Jul 10 2012
I have always been an avid reader of Jose Saramago’s fiction, so when I recently picked up his travel narrative, Journey to Portugal, I was pleased to discover that the book contains Saramago’s distinguished voice and unique writing style, and that his non-fiction account of his travels through Portugal actually reads very much like a novel. This is probably due to the fact that throughout his journey Saramago refers to himself as “the traveller,” which has the affect of transforming the non-fiction narrator into something of a character.
When referring to himself, Saramago is careful to make the important distinction between traveler and tourist. “The traveller has seen much of the world and of life,” he writes, “and has never felt comfortable in the role of a tourist who goes somewhere, takes a look at it, thinks he understands it, takes photos of it and returns to his own country boasting that he knows [it].”
A recent article published in the New York Times by Ilan Stavans and Joshua Ellison, “Reclaiming Travel,” takes Saramago’s definition of a traveler even further, exploring essential questions about the art of travel such as, “what distinguishes meaningful, fruitful travel from mere tourism?” and “What turns travel into a quest rather than self-serving escapism?”
I am reminded of the distinction between traveler and tourist whenever I flip through one of our DK Eyewitness travel guides, books that are undoubtedly oriented toward the traveler interested not only in what to eat and where to sleep, but in picking up important literary, cultural, and architectural details about their surroundings along the way. Though these guides might contain less practical information, I always find the trade-off worthwhile for their in-depth look at the history and culture of a destination. Each guide is tastefully designed with an aesthetic layout certain to inspire you to new lands.
Eyewitness has supplemented their larger guides with a pocket “Top Ten” series, easy to slip into your pack. If you’re bringing the kids, Eyewitness also has a new Family Guide series to destinations like New York City and Paris.
Michelin Green Guides are the classic touring guides, full of delightful and informative walking tours paired with full colored maps. If you are traveling to France this summer, Michelin has you covered with regional guides to Northern France, Normandy, Brittany, the French Alps, the Chateaux of the Loire, the French Riviera, Provence, the French Atlantic Coast, and more. Michelin’s detailed country and regional road maps to destinations around the world are indispensable to both traveler and tourist, allowing you to navigate independently in foreign lands.
Tune in to WBUR this week to learn more about the travel resources we have available at our Globe Corner Travel Annex at Brookline Booksmith, and check back next week for Shuchi’s take on guidebooks for travelers who are not tourists.Read more: Booksmith, DK Eyewitness, General, Jose Saramago, Journey to Portugal, Michelin Green Guides, NPR, Travel, Travel Tips and Resources, WBUR