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It's hard to know whether the experts are giving you useful information or just the same old song and dance. That's why we're introducing Guidebook Says to commend or correct other travel media. Feel free to commend or correct us in the comments below! This week, we head for the sol in Seville, Spain.
Sevillemay have just been killed 4-0 in football by FC Barcelona, but it's still a major tourist destination for first-time visitors to Spain who want to get a taste of the countryside. At just a train ride away from Madrid, it imparts a vastly different sense of the country -- but what's as real as a bullfight and what's as fake as the flamenco fans they sell in gift shops? Just in time for the
It's hard to know whether the experts are giving you useful information or just the same old song and dance. That's why we're introducing Guidebook Says to commend or correct other travel media. Feel free to commend or correct us in the comments below! This week, we zero in on the Dominican Republic, a recent Field Trip subject.
Guidebook Says... "At airports, neither immigration nor customs officials pay much attention to tourists carrying an ordinary amount of luggage." -- Lonely Planet
Jaunted Says: Our single suitcase and carry-on were much more meticulously searched in the D.R. on the way out than when we passed through customs in San Juan. Zippered pockets were opened, books were flipped through, and at one point we were asked to describe the contents of a small clutch ("Uh... lip gloss?")
Only because of the guys in front of us did we know why: They had hid what looked like either fruit or cooked meat in their checked bags (wrapped in underwear, tee hee).
They say the best things in life are free, and if you're traveling across South Africa's coast and looking for the definitive guide to lodging, dining and adventure, that couldn't be more true. That's because our bible for the three-week adventure along the Garden Route and into Swaziland wasn't a Lonely Planet South Africa or even (dare I say?) Jaunted.
If you cashed a check for a Nigerian prince and you're still waiting on that payout, then have we got an offer for you!
World Swirl Press is looking for stories related to all kinds of travel misfortunes. If you've been pick-pocketed, scammed by your travel agent, kidnapped or were positive that he was a she or she was a he, then they want to hear from you. You'll even get paid if your story is selected, but just how much hasn't yet been decided.
Don't forget the details, as they want to know about every little miserable misfortune of your personal travel hell. If you've got a winner just bop on over to their site and submit away. They're accepting stories through the end of this year and hope to go to print sometime in 2009.
We used Lonely Planet: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and the Greater Mekong while traveling Southeast Asia. Here's where it led us in the right direction.
We used Lonely Planet: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and the Greater Mekong while traveling Southeast Asia. Here's where it led us astray.
Beijing Olympics / 2008 Olympics / Beijing Olympics 2008 / Guidebooks / Zagat Guides / Tim Zagat / Nina Zagat / → All Tags
Our recent foray into Beijing was more of a cultural primer for first timers and Olympics-watchers. But what to do if you need the nitty gritty details like which restaurant pours on the Commie kitsch and which nightclub has an awesome 80s night? The newly released Zagat Beijing has all the info you need, crammed into a super-slim volume perfect for packing.
A couple warnings: Like most Zagat guides, the Beijing book tends toward the pricey, and while we actually think the quote-packed descriptions are cute, perhaps you don't. And when it comes to cultural stuff, the background info in this book is a little skimpy. (Just one paragraph on Tiananmen Square? Really?)
Still, if you're just headed to the city for a week or so, do you really want to haul around a couple hundred pages of Chinese history you'll never actually read? We'd rather just know that Red Capital Club is the place to eat and that we should rock our leg warmers at Alfa.
[Photo: Tim and Nina Zagat]
Love or loathe the English? The latest Rough Guide for England has a few choice things to say about them. First the bad news: It says that English people are quarrelsome, contradictory and "obsessed with toffs and C-list celebrities."
The good news is more, well, quaint, than good. The Rough Guide people decided that England is
A country of animal-loving, tea-drinking, charity donors, where queuing remains a national pastime and bastions of civilization, like Radio 4, are jealously protected.
We've heard a few complaints about the British before so this quirky Rough Guide assessment comes as no surprise. But since we love a good cup of tea, we haven't struck England off our visiting list just yet.
Of course, to be featured on the Lonely Planet YouTube channel you'll have to compete with a bikini'd man swimming in Antarctica, a "Hills"-worthy tour of Paris and (above) a belly-dancing, ghost-riding cabdriver who confidently declares, "I am not normal."
One bit of advice: Videos of you guzzling cachaça and popping pills in a Brazilian hostel while on assignment, we'd imagine, won't earn you a five-star YouTube rating from LP.
· Travel Videos coverage [Jaunted]
We know most of the people who are dumb enough to tote an LP guidebook--besides those nice new National Parks guides of course--will probably rate getting wasted in a foreign pub as the greatest thing ever. But do lager louts really deserve a play-by-play?
For a great pub crawl, you need a few ingredients:
· a city with pubs in profound proximity
· a forgiving transport environment (you don't want cars bearing down on you as you stumble towards your goal)
· good weather (try crawling on ice--not fun!)
· an established drinking culture (you don't want to be the boorish outsider who's annoying the locals)
There you have it, Lonely Planet-carrying tourists: No boorish outsiders, please!
· World's Greatest Pub/Bar Crawls? [LP]
· One Travel Writer, at Least, Might Just Go to Hell [Jaunted]
· Lonely Planet coverage [Jaunted]
Uh-oh. Guide book writers tell lies. Not a big surprise to us, but poor Lonely Planet must be decidedly unimpressed by what former author Thomas Kohnstamm has said in his soon-to-be-released book Do Travel Writers Go To Hell?
LP must surely be wishing that Kohnstamm would go to hell, because he's claiming, among other things, that he wrote a guide book to Colombia without ever setting foot in the country. He claims he wrote the guide in question from his base in San Francisco, getting info from a girl he was dating who happened to be interning at the Colombian consulate.
The story goes that Lonely Planet--and probably a whole heap of other guide book companies--don't pay their writers enough to actually research everything that needs to go into a book, and their policy is not to accept any freebies. Whether this news goes down as a "we can't trust Lonely Planet" or a "Kohnstamm's a big cheat with a newly released book to sell" story remains to be seen, but if you're heading to Colombia, perhaps some other guide book might be a better choice?
· Lonely Planet Reeling After Author's Fraud [news.com.au]
· Lonely Planet Writer Doesn't Bother Going to Colombia [Lost Weekend]
· Lonely Planet Coverage [Jaunted]
Lonely Planet has just relaunched its series of national parks guides and the publisher sent over a couple for us to check out. We're not the biggest fans of LP books in general, but the sheer number of titles can certainly be helpful. (Who else sells chapters on Eritrea?)
There are four new guides to the national parks, and you'll get info on multiple parks in all but one of them. The books are designed specifically for the parks, with itineraries and activities based around what's inside the gates rather than in surrounding towns--though some of that info is there too.
What stood out to us is the cool "Hiking" section. Each book has a couple dozen different trails listed. After a header with the basics (distance, elevation change, etc.), a long description of the walk and what you might see follows. Totally handy, and given the fact that the new books are compact and light, you'll actually want to tote 'em along on the trail.