Monthly Archives: July 2008

More Book Reviews! ** 40 days

Well I did take a look at several more books than just the Rick Steves ones. Here’s the others.

The Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget 2008 – This one was actually quite an enjoyable read. The downside for me was that it goes into all the countries of Europe, and not just the Western European ones. However, since it goes into so many countries, it’s forced to be brief for each country. It focuses in on the main sites in the main cities of each country. It’s perfect for a first-time Europe traveller because of this. The sites for each city are also organized geographically – if you were to walk it, they would be laid out in order! I do have my suspicions about why they chose some of their (very few) listed restaurants or hostels since some of the more popular hostels (at least to the online community) weren’t listed.

Let’s Go Western Europe 2007 – This is my biggie. The most detailed book of all the countries I’m headed to, and seems to be aimed at the backpacker crowd too.  It has the listing of nearly everything to see in each city, as well as a very healthy listing of restaurants and accommodation. Also, more cities than the obvious touristic cities are featured (in smaller doses). No opinions other than the Let’s Go thumbs up icon on some choices, but it works.

European History for Dummies – This was a decent before-trip read, and I think it will help me understand a lot of the sights I’ll be seeing. Definitely not written in textbook style; there’s enough quirkiness to keep me reading. I do think I liked Rick Steves Europe 101 better, because it went into these historical periods (though not as in depth) and attached it to the art periods.

Bill Bryson’s Neither Here Nor There – Definitely not a guidebook, I kept coming across this one mentioned when people were talking about books inspiring travel. I generally don’t read “humour” ( and I would consider this more humour than travel book), but I did find myself laughing out loud at several points. It does get some interesting pictures in my head of the places I’ll be visiting (and some I won’t be) though.

Alice Steinbach’s Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman – Another non-guidebook, this is a softly motivational travelogue by an extremely good writer. I like the neat way she sent postcards to herself to remember things by, and the way she describes her surroundings. I came to like Alice quite a bit by the end of the book, and I hope to read the sequel (Educating Alice: Adventures of a Curious Woman) shortly.

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A Few Favourite Websites

I’ve found a few online communities that I simply love, that are really helping me plan my trip.

First, a very famous site for backpackers, Boots N’ All (www.bootsnall.com) – the main part I use is the discussion boards, which are organized by country/area or by topic. Large membership, lots of posts… lots of good info! This is perfect for asking broad general questions, or to get opinions from a lot of people. Besides the discussion board, they’ve got country by country info, travel news & interesting articles, and a sections on where to stay and how to get there.

Next up is Guide for Europe (www.guideforeurope.com). Obviously, this site is only on Europe. Besides the discussion board, there’s a generous amount of first person travel tips & tricks, and a good section on hostels & transportation. The discussion board is again my favourite part – it’s a small community, but the information the members will give is very thoughtful and detailed, and no post goes unanswered (unless it’s totally crazy). This is the main place where I was able to muddle through most of my itinerary, with great feedback.

Finally, there’s Couch Surfing (www.couchsurfing.com). I’ve already gotten involved online through the “groups” (basically specific interest areas where members of each group can post & reply). My plan is to surf a lot of couches through Europe – free accommodation  with an awesome inter-cultural component! I really hope to be able to surf some couches through Europe to find out what the people in each country are really like (and not just the big sights)

 

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