Categories
Armenia 2018 Books

Researching Armenia’s Most Comprehensive Travel Guidebook – By Bicycle

There’s another purpose to my in-depth bicycle tour of Armenia, which is also a nice development for my occasional career as an author:

I’ve been greatly honoured with the task of researching and writing the next edition of the Bradt Travel Guide to Armenia.

This British publication is the only dedicated English-language guidebook to Armenia currently in print. The original book was put together by a husband-and-wife team who first came to Armenia in 2001 and have been revising and updating it for three further editions since. But Bradt needed a new author for the 5th edition, and the commissioning editor just happened to be in the audience for my lecture at the RGS last February.

The current edition of the book is impressively thorough and meticulously researched, particularly on the many historical sites embedded in the mountains of Armenia. My task is to broaden out its appeal to include all that’s new in terms of outdoor & adventure tourism (and that’s a lot of things), while delicately maintaining the book’s heritage.

Given the tight schedule – the book will be on the shelves in December – this will certainly be a challenge! But it’s proving be a fantastic way to continue my mission to showcase Armenia, especially in the wake of the globally reported Velvet Revolution, which yesterday took a second big step forward when the leader of the movement, Nikol Pashinyan, was elected Prime Minister of Armenia by a 59–42 parliamentary majority – an incredible display of the power of direct action, given that most seats belong to the party targeted by the protest movement.

What’s nice about the role of a guidebook author and updater is that it magically opens doors.

A random tourist might not be able to easily secure meetings with the directors of National Parks, town mayors, ecotourism NGO directors, volunteers in far-flung villages, etc; nor might they want to. But all that is now part of the journey, and it’s making the ride all the more interesting – not least because of the industry’s still-embryonic status and the consequent enthusiasm for anything that might help drag it out of obscurity.

So my increasingly weathered copy of the current edition of the Bradt Travel Guide to Armenia* now counts for a good 50% of the weight of my bar-bag; I’ve got a half-decent shirt and a stack of business cards so I can just about make myself look professional; and the stories that come out of these encounters will also form part of the narrative of this increasingly unusual bike trip.

Follow the ride on Instagram (and stay tuned for step three of Armenia’s Velvet Revolution).

Categories
Books Photography

How To Create A Gorgeous Travel Photobook That Engages & Inspires

Syria, January 2009

Step 1: Do Something Inspirational

I don’t mean inspirational for anyone else; I mean for yourself. Creative juices run swiftest when you’re truly inspired. Seek out what moves you most and allow the process to take you places you didn’t know existed, literally and figuratively.

Categories
Books Janapar Photography

Images From The Journey: Introducing the official #Janapar Photobook

Janapar_Photobook_Mockup_interior_a3716b

Whenever I head out on an adventure, I constantly find myself wondering why it took so much thinking and dithering before actually doing it. This still happens after years of experience. “It’s so easy just to do this! Why didn’t I do it ages ago?”

The same thing happened with the photobook that I’m launching this week. I could have created this at any point in the last couple of years. Instead, I dithered. But now I’ve got off my backside and created the definitive photo travelogue of Janapar, I’m wondering why it took so long to do it!

About the book, then: it is an unashamed slice of vicarious adventure; 66 carefully-chosen full colour images (and 2 black & white ones) that represent my best shot at communicating a 3½ year journey in pictures.

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It’ll be particularly enlightening to those of you who’ve read the book of Janapar, as it includes edited excerpts to give context to the story, but will be equally enjoyable to browse through if you haven’t.

Click here for an interactive preview and more details on the formats available. You can also download a PDF sample for a real taste of what’s inside.

Categories
Books Europe & The Near East 2007 Other People's Adventures

The Weave Of The Ride (or, Janapar from Andy’s point of view)

Tom, Mark and Andy in Montreux

In the summer of 2007, my best mate Andy Welch and I set off from my front door. We’d called our expedition ‘Ride Earth’, and were all set to cycle round the world. But the experiences that followed changed all we thought we knew about, travel, adventure and cycle-touring.

Weave Of The Ride, Andy’s own account of that eight-month journey from England to Armenia, offers an alternative perspective on the story that ends with Ride Earth’s disbandment and the beginning of two new solo adventures. In this guest post, Andy goes into detail about his new book.

Categories
Books Films Philosophy Of Travel The Book The Film

Are Book-Writing And Film-Making The Same Thing?

Subjects are nouns, their actions are verbs, their appearances adjectives. A sentence is a single shot, while a paragraph is a sequence of them. Paragraphs are built into chapters, and sequences are built into stories. Then chapters are assembled into books; stories into films.

The viewfinder is my vocabulary. The focus ring and exposure dial are my spelling and grammar. These are basic things that I’d better get right. And I need a good mixture of context and detail, otherwise my tale will become muddled and hard to understand.