very amusing and interesting read!
The Art of Travel by Alain de Bouton 2002
In this thoughtful collection of essays, Alain examines the reasons for this paradox, as well as the ‘how and why’ of travel.
He starts with a discussion of anticipation and why it may sometimes be better or certainly different to the real thing! As he says on page 15:
‘Anticipatory and artistic imaginations omit and compress, they cut away periods of boredom and direct our attention to critical moments and, without either lying or embellishing, thus lend to life a vividness and a coherence that it may lack in the distracting woolliness of the present…. (as does) memory (which is) an instrument of simplification and selection’.
These comments about anticipation and memory rang very true for me.
He supports his observations with the thoughts of well-known writers: J.-K. Huysmans on the anticipation and rejection of travel, as well as Baudelaire on ambivalence toward places, Flaubert on the attractions of the Orient, Wordsworth on the benevolent moral effects of nature, Burke on the sublime, and Ruskin on the importance of careful observation.
Other essays look at the reasons for travel: a mode of escape from current circumstances; a chance to make a fresh start and see things with fresh eyes; a time to contemplate (‘Journeys are the midwives of thought’ p57); the appeal and allure of the different or exotic; or just pure curiosity.
All these reasons ensure the success of this final book on a very different type of travel.
The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel by Rachael Antony and Joël Henry 2005
I loved this book! It’s quirky and fun and enables a fulfilment of all the above reasons for travel with a series of unusual challenges without the expense of conventional travel! Some of the suggestions include:
Alternating Travel: Discover your own home town by alternating your direction- first road on the right, then next on the left, ad infinitum!
Anachronistic Adventure: Travelling by an outmoded form of transport or explore your city with a vintage guidebook.
Fly By Night: Explore a destination by night until the sun rises.
Voyage to the End of the Line: the end of the railway line; bus route or ferry trip and
Ariadne’s Thread or any other name for that matter! Get a friend to make a list of their 10 favourite or personally meaningful places in the city (eg the first time …), plot these places on a map and draw a line (the thread) between them and follow it.
And of course, for we armchair travellers, the internet is a wonderful source for information, dreaming and inspiration. Now that our appetite for travel has been stimulated, I am exploring some of my favourite bucket-list gardens overseas for the next fortnight!