I’m obsessed with reading about travel. To be honest, I think anyone who is a traveller, should be. It’s the best way to pass the time, and to reap the wanderlust seeds when travel is not an option, or when you’re waiting for planes, buses and trains. Right now, I write from Cafe Leon in Heathrow, waiting to board my plane to Istanbul. Buying the cheapest ticket meant getting up at 3:30am, to get from Edinburgh to London Gatwick. I then had to transfer to Heathrow (2 hours on the bus!), and have now had a long wait at the airport for a flight that only leaves at 16:40. To be honest I’m pretty content – I love waiting at airports when I’ve prepared for it in advance. I’m rereading Lauren Juliff’s How Not to Travel the World, have downloaded two seasons of Grey’s Anatomy (minor obsession), and of course, my all-time favourite film, Wild. But that’s for the movie blog.
On to what I’ve read the last few months:
So I’m kind of obsessed with long-distance walking. The only one I’ve ever done is the West Highland Way, which is only 8 days, but I did the whole female solo travelling thing. Every since I watched and read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, I’m convincing myself I can do the PCT one day.. I got massively inspired by Karl Bushby’s journey who took it on himself to walk around the world, starting where I was born – Chile! He walked up the length of South America, through the Colombian jungles (where he was in prison), through America and Canada, passed the frozen Bering Strait, and is now currently in Russia. He’s still doing it! Only he’s been stuck in Russia for years now trying to get permits. He even says that his main obstacle in the whole journey has been bureaucracy.
Whilst I think this guy’s journey is unbelievably awesome (and hell – he’s been through it all. He roughs it out on the streets, almost gets raped by a woman, is in a Panama prison, swims through the Colombian rivers to avoid confrontation), I was still mildly disappointed by some of it.
For one – I’m a person who likes details. This book is diary entries, and jumps ahead months, with a very brief explanation of what’s happened in between. He also finds himself a girlfriend (Catty), in between, who he becomes massively attached to and it sort of ruins his whole ‘independent, finding himself’ journey, as he keeps on flying back to see her, or trying to arrange her to join him.
Lastly, as arrogant as this may sound, I find the publishers or editors extremely irritating, as half the words they spell in Spanish are wrong. Ugh!
I have a love-hate relationship with you. On the one hand, your adventures are awesome – he writes about walking El Camino, the PCT and the Appalachian Trail – but on the other hand, I find you oh so arrogant. Yes I want to know about your obstacles, your achievements and how you managed to conquer all your brilliant walks. But I don’t need to know how ‘you were right’ in every single confrontation you had with a Spaniard or American. You do go out of your way to point out that you were right, when it’s so besides the point. Tell me about the locals, the scenery, your daily routine – but I don’t need endless paragraphs of why you consider yourself English and not British. It slows down the pace of your book, it makes you look like an asshole, and to be honest – I don’t care. No hard feelings though – I still got through all three of your books.
Honestly, this is probably the best travel book I’ve read. I finished it on a long bus journey in Andalusia. It’s honest, hilarious, and spot on. Will – I applaud you. My only disappointment was that through the whole book I thought this was a true story, until I realised it was fiction. This book is like Holden Caulfield on vacation. The main character is lovable, relatable and one of my new fictional heroes. Dave goes on his ‘gap yah’ holiday to India (with the most annoying girlfriend). His cynical attitude towards other travellers is brilliant, yet humbling when it turns on himself. They most powerful moment of the book is when Dave meets a fellow white journalist on an Indian train in the middle of nowhere. Will – I would love to read more about Dave.
Ok so this guy sells himself well. Loving the title, loving the challenge. But then you get reading, and while the idea of cycling from Paris all the way to SE Asia, then Australia, NZ and the US, is pretty awesome (to say the least), Mark does as he says – he cycles through it. He’s also trying for a Guinness World Record, so he literally does not stop for a moment to explore the sights around him. Word of caution – this is a book about a race, not about exploring the world. And while I respect the challenge, it’s a bit frustrating when he says he’s doing this by himself when he’s got his Mum + a whole crew at his back and call. It’s still an extreme challenge – for sure! – but if you want someone who’s truly trying it solo look Guy Grieve’s - Call of the Wild or Helen Lloyd’s Desert Snow - A Girl’s Take on Africa by Bike.
So there’s a long-winded answers to three authors that I’ve read in the past month, and that have fed my hunger for travel. I will keep posting about books I’m reading, as there are a lot!