The Weekend Australian - Travel - - The Spirit Of Discovery -

StyleCity Europe Edited by Lu­cas Di­et­rich (Thames & Hud­son, $49.95) THE StyleCity se­ries has been a hit with those trav­ellers who’ve also de­voured Her­bert Ypma’s ever-ex­pand­ing Hip Ho­tels port­fo­lio. StyleCity vol­umes tell you where to sleep, eat, drink, sight­see and hang out in cities ac­knowl­edged by those in the know as cen­tres of chic. The prob­lem with this latest ad­di­tion to the range is its am­bi­tion; rang­ing across 14 cities, from Am­s­ter­dam to Vi­enna, is just too wide a span and its use as a takea­long guide is lim­ited given the hefty weight of 328 high-gloss pages.

But for pre-plan­ning ac­com­mo­da­tion, all you need to know about how to sleep in style is here, from Les Ot­tomans in Is­tan­bul (11 suites with views over the Bospho­rus, feng-shui blessed de­sign and trea­sures ga­lore) to Ho­tel Therese in Paris (af­ford­able lux­ury from j130, or $205, a night in a re­stored 18th-cen­tury town­house). In Lis­bon, York House, a charm­ing lit­tle ho­tel cre­ated from a for­mer con­vent, has played host to a roll­call of writ­ers, in­clud­ing Gra­ham Greene. Lovely dis­cov­er­ies of this ilk make the slightly un­wieldy StyleCity Europe well worth its pur­chase price. Susan Kuro­sawa Fran­coise Ray­mond Kui­jper, Kerry O’Neill and Richard Nicols (Ar­chi­pel­ago Press, $35) UN­TIL very re­cently, who would have ex­pected to en­counter the words Croa­tia and chic in the same sen­tence, let alone cou­pled as a book ti­tle? Clearly it’s time to up­date our no­tions of this Adri­atic des­ti­na­tion. Sail­ing char­ters are big here — along the rav­ish­ingly beau­ti­ful and un­spoiled coast­line — and the tourism in­fra­struc­ture is fast ex­pand­ing to in­clude spas, bou­tique ho­tels and gor­geous rental vil­las. There are five-star hide­outs such as the Re­gent Es­planade in Za­greb, built in 1925 in grand and glam­orous style, and Ho­tel Ar­biana, a high-so­ci­ety haunt on the lit­tle is­land of Rab.

This se­ries in­cludes his­toric back­ground and travel nar­ra­tive and is not as up-to-the-sec­ond savvy as the com­peti­tor StyleCity books, but the pub­lisher is adding a swag of ti­tles to the list, with Toky­oChic and New ZealandChic re­cent starters and Bali, Shang­hai and In­dia bound for the mix. Alexandra James



Se­crets of the Labyrinth Greg Mosse (Orion, $35) IN 2005, Orange Prize co-founder Kate Mosse pub­lished Labyrinth —‘‘a grip­ping romp’’, ac­cord­ing to a Guardian re­view — about the mur­der and may­hem in me­dieval Langue­doc’s re­li­gious in­trigues in­volv­ing the Cathars, the Knights Tem­plar and the pow­ers that were. This is her hus­band’s his­tor­i­cal ex­pose of the world be­hind the net­work of plot and con­spir­acy in which her novel was set.

In one of France’s most in­trigu­ing re­gions — the walled city of Car­cas­sonne is now a tourist mag­net— Greg Mosse be­gins with the an­cient re­li­gious back­ground and works through the rise and fall of cities, armies and peo­ple, end­ing with the 19th-cen­tury restora­tion of Car­cas­sonne by Parisian ar­chi­tect, and cen­tral fig­ure in the re­vival of gothic her­itage, Eu­gene Vi­ol­let-le-Duc.

In read­able prose, rather like tun­ing in to an­cient gos­sip, scat­tered with black and white pho­to­graphs, Mosse cov­ers lan­guage, fres­coes, the Grail, Cata­lan po­etry, fam­ily his­tory and much more. Ju­dith Elen


To Hel­las and Back Lana Pen­rose (Vik­ing, $29.95) AUS­TRALIAN trav­eller Lana Pen­rose is yet an­other of that crop of en­thu­si­as­tic life-chang­ers who pre­sume the world will be riv­eted by their move to more ex­otic climes. In Pen­rose’s case, the greener pas­tures are in Greece. Her

mod­ern-day Greek tragedy’’ book is no bet­ter or worse than this year’s on­slaught of trans­plant tales but there is one dif­fer­ence: in­stead of find­ing an amus­ing French­man un­der a Proven­cal ar­bour or a hand­some Ital­ian freshly popped from an olive grove, she takes her Greek-Aussie guy, Dion, along. Or, rather, he takes her, as he heads back to the old coun­try for a ca­reer move.

There are the ex­pected cross-cul­tural mis­un­der­stand­ings and lo­cal odd­i­ties, all re­lated with good hu­mour. Pen­rose is not afraid to re­veal her fears of fail­ing to un­der­stand a new cul­ture or, ul­ti­mately, her in­abil­ity to as­si­m­il­i­ate; there is no moon­light-and-roses end­ing but, as with the best of travel, an even­tual com­ing to terms with dif­fer­ent­ness, a dawn­ing of self-re­al­i­sa­tion. Susan Kuro­sawa

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