Whether you're planning a trip or just in the mood for a good travel yarn, chances are there's a new book out there just for you. Recent releases include a week-by- week roundup of Canada's best experiences, a book on nature hikes near Toronto, a guide to Ontario, plus a daring adventure, and a collection of tales by assorted Hollywood types.
There's more to Ontario than Toronto, Ottawa and Niagara Falls, which may be why -- for the first time -- Moon Handbooks has published a guide on the entire province. Written by Carolyn B. Heller, Ontario covers attractions, dining and accommodations to suit travellers of all budget levels in a region that spans from Canada's southernmost point almost to the Arctic, and includes 3,701 km of shoreline. Among the lesser-known attractions: A Disappearing River at Warsaw Caves in the Kawarthas. A Tree Museum of sculptures and artworks in the woods outside Gravenhurst. Canada's largest "swimming hole" (The Quarry in St. Marys). And E'Terra, a true overnight hideaway near Tobermory that has an unlisted phone number and no signs -- the owners won't divulge the address until you make a reservation!
Looking for interesting places to go this month in Canada? During the 4th week of October, you can cycle B.C.s Kettle Valley Rail Trail (rated in the world's Top-50 cycling routes by Bicycling magazine); take advantage of deep discounts during the Big Fashion Sale by Quebec Designers (La Grande Braderie de la Mode Quebecoise); or sample whisky at Canada's only single-malt distillery -- Glenora Distillery in Glenville, N.S.
These ideas and more can be found in Frommer's Far & Wide: A Weekly Guide to Canada's Best Travel Experiences (Wiley), a useful reference for planning ahead and uncovering unique gems from walking among ice floes in P.E.I. National Park to haggling at Maritime yard sales, some of which stretch more than 80 km.
When actress Brooke Shields agreed to travel for Marie Claire magazine and write about the experience, she had no idea what lay ahead. While Demi Moore was sent on a yoga retreat and Gwyneth Paltrow went to a tropical island (both for the magazine), Shields was assigned to the Canadian arctic to build an igloo and sleep in it. Transplanted from sunny California to Pond Inlet, the actress recalls the toe-numbing -30 C temperatures, two hours of daylight, the exhaustive task of building the igloo, and a near disaster involving a giant iceberg.
Shields' entry brings to vivid life a part of this country few Canadians have seen. It's one of 33 tales by distinguished actors, directors and screen writers in Lonely Planet's new Lights, Camera… Travel! On-the-Road Tales from Screen Storytellers. Edited by Andrew McCarthy and Don George, other stories include Alec Baldwin's LA Memories, Andrea Martin's Discovering Armenia, Recovering Myself, and Sandra Bernhard's The Call of Morocco.
In a similar vein is the Conde Nast Book of Unforgettable Journeys: Great Writers on Great Places Vol. II (Penguin), which features the tales of 30 celebrated writers including Robert Hughes, Martha Gellhorn, Wade Davis and Calvin Trillin. Readers will also find out what happens when E.L. Doctorow goes in search of the great Bengal tiger, or William Dalrymple visits the Swat Valley in Pakistan, where he discovers the ultimate status symbol is driving to work in a captured Russian T-72 tank!
Walk this way
Two new books on walking take radically different tacks. One is a practical guide to hikes in Ontario, the other a tale of one man's gruelling 28-month adventure on foot in the South American jungle.
In Hikes & Outings of South Central Ontario (Lone Pines), author N. Glenn Perrett offers an inviting selection of 30 of the best nature getaways within a 90-minute drive of the Greater Toronto Area. The names of the hikes such as Balls Falls, Elora Gorge and Wye Marsh offer hints of what you'll find. Along with colour photographs of wildlife, waterfalls, butterflies and dense woods, are interesting facts about local history plus details on canoeing, cycling, tubing, skiing and nature-watching opportunities. While the getaways differ, all are good examples of wilderness areas in southern Ontario that are either free or entail minimal costs to visit.
Walking The Amazon: 860 Days, One Step At A Time by Ed Stafford (Penguin), is best read from the comfort of an armchair -- unless you aspire to be the second person (after Stafford, a retired British Army captain) ever to walk a gruelling 6,437 km through incredibly inhospitable terrain along the Amazon River. Chapter titles such as Dark March to Colombia or Look After Your Gringo Or We'll Cut His Head Off, and photographs of the author hacking his way through the jungle or wading chest-deep in water with his belongings, offer a sense of this bold journey that author/actor Michael Palin so rightly described in a book blurb as "totally, completely and utterly mad."