Knopf Guide: Egypt
to the other quite utilitarian travel guides that
arrived in the mail last week, the tall and narrow
Knopf Guide was a pleasant surprise.
This is a beautiful travel guide, but I have the general
sensation that I should be reading it whilst sitting
in the back of a chauffer-driven limousine. It's elegantly
written, beautifully illustrated, but it is a museum guide book: pretty, but not terrifically
substantial when it comes to actual trip planning.
There's been a huge upsurge in "pictorial guides"
(with the Eyewitness books by D&K seeming to reign
supreme) for travel -- lovely pictures interspersed
with quick notations on things and a narrative style
that is more geared towards the casual reader than
a traveler. Knopf is more in depth than most -- their
cultural and historical notes are excellent, if limited
to general country information -- but there is little
logistical information included. It's rather like
a tiny coffee-table book with just enough travel information
to instruct you to call a good travel agent to arrange
The books is arranged in "tours" with a
colored map starting each chapter containing numbered sites
or excursions that are covered in the text. More
space is devoted to relevant historic or cultural
notes than concrete travel information, but I viewed
this guide as more inspiration than reference. Excellent
itinerary ideas and suggested time frames were included.
The sights covered are mostly the standard tourist
destinations, and even then, some of the lesser known
sites are entirely missing. A few pages of travel
information at the end cover the basics: currency,
hotels, health, and other services.
The illustrations are stunning, and include many examples
of watercolors and historic prints. It made me wish
the book was quite a bit larger, just for more details.
This guide is fairly hard to read, however -- the
font seems cramped and the different styles used make
it hard to sit and read through. I can't quite figure
out what the layout editor was trying to accomplish,
except perhaps to keep the page count down.
Definitely not a planning type of guidebook, but interesting
nonetheless for background reading, and quite lovely.