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Today's guest is the awesome blogger and reviewer cdn_tam.
You can follow Tam on her blog Tam's Reads, or at the short-story review site she's recently launched with jenre at Brief Encounters Reviews.

And now, to brighten up a weekend that's grey, wet or freezing cold for so many of us ... she takes us off on a worldwide tour! :)


A Few of My Favourite Places

Most people who know me on-line, know me as a book addict. Some also know me as a travel addict. Only my income keeps me home as much as it does. If I was rich, I think I’d only be home once in a while. I started wanting to travel as a child, raised in a family that stuck pretty close to home, although my Mom and step-Dad probably fueled that a bit with camping trips to the Rocky Mountains and US a few times when I was a kid.

Then when I was 16, my marching band did a three week tour of Europe, and holy hell, I was totally hooked. I also read like a demon, again, in family of non-readers, so I’m not sure my desire to travel/escape was fuelled by all the books I read, or whether the books I read fed my need to travel. To me they are linked though. So today, I thought I’d tell about five of my favourite places I’ve had a chance to visit. I rarely go back to the same place twice, far too many places in the world to see to waste time revisiting places you’ve been, but it can happen.

On with the show in no particular order:

Alsace, France – When I was married, my ex attended a large mineral trade show in St. Marie-aux-Mines in Alsace. We were living in the Czech Republic so drove there and it was just so gorgeous. It’s right in mountains, there are vineyards, tiny picturesque villages and towns and the people were amazingly friendly. We had car trouble one year, and although my French sucked (having just learned Czech I couldn’t speak any language fluently it appeared), the woman at the gite we were staying at arranged for a friend to fix our car, drove me to pick it up, they were just amazing. Despite everything you heard about the French being snobby and rude, not in Alsace. We went there twice and it was always a pleasure.

Aruba – This was my honeymoon destination and that was before Aruba was as popular as it is now. We went in February, and perhaps that colours my perception. Pretty much anywhere that wasn’t -30C would be paradise. But it truly was. We were staying on the whitest widest beach (not all beaches are wide there) and it was +30 everyday with a strong breeze keeping it comfortable. It’s a small island of Dutch background, the people were friendly and we were able to rent mopeds and pretty much travel around the whole island. Wonderful food, blue water, fruity drinks, perfect.

New York City – While I said I rarely return, well, New York is the exception. I’ve been back three years in a row with my daughter and will likely try it again next year. We are both rather hooked. New York is everything you imagine, busy, crowded, noisy, loud, and wonderful. There is something for everyone there, a quite day wandering Central Park, trying on $5,000 sunglasses on 5th Avenue, museums, shows, wonderful food and sore feet. :)

Banff, Alberta – The Rocky Mountains are gorgeous and Banff is just the cutest little tourist town. I haven’t been for many years and perhaps it’s even more touristy now (maybe too much so), but being right in the mountains, with the gorgeous Banff Springs Hotel, hot springs, skiing in winter, golf and hiking in summer along with wild animals right there in front of you. I’ve also camped in the area and had a herd of elk right outside our tent, have seen grizzly bears, mountain goats, deer and moose. It’s almost that stereotypical Canadian landscape that foreigners imagine when they think “Canada”.

Athens, Greece – I might be a bit partial to this as I was studying Greek art and archeology when I left my job at the university to take my current job. But to actually SEE the Parthenon, the artifacts in the museum that I had only read about, I swear I was walking on air the whole time I was there. Also I took a trip a temple nearby and the Aegean Sea is truly as blue as it looks in pictures. You always have to wonder if pictures are “adjusted” but they’re not, it really looks that amazing. I would love to go back to Greece, to some of the island and Crete.

I have a list far too long to list all of the wonderful places I’d like to see. Next on my plan is to take my daughter to Chicago as I only had a couple of days there in December and I think the two of us would have a good time, so hopefully in March we’ll make that trek by car.

So there are some of my favourite places I’ve visited over the years.
Tell me about yours. Where would you like to visit?



Like to stretch your writing fingers after Christmas' excesses? Take the prompt "A NEW RESOLUTION" and write something for the visitors this month. It can be anything from a flashfic 3 sentences to a drabble of 100 or so, or even more. Any genre, any theme, any rating, any character(s). Maybe ones you already love, maybe the chance to try on a new character for size.

I'm holding a FREE FICTION DAY on the 28th, so send me new fiction - links to your existing work also welcome! - to clarelondon11 AT yahoo.co.uk and I'll post it all then :).


Follow this month with Clare - and the goodies so far:

JAN 08: A great new novel and sequel from mickieashling.
JAN 09: Fiction and beautiful illustrations from essayel.
JAN 10: New menage release from lc_chase.
JAN 11: Fabulous mix of SF and erotic romance from Sloane Taylor and Robert Appleton.
JAN 12: Follow the bizarre photographic history of Wind in Hair Guy with egret17.
JAN 13: When only your family understands the joke, with charliecochrane.
JAN 14: A top 10 of gay books you should read from erastes.

JAN 01: A FREE short from me, revisiting Nic and Aidan from Sparks Fly.
JAN 01: Delicious m/m icons from luscious_words.
JAN 02: Why I want to be a Bond villain! by chrissymunder.
JAN 03: The world of inspiration between 'historical' and 'contemporary' with stevie_carroll.
JAN 04: Some fascinating Swedish proverbs from 1more_sickpuppy.
JAN 05: A round-up of a great year just gone from angelasstone.
JAN 06: The countryside and history that inspires author sandra_lindsey.
JAN 07: The challenge of trying to balance edits, with diannefox and anahcrow.


Check up on the original post and the Guest Schedule for January HERE.

Want to join in but missed the original call? Email me at clarelondon11 AT yahoo.co.uk and I'll happily find you a space ♥

NOTE: most pictures chosen by me and credited where known, others may be used without direct permission, please contact me with any queries/concerns.



( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 15th, 2011 03:06 pm (UTC)
I want to visit everywhere! Having had our share of -30 C for the second winter in a row, anyplace that looks like Aruba is high on the list.

But I also find myself desperately longing to revisit New York City - and go ice skating! I've been there during summer, and I generally prefer winter to be winter (snow and stuff) despite how much I freeze. Yet, there was something so romantic about your picture of Central Park on ice...

Thanks for sharing!
Jan. 15th, 2011 03:25 pm (UTC)
We can visit everywhere together. :-) Aruba was beautiful, and warm. I've been to NYC in March and April but never the heart of winter. Although the last few years they've had more snow than I've had up here in Canada. A friend of mine went over Christmas once and said it was crazy, you could hardly move for people.
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Jan. 15th, 2011 05:16 pm (UTC)
I do love to travel Val. That's where I spend any spare money I get it seems and even at times spare money I don't actually have yet. LOL I would love to go to Hawaii. We only spent a day and a half in DC on our US tour. We walked the ENTIRE mall. My god, I've never been so hot in my life. We stopped at the air and space museum to watch an Imax show simply because it was air conditioned. :-) DC in August is a no-no.
Jan. 15th, 2011 08:48 pm (UTC)
God yes. I was there in only JUNE last year and it was like stepping into a sauna whenever I left the office :). Completely alien for a Brit! LOL
Jan. 15th, 2011 10:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah,DC in summer is not great. Sometimes you don't have much choice.
Jan. 15th, 2011 08:50 pm (UTC)
And *HI* back, Val! Good to see you :).
Jan. 15th, 2011 05:12 pm (UTC)
I live revisiting places. I'm hoping to drive back to Toronto this year, with perhaps a sidetrip to Ottawa :D, since my friend in Toronto has family in Ottawa, but no transportation of her own.
Jan. 15th, 2011 05:18 pm (UTC)
Yay! I hope you make it Chris. I always have space for someone to stay. The only place I have really revisted besides Alsace (and that was more ex related than my choice) is NY, now we have several friends there so that's always a bonus. I do want to go back to Chicago but take the kid with me. Maybe March break. Depends on how the weather will be. I don't want to freeze our butts off.
Jan. 15th, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
I don't mind traveling - it's the planning I can't stand!

We took a cruise in Alaska a couple of years ago, and I liked that quite a lot. Another place I loved loved loved was Ireland - the south east portion, anyway. I would go back there in a second!
Jan. 15th, 2011 10:46 pm (UTC)
The planning is the part I love most. :-) My kid would like to take an Alaskan cruise and two of my friends did with their families last year and enjoyed it. It's certainly something you don't see regularly.

I was only in Dublin for 24 hours for work and almost hyperventilated when I figured the exchange rate. Ack!
Jan. 15th, 2011 08:57 pm (UTC)
This is such a lovely post because it speaks to my heart. I never used to travel much. When I was younger we didn't have much money for travel and had all out family holidays in England. Add to that the fact I used to get hideously homesick if I went anywhere different, and it wasn't v conducive to adventure! Then when I got married, Hubby - who was in the Royal Navy for years - encouraged me to enjoy holiday travel, htough I still got wracked with homesickness for at least 3 days :).

Now, of course, I'm older and (relatively) better off and have nudged my way into online communities - and there's no stopping me! I continue to love SF the best - maybe because I meet such great friends there :) - but we've also had a magical honeymooon in Austria, an awesome holiday in Florence and a love/hate thing with Egypt. Loved the country, hated the travel company who put us in a hotel with bare wires coming out of the wall and mould on all the food!

I also like travelling alone now, far more than I'd ever have expected when I was younger and much more nervous. I mean, I love my family with me, but things are a LOT easier when there's only 1 person to get through Customs, find the hotel, and keep track of :).

And there ends my soul-exposing for the day LOL. Thanks for the inspiration for such great memories!
Jan. 15th, 2011 10:49 pm (UTC)
I don't think I've ever been homesick. I've traveled a lot on my own for work. Spain, France, UK, Ireland, Central Europe. It is much easier. Although there is only my daughter and I and has been since she was 4 so that's much easier than a family of 4 and now that she's a teen it's easy peasy. I love traveling with her. I just have to make sure she eats regularly or she gets crabby. LOL I'm afraid I've gotten her rather hooked as well and she gets downright annoyed when I get to go somewhere she doesn't. Too bad, so sad kid. :-)
Jan. 15th, 2011 09:10 pm (UTC)
Good memories Tam. I am glad to live in Europe so a lot of fabulous places are on my doorstep.
Athens has a horrible reputation for being hot and the smog. But I liked it a lot the two times I was there. It was as you say the history of that place is unbeleivable!
The three sailing trips through the Greek Isles were not bad either I must admit.

Wren, about half the fun of a trip and maybe more are in the preparations and the idea of going away somewhere in the near future
Jan. 15th, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC)
Ps: that pic of me? Those are my feet on the table in Thira (Santorini)
Jan. 15th, 2011 10:50 pm (UTC)
I went to Athens in February and got an amazing week where it was 20C everyday and sunny. Not normal apparently but it was perfect for being a tourist. I would LOVE to take a sailing trip through the islands. I agree with you about the prep and the excitement of the knowing you're going somewhere soon.
Jan. 15th, 2011 11:34 pm (UTC)
I'd love to go back to Rome. I worked there for eight weeks one summer far too long ago, and it would be great to see the place again with more time to just wander.
Jan. 16th, 2011 12:12 am (UTC)
Although I lived in Europe for 3 years, Italy was one of the places I never made it too. Rome does seem very romantic.
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Jan. 16th, 2011 01:50 pm (UTC)
There's never enough time or money Lily. I would love to go to New Orleans. I've never been to Mexico either. I like the idea of an all-inclusive, no worrying about where to eat or what to do, just veg out and drink fruity drinks with umbrellas.
Jan. 16th, 2011 02:19 pm (UTC)
There are some lovely destinations here. I've never been anywhere with white sand and palm trees.

All the places I want to go are places I've written about, am writing about or have read about. I love the knack the French have of leaving well alone, so you can find gems of medieval architecture in town centres. That makes it so much easier to visualise settings. Also Greece - want to go there so badly, especially the area around Thebes. The Ukraine - is the steppe as flat as I think it is? Egypt - oh yes.

Such a nice post. You've made me dream a bit.
Jan. 17th, 2011 02:54 pm (UTC)
There are so many amazing places to visit in the world. It's hard to know what should be at the top of the list.
Jan. 16th, 2011 05:19 pm (UTC)
Late to the party, sorry!

These places look fabulous. I don't get to travel much but hub often goes abroad for conferences. The one place I'd love to visit is New Zealand but I think we might have to save that one til the kids have left home. Other than that, I don't mind where I go as long as get to see a bit of the world.

One disappointment I had was when we took a family holiday to Ibiza. I was looking forward to going out in the evening and eating Spanish food in some local tavern. Unfortunately we were staying in a small town that catered solely to the British and every single restaurant did fish and chips or pie and peas or some other British 'delicacy'. We were so fed up, especially because of the implications that all British people hate foreign food!
Jan. 17th, 2011 02:56 pm (UTC)
What a drag Jen. There is that opinion I think of not only Brits but probably North Americans as well that all you want is the same thing you can get at home. If I want a burger and fries I'll stay at home and run down to McDonald's.

New Zealand looks beautiful, but so far away.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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