The quest for the perfect trip that’s well-planned and spiced with a hint of difference as compared to a typical trip to the destination in mind, is a difficult, bumpy road – the kind of journey that may be akin to sitting on a small, thinly-padded seat at the back of a not-entirely-modern four-wheel drive, going at a not-entirely-recommended speed, along a dirt road that has a particular penchant for potholes. It is an experience that is, at best, gruelling, and one all too familiar.
While it might be equally difficult to find good recommendations and well-suited travel suggestions in and amongst the bewildering jumble of ‘how to’s’ and ‘top tens’, Cereal’s city guidebooks to London, New York, Paris, and Copenhagen are becoming a solution to this taxing journey for many. The plump cushion and well-fitting helmet, as it were, to our ride.
When you open any of Cereal’s city guidebooks, you’ll soon find that each page – whether it is filled with a personal essay by Fabrice Penot, co-founder of Le Labo fragrances, on the city (as one will find in Cereal’s New York city guidebook), or a high-quality photograph of a grand landscape (as is common in all of the guidebooks) – is crafted for the modern traveller, the urban explorer. Each guidebook is comprised of 128 pages, and is intended to be a “tightly edited selection of experiences that combine quality with meticulous design”: a selection of experiences that are to be, as the description implies, experienced. All of the guidebooks, in a welcomed twist, provide not only an introduction to the city, a neighbourhood map, and a photo essay but also small, succinct paragraphs detailing the what, the where, and the how – how the coffee shop, restaurant or place Cereal recommends should or can be experienced. Expect snippets on Cereal travellers’ favourite foods, tips on where to find rare, out of print photography books in New York, and mentions of the best tucked-away museums.
Reading a Cereal guidebook is itself a process of constant discovery, of opening windows and of unlatching doors, finding with the turn of the page a new and interesting place waiting to be visited. Whether one is reading the guide or wandering the streets to the next recommended site, the guidebook almost demands that the reader-viewer become what Baudelaire would’ve, however laconically, called “a flâneur” – or ‘stroller’ – taking in the urban cityscape and relishing in the understated, the immediate, the historical and the cultural.
The creators of Cereal’s guidebooks looked at the world, at the natural and the manmade, and there fixed their gaze.
If you are looking to discover or rediscover a city, you can purchase a Cereal guidebook for £8.00 directly on their website. Alternatively, if you’re interested in a free ‘plump cushion’ or ‘well-fitting helmet’, Cereal also has smaller, free, online guides to Antwerp, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Bristol, and Bath.
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Words: Julia Gessler