Heinz Helfgen's "I'm Cycling Around The World"

Heinz Helfgen

What were German readers looking for in a travel book after World War II?

in 1946, Heinz Helfgen, a former journalist from Germany turned Wehrmacht soldier comes from a POW camp, only to find out that things are pretty bad at home, especially money-wise. After struggling for a few years, he decides to support his family by riding a bicycle around the world and publishing a series of newspaper articles about it…

Odorico da Pordenone's "The Travel"

Odoric of Pordenone

Was this a 14th-century fact finding mission or just another Medieval mystery tale?

in the early 14th century, Odoric of Pordenone, a Franciscan monk from Italy is being sent on a mission to proselytize the people of Asia. His journey lasts almost fifteen years, covering the Middle East, Central Asia, India, Southeast Asia and China…

Jehan de Mandeville's "The Travels"

Jean de Mandeville

Why is it so much fun to read Medieval travel stories that we know are at least partly untrue?

in the 14th century, English knight Jean de Mandeville claims to have traveled around much of the known (and unknown) world, much like Marco Polo before him or Johann Schiltberger shortly after, or Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuda at the same time…

Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta's "The Travels"

Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta

Did conservative ethics turn this great adventure story into such a slow read?

Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta is only a very young man when he embarks on his hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. But he doesn’t stop there. Instead he goes on and on and on, and several travels during the next three decades will take him almost everywhere in…

Johann Schiltberger's "The Bondage and Travels of Johann Schiltberger"

Johann Schiltberger

Is this guy our average Joe from the Middle Ages?

Johann Schiltberger is still a teenager when he embarks on what historians have later dubbed the “Last Crusade”. Eventually, he gets captured in the Battle of Nicopolis and serves as a slave to the Ottomans for six years. When the Ottomans themselves get defeated by the infamous Tamerlane, Schiltberger becomes a slave to the Timurid Empire for fifteen years…

Marco Polo's "Description Of The World"

Marco Polo

Why is this one still good today, even though a lot of it is untrue?

in the 13th century (during the Pax Mongolica) Marco Polo is a merchant’s son from Venice who accompanies his dad and his uncle on a decades-long trip to China and back. Upon his return, he claims to have gotten famous and rich in China, earning him the monicker “the millionaire”…