What is a micro trip?
The editors of Lonely Planet have taken the idea of short trips in a rather interesting direction in the book called Micro Trips. They’ve created a dream book of sorts, with ideas for places to visit within one to three hours of 60 cities around the world, from Mumbai to Marrakesh, Austin to Rio, Tokyo to Moscow. The focus of trips is varied (more about that in a moment).
Each city is presented with a map giving a general idea of geography of the region, and a sentence or three introduction to the city in question. A dozen or so micro trips are arranged by how long it takes (generally one to three hours; a good feature is suggestion of best means of transport for each trip) to reach each location from a central part of the city. The trips are numbered on the map and color coded as to main focus: outdoors, history, food and drink and so forth. There is photography to go along.
Another feature is the occasional two page spread on themes for a wider region, Africa’s brilliant beach towns, North America’s top ten ski escapes, top wildlife viewing destinations in South America, for instance. You might not agree with all the choices in these micro lists of micro trips, but they are likely to get you thinking, and perhaps exploring.
That could be said of all the choices in Micro Trips. There are 894 of them
How does the book work? What is this guide good for? How reliable is it?
When I am evaluating guides that take in many destinations, I look at how they treat a selection of places I know very well, places I know very little, and places in between, ones I’ve been to briefly, for instance, or some while ago.
One of the places I know well is Dublin. Hard to argue with the choice of the Belfast International Arts Festival, and I was interested to see that the only pub they single out is one I’ve also introduced to you, Tigh Coili in Galway.
The Shannon Blueway is an excellent and sometimes overlooked choice for outdoors activity, as is Loughcrew Cairns for history explorers. Though of course there are many ways to reach a given place, all the transport ideas and timings were solid.
While there are a dozen recommendations for Dublin and Boston, 14 for Singapore, 18 for San Francisco. Tokyo, and Dubai, there were just six for Atlanta. I’d have made a different choice or two given the smaller number offered, but suggestions of Providence Canyon and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice are good and varied ones.
It’s been a while since I’ve been to Amsterdam. A micro trip to Rotterdam still seems a good idea, as does an exploration of nearby windmills.
Vancouver is a place I’ve visited briefly and plan to return; the suggestions include several ideas I’d had already, including a trip to the artistic environs of Vancouver Island and attendance at Whistler’s Cornucopia Festival. There were things I’d not heard about, too: that many apple farmers in the nearby Fraser Valley welcome visitors, and that there’s a self-guided tour of art studios available on Salt Spring Island.
That page on South American food and drink escapes introduced me to places which offer oysters in Brazil, pisco sours in Peru, chardonnay in Chile, and a fine place to get the best chivito, a steak and fried egg sandwich popular in Uruguay. If you enjoy travel by food, this is a good page to check for ideas; there are 10 of them on the page.
How about micro trip suggestions for cities with which I am much less familiar? Suggestions for Hobart include four wildlife/wilderness ideas, one for food and drink, and one, the best preserved convict site in Australia. Tasmania, where Hobart is located, is deep in bush fire emergency at this writing; outdoor activities and heritage are an important part of the whole state. The descriptions, though brief, point up parts of what’s to be seen, and it is hoped, saved and restored, when the fires come to an end.
Micro trips from Seoul, in South Korea, offer wilderness and art, and a different sort of forest: The Forest of Wisdom, which is a library with around 200,000 books. It’s located in Heyn Art Valley in the Paju Book City neighborhood, where there are many book focused stores and quiet cafes in which to read. For a different experience, you can arrange a trip to the fortified Demilitarized Zone, the DMZ, which marks the border with North Korea.
How useful is this book in your travel plans?
Micro Trips is an easy book to navigate, with a thorough table of contents arranged by region and city, and an index that allows you to focus in on subject matter interests across regions. The descriptions are brief, but include quite a bit of information. Web sites are mentioned where available.
Micro Trips is a book of inspiration. That is one of its biggest benefits: it will get you thinking about expanding possibilities of your travel. It will encourage you to think about what your interests are: would you like to go to a beer festival, or an art festival? Hike in rugged wilderness, ride your bike along a trail, or try a meal of a regional speciality? Maybe you’ll find you’d even like to stay in one of these places an hour or two from the big city, and make the city your micro trip. Perhaps it will get you thinking about what you could explore one or two or three hours from where you make your home.
There’s enough information in this book to get you started on thinking about all those things, and inspire you to brainstorm your own adventures beyond the suggestions offered.
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