I am a big fan of Lonely Planet, I love their travel guides and I have found them immensely helpful in my travels around the globe. When I spotted this on display in Waterstones I was very excited and I was thrilled to receive it for Christmas.
This book contains information on ALL of the countries in the world in alphabetical order, 230 entries in total. This list of countries comes from the United Nations list of defined countries and does not generally include the foreign dependencies of these countries, whether self-governing or Crown colony. However as they wanted to include some of the more popular and beautiful travellers destinations they have included some dependencies for example Bermuda, New Caledonia, the Cayman Islands and French Polynesia. They also include fine distinctions such as England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales as separate entries as they do with Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan for example and they include Antarctica and Greenland even though strictly speaking these are not countries per se.
Each country features a double page spread which is primarily composed of big, bold and vivid pictures providing an insight into the people and places of the country in question. The pictures will make you want to visit pretty much every country in the world, regardless of that countries woes or wars. The book truly proves that there is some good and some beauty in every corner of the globe.
A small section of written information and a map of each country is found on each page along the right hand side. Basics such as the Capital, population, religions and languages spoken are all includes as well as the best time of year to visit. These basics are followed firstly by the ‘essential experiences’. For example in the England entry the must dos are:
Climbing St Pauls Cathedral; eating fish and chips on pebbled beaches and willing the sun to shine; climbing Scarfell Pike in the Peak District and marvelling at the view, the regency town of Bath; exploring the coastline of Cornwall and Stongehenge.
Some pretty good choices there if you ask me.
Next there is a section entitled ‘getting under the skin’. This is broken down into six sections: listen to, read, watch, drink, eat and ‘in a word’, which again provides a fascinating insight into the country in question. Using England as an example again here are their suggestions:
Watch: Sense and Sensibility; Listen: The Kinks, Waterloo Sunset or anything by the Beatles; Eat: Sunday Roast with all the trimmings followed by apple crumble and custard; Drink: Real Ales; Read: The English by Jeremy Paxman; In a word: ‘Oright?
There are two final sections, firstly ‘surprises’ and secondly ‘trademarks. According to the book the ‘surprises re England are…..
“it doesn’t actually rain that much, the English drink more tea than you ever thought they did, most of the best things on offer in England are free”
……and the trademarks are……..
“The Royal Family; Lords and Ladies and big hats at Ascot; Cockney Rhyming Slang; Britpop; Jellied eels; Warm beer; Page three girls; Fry-ups; Football.”
At the end there’s also a general extract from the lonely planet guide book with some general information. In the England entry they discuss the number and variety of pubs and drinking establishments…. (says a lot I think….!!!).
12 'bonus' destinations are featured at the end, that I guess they just couldn’t bear to not include. These are much shorter versions than the other entries including just one picture each. The places featured include Montserrat, Gibralter, St Helena (an island belonging to the UK) and Niue (an island belonging to New Zealand).