‘If we meant to stay in one place we would have roots’, this evergreen Rachel Wolchin quote stands everlasting and timeless too. Yes after and before the advent of press one of the most popular literary pieces was always travel related and this proves the veracity of above mentioned quote and is a boon for those who for some reason can’t take on an actual tour. Holding with this classic love affair I wonder which travel literature are ever favourites as the selection is highly complex (and controversial). But I can tell my own and herein I shall enlist my most favourite top 5 travel literarture and see how some of the mentioned places look now.
‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’ by Laurie Lee
According to me it’s most enchanting travel piece by a young English man Laurie Lee and dates back to 1930’s. Beginning from sleepy regions of Cotswolds, the journey ends in Spain via London. Interestingly Lee had with him a violin and an adventurous spirit as company. Whimsically poetic, it captures a fascinating journey that beautifully captured that time.
Cotswolds: True English villages, hills, lush green vales and castles Cotswolds surmises them all and it seems that little has changed here. Quintessential English picture is drawn by Stow-on-the-Wold, Chipping Campden and Moreton-in-Marsh. The place is for those who love to spend their times in midst of nature. Cycling and walking tours are most favourite passtimes; it’s your opportunity to be an explorer.
London: Young Larry earned his living by labouring at a building site and playing violin. No words need to describe that present days London has very few resemblance with those times except some double decker buses and trams as specimens of yesteryears transport system. However London holds its legacy from the Roman era. There is impressive ‘Tower of London’, which was constructed to commemorate Norman conquest in 1066 AD.
In London and have not seen ‘Westminster Abbey’ is just unbelievable. This 11th century coronation church is the burial site for city’s most famous citizens (from Chaucer to Darwin). Marriage ceremony of the royal couple William and Kate also took place here.
London is a combination of modern advancements in science and technology and enchanting history. The city has preserved its history with zeal and technologically has stepped forward in leaps and bounds.
Spain: Larry’s trip to Spain was adventurous, wonderful and squalid as well. He also got trapped in Spanish Civil War. From Northern port city of Vigo to country’s Southern coast it was a fabulous travel experience. What impressed Larry was the unimaginable level of Spanish hospitality from even the poorest of villagers on the way.
‘Naples ’44’ by Norman Lewis
Norman Lewis’ travel book is a celebrated account of a World War-II ravaged city and also minutely holds accounts of Visuvius’ eruption in March 1944. He was posted as an intelligence officer on behalf of the Allied Forces. His daily diary updates hold awesome accounts of the days.
Those grim days hold some grissly truths that included respectable women resorting to prostitution as only mode of income. A collection of some extraordinary characters like a gynaecologist who restored virginity of many ladies who were forced into flesh-trading or were raped.
He loved Italy so much that he said,”Were I given the chance to be born again Italy would be the country of my choice.”
Naples: One of the most continuously inhabited cities Naples is a treasure trove for history buffs. It has bravely emerged from the rubbles of II nd World War and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. City’s unique setting beside ‘Bay of Naples’ holds tremendous importance for tourists.
Comprised of a variety of scenic parks and numerous villas, the city is just an awesome global tourist spot.
‘Coasting’ by Jonathan Raban
This is an extraordinary tale of an avid traveller cum seafarer around 4000-miles around the British coast on a 32-foot ketch. This 40 years old mariner made this journey in 1982 and one of its unique points is that, for help Raban took in only a handmade chart and a compass.
He compared Manx with FalKland Islandes for their similar isolation. The book represents the times of Margaret Thatcher very well. A deep insight of its people and times ‘Coasting’ surpasses being a travelogue
‘Travels with Charley: In Search of America’ by John Steinbeck
An outstanding road trip across US on a specially made vehicle camper called ‘Rocinante’ and accompanied with his French Poodle named ‘Charlie’, John Steinbeck rocked in his search of America. His accounts were precious that captured the tumultous youth of 1960’s America; his surreal relationship with ‘Charlie’ and parts of trip that included ferry and road trips.
From Long Island to Connecticut; from Maine to upscale NY John not only painted geographic beauty of the places but interacted with locals at roadside restaurants to put up a graphic detail of society and politics.
Present USA: Since the 1960’s, USA has tremendously grown and modified regarding science and technology; politics; economics and social arenas. This contrasting picture is most stark in Steinbeck’s accounts of Southern States where a strong African-American community lives in. Infamous ‘Jim Crow laws’ were strictly applied there upto 1965 which kept alive racial segregations.
Now after 5 decades there has been a tremendous amount of positive changes regarding the racial discriminatory situation with passing of several liberal laws. Along with socio-political transformation USA is now representing a cosmopolitan set-up in particular at its metropolitan cities like NY and Washington DC. I can say that it is much more tolerant now and consequently the tourism industry has also changed for better.
‘Notes From a Small Island’ by Bill Bryson
This is a gripping tale of farewell journey by Bill Bryson that offers an insight into modern society with irreverent humour and is set up on British Islands. Bryson was taking a final look at his home of 20 years as he decided to return back to his native USA. Unique point of this journey is Bill’s insistence on using only public transports except twice.
The story has captivating nostalgia where Bill re-visits Holloway Sanatorium at Virginia Water where he met his would-be wife after 1973. Very few writers have depicted England’s history in such a wonderful way and in an opinion poll in 2003 on BBC Radio 4, audience polled this book to be the best one to represent it.
A good travelogue can transport us to its painted world and many of you will agree that this can be one of the prominent motivators to take us beyond the boundaries of mundane life. Who can say that you’ll not get your travel guide among them?
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