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Lonely Planet Discover Europe (Travel Guide) Paperback – December 15, 2015
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Great security tips and places to visit!!
The contents are color-coded and easy to find, with the following countries in separate sections: Britain and Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands and Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic, and Greece. The maps are quite detailed and informational—I’d give those 5 stars. There’s a lot of different scaled scaled maps, e.g., close-ups of a section of town, such as Greater London, Central Rome, Berlin, etc., or a city, or a globe look of a country. The maps make this a worthy book.
Some of the maps, like the Tower of London, are unnecessary, as you’ll get an even better map at the actual site. But I did like the river map of the Thames, with Tube stops clearly marked. The Greater Vienna street map was my least favorite. We must have walked around the Ringstrasse 30 times, and I am familiar with the area, but the map here, although busy with text, isn’t user-friendly or clearly delineated, as far as the Ring.
Some of the thumbnail sketches are better than others. The Reichstag in Berlin tells you all you need to know to visit. It lists the contact website to request mandatory (free, but advanced rez required) reservations. And the thumbnails also give you the address, days and hours that it is opened, and public transport stops. But the “Checkpoint Charlie” site, although listed as a tacky tourist trap, fails to mention that it isn’t even the REAL Checkpoint Charlie! It was informative, though, about Hitler’s Bunker now being a paved over parking area (to some apts).
The Venice section impressed me with gorgeous pictures. But, what happened to Burano, the city of lace and pastel houses? It was easily my favorite stop in the Venice area, a long two-hour or more water taxi ride, but I enjoyed it more than Murano (which is highlighted), the city of the famous blown glass. I definitely take points off for no Burano mention.
There is a lot of helpful info, sometimes in sidebars on the pages, or colored in, or given a feature on a page. For example, “If you like German castles;” museums; a piece on Dachau Concentration camp and the times open for tours; my favorite areas in the Rhine area and Bavarian region; and even the thermal baths in Baden-Baden, where we are going this Xmas. There’s transportation info; an A-Z thumbnail directory on everything from Internet access, Gay and Lesbian Travellers, Money (and ATMs), Safe Travel, Traveling with Disabilities, and even some basic phrases (and pronunciation) in various languages.
I don’t use any guide book, really, for dining (we like to be spontaneous about that), so I can’t comment on its usefulness or accuracy. Food quality is so subjective, anyway. I may use a book just to find unusual settings for dining. As far as sleeping accommodations, I didn’t find this too useful, either. Very few are listed, and most are the more pricey ones.
There’s a lengthy section on Paris, as to be expected, but nothing pops that I haven’t already seen or read elsewhere. We will be going to Amsterdam, Bruges, and Ghent in December, and I plan to tear out the map pages, and use them as an adjunct to the more detailed info on the cities in my Rick Steves book.
In conclusion, I would advise this book as a more superficial guide, or an adjunct to a more detailed guide like RS. The info here is more like quickie Internet guidance, but, as I mentioned, I really like a lot of the maps. The RS guides are much lighter weight due to thinner pages, but this could make a decent coffee table book. It isn’t practical to bring it whole, but parceling out pages would be useful. As an adjunct, I’d give it a 4. If you depend on this solely, it is more a 3.25-3.5, in my opinion. Overall, a low 4; the maps are what shines!
The guide is divided into four main parts - Plan your Trip, Discover Europe, In Focus and Survival Guide. Plan your Trip contains planning features, itinerary suggestions and what may need to know in order to create your own itinerary. This includes top 25 highlights, month-by-month events, top itineraries and other information that you may need to know prior to your trip.
Discover Europe is the bulk of the book. It divides Europe into 8 distinct countries/sections. Each section is color coded on the edge of the book for indexing. Each one has its own top highlights of the country/countries. Local sights and attractions in the respective major cities and regions are also covered. Major sights and attractions are covered in great details. For instances, the Tower of London, the Louvre, Mezquita, Roman Forum, Acropolis, just to name a few, receive their own 3-D illustrations that can be insightful and useful during the visit. Minor ones are also briefly touched on in a listing format with a short introduction, which should get your started to research on your own. There are tons of maps and photographs scattered across the pages so that you don't feel like you're drowned in the texts and listings of places to sleep and eat, entertainment, shopping, activities, etc.
In Focus is an interesting part of the book. It is written to help you get more out of the trip by putting the history and culture into context. It covers the background of the present day Europe, the European history, art & architecture, family travel and food & drink. It helps give you a deeper appreciation of the places you are about to visit.
The last part of the guide is Survival Guide - a small, obligatory section that covers the usual tourist information such as transport, language, and directory A-Z. Pretty standard feature.
Overall, this is a great, introductory travel guide to Europe. It is informative and does a good job of covering the local sights and attractions. This is a fairly massive book (799 pages). It is an great introduction to Europe that would give you a starting point to sample what Europe has to offer and to plan your trip accordingly. You probably need other travel guides to the select European countries and cities, depending on your itinerary and how much exploring you want to do in those countries and cities. At any rate, this is a great book to start with for your dream tour.