Cascoly Books: Guides & Travel Books

Cascoly Books - Guides & Travel Books

Journey to Kars Philip Glazebrook

Alexander's Path - Freya Stark 

Bitter Lemons - Lawrence Durrell - An evocative memoir of the author's stay [1953-6] in what's now Northern Cyprus.  Much of the landscape was still as he described it when we visited Belle Pais, Famagusta, Kyrenia, and Nicosia, the Tree of Idleness and other sites on our hiking trip to Cyprus.  His adventures in buying and maintaining a house rival those of Peter Mayle's "A Year in Provence" written many years later.  The peaceful interludes in the hills are marred by foreshadowing of the political turmoil and tragedies that would engulf Cyprus in the following decades, leading to the departure of Durrell and other foreign nationals.  Some of those towns and even cities remain ghost towns to this day.  Once hard to find, this book has now been deservedly reissued.

Guide Books

How to Select a Travel Guide

It was a lot easier 20-30 years ago when travel book choices for the more exotic destinations were  limited. You went to the bookstore and hoped there might be ONE book about your destination. Now there are shelves of books, and the task is how to discriminate.  My current favorite general purpose guides are Cadogans, Footprint, and the Rough Guides - these all provide [in varying degrees], good historical and cultural coverage, and useful maps [the popular Lonely Planet series doesn't match these others in either category].  For in depth historical and architectural coverage, the Blue Guides are unsurpassed.  Their organization takes a bit of getting used to, but this small effort is repaid by  detailed site plans of ruins, palaces, etc.  They're great books for planning trips.

All the guides above are worth carrying [even/especially the heavy Blue Guide series].  For pre-trip planning, dreaming and education, I'd recommend the Insight series -- these are picture heavy, but lack the traveler information of the other series, but they're great to gain an impression of your journey, and even useful for ideas about the photographic opportunities.

A newer series that falls in between is the Doring Kindersley (DK) Eyewitness Travel Guides - the white books.  These DK white books are uncommonly heavy. They don't have as much detailed information as the Blue Guides or Rough Guides, above, but are good for brief visits or first timers. Where they excel is their outstanding illustrations and diagrams, often cutaways. The maps are good, but the labeling system makes it difficult to locate things easily.  Lots of full page color photos give a preview of the trip.  

Bottom line? Your best bet is to get the Rough and Blue Guides, then be sure that someone else on the trip is carrying the DK.  Or buy the books you need, and then just scan the pages you need to bring with you.


Below are some guides we've actually used and found particularly valuable:

  • Blue Guide -- Istanbul
  • Blue Guide -- Turkey 
  • Blue Guide -- Egypt
  • Blue Guide -- South India
  • Blue Guide - Venice
  • Rough Guide -- Turkey  This is the best single guidebook we've found for Turkey. We escort small groups to Turkey, and the Rough Guide is consistently the best single reference for general and historical information. Combined with the Blue Guide to Turkey, it's easy to plan your trip. As usual with the Rough Guides, it has a lot of information for many types of travelers without sacrificing cultural and historical details. Well organized, with good maps (much better than the Lonely Planet series)We've made 6 trips to Turkey now, and find something new from this book each time.
  • Eyewitness Travel Guides - India  
  • The Ends of the Earth : From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia, a Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy  Robert Kaplan

    Eastward to Tartary - - Robert Kaplan Travels in the Balkans, The Middle East and the Caucasus


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