Friday, May 14, 2010

The Vicarious Traveler

When I was in high school and college, my mom and I would make weekly visits to our local library during my summer breaks.  While I have many reading interests, my particular focus at that time (and whenever nature hints at summer) was travel.  I'd read anything from travel guides to personal narratives--and specifically loved watching travel videos, like Rick Steves.  In fact, I've vivid memories of standing in my Davenport branch library perusing the (then small) VHS collection of video tour guides and thinking to myself, "Now where do I want to go today?"  It sounds hokey, but I still love the idea of travel--even if vicariously.  I'm perfectly content to trip to Paris by watching Samantha Brown's "Passport to Europe" (repeatedly, in fact).  (Though, I must warn you:  once you've a taste for a particular place, the videos are mere pacifiers in place of the real thing.) 

While I'm soon-to-be on vacation, I've been thinking a lot, recently, about good travel narratives.  Here are just a handful of my favorites.  (I highly recommend the first two!)

The Geography of Bliss: One Man's Search for the  Happiest Places In the World, by Eric Weiner

The Art of Travel, by Alan de Botton

As the Romans Do: An American Family's Italian Odyssey, by Alan Epstein

A Year In the Merde, by Stephen Clarke

Market Day in Provence, by Michelle De La Pradelle