Ibn Battuta vs. Marco Polo

Now, this hardly counts as a new blog post, but I wanted to store here this video of a lecture I gave a few years ago because it is I hope of general interest, and because it also started me thinking about one of my current book projects, Travel Tips from the Middle Ages. And this lecture did attempt to distill some of the lessons learned from the rather remarkable globe-trotting of Ibn Battuta (d. 1377). It also pits him as a traveler and writer against Marco Polo (d. 1324), whose Travels I enjoy less and less as I continue to read it. Marco Polo, the merchant's son, is all about prices and commodities. Ibn Battuta, by contrast, an uptight Muslim judge (or qadi), is keen to spot (if only to condemn) local habits. He also, by the way, LOVED food and enjoyed pausing in his narrative to describe it to all his hungry readers/listeners. At any rate, I hope the lecture will encourage you to pick up some of Ibn Battuta's travel writings, which have been translated in full and in anthologies here and there. He is also the subject or inspiration of a good bit of quality modern travel writing, as with the books of Tim Mackintosh-Smith.