Getting lost more efficiently
September 7, 2008 6:48 PM   Subscribe

At the famous Used Bookstore we generally turn down people selling used travel guides more than two years old, for obvious reasons. One time, however, in a huge lot of books from an estate sale we got a Fodor's Yugoslavia 1976. I can just picture some poor schmuck buying it and standing on the edge of a bomb crater squinting at the horizon, thinking 'Now where did they say that restaurant was again?'
posted by jonmc at 6:59 PM on September 7, 2008 [4 favorites]

We must never forget "The Countries of Europe Described" (mp3 link) from the Little Gray Book Lectures by Metafilter's own John Hodgman.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:30 PM on September 7, 2008

I have Bollocks to Alton Towers and the Lonely Planet Guide to Micronations. I think we need our own Metanation.
posted by lukemeister at 7:46 PM on September 7, 2008

The iconic Baedekers of Leipzig, pressured by the Nazi government into producing a vacation guide to occupied Poland, published the most inadvertently creepy guidebook ever, complete with Reichminister General Governor Hans Frank promising visitors the charms of home—"ein stark heimatlich anmutendes Gebilde." Those charms include an Adolf-Hitler-Platz in the foldout Warsaw map and a brief entry for Auschwitz listing it only as a "train station." (Emphasis mine.)
posted by jason's_planet at 8:10 PM on September 7, 2008

No Happyslapped by a Jellyfish?
posted by jimmythefish at 8:34 PM on September 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

A Tramp Trip: How to See Europe on Fifty Cents a Day... it's online!
posted by crapmatic at 9:49 PM on September 7, 2008

I'd like to add South East Asia: The Graphic Guide which consists of entirely hand drawn maps which are never to scale, include their own lexicon of symbols, and are all based on one man's travels. Still a million times better than Lonely Planet.
posted by furtive at 9:54 PM on September 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

I can just picture some poor schmuck buying it and standing on the edge of a bomb crater squinting at the horizon, thinking 'Now where did they say that restaurant was again?'

Just this afternoon, when I was shelving travel guides a the library, I noticed that we still had Baghdad Without a Map.
posted by amarie at 1:00 AM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

I wrote up a little guide to the Granary Burying Ground in historic Boston, MA. I've recently printed up a small batch in pamphlet form and hand them out to tourists as I pass through the cemetery on my way home. I'd worry about corrupting the youth of America with my dubious "facts" but so far I am unclear whether or not the lucky recipients of my lies speak English in the first place. This leads to the worrying proposition that some family's scrapbook of their big American vacation has next to pictures of Faneuil Hall and Fenway Park my assertation that Paul Revere was the premier silvered dildo maker of his day.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:22 AM on September 8, 2008

My hovercraft is full of eels.

That aside these do offer an interesting historical perspective. I for one am interested in finding a set of travel guides for Boston that offer views and insights before they built the overhead expressway, during the time it was up, and now that it is buried. I'm also interested in the concept of "medieval Boston". Before urban improvements of the 60's.
posted by Gungho at 4:25 AM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

A tramp trip; how to see Europe on fifty cents a day (Internet Archive always the better choice over Google Books: high quality scan, color, flip book, multi-formats, user reviews).
posted by stbalbach at 5:55 AM on September 8, 2008

Route 66 AD, aka Pagan Holiday
posted by lukemeister at 8:29 AM on September 8, 2008

One of the original college-dropout backpackers, Lee Meriwether figured out in 1886 how to travel across Europe on 50 cents a day: namely, by couch surfing (or, sometimes, pile-of-hay surfing). Half-starving worked pretty well, too. Meriwether possessed a brilliant knack for bizarre travel options—like his attempt in Italy to combine sightseeing with free lodging. Instead, he reports, "I was lodged in jail, and the next morning brought before an officer of justice, and charged with the heinous crime of sleeping in the dead city of Pompeii." When he died in 1966 at the age of 103, Meriwether was still writing travelogues; he retraced his old routes with a Van Winklesque view of the changes in European peasant life wrought by electricity and the automobile.

Now, that's a guy I'd like to have known.
posted by languagehat at 8:34 AM on September 8, 2008

this list is completely bogus! they didn't include The Travels of Sir John Mandeville!!!! (pub. mid-14th cent.)
posted by supermedusa at 11:17 AM on September 8, 2008

damn, I thought it said "oldest". thankfully Sir Mandeville's travels fit in quite well with the 'odd' category too!
posted by supermedusa at 11:19 AM on September 8, 2008

Every single one of these sounds like the kind of book I'd pounce on in a used book store.
posted by QIbHom at 7:19 AM on September 9, 2008

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