I really enjoy listening to travel podcasts while I’m on the go, around the world. There’s an abundance of talk shows, opinions and destination-based podcasts that fill my ipod, along with a selection of historical, cultural and socio-religious shows that help me understand the depth of the world around me.
For all the hours of audio I consume each week, I’ve never really taken the time to listen to audio guides on places I’m planning to visit, or the locations I’m at. That changed when Ben from Iconic Guides emailed me to try his travel audio guides to Japan, Egypt and Greece.
I jumped at the chance to hear a series on the step pyramid of Djoser, which I knew nothing about. I downloaded a series of eight mp3s and dropped them onto my iPod.
Listening to Djoser
In the end I listened to them in Norway, as we were heading to Selbu. There was something surreal about winding my way along lush green valleys, forests dropping down to the glacial lakes, while imagining a dry and dusty world, with sand stretching from the steps of the pyramid complex.
The imagined world was quite complete, however: background information, historical detail and architectural style all combined to make for an entertaining and informative listen. Doing this as a pre-visit exercise was really good; it gave me an idea of what to expect, what to look out for, and gave me a few leads on other areas of knowledge I’d like to know about before arrival.
Pre-trip research, on the ground guidance
I don’t know about you — perhaps you take the time to do some background reading before you arrive somewhere — but I often try to find out about a place when I’m actually there. I tend to read up on places I’ve been (to help me understand my impressions) rather than places I’m going. Listening to my Iconic Guide, however, led me down the path of research as I wanted to understand more about the social structure and the empires of the Nile and Middle East in the time these pyramids were built.
There were elements pointed out, like a particular piece of the building, and I would have liked to have been there to see it. I have no doubt that listening to these on the flight to Egypt then again once you’re at the complex will add a lot to your visit. If you’ve used Iconic Guides at any of their destinations, let us know in the comments below.
The audio travel guides have been produced to a high standard, but I must admit the voice actor drives me a bit crazy with a stilted delivery that is easy to understand at the detriment of natural intonation and conversational flow; there’s a touch of a Standard BBC Accent in training. Getting past this did take me some time, but the information in the guide was certainly worth it, being clearly presented, well written and interesting.