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Evoking regions near and far, travelling via a transportive novel or coffee-table book’s worth of beautiful imagery is enough to enliven even the most dormant of explorers.
We’ve rounded up some of our favourite reads for armchair travel – and hope they will inspire you to move beyond the pages to go and see these destinations for yourself.
It goes without saying that a trip’s purpose will dictate where you stay. For business, functional if a little dull will suffice – providing there are plenty of plug sockets – but when romance calls, a balcony with postcard-worthy views and late breakfast hours suddenly takes precedence over the WiFi connection. From dreamy castles on Lake Garda to glass-fronted Norwegian numbers, family-run pensions in the Mediterranean to glittering Abu Dhabi high-rises, this two-volume tome runs the gamut with accommodation inspiration to suit every type of traveller.
The idea of a refuge-style dwelling is, perhaps unsurprisingly, seductive to the modern psyche. In the past decade, our material existence and environmental footprint has grown exponentially, causing us to seek solitude in havens that allow us to “get away from it all”. Consequently, architects worldwide have become interested in the possibilities of the minimal, low-impact and isolated abode; it’s time to eschew excess in favour of a cabin, where fantasies of living out a simple life can be fully realised. From an artist’s studio on the Suffolk coast in England to eco-home huts in the Sahyadri (“Benevolent Mountain”) region of India, a contemplative air of coexistence and a return to nature flows throughout these pages.
An incomparable cultural capital, Rome has seen it all, done it all and laid the foundation for a life fuelled by whimsy. A metropolis of many guises, Rome: Portrait of a City captures everything from the Spanish Steps almost void of crowds and celebrities in glamorous gowns loitering along Via Veneto to laundry lines in the working-class districts of Trastevere and Testaccio. Through the camera lens of photographers including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Peter Lindbergh and Slim Aarons you’ll clock the equally famous faces such as Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren and Valentino.
A tranquil getaway that leaves you restored and uplifted may seem a tall order (particularly from the vantage point of your office desk) but allow yourself to be transported spiritually if not physically to a farmhouse in Tuscany or beach in Mexico via the picture-filled pages of Great Yoga Retreats. Alternatively, make like the Beatles and head to Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, the birthplace of yoga and a renowned pilgrimage site (the band attended the Maharishi’s ashram here in 1968). One for the wellness warriors, expect an overarching feeling of zen to follow a flick through this one.
While the swish Shinkansen (bullet train) is a godsend for those with a demanding itinerary and only 10 days to explore the entire country, we can’t help but lust after bygone train travel in the era of Imperial Japan. Sixty-Nine Stations highlights the historic Kisokaidō route between Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto since its ordination in the 1600s. From the busy starting post of Nihonbashi to the castle town of Iwamurata and the peaceful banks of the Ota River, the route catered to nouveau travellers eager to try local delicacies and soak in hot-spring baths. Soak up suburbia through the mastery of these print practitioners.
For further travel-led reading and holiday inspiration, visit www.taschen.com
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