Saturday, March 17, 2018

Seven Places to Revisit -- #SaturdaySeven #Travel #Giveaway

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Travel has always been one of my passions, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen a lot of the world. Of course, like many people, I still have a bucket list of destinations I haven’t yet visited—a list far longer than seven items!

At the same time, certain places call me back. In some cases, I didn’t get enough time to fully experience the location. In other cases, I’m so deeply in love with the place that, even though I’ve been there many times, I want to return.

You might not be surprised to learn that quite a few of these places have found their way into my stories. I guess what’s surprising is that I haven’t used all of them for settings. At least not yet!

1. Prague

Prague is the atmospheric, history-steeped capitol of the Czech Republic. With its massive castle overlooking the Voltava River, cobbled town squares and centuries-old bridges, magnificent cathedrals and narrow alleys, the city whisks you back in time. Meanwhile, it’s also a mecca for art, both traditional and avant garde, and music, especially classical. I only visited for a few days, decades ago, but during that period I went to two concerts (Vivaldi and Monteverdi) plus saw a performance of Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte”, in the same elaborately decorated opera house where it was performed more than two hundred years ago.

The city left an indelible impression on my imagination. My first published short story (“Glass House”) is set there, as is my paranormal tale “Prey”. Somehow I’ve never made it back. But I will.

2. Marrakesh

My very first overseas travel experience included a week-long bus tour of Morocco, as part of a longer trip to Spain. This was right after I graduated from university. Alas, the exoticism of the country was a bit wasted on me. Not that I didn’t appreciate the sights and the culture, but I found everything on that trip amazing and new.

In Marrakesh, my traveling companion and I explored the markets in the old souks and went to a night club featuring a belly dancing floor show. I remember the thrill of using my high school French to communicate with another customer sitting next to me. I really was in a foreign country!

Morocco hasn’t yet shown up in any of my books. I need to go back and refresh my memories.

3. Railay Beach, Krabi, Thailand

Railay is a peninsula on the western Andaman Sea coast of Thailand. Cut off from the mainland by craggy hills, Railay feels like an island. It is accessible only by boat.

I’ve seen many astoundingly beautiful places in my life. Railay has to be one of the most exquisite. The deep turquoise ocean nestles in the embrace of soaring limestone capes. Verdant palms shade the white sand. With only a dozen or so resorts and guesthouses, the peninsula is rarely crowded, though its precipitous cliffs make it one of the top rock climbing destinations in Southeast Asia.

I’ve visited Railay twice, once just for the day, once for a weekend. Since then I’ve recommended it to everyone who wants to see the best beach in Thailand. I know I’ll go back before too long.

4. Gloucester, Massachusetts

Although I now live in Asia, I spent much of my life in lovely, blustery New England. The old fishing port of Gloucester, on Cape Ann north of Boston, is one of my favorite New England destinations. For years my husband and I had a tradition of spending our mid-June wedding anniversary there, in a motel with an ocean view. Hence I strongly associate Gloucester with romance.

The geography of the city is delightfully complex, with several harbors and beaches that have very different atmospheres. Two hundred years ago, Gloucester Harbor sheltered the clipper ships returning from the Far East, full of treasures. Museums in the town bring that history to life. Gloucester also offers amazing seafood, as well as art galleries, book stores, and the chance to go whale watching.

If you’d like to get a sense for the place, pick up a copy of my lesbian paranormal romance, The Witches of Gloucester. Any reader will immediately grasp how much I love the place.

5. Bruges, Belgium

Photo by Hans Hillewaert, Wikipedia

My husband and I spent one magic night in Bruges, a city frozen in time. Starting from the 12th century, Bruges was an important commercial center for all of Europe. Canals crisscross the historic central city, lined with warehouses and the homes of wealthy merchants. Wonderfully preserved medieval buildings surround the market square, where traders used to set up their stalls.

At night, the ancient buildings are illuminated, giving the whole place a fairy tale atmosphere. I remember the sight left me breathless. We left on an early morning train, without much time for exploring. I’ve wanted to return ever since.

6. San Francisco

I’ve never lived in San Francisco, but I’ve probably set more of my tales there than anywhere else, including my BDSM romance Her Secret Ingredient and my dystopic MM sci fi novel Quarantine. Many important events in my personal life unfolded in the City by the Bay. I can’t think of the place without a sense of excitement.

The gaily-painted Victorian houses—the artsy cafes of Noe Valley—the sweeping grandeur of the Golden Gate Bridge—the view from Twin Peaks—San Francisco would be a gorgeous place even without the emotional overtones. I haven’t been there for more than five years, but the place lives in my memory. I know I will go back.
7. Shanghai

I just returned from my first visit to Shanghai. I loved it. As is often the case when I travel on business, my time there was limited to a mere two days. I used that time mostly to walk around, exploring the crowded residential warrens that somehow have survived urban renewal; admiring the art deco department stores and villas, relics from the period when the city was the gateway for Europeans to encounter the Middle Kingdom; marveling at the gleaming skyscrapers that dominate modern Shanghai.

I didn’t have the time to visit any of the museums, or wander through the French Concession quarter, or take a lightning fast elevator to the observation deck on the tallest building in Asia.

Next time.

Meanwhile I’m wondering whether I have enough of a sense of the city, from this short but intense visit, to set the next book of my Asian Adventures series there.

And speaking of Asian Adventures, you could win your choice of books one through four from this series. Just leave me a comment, with your email, telling me about one place like to revisit.


ELF said...

My mom had family in San Francisco, so we would visit every so often and she would tell me about living on Grant Avenue and watching them film "Flower Drum Song" there. I was always amazed at how chilly it was there when we had just come from sunny Southern California. I'm in awe of all of the places you have been to, but my limited exposure has been to several of the Hawaiian islands, so I'd most like to go back to beautiful Kauai! My post is at:
and my e-address is at elewkf1 at yahoo dot com. Thanks for the beautiful pix!

Marianne Arkins said...

Amazing world traveler! I really haven't been anywhere (I lived in California most of my life, so Mexico is my only non-US place of travel). I have been all over the United States, though. I don't have an adventurous spirit, so while part of me would love to travel, the other part keeps me happily at home. I've told my husband I want to hop in an RV when he retires and really, really travel the US however, and spend more time in all the neat places that are here.

I am here!

Debby said...

I would love to revisit the Galapagos. That was an amazing place to be.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Lydia said...

Railay Beach looks like such a relaxing place to visit. Honestly, all of the places you mentioned in this post sound like they'd be amazing vacation spots!

My post:

Long and Short Reviews said...

Thanks for playing! You have been to some awesome places!!

Charlene Keel said...

Many years ago, when I was a flight attendant for Trans World Airlines, I loved having layovers in San Francisco. It was one of my favorite cities. I also got to visit Spain (Madrid) and would love to go back there for more Flamenco dancers and the paella, which was fantastic!

bn100 said...


bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Marle said...

Places u mention sound wonderful. Have been to San F. Lived in Grand Marais so there or Duluth Mn on the Lake r beautiful places too. Have seen pics of Nova Scotia looks wonderful too. So many places need time off oh ya money would help too! mhustvet@

Wendi Zwaduk and Megan Slayer said...

You've been to some beautiful places. I'd love to see England - I don't care where in England, France, Greece and Italy. :-)

Reviews By Crystal said...

That was a lot of fun to read. You have had some great travels.

My Mom and I use to visit Branson, MO once a year. It's beautiful and all that country music. I wouldn't mind a trip to Branson again.

orelukjp0 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
orelukjp0 said...

I'd love to revisit Edinburg. I went one time with my daughter, she took me. It was my first time out of the USA. Unfortunately I caught pneumonia and was sick the entire 4 days. I loved what I saw there but would love to go again to do more and really enjoy places I was ill before to enjoy.

orelukjp0 at gmail dot com

Unknown said...

Having a long-time facination with the culture and traditional clothing, I would love to visit Tokyo, Japan.

shamanmiko at gmail dot com

Debby said...

Wow, there are some places that I would love to visit. Unfortunately we are off to Moldova.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Lisabet Sarai said...

Thanks to everyone who dropped by to share your personal travel fantasies!

"Unfortunately" you're off to Moldova, Debby? Sounds great to me! I've never been to the Galapagos, either.

Congratulations to ShamanMiko, who won my giveaway!

Drop by to sample this week's Saturday Seven, here:

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