Travel and Travelogues

Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education;
in the elder, a part of experience.

Francis Bacon Of Travel

General Guides

Of travel guides for European cities current stand-outs are Access guides (Richard Saul Wurman) and Eyewitness guides, now available for many regions of the world. Eyewitness is especially good. The Faithful Reader suggests buying these and perhaps borrowing others. Read a comparison of the Eyewitness and Knopf guides for another view. Also, museum goers might benefit from studying Mona Winks, the Rick Steves guide to European museums. It's a timesaver; get the latest edition and be sure not to pack parts you won't use.

The best recommendation that the Faithful Reader can offer for practical guides is the Let's Go Travel Guides, available for many destinations. These carefully researched and splendidly written guides provide up-to-date useful information.

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Paris and France

David Gentleman's Paris by David Gentleman. A volume of beautiful and realistic watercolors of Paris. Wonderful. Check the Paris Pages for practical information about Paris or take a look at the Metropole magazine for current news and views. And for up-to-the-minute information, go the Pariscope, which may be the best guide in the world to a week in a city.

Europe Through the Back Door Phrase Book: French compiled by Rick Steves. This little phrase book takes itself lightly, but includes the truly vital bits and pieces other efforts have missed, such as 'Do you accept credit cards??' On the Web, test your French and get excellent information from CyberRoutard. All right, all right, Franco-phobes: there's an English version, too.

France Without Reservations: An Impromptu Travel Guide by Maurice K. Thompson. Ever wondered what it would be like to tool around France for a couple of weeks following your whims rather than your travel agent's itinerary? Here's a look at what might happen. The loop taken by Thompson and his wife focuses on the central and southeast regions of France and, as such, is perhaps more of a testimony than a template for similarly intrepid travelers. Entertainingly written, even if you're bound for destinations no more exotic than your armchair.

Walks in Hemingway's Paris by Noel Riley Fitch. Fun and informative guide to Paris. It would be great for anyone, but especially for those with an interest in Paris, Papa and the Lost Generation.

The Paris Shopping Companion by Susan Winkler provides much information in an easy-to-follow format. If you want to know where to look for what in Paris stores, here's a valuable guide.

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United Kingdom

Cheap Eats in London and Cheap Sleeps in London by Sandra A. Gustafson. 'Cheap' is a relative term and the Faithful Reader might quibble a bit with Ms Gustafson's definitions. Still, these are useful books because of the breadth of information they provide. 'Cheap Eats' helped us find Poon's, which is our one 'must-do' in London, other than the Mousetrap. For really cheap sleeps, you can't beat the recommendations of 'Let's Go.' There's a little overlap between the guides, but not much. And Let's Go is likelier to be up-to-the-minute, which is important in the mecurial world of hotels and restaurants. For Web material on hotels and restaurants, surf over to London pages for some information and a few pithy, on-the-mark reviews. The London Tourism pages offer info about museums and other attractions.

My Love Affair with England by Susan Allen Toth. Enchanting essays about 30 years of travel in England. Toth knows the gardens, the paths, and the sheep dog trials. If you think fondly or interestedly of England, you'll like this. TV trials (for sheep dogs, not OJ!) take a drubbing here, but where else would one hear sheep described as "cunning and defiant"? (Not that the Good Shepherd is without cause, at least in the case of the Faithful Reader...)

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Western United States and Canada

For San Francisco, we like Access: San Francisco by Richard Saul Wurman. For quick trips, it has good recommendations for restaurants and the maps are adequate. Alas, information about shops seems to become very quickly outdated here. On the Web, take a look at a San Francisco travel information site. Opinionated and interesting; reasonably up-to-date.

Warm, sunny, delightful San Diego...sixth largest city in the USA and perhaps the friendliest and most beautiful. Too bad there aren't many guides and, in fact, there aren't any the Faithful Reader recommends buying. Instead, check out The Local Guy, a funny, honest, and surprisingly in-depth introduction to a wonderful place. With his recommendations and a good map (like AAA's city map), you'll thoroughly enjoy yourself.

Palm Springs, California also suffers from a dearth of useful travel guides. Never mind: check out Palm Springs Life on the Web. If you're in the area, the Faithful Reader recommends a visit to Moorten Botanical Garden, a delightful and educational garden that contains more than 3,000 kinds of cacti. Hungry? Check out Mrs. Bone's in Palm Desert for meals so tasty you won't believe they're good for you.

Vancouver, British Columbia is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in North America. Walking through a department store in downtown Vancouver recently, the Faithful Reader detected almost as many languages being spoken as one hears on the Paris Metro. The guide that seems, at present, to be most up to date and helpful is the modestly titled Vancouver: the Ultimate Guide by Terri Wershler and Judi Lees. But also be sure to check Vancouver Magazine for its restaurant and shopping reviews.

Big Sky Country, also known as Montana: the Treasure State, fascinates not only Ted Turner and the odd paramilitary group, but also folks looking for one of the last wild places in the continental USA. Start preparing to pan for golden travel memories by visiting the State of Montana, Travel Site.

For Seattle, travelers can't do better than checking the Post-Intelligencer's Voice of the Northwest travel information.

The Faithful Reader is one of the last native Oregonians over the age of 40 still in Oregon. Oregon is not much of a vacation destination, in her opinion, but she knows that some of you will not be dissuaded by her candor. In that case, you may as well hop over to one of the Oregon travel pages. But you've been warned...

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Disney Destinations

Unofficial Guide to Disney-anything, by Bob Sehlinger. For practical information and touring tips this guide is unbeatable. Before going to Disney anything, pick up the applicable guide for tips on how to have the most fun and the least hassle. The information is reliable, perhaps because it's totally revised every year, and each of at least three publishing runs during a year includes updates. Regrettably, the Faithful Reader hasn't yet found Sehlinger and Company on the Web, but take a look at somebody else's really unofficial guide and a fun look at the Hidden Mickeys in various parks.

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General Travel Links