While the internet is an amazing source of information, Mike and I are book fanatics, and have enough shelves to form a very large travel library! We even have every issue of National Geographic dating back to the 1960’s! Below we review our favorites and the latest travel books.
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The Great Ocean Road is considered to be one of the most scenic drives in the world, and is certainly a jewel in the crown of Australian tourism. Its stunning coastal road hangs precariously on soaring sea cliffs and winds between pretty towns and beaches, all set against the backdrop of the Great Otaway National Park, the site of Australia’s few temperate rainforests.
Though for one of Australia’s most popular tourist destinations, most visitors to the area sadly see very little, and most of that through a coach window. But you won’t see the best sights from your car.
Much more than a scenic highway, this region is home to a myriad of coastal tracks, rainforest trails, and hikes which connect historic seaside villages, taking in ocean views and dramatic waterfalls. If there’s one thing for certain, the best way to discover the Great Ocean Road is to walk.
“Stop!” he yelled at me from across the courtyard. “Yes, you!”
“Show me your student card! How did you get in here? The school is closed today. You’re not supposed to be here!”
The ironic thing was he actually looked like Vernon Dursley and was about to have a palpation that I had snuck past the guards.
The many colleges of Oxford University were closed for orientation day, and tourists were being turned away as students passed through the gates. Though I hadn’t traveled from Australia to see my Harry Potter trail go cold, and as an 20 year old employing the idea that if I didn’t look suspicious, they wouldn’t have reason to stop me, I walked myself straight through the gates.
It’s my favorite kind of travel read; a laugh-out-loud travel memoir that reveals backpacking’s awkward side. So upon picking up Sue Bedford’s new book “It’s Only the Himalayas and Other Tales of Miscalculation from an Overconfident Backpacker“, I naturally became engrossed.
Sue is a disenchanted waitress when she embarks upon a year-long quest around the world with her exasperatingly perfect friend, Sara. Expecting a whimsical jaunt of self-discovery, Sue instead encounters an absurd series of misadventures that render her embarrassed, terrified, and queasy (and in a lot of trouble with Philippine Airline).
Whether she’s fleeing from ravenous lions, dancing amid smoking skulls, navigating the torturous Annapurnas, or (accidentally) drugging an unfortunate Englishman, Sue’s quick-witted, self-deprecating narrative might just inspire you to take your own chaotic adventure.
Real movie lovers realize that it’s not only the plot, music, or great direction that matter when they kick back with a film, looking forward to be transported to another world. No, a lot of the time the make or break comes down to the setting.
A number of locations around the world have proven to be popular with many movie makers, whether they are exotic spots, busy cities or rural settings. And these locales appear in our favorite films again and again. So what makes them so special and why are they chosen so often? Read on to find out.
For more than a thousand years, pilgrims have been making their way on foot to the Spanish city Santiago de Compostela, the purported resting place of the remains of Saint James, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ. The pilgrims walk hundreds of miles that make up the Camino, which in Spanish means the path, a road, a route, a way.
Pilgrims from every background are today drawn to the Camino from all over the world and for a wide variety of reasons. Some are ill, some grieving, some confused, some celebrating, some walk out of devotion or in fulfilment of a vow and others are just simply curious. Some will have walked a hundred miles, others five hundred and others more than a thousand.
What is nevertheless common to them all is that they will have left behind what is familiar and habitual in order to wake each day to a new vista, to a new stretch of road, to the scents and flavours of a land other than their own.
The best way to prepare for such a walk? To know if this pilgrimage is for you? The Road to Santiago movie is a very real account of the journey as walked by Alan Fields; an authentic, down to earth documentary which will transport you to the trail and put you in his shoes.
Earlier in the year we reviewed “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago”; a 90 minute documentary which provides up-close look at the ancient spiritual pilgrimage known as the Camino de Santiago, or Way of St. James.
The documentary itself was fantastic, and you can read our full review, though while watching the journey of each pilgrim unfold, I found myself equally as fascinated with the process of making the film.
How did they cast the travelers who took center stage? What was the budget for this kind of a film? How did the camera crew cope with completing this same trek but with all of their heavy equipment?
Determined to find out what goes into the making of a travel documentary, I decided to consult an authority on the matter. This week’s interview is with Lydia B. Smith, the director and producer of Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago, on what it takes to make a travel film. She takes us behind the scenes.
WILDLIKE is the latest film to be set amid a stunning Alaskan backdrop to promote the power of adventure and wilderness for personal healing.
In this thrilling coming-of-age adventure, a troubled teen must face the dangers of the Alaskan wild, as well as her own past, in order to find her way home. Sent to stay with her uncle in Alaska while her mother is in treatment, 14-year-old Mackenzie is forced to flee as her uncle’s attention turns threatening. Unable to reach her mother and afraid that the authorities will return her to her uncle, she embarks on a journey across miles of wilderness to find a way back home to Seattle.
As she plunges deeper into the Alaskan interior, a chance connection with backpacker Bartlett proves to be her only lifeline. Mackenzie shadows him across the rugged frontier, thwarting his efforts to cut her loose until he has no choice but to help her survive. Against the backdrop of a spectacular landscape, they discover the redemptive power of friendship.
Nothing beats the feel of a good book in your hands, and sometimes the best way to inspire wanderlust is with a great travel read. And there are many out there! Authors who write of foreign and far off lands, who take us with them on their adventures and misadventures through every country on Earth.
Earlier in the year I joined the Travel With Books Project to “encourage people to read more books, to discover lesser known titles and to enrich their knowledge of places before they travel”.
With that same goal in mind, here is the ultimate summer travel reading list: 10 books you should have on your shelves.
Seven Years In Tibet is a 1997 film which chronicles the true story of Harrer (Brad Pitt) who became friends with the Dalai Lama at the time of China’s takeover of Tibet.
Despite a fairly woeful attempt at an Austrian accent, Brad Pitt’s interactions with the curious Dalai Lama are fantastic – it’s a seven-year personality transformation condensed into 140 minutes, and is captured perfectly, right down to the Dalai Lama’s eager curiosity still sharp at an old age.
There is no better story which highlights conquering the parts of our personality that make us arrogant and self-centered, and no better way to achieve this than setting sights on the highest mountains in the world. And what better place to learn such important lessons than that of the Himalayas – the home to the Dalai Lama.
From North Korea to Benin, from Mongolia to Madagascar, Albert Podell is one of the few people to have visited every country on earth. It took him fifty years and during his travels, he blasted his way out of minefields, came within seconds of being lynched, and coped with riots, voodoo priests, trigger happy child soldiers and Cape buffalo – all of which is recounted in great detail in his exciting new book “Around the World in Fifty Years: My Adventures to Every Country on Earth”.
He has eaten everything from old camel meat and rats to dung beetles and the “pulsating brain of a live monkey.” These are Albert Podell’s absolutely incredible tales from his adventures in eating abroad.