Update on prior posts:
 
If you are a regular reader of my website, you know that recently I wrote about Indonesia (http://hooversworld.com/archives/3068) and also about the future of the nation-state (http://hooversworld.com/archives/3107?day=Tuesday). 
 
The 9/12/09 issue of the Economist magazine has a 14-page special section on Indonesia that you should pick up at the newsstand, or read here: http://www.economist.com/printedition/index.cfm?d=20090912
 
One article in particular talks about how Indonesia almost came apart at the seams, but saved itself by giving regions and cities more autonomy (http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14391454). This article strongly relates to my discussion of the nation-state.
 
Now on to a book review:
 
 

Off Track Travel Tips for You

 
If you are a real explorer, if you like to “discover” places few others have been, in your own nation or across the globe, here is a great book for you.
 
Off the Tourist Trail: 1000 Unexpected Travel Alternatives (Dorling Kindersley, 2009) is an oversized, wall-to-wall-color hardback full of great travel suggestions.
 
The core of the book is a comparison of about 100 famous travel destinations – such as the Pyramids of Giza, the Montreux Jazz Festival, the Costa Rican rain forests, Mount Rushmore, and Kyoto – with alternative sites which may offer some of the same intrigues but perhaps fewer tourists. For those 5 sites, the alternatives given are the Pyramids of Meroe in Sudan, the Montreal Jazz Festival, the Ecuadorian cloud forest, Crazy Horse South Dakota, and Gyeongju, South Korea. While the authors sometimes strain to critique the famous spots – how can you really dis the Pyramids? – their descriptions of the alternatives are fascinating and often surprising. The book contains visiting tips for both types of places, and the color photos are wonderful – enough to make you pack your bags and run to the airport.
 
Off the Tourist Trail breaks places into 9 categories: ancient and historical sites, festivals and parties, great journeys, architectural marvels, natural wonders, beaches, sports and activities, art and culture, and cities. Each of these sections discusses about 10 famous sites, paired with recommended alternatives, then concludes with small listings of 44 additional interesting and relatively unknown destinations in that category.
 
As a “specialist” in cities, I noted that the authors included “hidden” parts of some of my favorites cities, with sections labeled “Less-Explored New York” and “Less-Explored Paris” as well as highlighting such less-known gems as Fez, Morocco. The section “44 more fantastic cities” includes some of my faves: Luzern, Switzerland; Savannah, Georgia; Aix-en-Provence, France; and Bristol, UK. Don’t think the fact the book comes from a British publisher limits their vision to Europe.  My own independent research has given me a list of cities I really want to visit, and several of them appear in Off the Tourist Trail’s list of 44: Udaipur, India; Salvador, Brazil; Isfahan, Iran; Siena, Italy; Sucre, Bolivia; Split, Croatia; Santiago, Cuba; Luang Prabang, Laos; and Aleppo, Syria. Aleppo has been at the top of my own list for the last few years because of its amazing medievalish bazaar, perhaps the world’s largest. (Fez, Marrakesh, and Cairo are the best ones I have seen so far.)
 
There are also extra bits such as “6 more medieval cities to rival Prague” (in addition to Riga, which receives special focus). Three of my favorites, all awesome cities, show up here: Bologna, Carcassonne, and Bruges.
 
Not surprisingly, the other sections of the book, ranging from natural wonders to festivals, cover the world in equal detail. Unless you are a geography professor or veteran super-traveler, you won’t have heard of many of these places.
 
Whether you want to travel in your armchair, go backpacking, or travel “in style,” this book has plenty of great ideas and images to stir your imagination and/or travel plans.

 

   

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