One of the things I enjoy most in Australia are the libraries. During my first trip to Melbourne, I went through more than two dozen volumes of mangas. On my recent trip I stocked up on travel books instead.
They had a great selection of travel books, the Footscray Library. Though I looked for familiar names like Moore, Bryson and Mayle, I also picked a couple of books from authors I haven’t encountered yet, but had a catchy title.
Here are some snippets from my favorite travel books I read while in Australia.
Today I am astonished to recall how innocently and naturally we did these things, but at the same time we felt that all Chianti was a bit ours. Indeed, it was this sense of proprietorship that kept us from anything as malicious as vandalism.
It’s easy – and perhaps natural – to make such generalizations. Who hasn’t, while traveling, made the mistake of judging an entire nation based on the behavior of a few individual citizens?
I was reminded of something Nigel Walker had said: “There are two words I don’t want to find myself uttering as an old man, and they are “If only…” If only. We all have our ‘if onlys.’ If only I’d studied harder, if only I’d stuck with those piano lessons, if only I’d spoken to that girl at the bus stop, if only I’d remembered Alison Wilcox’s name in the morning.
Apart from the particularly crude joke which now adorned the fridge door, one other message caught my eye. On the back, just below ‘Stay Cool!! Luv Chris and Jean,’ it read, ‘Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.’
I had learned not to worry;to make my choice and allow things to happen. For most part they turned out to be good, and when they weren’t – like the night from hell in a hostel – then they were character building. There weren’t any wrong or right paths to choose, just different ones, and where they led was governed by the attitude adopted towards them.
“Tourists, of course, are always other people; never us. We are different. We are travellers – intelligent, well-mannered and cultured, a blessing on our chosen destinations, a delight to have around. It’s a common attitude, and one that I have always found condescending and offensive, as well as inaccurate. If you travel away from home for pleasure, you’re a tourist, no matter how you like to dress it up.
I found an English translation of the first ‘Apple’ ad in a book Filippo had called “The Cult of Vespa.” It was written by Gilberto Filippetti and rather more poetic than the ads we’re used to today. It described how the ‘apple’ could be eaten alone or in company, at sunset, on the rocks or with your hard streaming in the wind. Just bite the apple, it said, rev up your Vespa and leave all those people devoid of imagination behind you.
There is a scene in the movie Il Postino, filmed on Salina, the island I’d visit next, where the young postman asks Don Pablo, the famous poet, how to become a poet. Don Pablo tells him ‘walk slowly along the shore as far as the bay and look around you.’ Nature would reveal the poetry. And the poetry would reveal what was important in life.
If you’re looking for a new travel book to read, why not try books by these four authors? They really are good.