Back in the old days, one thought of countries or cities as destinations. One craved being in Paris or London. And one still does … if one can connect with the right experiences while there. In other words, wandering around Fleet Street with a bag of stuff that you could have bought anywhere doesn’t cut it.
So great destinations now are far more local. They balance a personal touch that welcomes you into a community with an exotic element that you cannot get anywhere else. And bringing this out, I think, is the essence of effective travel writing.The reader gets the privilege of access to a place that takes him or her to a higher level.
Here are two examples. The first from A Bloomsbury Life is not so much writing, but suggesting via photos. We get to join in a family excursion to exclusive destinations in London (even better, some that only “insiders” know about).Here is a snippet
(Waling in Soho) (w)e pass by Andrew Edmunds, the Tom Thumb-sized Hogarthian restaurant that I wrote about here. It’s one of those hush-hush cult haunts (no website, reservations a must) that its patrons want to keep to themselves — the food is incredible, the prices are good and the atmosphere is nothing less than incandescent.
Nice balance of the welcome and the exotic there!
The second from Saveur is a more traditional written homage to a great hotel in Tokyo, the Chinzanso. Once again, we are invited along to experience something unique.
I bask in the shade of a 500-year-old sacred tree, then wander over to a towering three-tiered pagoda, thought to be a thousand years old, and transported to the garden from the mountains of Hiroshima.
Get the idea? This is a very useful skill. To set the stage balancing the welcome and exotic.