Review by Barb & Ron Kroll
Best Girlfriends Getaways Worldwide
(National Geographic) ISBN 978-1426202261 1426202261
This National Geographic guidebook contains 50 international trips for women travelers, sisters, daughters and girlfriends. Some trips are suitable for a girlfriend weekend getaway. Others are longer women's adventure travel experiences. Marybeth Bond selects spas, cooking schools, castle stays, garden tours and learning vacations that challenge female travelers, celebrate special events and help them get away from it all.
Among the female-friendly vacations, holidays and getaways are city tours, volunteering in Asia and Central America, culinary lessons in Mexico and Italy, river cruises in Holland and on the Nile, cycling in Ireland, trekking on the Inca Trail in Peru and walking in the Cotswolds, England.
Easy to read, this 272-page travel guidebook is organized by activity (e.g., culinary, cruises, spas). Each of the girlfriend getaways includes stories by Marybeth Bond and women who traveled with female friends or relatives.
Marybeth Bond describes each destination and activities with topics such as best spa, what's included, rates and packages, cuisine, best day trips, dining and hikes, a bit of culture, where to stay, don't-miss beaches, top museums and shop 'til you drop. Websites help women organize their own adventures.
Other female travelers share their personal experiences traveling with friends and relatives. Two students from Seattle suggest checking for coperto on Italian menus (the fee for clean napkins, silverware and tablecloth) and warn about wearing high heels on cobblestone streets.
Marybeth Bond adds tips like dieting before you go to Ireland and waiting a month after you return to check your weight.
No award-winning National Geographic photos illustrate Best Girlfriends Getaways Worldwide. A monochrome illustration begins each chapter.
Culinary tour of Thailand
In Tasteful Travel, Marybeth Bond describes the culinary highlights of Bangkok, Thailand: cooking your own lunch at the Oriental Bangkok Hotel, the Damnoen Saduak floating market at dawn, an evening meal at The Blue Elephant, a cooking display at the Seafood Market and Restaurant, as well as bargain shopping in Chatuchak Weekend Market.
Completing the section are safety tips (travel by ferry on the Chao Phraya River), when to go (November to February are the coolest months in Thailand) and where to get further information (Bangkok Tourism and Tourism Authority of Thailand).
Best Girlfriends Getaways Worldwide is packed with tips, such as how to dress for dining in a castle, how to avoid dental problems, how to pack for barge cruising and how to handle taxi fares in Cairo.
A Resources section lists travel companies that specialize in travel for women, garden tours and volunteer opportunities. Helpful travel websites include Gutsytraveler.com, Cruisecritic.com and theBathroomdiaries.com. One very good women's travel resource that was missed is www.journeywoman.com.
The Castles Fit for a Queen chapter describes a 50th birthday trip to Dundas Castle near Edinburgh, Scotland, for Cheryl and 20 girl friends. They enjoyed hearty Scottish breakfasts, Scotch whiskey tasting, pub-hopping tours, afternoon tea and a formal dinner in the castle hotel.
Sidebars in Best Girlfriends Getaways Worldwide offer tips like bringing high-quality binoculars on a Galapagos cruise, and wearing khaki, brown or olive clothing, never red or another bright color, when viewing wildlife. Getting the Feel of India recommends visiting libraries, before you go, for movies and books on Indian culture and history.
In Marybeth Bond's safety advice in Don't Travel Too Cheaply in India, she discusses women's travel clothes. To comply with local customs, she recommends wearing a cool salwar kameez (traditional conservative outfit of pants and loose top).
ContentsIntroduction - Live life to its fullest
- Chapter 1: Exotic escapes
- Chapter 2: Cosmopolitan cities
- Cape Town
- Buenos Aires
- Chapter 3: Wonderful walks
- Inca Trail, Peru
- Cotswold Way, England
- Routeburn Track, New Zealand
- Zermatt, Switzerland
- Himalaya trekking, Nepal
- Chapter 4: Tasteful travel
- Basque Country, Spain
- Oaxaca, Mexico
- Tuscany, Italy
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Provence, France
- Chapter 5: Spectacular spas
- Ubud, Bali
- Carlsbad, Czech Republic
- Rotorua, New Zealand
- Arenal, Costa Rica
- Ko Samui, Thailand
- Chapter 6: Castles fit for a queen
- Dromoland, Ballynahinch and Ashford Castles, Ireland
- Chateau de Bagnols and Chateau de Marcay, France
- Stobo, Myres and Inverlochy Castles, Scotland
- Villa d'Este, Italy
- Taj Lake and Rambagh Palaces, India
- Chapter 7: Expand your mind
- Summer classes at the University of Cambridge, England
- A Baltic countries cruise
- Art classes in Prague, Czech Republic
- Toronto International Film Festival, Ontario, Canada
- International People's College, Denmark
- Chapter 8: Floating fantasies
- Waterways of France
- Exploring China's Yangtze River
- Cruising the canals of Holland
- Luxor to Aswan via the Nile River, Egypt
- Floating down the Danube River, Eastern Europe
- Chapter 9: Glorious gardens
- Estate gardens of Kent County, England
- Butchart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
- Urban greenery of Kyoto, Japan
- Public gardens of Madeira, Portugal
- Renaissance gardens around Lake Como, Italy
- Chapter 10: Lending a hand
- Western Jamaica
- Mombasa, Kenya
- Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
- Carpathian Mountains, Romania
Marybeth Bond is the author of nine other travel books for women and the adventure editor of travelgirl magazine.