Right now I am obsessing about travel. And by travel I don’t mean ‘where are we going for our next annual two week holiday’. No I’m talking real travel… slow travel. Have you heard of the slow movement? .. it’s a thing. You can read about it here. It’s basically about living a connected life. Connection with ourselves, our community, family, food, travel …
So … slow travel. Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to do a little travel. I did the Europe backpacking thing in my 20’s and vowed then that I would get back again to do it properly, that is, to stay and live in different countries and really experience the culture of a place. However, life kind of got in the way and as it turned out it would be another 20 years before I got back to Europe. This time was with my family – my husband and three children. We travelled for two months around Spain, Portugal, France and finished in London.
It was an amazing trip in so many ways. So very different to travel with kids in tow .. not better or worse .. just completely different. Seeing and experiencing sights through the eyes of a child takes on a whole different feeling. I loved it! We all did and no sooner were we home than we were making plans to get back again, somehow.
The next time though we want to do it slowly. Take a year or two off the treadmill of modern living and really experience living in a different culture. The kids are keen too. They are ready to take on a challenge and try something different. This is, however, a whole other post.
So while we are waiting and cooking up ideas to get ourselves over there again I’ve filled my spare time with reading .. reading about travel. Stories about people who’ve done the same thing. People who I admire enormously, who have inspired me with their tales, who have made it seem possible.
I’ve long been a fan of Bill Bryson, having read ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’ and ‘The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid’. But the books that really speak to me are his tales of travel. My absolute favourite is ‘Neither Here Nor There’. This book is laugh out loud hysterical. You know when you feel like a fool on public transport because you just can’t help yourself. He is crude and naughty and wonderfully dry and a little bit politically incorrect (all the qualities I love in a person). This book sets out recreating his backpacking trip of Europe he made in the 1970’s. He manages to capture the same excitement I felt when setting off on my own backpacking trip .. the giddiness of arriving in a foreign country. Suddenly you’re back there, in that moment. Perhaps this book works best for people who have actually visited the places Bill writes about.
You can purchase this book directly from Bill Bryson’s website here.
I know a lot of people don’t like this book because he can at times sound like a whinging American tourist, a little xenophobic, not to mention the racial stereotypes, but I find that is where a lot of his humour comes from. What I love about Bryson is the way he travels .. he embraces it, he sets out to find what the locals eat, the places they go, how they live. He really gets to know a place, the intricacies, the details, the good, the bad and the ugly. There is no fancy pants travel here. His intention with this book is not as a travel guide (you won’t find insightful details about every country he visits). It’s not meant to be that. I’m pretty sure it’s not even meant to be taken too seriously. It is just a feel good, laugh out loud read, that will surely bring back a lot of memories for those of us who have ever travelled in Europe. Like it did for me.
Others of his books that are worth reading are ‘The Lost Continent’, his first travel book, and ‘Notes From a Small Island’. Not to mention his many other titles that are not travel related.
This is the first post in what will be a series of posts about books. Next time I will talk about the other travel stories I love, namely ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, ‘Lunch in Paris’ and ‘Almost French’. The lovely Karen over at Leaf and Petal has started a linky party all about books .. bless her.. and invited other Pip Lincolne of Meet Me At Mikes ‘Blog with Pip’ students to join in. Have I told you how great this course is?
Thank you Karen for the invite and I’m really looking forward to sharing my love of books with you all.
What are your favourite genres of books? Are you a fiction or non-fiction person? Travel? Adventure? Romance? What does it for you?