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Travel

Unique Travel Books to Help Plan Your Next Trip

January 5, 2021

While travel may seem out of reach at the moment for most of us, it can be a great time to plan future travels with the help of some wonderful travel books. Whether the guide is historic or up-to-date and practical, the authors of the following books offer insights not only into the places and sites they visit, but also into the culture, the people, and the joy of discovering the world around us. 

Journey into Cyprus by Colin Thubron was first published in 1975 and recounts the author’s remarkable journey on foot through Cyprus in the spring and summer of 1972, before the 1974 illegal Turkish invasion and occupation that divided the island nation. The latest edition of the book includes a preface written in 1985 with a sadly pessimistic view of the future of Cyprus that seems harsh, especially for those who continue the fight for unity and justice for Cyprus.  

Thubron, a British travel writer and novelist, from the first chapter on vividly describes the beauty of the landscape and the hospitality of the people, but does not shy away from showing the cantankerous nature of some, including the old man at the start of his journey who tries to convince him not to do it. You can hear the man’s voice clearly in the Neolithic town of Khirokitia where amid the ruins he tells Thubron “you see, it’s like I told you… Nothing. Just stones.” 

Thubron transports us to a moment in time in the history of Cyprus in this unique account of his 600-mile trek around the country. Hopefully, one day soon, everyone will be able to follow in his footsteps once again.  

For those of us who regularly travel to Greece, especially in the summer, the capital city is sometimes just a stopover on the way to our village or island destination, but 111 Places in Athens that You Shouldn’t Miss by Alexia Amvrazi, Diana Farr Louis, and Diane Shugart, will convince you that visiting Athens year round may not be enough time to enjoy everything it has to offer. Even those who spend a great deal of time visiting Athens will undoubtedly be surprised by the impressive list of varied places and the rich descriptions and history behind them. The book’s beautiful photographs by Yannis Varouhakis will make you want to book your flight as soon as possible. 

For regular viewers of PBS, Rick Steves is well-known as the host of his long-running travel series where he offers tips and insights into various destinations in Europe. His latest travel guide, titled For the Love of Europe: My Favorite Places, People, and Stories, is written in Steves’ characteristic, easy-to-read style with his signature humor and gathers 100 of his favorite memories together into one inspiring collection. With over 40 years of travel writing about Europe, Steves picks up his carefully packed backpack again and shares his love of travel.  

Greece is, of course, one of the destinations in the book, and in just a few pages, some might say too few, Steves manages to capture some charming moments in Nafplio and in Hydra where he interacts with locals, including a man who spent 20 years in New Jersey before returning to the homeland, noting that while in the United States he “never took a nap.” 

The book’s concluding chapter, The Essence of Good Travel: Connecting with People, highlights Steves’ philosophy of travel. He writes, “while some people count the countries they’ve visited, marking them off on a checklist, that number means nothing to me. Count instead the friends you’ve made while far from home.”  

The book also includes a guide to clips from the TV show, Rick Steves’ Europe, available on Steves’ website: ricksteves.com.  

The above-mentioned books are all available online and in bookstores. 

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