An Innocent Abroad

Friday, 7 November 2014

An Innocent Abroad - 270There’s a new Lonely Planet travel book about to hit the shelves – An Innocent Abroad – and I’m one of the 35 contributing writers. My tale, Cabbage Soup, involves arriving at a campsite on the Yugoslavian Adriatic Coast back in the Tito days and discovering the campers all seemed to have a distinct lack of clothing.

Some of my favourite tales in the collection included another camp out, this time at Burning Man in Nevada. Man to Man by Jeff Greenwald concludes with the sort of event which, reportedly, could all too easily trip you up at Burning Man. Finally getting to that desert campsite has been a trip on my bucket list for far too long now and Jeff reminds me, as if I needed reminding, that I really should get around to it.

I’ve had Yemen on my short list for too long as well and Suzane Joinson reminds me why in Reaching Bliss.

I always like tales where travellers encounter unexpected kindness from strangers and Two Angels in Anatolia by Candace Rose Rardon is certainly a classic of that genre. Or reminders of why travel is so important for so many of us. In Saved by a Camel Amanda Jones experiences a career turn around, courtesy of a camel trek in Rajasthan, with the realisation that working for a fashion magazine is not what her life should be about.

Mauve by Marina Lewycka – everything going gently wrong and very right in the old Soviet Union – and Voice Lessons by Anna Vodicka – deciding not to be a Christian missionary in post-Soviet Czechoslovakia – also hit the travel spots for me. That old master Jan Morris also had the right ideas in Innocence Abroad when she (or he as she was back then) is seduced by Venice, right after WW II, and in turn passes that seduction along to some unlikely recipients. Or follow Alexander McCall Smith to In Swaziland where he discovers even murderers will behave themselves, when spoken to sharply by a ‘traditionally built’ lady.

I’m unsure about Stanley Stewart’s inability to find a parking spot in Rebirth in Rome, on an occasion he should have really said ‘the hell with it’ and simply abandoned his car. Despite which the concluding sentence to his tale was perfect. But my favourite was Summer at the Villa Juju, a gentle tale by Anthony Sattin, spending a week in Tunisia with a new child and discovering, once again, that people are people everywhere and they’re what make the world a better place and travel such an important experience.