With travelers anchored at home due to the quarantine caused by the Coronavirus crisis, there have been a bunch of travel-related suggestions to read and pass the time.
If, on the one hand, I passed the interviews segment that I have here on the blog — “Passport” — to a series of weekly Lives with Portuguese travelers on Instagram Stories, another of the things I have done to not forget the extraordinary world out there is to read travel books.
Apart from the ones I bought at the last Lisbon Book Fair, and which I’ll also post here, a series of Portuguese travelers shared the e-books of their books. A fantastic gesture to help in these difficult days. To all of them, my thanks!
World Travel Books
ALMA DE VIAJANTE (PT) (TRAVELER SOUL)
So let’s start with a friend and one of the greatest Portuguese travelers — Filipe Morato Gomes.
The author of the Portuguese travel blog Alma de Viajante offers the e-book of his first book, with the same name, published in 2007. This is a compendium of the chronicles about his trip around the world, published in the Portuguese newspaper Público.
“This book is a journey of emotions. Of stories. It reports unique moments lived in the discomfort of the road, the state of permanent discovery, the empathy of ephemeral friendships, the smells, the flavors, the smiles, the magic of simple things, in short, the unparalleled pleasure of freedom”, says the author in the introduction.
The trip begins and ends in Porto, Portugal. Still, along the way, it revives destinations like Moscow, Beijing, Saigon, Bangkok, Colombo, Dili, Sydney, Santiago de Chile, or Buenos Aires, just to mention a few.
But this journey wasn’t only made of happy moments and smiles. There was still space for “emotionally devastating experiences, for which I could never be prepared, like the time spent in Thailand and Sri Lanka in the days following the Indian Ocean tsunami.”
PRÓXIMO DESTINO (PT) (NEXT DESTINATION)
Other travelers who are very dear to me are Carla Mota and Rui Pinto, authors of the blog Viajar Entre Viagens.
Making a long-awaited trip around the world, they had to interrupt the journey because of the COVID-19 and return home. But Carla and Rui promise that they’ll soon be back on track with their dream.
What characterizes this duo are the travel tips they always share on the blog pages, on social media, or in the book launched in 2018 – “Próximo Destino” (“Next Destination”).
“Dream trips tailored to your pocket” is the promise launched, and, for this, they present in this book “destinations where, with some tricks, you can travel on a reduced budget.”
The book is divided into four major groups: Great Destinations, which includes places like Indochina, Iran, Japan, Jordan or Patagonia; Nature Tours, with Camiñito del Rey or Cappadocia; Cultural Getaways, including stops in Krakow, Jerusalem or Beijing and the Great Wall of China; and, finally, Beach, with the Andaman Islands, the Maldives or Zanzibar.
But this is just to mention some of the destinations portrayed in the travel book because there are many others.
Unique routes on the pages of travel books
CAMINHO DO AMOR (PT) (“PATH OF LOVE”)
Another extraordinary couple is the authors of the Portuguese travel blog VagaMundos. Alexandre and Anabela Narciso traveled the Camino of Santiago — also known as the Way of St. James — and reported the whole experience in the book “Caminho do Amor” (“Way of Love”).
This is a crossing they made in spring 2013, in which they traveled the 800 km that separate the French village of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port from Santiago de Compostela.
A journey filled with “an infinity of tiny mosaics composed of encounters and mismatches, sketched out of life stories, brushstrokes of smiles and tears, dreams and fears, shaped by conquests and defeats, adorned by signs, brightened by Love,” tell the authors.
DENTRO DO SEGREDO (PT+EN) (“INSIDE THE SECRET”)
It’s José Luís Peixoto‘s debut in travel literature. “Inside the Secret — A trip to North Korea” has been on my nightstand since I bought it. When it comes time to sleep, I almost always read a page savoring this unique trip through Peixoto’s words. Maybe with the quarantine, I’ll be able to finish it.
This is an unprecedented account of the journey he took to what is the most closed society in the world, in April 2012.
At the time, the centenary celebrations of Kim Il-sung’s birth in Pyongyang were taking place. José Luís Peixoto witnessed that moment, as well as visited the most symbolic points of the country and the regime and entered some cities and venues that hadn’t seen foreigners for more than six decades.
“To travel is to interpret. Two people go to the same country and, when they return, tell different stories, describe the natives of that country in different ways. One says they are friendly, the other says they are unsympathetic. One says they are shy, the other says they don’t shut up for a minute. This is radically true concerning North Korea”, says José Luís Peixoto in the pages of this book.
JOURNEYS OF THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD (EN)
I bought this book at the airport in Lombok, Indonesia, because I fell in love with the story of a young David Attenborough. He, who is probably the most well-known naturalist in the world, walked to Papua New Guinea in search of the birds of paradise; toured Vanuatu, visiting local tribes; attended rituals such as the jumps of Pentecost divers; was in Fiji and in Tonga, and so on.
He was also in Madagascar and Australia. People and animals portrayed in detail in a book that is accompanied by incredible images from that time.
It’s an extraordinary work, just as this author’s life has been.
NA PATAGÓNIA (PT+EN) (IN PATAGONIA)
This one is also on the shelf, but I would love to be able to start it in this quarantine.
Bruce Chatwin needs almost no introduction among travelers, as he is one of the most acclaimed travel writers of all time.
“The Guardian” even went so far as to say that with “In Patagonia,” Chatwin “gave new contours to travel literature.”
This great traveler explored “remote Patagonia, land at the end of the world,” on a six-month journey that proved to be “inhabited by wandering and exiled figures, from lonely gauchos to robbers and fugitives, from abandoned miners to the Indians of Tierra del Fuego. Fascinated by this location since childhood, the author crosses the entire region, from Buenos Aires and Rio Negro to Ushuaia, the city in the extreme south, capturing the spirit of the land, its history, and its solitude, and giving it a poetic dimension, magical and intense”, can be read on the back cover of this book.
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