Most helpful critical review
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 10 January 2014
There is no doubt the photographs in this book are stunning but I am slightly underwhelmed. I'm a keen traveller and have notched up around 50 countries with three more planned for this year. I regularly buy travel magazines and follow a number of travel blogs/sites. I say this because it may affect my take on this book. I got this free from Amazon under the Vine programme - the question is whether I would have shelled out the £20 or so to buy it: in my case the answer would be no even allowing for the photography. I have the 'Great Journeys' book from the same series and that, for me, is a much better book although not without its deficiencies. I found it to be inspirational but I just can't say this about 'Great Escapes'.
In the introduction the author states that "... you will find ideas to inspire your next short break, or an interlude during a longer trip. These exciting experiences share the common thread of enjoyment and difference, a way to break up life's routine with something special, something out of the ordinary." Unfortunately for me the book didn't live up to this statement. Far too many of the suggestions seemed pretty mainstream to me, and overall there was not a lot which would have inspired me to visit a place that I didn't already know from other sources.
Take the first suggestion, Chicago, in the section entitled Culture where the suggested essential experiences are listed as the Art Institute, touring Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio, watching a game at Wrigley Field and taking in a blues club. Nothing wrong with any of that but it is the sort of thing that you would find suggested on any number of free websites or travel brochures. The Culture carries on through tapas & flamenco in Andalucia, Berlin, Vienna, literary Dublin, salsa in Cuba, cenotes in Mexico. Again there was little or nothing that would be truly surprising. In the Luxe category there were again mainly suggestions for the sort of thing that you would find in a travel brochure/travel agent's website e.g. adding a tiger safari to a trip to India. I didn't see anything that would be more likely to make me want to visit a particular place, and if I were already planning a trip there I think I would have been able to identify the same suggested activities without buying the book.
One thing I do like is the section in each journey that suggests related books and films. There is also a small box at the bottom of each page with a brief summary of essential information. This again is a bit hit & miss. The essential tips often merely stated the obvious - like bring a telephoto lens on safari. Occasionally there are comments like 'avoid Christmas & New Year - the only possible explanation being that the location will be busy at that time of year (climate would not have been an issue), something which would apply to a lot of the suggested places for exactly the same reason and which is entirely pointless if you have no choice but to travel then!
As I say, my view is probably affected by having travelled a fair bit and I am an enthusiast, having researched plans for holidays for several years into the future. Someone less keen might well have a completely different view. The photography is stunning but for me there wasn't sufficient to be "something special, something out of the ordinary".