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That’s Not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says about Us

That's not EnglishThat’s not English by Erin Moore

An expat’s witty and insightful exploration of English and American cultural differences through the lens of language that will leave readers gobsmacked

In “That’s Not English,” the seemingly superficial differences between British and American English open the door to a deeper exploration of a historic and fascinating cultural divide. In each of the thirty chapters, Erin Moore explains a different word we use that says more about us than we think. For example, “Quite” exposes the tension between English reserve and American enthusiasm; in “Moreish,” she addresses our snacking habits. In “Partner,” she examines marriage equality; in “Pull,” the theme is dating and sex; “Cheers” is about drinking; and “Knackered” covers how we raise our kids. The result is a cultural history in miniature and an expatriate’s survival guide.

American by birth, Moore is a former book editor who specialized in spotting British books–including “Eats, Shoots & Leaves”–for the US market. She’s spent the last seven years living in England with her Anglo American husband and a small daughter with an English accent. “That’s Not English” is the perfect companion for modern Anglophiles and the ten million British and American travelers who visit one another’s countries each year.

In the Footsteps of Marco Polo

In the footsteps of Marco PoloIn the Footsteps of Marco Polo by Denis Belliveau & Francis O’Donnell

Did Marco Polo reach China? This richly illustrated companion volume to the public television film chronicles the remarkable two-year expedition of explorers Denis Belliveau and Francis O’Donnell as they sought the answer to this controversial 700-year-old question. With Polo’s book, The Travels of Marco Polo, as their guide, they journeyed over 25,000 miles becoming the first to retrace his entire path by land and sea without resorting to helicopters or airplanes. Surviving deadly skirmishes and capture in Afghanistan, they were the first Westerners in a generation to cross its ancient forgotten passageway to China, the Wakhan Corridor. Their camel caravan on the southern Silk Road encountered the deadly singing sands of the Taklamakan and Gobi deserts. In Sumatra, where Polo was stranded waiting for trade winds, they lived with the Mentawai tribes, whose culture has remained unchanged since the Bronze Age. They became among the first Americans granted visas to enter Iran, where Polo fulfilled an important mission for Kublai Khan. Accompanied by 200 stunning full-color photographs, the text provides a fascinating account of the lands and peoples the two hardy adventurers encountered during their perilous journey. The authors’ experiences are remarkably similar to descriptions from Polo’s account of his own travels and life. Laden with adventure, humor, diplomacy, history, and art, this book is compelling proof that travel is the enemy of bigotry a truth that resonates from Marco Polo’s time to our own.”

The Explorers: A Story of Fearless Outcasts, Blundering Geniuses, and Impossible Success

The ExplorersThe Explorers by Martin Dugard

Unlock your inner explorer in this riveting account of one of history’s greatest adventures–and a study of the seven character traits all great explorers share.
In 1856, two intrepid adventurers, Richard Francis Burton and John Hanning Speke, set off to unravel a geographical unknown: the location of the Nile River’s source. They traveled deep into a forbidding and uncharted African wilderness together before arriving at two different solutions to the mystery and parting ways as sworn enemies. The feud became an international sensation upon their return to England, and a public debate was scheduled to decide whose theory was correct. What followed was a massive spectacle with an outcome no one could have ever foreseen.
In “The Explorers,” “New York Times” bestselling author Martin Dugard tells the rich saga of the Burton and Speke expedition. To better understand their motivations and ultimate success, Dugard guides readers through the seven vital traits that Burton and Speke, as well as history’s most legendary explorers, called upon to see their impossible journeys through to the end: curiosity, hope, passion, courage, independence, self-discipline, and perseverance. In doing so, Dugard demonstrates that we are all explorers and that these traits have a most practical application in everyday life.
Within some of us beats the heart of a mountain climber; within others, that of a budding entrepreneur. Just like the explorers, life will present us with great unknowns: the diagnosis of cancer, the call to help a troubled friend, the need to move forward after great tragedy. As professionals we will attempt to chart paths that have never been mapped. And however modest our lives may appear on the outside, there will be times requiring the same deep moral decisions and complex tactical judgments explorers faced in strange lands, thousands of miles from home.
“The Explorers” is a book about courage and survival. It is also a book about stepping into the darkness with confidence and grace, aware on some profound level–as were Burton and Speke–that the Promised Land we are searching for is not some lost corner of the world, but a place within ourselves.

Reclaiming Travel By Ilan Stavans & Joshua Ellison

Reclaiming TravelReclaiming Travel By Ilan Stavans & Joshua Ellison

Based on a controversial opinion piece originally published in the “New York Times,” “Reclaiming Travel” is a provocative meditation on the meaning of travel from ancient times to the twenty-first century. Ilan Stavans and Joshua Ellison seek to understand why we travel and what has come to be missing from our contemporary understanding of travel. Engaging with canonical and contemporary texts, they explore the differences between travel and tourism, the relationship between travel and memory, the genre of travel writing, and the power of mapmaking, Stavans and Ellison call for a rethinking of the art of travel, which they define as a transformative quest that gives us deeper access to ourselves.
Tourism, Stavans and Ellison argue, is inauthentic, choreographed, sterile, shallow, and rooted in colonialism. They critique theme parks and kitsch tourism, such as the shantytown hotels in South Africa where guests stay in shacks made of corrugated metal and cardboard yet have plenty of food, water and space. Tourists, they assert, are merely content with escapism, thrill seeking, or obsessively snapping photographs. Resisting simple moralizing, the authors also remind us that people don’t divide neatly into crude categories like travelers and tourists. They provoke us to reflect on the opportunities and perils in our own habits.
In this powerful manifesto, Stavans and Ellison argue that travel should be an art through which our restlessness finds expression–a search for meaning not only in our own lives but also in the lives of others. It is not about the destination; rather, travel is about loss, disorientation, and discovering our place in the universe.

Read the Article in the New York Times that inspired the book.

New York Times

7 books to discover Florence

Florence,  the epicenter   of the Renaissance is a small compact city. Culturally rich, with more artistic masterpieces per per square kilometer than anywhere else, it is easy to get overwhelmed.  Here  are 7 books  that will guide you to the very best of the city but also help unlock it’s mysteries and make you feel like a local.

The Cognoscenti's guide to FlorenceThe Cognoscenti’s Guide to Florence: Shop and Eat Like a Florentine by Louise Fili & Lise Apatoff

“Shop and eat like a Florentine, with this pocket-sized guide to the best of this magnificent Tuscan city known for its art, culture, and cuisine. Celebrated graphic designer Louise Fili takes you on eight walks through Florence, discussing more than seventy shops–some run by the same families for generations, others offering young entrepreneurs’ fresh interpretations of traditional techniques. Discerning travelers will discover rare books and charming hats; vintage Puccini and handcrafted toys; cioccolata da bere (drinkable chocolate), colorful buttons, and bolts of rich silk fabric, in this enchanting introduction to makers and purveyors of clothing, home decor, accessories, specialty foods, and much, much more”

Secret FlorenceSecret Florence by Niccolo Rinaldi

Visit a church in a prison, learn how Florence became the centre of hermetism during the Renaissance and where you can still find traces of it today, escape from the crowds of tourists to visit little-known artistic masterpieces, head off to hunt for the 34 plaques displaying quotes from the “Divine Comedy”, fill up your tank at a vintage service station, have your children count the number of bees sculpted on the monument to the glory of Ferdinand I, look for the last wine distributors of the Renaissance, notice the minuscule windows designed to let children look out quietly onto the street, visit superb private gardens that even the Florentines don’t know about, learn how the purple colour of the Fiorentina football team is connected to the pee of a Florentine crusader in Palestine . . .
Far from the crowds and usual clichés, Florence holds many well-hidden treasures that are revealed only to the city’s inhabitants or travellers who know how to step off the beaten track. An essential guide for those who think they know Florence well or for those looking to discover the hidden side of the city.

An Art Lover's Guide to FlorenceAn Art Lover’s Guide to Florence by Judith Testa

No city but Florence contains such an intense concentration of art produced in such a short span of time. The sheer number and proximity of works of painting, sculpture, and architecture in Florence can be so overwhelming that Florentine hospitals treat hundreds of visitors each year for symptoms brought on by trying to see them all, an illness famously identified with the French author Stendhal.While most guidebooks offer only brief descriptions of a large number of works, with little discussion of the historical background, Judith Testa gives a fresh perspective on the rich and brilliant art of the Florentine Renaissance in “An Art Lover’s Guide to Florence. “Concentrating on a number of the greatest works, by such masters as Botticelli and Michelangelo, Testa explains each piece in terms of what it meant to the people who produced it and for whom they made it, deftly treating the complex interplay of politics, sex, and religion that were involved in the creation of those works. With Testa as a guide, armchair travelers and tourists alike will delight in the fascinating world of Florentine art and history.

Blue Guide FlorenceBlue Guide Florence by Alta MacAdam

The tenth edition of this accessible, scholarly guide to the city of the Renaissance. An essential handbook for any traveller who wants to fully understand the development of Italian art history.

Completely updated, this edition contains superb plans and illustrations of painting, architecture and sculpture, and includes full coverage of several newly opened museums and palaces. Detailed coverage of where to stay and eat.

The depth of information and quality of research make this book the best guide for the independent cultural traveler as well as for all students of art history, architecture and Italian culture. Ideal as an on-site guide as well as a desk resource.

City Secrets FlorenceCity Secrets: Florence, Venice: The Essential Insider’s Guide by Robert Kahn

“City Secrets Florence and Venice” brings together the recommendations of artists, writers, historians, architects, chefs, and other experts whose passionate opinions and highly informed perspectives illuminate well-known sites as well as overlooked treasures. These expert travel companions share with you their favorite little-known places including restaurants, cafes, art, architecture, shops, outdoor markets, strolls, day-trips, as well all manner of cultural and historic landmarks. Clothbound, elegant, and pocket-sized, the guide features a subtle non-guidebook design and detailed maps. With over 50 contributors and 100 venues, “City Secrets Florence and Venice” is a valuable supplement to any guide more devoted to travel basics.
A percentage of the proceeds will be donated to Save Venice and the American Academy in Rome.

Florence a map of PerceptionsFlorence: A Map of Perceptions by Andrea Ponsi

Many years have passed since architect Andrea Ponsi settled in Florence, and still he feels he does not fully comprehend this mysterious city. The way Florence eludes understanding, however, can be an opportunity–to keep seeking, to keep exploring. Ponsi’s Florence is endlessly suggestive. His tour of the city is one of continually shifting light and perspective, of stunning symmetry and an even more compelling asymmetry, of sudden transitions from bustling streets to the most perfect silence.

While Ponsi does consider such celebrated sites as the Piazza Santa Croce, the Ponte Vecchio, and the Duomo, the book is a decidedly personal view of Florence. The author notes the city’s recurring geometry–the square courtyards, triangular spires, octagonal plaques and pillars–and marvels at a room almost too big to be called a room. He views the city from various terraces and likens the expanse of rising and falling rooftops to ocean waves.Here is Florence as labyrinth, possessing a medieval density that is relieved only by the sudden views of sky framed by its piazzas. Ponsi shows us a six-street intersection and ponders the abundance of acute angles, both indoors and out, in this city of infinite corners.

In Florence, humans and buildings commingle. The author equates haircuts and changes of clothes with fresh coats of paint and re-shingling jobs, and contemplates the way a human hand, feeling its way down a city block, adds to the patina of a stucco wall. Ponsi sees the city itself as a living body, through whose veins its inhabitants course.

This is the way we dream an architect could speak to us, fully communicating his passion. The book’s elegant, concise prose–as well as its balance of the civic with the intensely personal–recalls the Calvino of “Marcovaldo” and “Invisible Cities.” The text is accompanied by Ponsi’s own spare but evocative watercolors and sketches, which, like his words, seek to behold rather than pin down. This lyrical tribute is as much an ode to the lost art of contemplation as it is to Florence–a city where every moment is different from every other moment.

The House of Medici

The House of Medici by Christopher Hibbert

It was a dynasty with more wealth, passion, and power than the houses of Windsor, Kennedy, and Rockefeller combined. It shaped all of Europe and controlled politics, scientists, artists, and even popes, for three hundred years. It was the house of Medici, patrons of Botticelli, Michelangelo and Galileo, benefactors who turned Florence into a global power center, and then lost it all.

The House of Medici picks up where Barbara Tuchman’s Hibbert delves into the lives of the Medici family, whose legacy of increasing self-indulgence and sexual dalliance eventually led to its self-destruction. With twenty-four pages of black-and-white illustrations, this timeless saga is one of Quill’s strongest-selling paperbacks.

 

 

Not My Job: Travel Guru Rick Steves Gets Quizzed

Rick Steves PhotoIn 1976, he started his business, Rick Steves’ Europe, which has grown from a one-man operation to a company with a staff of 80 full-time, well-travelled employees at his headquarters in Washington state. There he produces more than 50 guidebooks on European travel, America’s most popular travel series on public television, a weekly hour-long national public radio show, a weekly syndicated column, and free travel information available through his travel center and website. Rick Steves’ Europe also runs a successful European tour program. Rick Steves lives and works in his hometown of Edmonds, Washington.

NPR LogoListen to NPR’s Peter Segal of, ” wait, wait …don’t tell me!”,  as he host Rick Steves

 

NPR Rick Steves Interview

Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America

CarsickCarsick by John Waters

A cross-country hitchhiking journey with America’s most beloved weirdo

John Waters is putting his life on the line. Armed with wit, a pencil-thin mustache, and a cardboard sign that reads “I’m Not Psycho,” he hitchhikes across America from Baltimore to San Francisco, braving lonely roads and treacherous drivers. But who should we be more worried about, the delicate film director with genteel manners or the unsuspecting travelers transporting the Pope of Trash?
Before he leaves for this bizarre adventure, Waters fantasizes about the best and worst possible scenarios: a friendly drug dealer hands over piles of cash to finance films with no questions asked, a demolition-derby driver makes a filthy sexual request in the middle of a race, a gun-toting drunk terrorizes and holds him hostage, and a Kansas vice squad entraps and throws him in jail. So what really happens when this cult legend sticks out his thumb and faces the open road? His real-life rides include a gentle eighty-one-year-old farmer who is convinced Waters is a hobo, an indie band on tour, and the perverse filmmaker’s unexpected hero: a young, sandy-haired Republican in a Corvette.
Laced with subversive humor and warm intelligence, “Carsick” is an unforgettable vacation with a wickedly funny companion–and a celebration of America’s weird, astonishing, and generous citizenry.

Getting Around Kyoto and Nara: Pocket Atlas and Transportation Guide; Includes Nara, Fushimi, Uji, MT Hiei, Lake Biwa, Ohara and Kurama

 

Kyoto 1Getting Around Kyoto and Nara by Colin Smith

This Kyoto and Nara travel guide contains everything you need for getting around the region including a pull-out atlas!
Kyoto is the number one travel destination for foreigners in Japan, but it can be a difficult place to navigate if you don’t know Japanese. This handy new pocket atlas and transportation guide is an indispensable tool to help non-Japanese visitors find their way around the city.
Dedicated journalist and urban explorer Colin Smith has devoted many years to exploring Japan on foot and by various forms of public transportation. “Getting Around Kyoto and Nara” is conveniently divided into chapters showing the user how to get to Kyoto by air or train, how to get into the city, and how to get around Kyoto and into the surrounding countryside using public transport. It includes chapters for Nara, Uji, Fushimi, Otsu, Ohara, Mt. Hiei, Kurama and other popular tourist areas around Kyoto.
Kyoto 2Detailed maps are given for each district of Kyoto showing the precise locations of temples, shrines, gardens, museums, hotels, shopping districts, restaurants, parks and other landmarks. Smith gives the reader detailed information on how to take a subway, a train or a bus around the city, how to read the signs, and how to operate the Japanese ticket machines to buy a ticket. He provides route diagrams showing all the stops along each route so users know where to get on and off.
“Getting Around Kyoto and Nara” includes: A large fold-out map of Kyoto Detailed area inset maps Train and subway routes Bus routes and bus stops near all the sights Other means of transport, like renting a bicycle and taking a taxi
This guide is packed with practical and useful information on the Kyoto region’s lodgings, restaurants, and the best places to visit–including all of the region’s famous temples, shrines, parks and historical monuments.