Monday, 5 March 2012

Vintage travel and Armchair travel

Have just returned from a few days in London, travelling on the Eurostar. Whilst my destination and the reason for going were wonderful, the means to get to my destination was disapointing, giving me food for reflection, on what has happened to the way we travel.
My grandparents in the 20's, took time to travel, and often the trip was as exciting then as the destination!If you look at the poster, travelling in 8 days from London to Baghdad as advertised, would send us into a tizz now as we no longer consider the trip worthwile, and want to get to our destination as soon and as cheaply as possible!However a two hour journey crammed into seats destined to give your legs as little room as possible, with no one talking to each other, because everyone is aware, that we are travelling like this as cheaply and efficiently as possible, leaves us very bad tempered indeed for the duration of our trip.
With that, we have effectively reduced our possibility of seeing, and encountering interesting people and, situations.Which is why I am turning into something of an armchair traveller, reading travelling books from earlier days. I would reccomend the french publishing house Robert Laffont(in the series bouquins) which publishes compendiums of travel writing through the ages in Italy,Greece, France itself, as well as from writers such as Paul Morand and Pierre Loti. The latter a french naval officer fell in love with Istanbul and the Orient and wrote some lovely descriptions of the Middle East. In English, Eland press does lovely reeditions of travel writings, from for example,Martha Gellhorn, Norman Lewis, well worth reading.

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