Travel Book Reviews
Every now and then, some eminently practical travel books are produced and Iain Robertson takes a closer look at them.
MARCO POLO Zoom System
ISBN: 978 3 8297 6721 7 (France)
ISBN: 978 3 8297 6711 8 (Belgium/Luxembourg)
Introduced only this year, Marco Polo, in my view the world’s best travel map and guide publisher, has taken the idea of the typical fold-out map and incorporated its own twist. When leafing through the typical map book, as I do frequently on continental driving forays, unless I stick ‘Post-It’ pads on specific pages, such as town centre maps and even the glossary, I can get into a right old mess, especially when travelling alone. Marco Polo’s ‘Zoom System’ rather cleverly provides an overview road map (printed in the harder-wearing, glossy card map cover), from which it is easy to ‘zoom’ onto the larger, fold-out transit map, or to consider the contents of the 110pp city map section (also attached to the card outer), which contains additionally useful highlight details. Also printed on the outer cover is a practical city-to-city distance guide. The whole map folds into a perfect size for the dashboard, or door pocket, of most family cars. Personally, I have always preferred a fold-out map, as it provides me with a greater sense of scale. The publisher is producing country specific maps for several parts of Europe. The France Zoom System contains 18 City maps, while the Belgium/Luxembourg alternative has 6 City maps. Priced at £6.99 each, Zoom could be your most useful and cost-effective travel accessory.
The AA Guide To…
ISBN: 978 0 7495 7758 2 (Scotland)
ISBN: 978 0 7495 7757 5 (Ireland)
£13.99 (Scotland) / £15.99 (Ireland)
While the Automobile Association has morphed into a massive insurance entity, from its original motorist’s support service of 111 years ago, it has managed to cling onto its excellent reputation, which remains as unsullied as ever. The company first dipped into maps and atlases in 1912, although, as the roads network grew, in 1925, the service published its first AA Road Book of England and Wales. Since then, its publishing arm has encompassed map books, guides and travel books that cover almost every location in the world. Yet, its latest 400+pp offerings are specific to both Scotland (my home country) and all of Ireland. To be frank, I wish that I had access to the Irish Guide a couple of months ago, when I tackled the Wild Atlantic Way. It is excellent, complete with maps, an A-Z reference and a wealth of biographical information on every location on the Emerald Isle. Interestingly, the Irish guide costs £2.00 more than the Scottish one, even though the latter contains around 20 extra pages. I read the Scottish Guide with great interest, as I pride myself on home knowledge but I discovered some true hidden gems that I intend to visit on my next trip north of the border. Otherwise, the detail and information provided is outstanding, with pertinent contact telephone numbers, opening hours and copious snippets of practical use. I would venture to suggest that they are the ultimate travel guides in a fresh perspective adopted by the AA and they offer excellent value for money for the seasoned traveller seeking that little bit extra from a trip.
MARCO POLO My Way Travel Journal
ISBN: 978 3 8297 6948 8
I just love Marco Polo! Just when you think that the map and travel guide publisher has exhausted all possible routes to serving the travel community, it unveils something new and, on this occasion, it is the perfect antidote to the IT generation. It is true to state that I am in a fortunate position, as the editor of an international travel magazine. While I take plenty of written notes, in sound journalistic form, my country, zone and city visits are turned into a personal travelogue by the reports I compile. However, apart from taking photographs on your mobile telephone, have you ever kept a travel journal? The delightful ‘My Way Travel Journal’ is a well-ordered means to keeping your own record. Containing separate sections for ‘Before the Journey’, 124pp for ‘On’ and half-a-dozen pages for ‘After’, ready to be completed and augmented by a superb, four-leaf, pull-out section containing relevant stickers and even a small sleeve in the rear cover for tickets and odds & ends, the handy-sized journal is a fabulous means of committing your personal memories to paper. It even features a red page-marker and a red elastic, wraparound fastener to keep the pages closed. Ever so useful, the My Way Journal is a very special means to while away some aspects of trips and to create a lovely keepsake.
BRAZIL – An Extraordinary Nation in Photographs
ISBN: 978 1 84796 095 5
By Regis St Louis
With the Rio Olympics grabbing a commensurate amount of the headlines in 2016, South America has become one of the hottest travel spots in the world, in more ways than are obvious. As a child, my father was a subscriber to National Geographic magazine, a title that survives today and, I am certain, was responsible for breeding my personal desire to travel the world. It was with child-like glee that I found myself looking through the several interesting chapters of this 320pp softback book. While the history, culture and diversity sections are fascinating and editorially informative, the high quality photography that features on almost every page and predominates the book, accompanied by little more than pertinent descriptive captions, is the real joy of this excellent table-top tome. If the reader were only passingly interested in Brazil, having leafed through and pored over the wonderful and often spectacular sights on offer, they will ensure that a trip to that magnificent country would follow. The quality of reproduction is excellent and the subject matters are as varied and colourful as the country itself.