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Armchair Travel: Flipping Through Journals

by Lola (Akinmade) Åkerström Mar 13, 2009

I grabbed wildly at the gear shift in a motion that closely resembled stirring a pot of soup than attempting to drive a car on the left side of the road.

I wasn’t going to make it. I didn’t know how to drive a stick shift. That accident at the construction site just outside Auckland Airport marked my first day in New Zealand.

Memories long forgotten but instantly revived when I picked up my worn out travel journal one lazy Sunday afternoon.

This week, we put out a call for submissions to the new Notes from the Road series over at the Traveler’s Notebook, inviting you to dig up those travel journals and send us engrossing narratives.

And you did.

Eric Warren takes us on a poignant romantic journey in On the other side of the world.…..

In a prolific piece that spotlights race and class in a non condescending way, Julie Schwietert explores racial dynamics during the world renown Carnaval in On the Ropes.

With a fresh contributor’s copy of Fodor’s Patagonia in hand, David Miller is instantly transported back to that sandy coastal road en route to Bahia Bustamante, and we ride along in his Econobox Ford.

Notes from journals and travel memoirs make us voyeurs – peeking into the lives of others as they navigate and grow through life and at the end, we find ourselves enriched as well.

Recommended by Matador members, here are three travel collections and memoirs definitely worth picking up.

The World: Life and Travel 1950-2000 by Jan Morris

Jan Morris is quite possibly the greatest travel writer of our time – and certainly among the all-time greats.

The essays in here span Morris’ entire storied career, from her big break, at Everest Base Camp for the Hillary expedition, to her thoughts on Hong Kong’s return to Chinese control at the end of the last century…..Eva Holland

In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin

In Patagonia is one of the few travel books I’ve read while actually traveling through the place being described…and the descriptions were so spot on, and so poignant, that it felt like I couldn’t decide which was more real, the landscape or the book.

Chatwin manages to make his writing very real and very simple; no exaggerated descriptions or depictions of local characters. …..Sarah Menkedick

West With The Night by Beryl Markham

The tales in this book chronicle Beryl Markham’s life in Africa – from childhood encounters with tigers to buzzing trees as a bush pilot.

It’s told in a way that can make anyone envision Africa perfectly, even if that person has never seen a picture taken on the continent.

West With The Night is one of those few books that can be read at different points in your life, possibly swerving your brain in a direction that it didn’t pivot upon the last pass…..Tom Gates

Have a favorite travel book or memoir you’d like to share? Do tell us below.

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