December 15, 2008

Some Travel Guidebooks Lie

Can I trust a guidebook again?

Most likely I will still use one, but not by the Lonely Planet.

Lonely Planet lies and that almost blew my trip to Italy in 2005. And I still don't trust it. I was very close to getting the Lonely Planet guide, but learned from news, just in time for not making a mistake for buying it, that it was discovered that the reporters who wrote some of the guidebooks and reviewed places have never actually been to those countries.

I wondered then if those reporters actually did go to Italy and did actually eat at those restaurants they rated and described. According to the reporter who worked on the San Francisco guide, his writings were based on his girlfriend’s friend who spent a few days in San Francisco. Should I trust her “ratings” if all she did was partying? And while those bars and lounges in North Beach do rock, not all of them have clean bathrooms and now we need to second-guess, which ones serve warm beer and which ones import authentic beer. I’m sure the publisher still battles insomnia over loosing his reputation to Michelin and other competitive guide books and wonders if he now needs to re-visit all those little countries that are hardly mentioned on the map!

I, personally, prefer Fodor's "See It" guidebooks and they never let me down: I got the one for Germany, Italy, France, Greece and just recently for Spain - not only they have easy to interpret and locate information on attractions, but they also provide very vivid visuals and maps and background information on culture, food, fashion, language and shopping.

Not long ago, when I move to Paris, I discovered "The Little Black Book of Paris", which they also have for other cities and countries. I became a huge fan of these little books, which are pocket-size and provide the most useable information you might need when traveling alone, with a friend and/or with a significant other.

For The Little Black Books on other places, visit Amazon for full listings.

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