EuroTimes travel writer Maryalicia Post says delegates preparing to attend the XXXVth ESCRS Congress should go armed with some good books.
To the usual pre-travel checklist (notify Visa, leave key with neighbour, charge phone/camera) I add ‘books’… this means buy a book for reading when devices must be turned off, say in the plane before take off, and download a book or two on the Kindle app for late nights in the hotel room.
As I really enjoy those ’aha’ moments – when I recognise a place that was a scene in a book I’ve read – ‘books’ also starts me reading something set in the next city I’m heading to. Right now it’s Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier.
This novel, made into a film starring Jeremy Irons in 2013, has drawn enough people to Lisbon to support a popular tour following in the footsteps of Gregorius, the staid Swiss professor who suddenly upends his life and travels to Lisbon on the night train. His journey of self-discovery in the city ranges from the Barrio Alto down to the old quarter of Alfama. (A private tour for one or two people costs€70. Details of when and where on the website. https://lisbonliterarytours.com/english/night-train-to-lisbon.)
My more ambitious download for Lisbon is Diary of Disquiet by the great modernist Portuguese poet, writer and philosopher Fernando Pessao. Lisbon Literary Tours have him covered too. Their Pessao tour is described as ‘a walk through Lisbon in the 1920s and 1930s.’
Alternatively, I could simply track places associated with Pessao and other Lisbon writers via an online DIY guide; click on A Literary Tour of Lisbon at https://theculturetrip.com
You don’t have to be familiar with any Lisbon-based books or authors at all to enjoy a literature-themed experience. The one offered by the aptly named Lisbon Chill-Out Tours sounds like a walk with a friend with literary asides thrown in. Currently, this tour requires pre-booking, preferably 72h in advance. It’s available on Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday. There’s ‘no problem providing the tour for just one person’. http://lisbonfreetour.blogspot.pt . Tour is free, tip ‘according to your satisfaction’.
As for airport reading, I’ll have A Small Death in Lisbon in my hand luggage. Author Robert Wilson interweaves two stories: in this novel: the death of young girl in the city and the tale of a Nazi officer sent to Lisbon during WW2. That should set up plenty of aha moments.