‘Tokyo Style Guide’ by Jane Lawson

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Genre: Travel

This book was reviewed on the ABC radio program ‘Overnights with Rod Quinn’ as part of my Christmas special. The podcast of the review is available under the ‘Podcasts’ tab if you want to hear the full review (:

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book before my upcoming trip to Japan and I was able to use the book while I was in Tokyo. So this review is first hand experience. I also spoke to Jane Lawson, who is an expert on all things Japan!

 

A before and after review to correspond with my upcoming trip to Tokyo. I’ve also included a few snaps from my trip while I was trying out some of the walks (:

This travel book has a less formal approach compared to a Lonely Planet or a DK travel guide. It focuses on breaking Tokyo up into the famous districts, it then tells you a little bit about them and the gives a suggested walk with corresponding pictures.
Visually this is an incredibly appealing book and the personal detail provided by Lawson gives the book a special feeling of being unique and almost reads like a blog post

A small portion of the book is dedicated to the standard ‘Where to Stay’ and ‘Useful Phrases’ and other useful tips and tricks

The walking directions are very detailed and specific. Due to the constant changing of the Tokyo landscape (there’s an enormous amount of infrastructure constantly going on in the city) this book was already slightly out of date with some of the routes.

An introductory guide to Tokyo, it’s informative without being overwhelming. It allows you to capture your own impression of the city and make it your own trip
Highly recommended!

Love,
Vanessa

 

 

‘The Flaneur: A Stroll through the Paradoxes of Paris’ by Edmund White

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Genre: Memoir/Travel Writing
This is my first experience with Edmund White, who has been described as ‘an eccentric, yet brilliant poet’ and is known for his gay-love literature. Therefore, when I was given this book I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this ‘must-read’ author.
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Part autobiographical, part historical and part travel guide White delves into reasons why Paris is such an iconic city and why the only reason to experience all that it has to offer is through walking the streets.
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Each chapter of this book touches on different aspects of the city such as the politics, what makes a city and homosexuality. Therefore each chapter is written is entirely different, growing more opinated and subjective the more you read. In one chapter he gives intimate and fascinating insights into famous Parisians such Sidonie Gabrielle Colette, simply known as Collette. An intensely sensual woman who would not let trivial things like husbands, lovers or children stop her from living a life the way she wanted to. In another, he criticises France’s response to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and the effect this had on the homosexual community of Paris. In the same chapter he also gives personal accounts of the best place to meet men in Paris. This wasn’t the easiest book to read. White covers a lot of ground within a short space of time but his notes on Paris are insightful, interesting and personal. A great read for anyone who loves Paris!
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There are numerous editions to this book but I highly recommend the Bloomsbury Publishing series called The Writer and the City, it’s a stunning edition that is a perfect gift (:
Love,
Vanessa

 

 

Tips for Travelling on Your Own (Spoiler- You Get To Be Selfish!)

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In 2015 my sister and I took off to live in London…much to my mother’s horror we went with the decisive notion ‘Oh, I’m not sure when I’m coming back to Sydney’

Needless to say it only took a few months for that idea to change. However, I’d decided that my time in London could not be complete until I’d spent time exploring the continent. I decided to take one month off to travel around Europe. Though I still paid rent for my gorgeous (but tiny) flat in Central London and still needed to eat and drink (at least more than the lattes I made at work) so I couldn’t afford to go on a organized tour group or book everything through a travel agent, which meant that I needed to plan everything from flights and accommodation, to metro tickets and guide books myself. Needless to say it was a terrifying prospect for a 21 year old. It can be stressful and draining- so much so that it can make you think, “is it worth it?” However, planning my solo trip around Europe was one of the best things I ever did for myself.

 By planning your travels alone, you gain a confidence in your ability to handle yourself, it makes you smart with your money and, most importantly, it allows you to get the most out of your trip. You get to experience cities the way you’ll enjoy the most- you won’t simply be ticking off famous places you’ve seen.

 So once you’ve decided to travel, what are the next steps? No doubt you have a general idea of where you’d like to- America, Europe, Africa and, believe it or not, that’s all you need to get started! Here are some tips to help you when all you have is an idea, your laptop and your wallet.

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  1. Figure out what you want to achieve from this tripThis may seem obvious i.e. you want to see the world but actually figuring out why you’re doing this is an important aspect of your planning. For example, on my first solo trip to Amsterdam I’d never stayed in a hostel before. So I researched some of the best reviewed hostels in the center of the city. I knew that I wanted to try hostels and made that a main priority. Think about not just what you want to see, but what are you goals for the trip
  1. Do a quick googleNow a stress the word ‘quick’, not because I don’t think research is important but because it’s so easy to get bogged down with information that before you know it you have 5 windows open and about 30 tabs relating to everything and anything about the place you’re travelling to. Instead, just get an idea of what there is to do there. Are there a lot of hotels, motels, hostels, AirBnBs? Whatever your accommodation of choice is, see if there are options and do a little price comparing. How do you get there? Does it have to be by plane?
  1. Make a budgetA daunting prospect, even at the best of times, but necessary and responsible, particularly if money is tight. Think about how much you’re willing to spend on your trip, what you’d be willing to sacrifice in order to make it work. Remember, you still need to come back home, so you can’t have it crumble while you’re away!
  1. Book only the essentialsI’d recommend booking your accommodation beforehand, simply for sake of ease but also for safety. You may be so absorbed in this fascinating new city you’re exploring that it’s 7pm and you’re not sure where to hit the hay that night. If there’s a particular museum or attraction you want to see, research and see if there’s a long wait time for tickets. No one wants to wait 50 minutes for a ticket when you’re on vacation- that and you’ll have no one to bitch about it to.

 That’s it! Short and sweet tips to get you on your way for your first solo trip! It’s essential to remain safe and vigilant when you’re by yourself, make friends where you can and enjoy yourself. You’ll learn something about when it’s just you and the whole city 🙂