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501 Must Visit Cities - ISBN - 978-0-753716-03-8 This is yet another of my many travel inspiration books that grace our shelves and get thumbed through regularly. We use ours as more that just coffee table books as we read them thoroughly prior to visiting any destination and when we come back we put stickers on the pages of places we have been. But as the publishers of the book say; "501 Must Visit Cities is an invaluable source of inspiration for those seeking to explore the great cities of the world, either in reality or from the comfort of an armchair!" ONE OF MANY " 501 Destinations Your must visit" 501 Must Visit Cities is part of a series of books that list the best of the best of and Must see places, movies or events or natural wonders and so on. These kind of books we love as we get quite inspired by lists and are both counting our countries visited as we travel and it is getting quite competitive! This specific book has a one or sometimes a double page spread on each of the chosen cities. These cities are chosen by the authors and as such it is not necessarily going to be the cities you personally might choose but then you also might read about a city that you had not previously had on your list to visit but then you find out some little feature that grabs your attention and then you have another one to add to your personal list of cities to visit. The book features a range of cities from famous capitals through to some quite small cities that have something of special interest. So you find London, Edinburgh and St Davids from the UK as well as ones that may well not be on your list these days as they are in war torn areas like Kabul for example. THE BOOK The book is arranged in five sections, each covering a major continent or part of the world. These sections are: *Europe and The Middle East *Asia *Africa *Australia and New Zealand *Americas and Caribbean After this the sections are broken down yet again into sub sections and then again into countries. I have to say I didn't find the layout that obvious and I would have preferred continents then countries. As it is I rarely look for a city but use it rather as an inspiration and look through section by section just reading each as I come to them so it doesn't really matter to me. So if you are looking for Glasgow, which is the last city we actually looked for then you first head for - Europe and the Middle East, then Western Europe then Scotland. What I find rather annoying is that although there are blocks of countries according to region once you get to that section there appears to be no logic to the order of either the countries of the cities so that can be a bit irritating. I found the easiest way to find a specific city was to head straight to the index and look it up there as that is at least in alphabetical order. USING THE CITY GUIDE Once we'd found Glasgow which was the city we planned to visit last November we saw a double page with a colour photo of an aerial view of the city, a few paragraphs about the history and sights to see. There is an information sub section giving population and other facts and also 'Don't Miss' which lists the most special parts of the city you should visit. In Glasgow they suggest visiting the Kelvin Art gallery and Museum, the Necropolis, The Provand's Lordship in Castle Street. I have to say we ignored these suggestions as we headed for the Charles Rennie Mackintosh sights but we did also visit the Cathedral and necropolis, however it did give us the idea of visiting the necropolis which we hadn't thought of before. Also on the page we are told that "Daniel Defoe of 'Robinson Crusoe' fame called Glasgow 'the cleanest and beautifullest and best built city in Britain, London excepted.' " Made me smile! HOW MUCH? According to the cover price it should be £25 but I got mine from TK Maxx for about £5 and I believe it is probably on sale in reduced price book shops like 'The Works' by now so have a look around before buying if you are interested. I don't think i would pay £25 but for £5 it is good value. WHAT OTHER CITIES MIGHT SURPRISE YOU IN THERE? I Was surprised to find Rio de Janeiro only got a single page spread as did Buenos Aires as both these cities have some much to see and do there. Cities I have never heard of are in the book such as Tarija in Bolivia and Bagerhat in Bangladesh , Yaroslavl in Russia and Gostivar in Macedonia but that might say more about my ignorance than the choice of the cities in the book. I do find I learn a lot from books like this. I love looking through them and reading about different places as I find it both educational and inspirational. I like the fact that it is not overly informative. It gives just enough information to be interesting and should I want to learn more I can then look the place up to find out more. I have found cities that I have never heard of before and also found out things about cities I thought I knew quite well. I find the lack of obvious organisation annoying but if using the book just to look through this is less of a problem that if you are after one in particular. The index is actually handy as both the countries and the cities are listed alphabetically. Why the cities cannot be listed alphabetically within each country beats me but that would seem the obvious way to me. OTHER FACTS This is available in hardback and has to be read at a table or sitting up. You would struggle to hold this and read it in bed as it is pretty heavy. Other books in this series are: 501: Days Out in the UK; Must-take Journeys; Must Visit Islands; Must Visit Natural Wonders; Must-drink Cocktails; Destinations; Must Read Books, Must See Movies. -RECOMMENDED? Yes i like it but it is a book that you can easily live without. It is not a travel guide so would not be one yiu would buy to organise a trip somewhere as it tries to cobver too much ground and as such the information is limited. It has lovely photos, what a great job that must be to travel and take photos of all those places! It is inspirational and educational but not a book I would give someone who was not interested in travel though. This is not the sort of book that you would sit and read the book from cover to cover. We often have books like this on our kitchen table and we read them at breakfast so you can flick through and read a couple of pages while enjoying you tea and toast. It doesn't matter that you are only there for five minutes or so as each entry is very brief and it makes far more interesting reading than the cereal packet. Our book has stickers on the cities we have visited and if only one of us has been there it has our initial. We are like big kids really as all our travel books have stickers on the pages. We also have a jigsaw puzzle map of the world stuck on a cork board with pins in it for the countries we have visited. We also have a second one of the British Isles with pins for the cities we have been to. My husband also has a spread sheet of all the countries in the world with columns for those countries we have visited, planning to visit, and finally a third column for those we have no interest in visiting because of wars or the like. I haven't actually counted all the cities I have visited but so far I have been to sixty four countries (and another two planned for 2013) according to my husband's spread sheet! If you like books about different places in the world and enjoy browsing travel books then this is a good buy especially if, like me you can find it for a fiver. Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name. ©Catsholiday
Quoted from the cover of the book - '501 Must Visit Cities is an invaluable source of inspiration for those seeking to explore the great cities of the world, either in reality or from the comfort of an armchair!' -Introduction- 501 Must Visit Cities is part of a series of reference books that list the best of the best in a certain subject. It has a one or two page spread on each of the featured cities which include everything from the world's largest cities (Mumbai, India; New York, USA; Tokyo, Japan) to the lesser known and smaller ones (St David's, Wales; Nessebar, Bulgaria; Colonia del Sacremento, Uruguay). No stone is left unturned with regards to the countries covered and it includes all kinds of cities, including those that are probably not safe to visit at present, such as Kabul, Afghanistan. -Layout- The book is split into five sections, each covering a different part of the world. These sections are: *Europe and The Middle East *Asia *Africa *Australia and New Zealand *Americas and The Caribbean These seem like quite broad sections, but the areas within each part of the world are broken down again into sub-sections, and then again into countries. So for example, London would be found in England (obviously!) which is in the Western Europe section of Europe and The Middle East. Aside from the main five sections, the cities and countries seem to be in no praticular order, which makes it difficult to find a specific section, although the cities are all listed in alpabetical order in the index. Once you've found the city you want, you'll find a colour picture of that city, a small information 'box' and a few paragraphs telling you about the city, it's history, it's culture and things to do whilst you're there. The information 'box' tells you the population of the city, when to go, what you shouldn't miss and an interesting fact about it (such as Varna, Bulgaria was the point of origin for the ship Dementer in Bram Stoker's Dracula). -Where to Get It and For How Much- It has a price of £25 inside the cover although it's available on Amazon for £5.43 at the moment, although I have seen it in Asda and Tesco in the past for £5. I have also bought a copy in The Works for £5. -What's Good About It?- *It's cheap! To be able to get a reference book for under £10 is a bargain. *It has some beautiful pictures of the cities it talks about, many of the architecture of the city, which gives you a great feel for the place - particularly good for daydreaming! *It covers every city you could imagine - and some you can't! This is particularly good if you're looking for inspiration. It gives you a brief outline of the place, which I found to be enough to either rule it out as a potential trip or whet your appetite enough to do further research. -What's Not So Good About It?- *Within the five main sections, nothing seems to be listed in any particular order, which makes it difficult if you're looking for a particular country as opposed to a city. *My copy is hard back, and at 500+ pages it's very heavy to hold! I haven't seen it anywhere in paper back, but then it is a reference book, so it probably isn't available in paper back. -The Details- *Published in 2008 by Bounty Books. *ISBN - 978-0-753716-03-8 *Price - £25 according to the book, but available from £5 *Pages - 544 *Also in the series - 501: Days Out in the UK; Must-take Journeys; Must Visit Islands; Must Visit Natural Wonders; Must-drink Cocktails; Destinations; Must Read Books, Must See Movies. -My Opinion- I got 501 Must Visit Cities for Christmas this year and, as an avid reader and traveller, thought it was a fantastic present idea. Infact I've borrowed the idea, so my dad a brother-in-law can expect to receive a copy for their birthday this year! You are never going to sit and read the book from cover to cover, but as a reference book, it's fantastic. I often have a browse through for inspriation and have booked two holidays already on the back of what it says! I love the pictures in the book, they really do give you a feel for what the place is like and the information provided to rule a city in or out of your travel plans straight away. I'm using it as life goal - to visit 501 cities before I die. So far I've reached 64, which I'm quite pleased with! I would definitely recommend this book, especially for those who love travelling - it's cheap, informative and looks great on the bookshelf!
I have a weakness for coffee table type travel books, I forever pick them up and browse through then and lose all track of time deciding how I would spend my lottery winnings and where I'd go next. One of my favourites in the Lonely Planet Travel Book and I was considering getting their Cities book, when I came across this book in WH Smith. It is a brand new book, published by Octopus this year (quite impressive when you consider I purchased it on 5th January!), the RRP is £25 but WH Smith had an offer for £10 so decided I couldn't miss adding another book to my long suffering coffee table. The content of this hefty book is easily gauged from the title. The book starts with a two page introduction which reveals some little known and rather interesting facts about cities in general. The must visit cities, chosen by a panel of travel writers, are broken down into five unequal regions. Europe and The Middle East is by far the largest section and seems to account for about half of the cities. Australia & New Zealand offer up the smallest section. Other sections being Asia, Africa, Americas & The Caribbean (which is actually spelt incorrectly on the Contents page). Each page of the book features a different city, although some, like Paris, have two pages. They appear in order of country rather than alphabetically - for example Copenhagen is the first city followed by other Danish cities, then other Scandinavian cities followed by The Baltic States, then Western Europe by country and so on. On most single page entries there will be a colour photograph and some text as well as facts like population, time to go (where seasons such as 'spring' are mentioned they take into account the hemisphere the city is in rather than the UK spring) 'Don't Miss' places to visit and 'You Should Know' trivia. For example if you were to go to Ohrid in Macedonia (no, I had never heard of it either) you should not miss the Church of St Sophia or the Roman Theatre. It also tells you why these particular attractions are worth visiting too. The You Should Know fact is sometimes tenuous, and ranges from something fairly obvious to something a bit different e.g. Essaouira in Morocco was chosen as the backdrop to Orson Welles' film version of Othello. The main body of the text varies in size depending on the photo, so you won't read so much on Kaohsiung in Taiwan, but you will have a lovely photo of Wuli Pagoda on Lotus Lake to admire. Alternatively Djenne in Mali shows only a small market scene photo with more text. Generally the text focuses on the history of the city, its culture and gives more details on places of note to visit. The format does vary to keep the book interesting - poor Bourgas in Bulgaria does not have a photo, and shares part of its page with Sofia. The choice of which cities to include are, of course, subjective and the authors do not claim one city to be greater then any others. The cities that get two pages are for the most part (but not exclusively) what I would call major world cities - ones that everyone knows - such as Moscow, Sydney etc. Often this is down to larger photos than increased text. The size if a city is not a factor in its inclusion - Britain's' smallest city (St David's in Wales) is featured. Having visited Central America last year I was disappointed to note that some lovely cities were not included - the emphasis is on Europe and the US. This is a lovely book to dip in and out of even though I would change some of the choices if I had written it, overall I enjoy flicking through it. My copy is a hardcover and is very heavy. Already some pages have become loose, and I wonder if that is why the book had such a good offer. The book, of course, is no substitute for a proper guide book should you be visiting any of these cities, and you are reminded that political situations can change rapidly. For those interested there are also two sister books: 501 Must Visit Destinations and 501 Must Visit Natural Wonders. I did try and count how many of the selected cities I have visited myself but lost count, - I think it was about 65 so only 436 cities to go. Now, where did I put that lottery ticket...?