Sunday, August 14, 2005

An Opinionated Guide

While traveling through the Land of Croats, we packed along three guide books. Although I've been back quite a few times, I opted for some guidance as it provided reading matter for the non-Croatian speaking folks in our party. It was also interesting to read a non-native's takes and observational notes on events, places, and general behaviour in Croatia, especially for me, a guy caught between calling both the States and Croatia "home". Rough Guide to Croatia was the first of three books purchased. There are additional guidebooks available besides these, some like the Eyewitness Travel series dealing with Croatia, have considerable more pictures (gorogeous pictures, in fact). However, for our trip, we opted for written versus photo information.

Another book,
Lonely Planet Guide to Croatia, is a good filler book. I found the hotel info somewhat outdated and the descriptions of places too short. If you have some extra space, it's worth considering but if space is an issue.....

Bought almost as an afterthought, in fact just a few days before departure,
Croatia:The Bradt Travel Guide (2nd Edition) proved to be the book I read the most often. The author, Piers Letcher, has a tongue-in-cheek, but not world-weary, manner of writing. Considering that speaking to a Croatian eventually involves having your leg pulled, Mr. Letcher sets the proper tone for a visit there.

Letcher's book is physically the largest of the three and it wasn't as handy to be reading in one paw while rummaging for change or film in one's pockets with the other paw. Carrying all three at once in a backpack or messenger's bag wasn't a chore; it was always interesting handing out one book to three people and have them read out loud the entries for a specific place. Letcher's book came ouot on top for both public and private readings. Occasional stops at cafes to rest the soles and the souls were made more enjoyable having access to all three books. With the kids, having a choice proved well worth the negligible additional weight and bulk. Besdies, one book didn't cover all of the bases and being able to cross-reference sites or cities gave an air of deep thought and precise decision-making to our destination and activity choices. We impressed our relatives with our knowledge of picayune and esoteric factoids of Croatia. The price of all three books was worth leaving them thus impressed. One learns relatively early in a trip here that it's best to have opinions, loud ones, to leave memorable portraits of oneself. If those opinions are actually based on facts, published facts, all the better. You'll be way ahead of all of the other opinors.

Addendum: June 2008. My only complaint about Mr. Letcher is that, in exchange for favorable reviews on the USA and the UK sites for his 2nd edition, he e-mailed me to say he'd include me in his credits for the 3rd edition. Small thing, yes. Well, the 3rd version came out and no mention of yours truly. A minor bummer; I would still recommend his book strongly.


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