Friday, 16 February 2018

A Travel Reading Holiday in Lorne (Part 2)


Every couple of years I take a short summer holiday in the seaside town of Lorne (see above photo), and do a lot of travel reading.

Last post I talked about two travel books I read there in late 2017, each regarding Africa. Now here are two more reviews of travel books among my holiday reading, set in South America and Europe...

1. Turn Right at Machu Picchu; by Mark Adams

The basic premise here is that Adams, an adventure travel magazine editor who rarely gets to do anything adventurous, decides to conquer the Inca Trail. in fact he goes much further than this, seeking to replicate the exploratory quests of Hiram Bingham a century ago.

It was Bingham who visited Machu Picchu and popularised its existence in the West, but he also explored several other significant sites over the following years. In the course of the book Adams visits these while detailing Bingham's expeditions, providing us with parallels between then and now.

It's an entertaining set-up, particularly as the writer is no hardened hiker; it makes it easy for us to identify with him when he struggles with the journey's demands.

The most entertaining element by far is the Aussie guide enlisted by Adams, an eccentric hardened bushman who seems like a real-life version of Crocodile Dundee; just as Bingham was said to have inspired Indiana Jones.

This was a thoroughly good read about a destination I'm not familiar with.

[see this book at Amazon]

2. Border; by Kapka Kassabova

Finally I struck a book with a style of travel more in tune with my own.

Kassabova is a Brit who was born in Bulgaria during the Cold War. In this book, she flits along and over the borders between three Balkan countries: Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. Along the way she explores the history and folklore of the region, as much at home with relating ancient myths as detailing 20th century events.

This work had much less of the driving linear narrative that was present in the other travel books I read on my Lorne getaway. Instead, the author moves here and there, back and forth, sometimes staying in one village for an extended time.

As a result the book reads like a series of vignettes based on specific villages or border sub-regions, with local people and landscapes at their heart.

It's not as much a page-turner as a traditional travelogue, but Border does lend a lot of insight into the far southeast corner of Europe and the cultural and historical forces which have shaped it.

[see this book at Amazon]

That was my Lorne reading list in 2017. What should I read on my next tech-free travel reading holiday? Feel free to make suggestions in the comments section below.