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Working in travel means I am always interested in things that will help me in my role and also generally want to know of new and interesting things to do and see. Because of this, I like to read travel guides occasionally and even if I already feel that I will be ok to get by somewhere should I need to, I still like to flick through guides and see if there is anything new to discover. It was with this in mind that I was easily tempted to purchase a huge stack of travel books when my Wanderlust magazine offered subscribers free guides.
The publishers: The Culture smart books are published by Kuperard. They also publish a lot of other travel guides of which I have used or come across in my job.
The range: The culture smart books are designed to help visitors understand cultures and customs as well as giving advice on how to get the most out of your time there including the best way to see sights, get around or connect with the locals. They are not to be bought as a guide book with a list of sights to see and opening times etc and if you bought one for this reason you would be sorely disappointed!
Culture Smart Ireland: It’s the closest place to home and I’ve been selling Ireland for years so it may be a wonder why I even bothered buying this particular edition but, even with numerous visits and lots of knowledge, there is always something new to learn so with this in mind this became one of my chosen books to order. The book has a rather nice cover in my opinion with a sort of purple and blue colour on the top half and the bottom showing a picture of a tiny boat on a lake. I instantly think of Ireland when I see this picture which I think gives straight away the right impression of the beautiful views around Ireland. There are eight chapters in this book and each has a fair few sub headings. These cover things such as the obvious ‘Land and people’ and ‘Communicating’ as well as those that might only be needed more so for the business traveller under ‘Business briefing’. I find that as with all guide books or travel books, the chapters do not have to be read in any particular order and you can dip in and out as you want but, I do think the general layout is a sensible way around and flows nicely if you are reading from cover to cover. A nice little map, not too detailed though, is included just after the contents page and before the main introduction.
Bits and bobs: As with every guide book range, there is a way they like to highlight additional information that they feel is a top tip or important to know. Within this range of books, they show these bits by having a small amount of text in a blue bubble with a different shade of writing to the rest of the standard back print. This matches the rest of the books colour scheme which makes it easy on the eye. There is also a key facts section just after the introduction that gives a breakdown of the standard figures nearly every travel book likes to state somewhere along the way such as population count, capital city, currency etc and this is broken down for Northern and Southern Ireland. At the back of the guide is an appendix that lists some famous Irish Americans and also gives some further reading that visitors may find useful. The guide is only 168 pages long so it doesn’t seem like it could contain that much information but, actually, it does.
The author: The man who wrote this particular guide is named John Scotney and is an Anglo-Irish writer, teacher, producer and broadcaster. He was previously the head of drama at the BBC in Ireland. He has written many articles and books about literature and media and also written and directed many programmes for the BBC of which many have had an Irish theme.
Prices: As I mentioned I received an offer through my Wanderlust subscription to receive these guides free although of course I did have to pay for postage. However the offer I had meant I still only paid around £5 for 7 books at the time which of course works out to a measly 71p per book - Not bad at all in my opinion! I then bought some more the next time the offer ran so I do own a large range of these books. Usually they are priced at £6.95 each and this is pretty much average for a travel guide. I would say keep your eyes peeled for offers though as they frequently run these on the Kuperard website which is where I purchased all of my culture smart guides from.
Overall opinion: I think this guide is pretty interesting to be honest. I can’t say that there was many surprise in the guide as like I say I have been selling Ireland for many years, visited many times and it is of course only a short way from me here in the UK. However that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an interesting read and for somebody who doesn’t know much about Ireland and its people, this would probably be a dab little guide to have a read of. I particularly liked the ‘Mind your language’ bubble that informed readers of the Irish habit of changing one letter in swear words such as Fecking! Many foreign visitors may not even realise this until heard uttered but, reading beforehand makes for a little interesting snippet. Overall for my 71p I am very happy indeed – I can say I wouldn’t have bothered had I had to pay full price as then I would have bought a guide for somewhere I know nothing of but, as the price was so low, I thought a nice little investment. Recommended.