Two new books in the Travel Neighborhood offer looks into very different routes of travel. For the more conventional traveler we have travel by train and for the more adventurous traveler, the Silk Road.
Europe By Eurail 2016 is a comprehensive look at everything you need to know about touring Europe by train. This 40th edition is touted as “the best-selling and most reliable guide to European Train Travel.” It’s written by LaVerne Ferguson-Kosinski who, with her late husband Lt. Col. George Ferguson, first complied this guide in 1980. After his death in 1997, she wanted to continue to provide “accurate British and European rail travel information…for the independent rail traveler or armchair dreamer.”
The opening section contains basic information to know about Eurail and includes things like planning, an overview of the trains, including overnight trains, the different types of passes and travel tips such as what to take, currency, cameras, tax-free purchases, and safety. Then the book is broken into sections on each country from Austria to Turkey. These have invaluable information on the intricacies of maneuvering in each country and large city.
It seems the big debate is over whether or not Eurail passes are actually a good deal and apparently the answer is: in certain situations. Some considerations might be where you plan to travel, how many times you use it, your age and your flexibility. This book would be a great place to start learning your way around the system.
The Silk Road: Taking the Bus to Pakistan is a travel memoir by Bill Porter, an acclaimed translator of Taoist and Buddhist texts. Also known as Red Pine, Porter spent 22 years living in Asia, including time in a Buddhist monastery. In this book, he’s writing about a journey he took in 1992 “equipped with a plastic bottle of whisky, needle-nose pliers and an old friend.”
The Silk Road is one of the world’s oldest trade routes and actually consists of many different roads connecting China with the Mediterranean Sea area. It takes its name from the China silk trade and has a long and rich history, a lot of which is included in this book. Porter’s journey starts at Sian, China and ends in Islamabad.
While the journey described in the book is below even economy class, there are packaged trips you can book to travel in the footsteps of Marco Polo. You can take a comfortable train trip, stay in historic forts turned into charming hotels and visit sites such as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas and the Singing Sands. But take along the book, for comparison!