Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tempted to Travel : : Where to Next?

Anne McAllister is feeling landlocked and looking at horizons. She is also contemplating a couple of empty weeks in Europe this summer. How to fill the time?

Tuesday! And two of my favorite topics combined into one here on the Pink Heart -- temptation and travel. Ah, yes!

When I was a kid one of the best Christmas presents I ever got came from my grandparents. I think I must have hinted strongly because I can't imagine them thinking of this on their own, but what they gave me was a four volume set of books called The Encyclopedia of World Travel.

Talk about temptation . . .

I spent hours -- no, I spent days, weeks, probably months -- with my nose in those books.

I needed them because in those days during the school year my horizons stopped as far west as you could see from the Manhattan Beach pier in the Pacific ocean to as far east as you could see from the Pacific Coast Highway. Not far, in other words.

In the summer I got to Colorado or Montana or, once when I was almost too young to remember, Oklahoma.

The rest of the world was a large exotic mysterious enticing place.

And thanks to my grandparents, those books brought it all to my fingertips.

In one volume I read about wineries in France, mermaids in Copenhagen, and ancient monuments in Greece. In another I read about giant red rocks in Australia, glaciers in New Zealand, palaces in India and spice trade in Indonesia. I read about Incan ruins and Aztec pyramids, Amazon jungles and Caribbean islands. I dreamed about African safaris and Egyptian mummies and drooled over names like Marrakesh and Madagascar.

I made list upon list of places that I wanted someday to go.

I'm still making them. And now that I've been quite a few places on that list, it doesn't get any shorter because I almost always want to go back to all the places I've been.

The world is less mysterious now, but no less enticing.

And I've been giving serious thought to the fact that I have two weeks this summer when I will be in England between two workshops. That puts me considerably closer to lots of interesting places than I am when I'm home.

So I'm asking you: where should I go next?

Here are the criteria: It should be some place that I can set a book. Getting a book out of a trip is a good way to pay attention -- and it makes the taxman happy. It should also be close enough to Britain (or in Britain) that I can take advantage of my geographic proximity to that side of the pond.

And it doesn't have to be glitzy or glamorous (despite the fact that I write for Presents). But it should make my pulse race and my heart beat faster and my fingers itch to get online and buy tickets or find accommodations.

So, what do you think?

I'm thinking about Greece.

I've written several books set in Greece. I've picked all my friends' brains about Greece. I've picked their parents' brains, their siblings' brains, their childrens' brains. They all think I should go to Greece and let them get on with their lives.

I could. But then sometimes I think about Istanbul. Michelle Styles is a serious advocate of my taking a jaunt to Istanbul. Great museums, she says. Great Turkish baths. Great ambience. It's been on my list for years.

Sometimes I think I should take a train from Vienna to Istanbul. I've taken the train to Budapest from Vienna. It was like traveling across Iowa. Or it would be if we had trains (well, we do have one, I think, but barely, so it doesn't count).

Anyway, what do you think about trains? I could see Bulgaria that way -- unless we went at night. Then I could travel through Bulgaria without seeing it. Is this a good thing? I think I'd like to see Bulgaria.

Then again, there's Copenhagen.

I've never been to northern Europe. And there's something about Copenhagen that tempts me. (Besides Mads Mikkelsen, Michelle!)

Finland tempts me, too, but I'm having a hard time thinking I'll get a book set there past editorial. They don't like cold. I know it's not cold there all year round, but it's a matter of perception.

What about Lappland? Anyone been there? One of my cousins did an mtDNA test so we could figure out more about a mysterious relative we descend from. It turns out she is likely of Saami ancestry. That's very deeeeeeep ancestry, but it has piqued my curiosity about Lappland and those Finns who came to New Sweden in the 17th century. Though I can't see editorial going for that, either.

Ah, well . . . there is the Basque country. Seriously tempting. And maybe making a day or two's walk along some of the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain.

There's the Cornish coastal path, too. Another serious temptation. And maybe I could get part of a book set there.

Orkney? Always a possibility. Pretty far off the beaten path.

But I spent a day in Millom once, and as far as 'off the beaten path' goes, Millom is pretty far. I didn't get a book out of it. I loved the visit, though.

What do you think?

Mid-July. About 12 days to explore, absorb, be tempted. Where would you go, if you were me?

Anne picked a Brazilian friend's brain for the part of her book One-Night Mistress...Convenient Wife that was set in Brazil. The Manhattan Beach parts she knows like the back of her hand.

If you want a chance to win a copy of it (and two other great books as well), visit her webpage and check out the 4th Annual
Here Come the Grooms! contest she and Liz Fielding and Kate Walker are holding from Valentine's Day until March 1.


  1. Can I say, they all sound divine and just too many to choose from? But I have recently visited Manhattan Beach when I was in LA (I live in Australia) and loved it.

    But if I had to choose - I'd love to do a road trip through France, or maybe its because I have a fondness for wine??

  2. Janette, Good suggestion. Thank you. I went to Cannes a year ago last autumn and enjoyed the beach and the French countryside a great deal. I could get a book out of that, no doubt. I'll give it some thought. And then, of course, there is the wine ...!

  3. You are in the UK this summer? Fabulous! Will we get a chance to catch up?

    Tuscany is beautiful, we stayed on a stud farm full of beautiful horses (and the owner was a definite Presents hero). Day trips to Sienna and Florence etc. Problem is summer will be busy.

    Or walking in the French Alps. They are lovely in the summer especially around Chamonix.

    Or of course you could do the West Country and tour the Neolithic sites of Avebury etc, take in Bath and then go down to Devon and Cornwall.

  4. Tricky to decide. Everywhere would be too hot for me in July. Sometimes even the UK! I'm going to Rome in April, but always promised myself a return trip to both Greece and to Istanbul. Wherever you go in between, I hope I get a chance to catch up with you somewhere!

  5. Oooh, a trip on the Orient Express. That sounds so glamorous to me and you could maybe even set a whole book on it :-)

  6. A trip anywhere sounds like heaven but I think Liz might be right about the temperatures in Greece in the summer. I'm from Italian/English background and have never been to either England or Italy. My dream was to go to Edinburgh and on to the highlands. I'm very fortunate in that I have travelled to Munich and area, Athens and area, and to Majorca and Madrid and area. I was totally awed by all of the places.

  7. Biddy, yes! We must meet up. Would love to. And thanks for the suggestions. The stud farm sounds fantastic. How could you miss with both horses and a hero? That's kind of like my book of the moment -- only not Tuscany, I fear. Have done Bath a couple of times, the last for four days. But the West Country always beckons as it's the ancestral home.

    Liz, yes, temps will be a deterrent to the southern climes. But maybe I can bring myself to cope -- especially as our midwest summers can swelter, too. I think we can get together in Wales toward the end of the jaunt, if that works for you.

    Joanne, I like the way you think! The Orient Express is a great idea. I don't know if I can afford it, but I could certainly set a book on it. I checked it out a few years ago, but I can see that doing it again will be a good idea -- and a pleasure.

    Kaelee, Hadn't thought of Edinburgh, but that's a good idea. Not so far away from where I'll be (well, not as far as Santorini or Istanbul!). I hope you get to go to both England and Italy sometime. Everywhere I've been in both places has been wonderful and memorable.

  8. Anne, I'd also suggest Edinburgh. Just loved it when we were there this fall. Also the west of Ireland, if you haven't been there. Lots of medium-sized towns (since villages probably won't sell at Harlequin) with tons of history and romance, although since you write contemporaries all the castle will be less relevant. Lots of horses, too. Nancy