Two of my favorite things come together here in perfect harmony: archaeology and Agatha Christie. She wrote about her travels around Syria and Iraq wiTwo of my favorite things come together here in perfect harmony: archaeology and Agatha Christie. She wrote about her travels around Syria and Iraq with her second husband, Max Mallowan, as an "answer to a question that is asked me very often". That is the charm, because her archaeological memoir felt like we were sipping tea and munching cookies in one of her country village locations, enjoying our afternoon with stories from a hotter climate, and stretching our grey brain cells while waiting for someone to get whacked.
In the beginning, Christie warns her book won't entail more than everyday happenings, so don't expect a profound travelogue. The glimpses of humour you get when you read her fiction? Well, here she doesn't hold back (in her constrained English sort of way). If you enjoy hearing about the team's constipation issues or the fact that one of the last scenes includes lavatory seats floating in the water (poor Mac's first architectural job), then this is for you.
Christie tells about all the mundane things that might happen while travelling: buying dresses for the fuller form, the evil nature of zippers, dysfunctional washing facilities, uncomfortable taxis, weakness of buying shoes, struggles with a reticent member of the team, inefficiency of the post office etc. My favorite scene is when B. has trouble getting his mosquito pyjamas from the post office, and when he finally wears them and is able to relax, a mouse gets into them.
The troubles one might encounter when adventuring in a different culture where people have different concepts of dealing with things (and who regard the strange Western ways of the English very strange in turn) are told without malice and - although it's clear Christie has a special place in her heart for both countries - she doesn't engage in useless glorifying either, but tells everything as it is. There were occasions when doubting the mental faculties of some of the servants and things like that appeared dubious, but the colonial superiority could have been much worse.
What also impressed me was Christie's attitude in the digs. Jacquetta Hawkes mentions in her foreword how Christie wrote at the beginning of each season, but she wasn't afraid to get her hands dirty when her help was needed in cleaning, cataloguing, and labelling the artefacts. It could be that Christie was much more fascinating as a person than I've thought. Finding more about her belongs to another time, however....more
I appreciated Villa's attitude towards travelling and life itself: travelling itself is already important, not so much the destination, and it's wondeI appreciated Villa's attitude towards travelling and life itself: travelling itself is already important, not so much the destination, and it's wonderful to just try lots of different things while trying to break free from the conventional society. However, the form wasn't appealing at all. Villa transcribed her thoughts from a dictation machine, so the entries are full of tiny unimportant details. I guess it shows realistically the sometimes monotonous environment of a cargo ship, but I was expecting a more descriptive approach to her journey. Villa also seemed quite often to be uninterested and glum, or complained about small things. The thought of an adventurous lady, who travelled around the world well into her seventies, is nice. In practice, though, the book was just too practical for my taste. Not enough descriptions of the actual places she visited....more
Originally published in 1957 as Australien (the year 1961 seems to be the year when it was first published in English). I have the 1957 Finnish editioOriginally published in 1957 as Australien (the year 1961 seems to be the year when it was first published in English). I have the 1957 Finnish edition, which I found from a book fair. This little dusty curiosity was stacked with a bunch of other old travel books that didn't have the jackets. According to the Danish Wikipedia, Mielche wrote a pile of other travellogues, too. This one has 16 black and white and 23 color photos. There's also a cute map of Australia, and even cuter tiny drawings on the margins of almost every page. Another map illustrates the areas where the Flying Doctors move around, and how such little space the continent of Europe would cover if it was put on top of Australia....more
Stumbled randomly upon this when I was searching books about Vlad the Impaler at the local library's website. Hopefully this will confirm my idea of tStumbled randomly upon this when I was searching books about Vlad the Impaler at the local library's website. Hopefully this will confirm my idea of the beauty of this region. Maybe I'll even get around going there someday.
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Was surprised how varied the Transylvania region really is. There's something for everyone: not just villages, but also towns with movie theatres and cafés. The food sounds delicious and the castles are gorgeous. I need to make a mental note that whenever I'm going to go there, I have to stay at boarding houses so that I can taste the delicacies you can't have from restaurants and get to mingle with the locals. As long as they won't kill me with their homemade liquor!
The guide itself is brilliant and extremely comprehensive. I can't make any comments about how dated the information is, but I don't think it should be part of the rating anyway, since every single guide in the world is prone to be dated at some point. Mallows travelled extensively in the Transylvanian region and seems to know a lot about the culture and customs. However, it wasn't said with most of the places whether they are flocked by tourists or by locals.
I can't quite grasp the function of the 'buying property in Transylvania' -section in a travel guide. I would have also wanted some more information about travelling off the beaten path, and how difficult travelling is if you can't rent a car. Now the author seems to presume that everyone will rent a car. Besides, the roads sound hellish so I wouldn't do that even if I could. In any case, those are just small things that I can get over with.
Bradt Guides overall seem to focus on the more unusual countries, or those that not everyone may think about when planning a trip. I mean, North Korea? So, if all Bradts are as comprehensive as this one, I will definitely turn towards them the next time I get excited about a particular country....more