Where Is My Guidebook?

“Where is my guidebook?”

I don’t treat my travel guidebooks with respect.  I rip out pages and stow them in my purse.


Yes, these two pages were all I could find of the guidebook one day in the hotel.   On the flip side of these glossy pages, there are directions for a 90-minute walk.

One wonders if the travel writers actually take these 90-minute walks, or if they’re phoning it in.  I need the recommendations, and I DO take the walks.  Still, I never find that terminally hip out-of-the-way art gallery where I intended to kill some time.  And just as well.  I get positively  SICK of art, even with the help of Julian Barnes’ book.

Fortunately, you glimpse unmistakable historic landmarks on your uninspiring walk, usually across a bridge, and you make your way there.

I love landmarks.  I’m happy with the restored opera house in Willa Cather’s hometown, Red Cloud, Nebraska.  I’m  happy with the Mason-Dixon line.  (There’s nothing to see THERE.)  And I am certainly going to pretend I saw the undiscovered (by me) art gallery.

The guidebook was

  1. Not in my laptop case, in which I  found a crumpled boarding pass, an Angela Thirkell book, and part of a to-do list (the part I didn’t do).
  2. Not in my suitcase, in which there are stray barrettes, a bag of unopenable Gorp from the airplane, and an “I heart the Badlands” nightgown (a souvenir gift from a friend).

Although I rather like holidays, I chortled at this quote from Stevie Smith’s Novel on Yellow Paper.  The heroine, Pompey, is discouraged on her trip to Germany.  She didn’t really want to go.

Why the hell does one come abroad after you don’t get school holidays any longer?  The awful cramping weariness of long journeys, and no sooner there than back you have to come again.

Pompey cuts her holiday short, and indeed the ’30s, with the rise of Hitler, made Germany grim.

One doesn’t have to go abroad.  I’ve enjoyed vacations in tiny towns in Illinois and Ontario.  Abroad is more adventurous and at the same time educational.  It’s like being inside a favorite book by a regional writer.  Oh, NOW I see what she means.

I’ve never been to the Badlands.

On my next vacation, I’m going to Emily Dickenson’s hometown, Amherst.  Get ready for lots of reciting from Emily.

P. S.  I did find my guidebook, in bed under the quilt, before I went home.  It had been my bedtime reading.

What are your favorite guidebooks?  Are any publishers better than the others?  I wish I had something light!

6 thoughts on “Where Is My Guidebook?

  1. I used to live in Boston, so Amherst was nearby. It’s a lovely place and I love Emily. The area is riddled with famous dead authors. I’ve decided I don’t like vacations at all. I don’t like the journey, I never sleep and that makes for a cranky, groggy me, not a fun traveling companion. Although, at the moment, I’m watching the sun come up over a beautiful little cove in Maine and I can hear the waves. I do like that.


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