Mystery writing and exotic travel

Tracee de Hahn

I spend my days writing mysteries which means I have no trouble imaging exotic trips I may not take. For example, I have long wanted to take the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Beijing. Find the right time and season and book a ticket. Maybe even come up with a book to write while there. Right now, it is starting to look like a distant dream again. 

Road Rally adventures

The ultimate road journey (and possible plot for a book) is The Peking to Paris Road Rally. Originated in 1907, it is now held about every three years. A few of the stumbling blocks: it covers over 13,500 km and takes a month and I’d need the perfect co-pilot (I’ve actually floated the idea with a few friends who looked at me like I was INSANE). The drivers (me) need a good knowledge of car repair (I could learn). Last, but not least, I’d need the right car (for the record, I’d participate in the vintage car part of the race and if anyone has an old Rolls they’d like to see cross the desert send it my way). For the record, given a car and traveling companion, I would learn how to take care of that engine (and chassis and tires and…..)

My question this week

What would you like to do that is just a touch out of reach, but the idea stays with you as a wonderful dream just the same?

Connie Berry

Well, first, I think the Miss Demeanors should definitely enter the Peking to Paris Road Rally as a team in a vintage bus like one of the old Top Gear shows. We could pool our resources and skills. I wouldn’t be much help with repairs, but I am a crack navigator. Anyone else on board?

Back to the question of the week. Like Tracee and Emilya, my dreams always involve travel. One of my impossible dreams is taking the Simplon Orient Express from Paris to Istanbul. Has anyone ever checked out the cost of such a trip? This is fiction, right?

The other trip I dream about taking is one of the tours to South Africa and Botswana led by Alexander McCall Smith. Sadly, I don’t think he’s doing them anymore, but can you imagine how much fun it would be to listen to him every day? Plus seeing the places that inspired his Mma Ramotswe series? This is a trip my husband and I have actually talked about, so we might go one day.  

Susan Breen 

I would also like to go on the Miss Demeanor Peking to Paris road rally, though I must confess I’m completely useless. Can’t repair, can’t navigate. I don’t cause trouble though. When I drove with four large people (in a small car) from Bombassa India to New Delhi (12 hours), they tucked me next to the trunk and I didn’t complain and I laughed at everyone’s jokes.

I’ve always dreamed of going to the Antarctic, though that’s completely impractical. Starting price is $10,000 and then there’s the cold! But it must be magnificent. Next week I’m going to London, and that seems pretty good to me. 

Emilya Naymark

Boy… I miss traveling so much it’s like a physical grieving. For so long I couldn’t travel because of family reasons. And then—pandemic! 

I just came back from my first real trip in three years and although it was only Florida (as opposed to Scotland, which we had to cancel two years ago), I still felt energized. I want to go anywhere new and see anything different.

Tracee, your Peking to Paris Road Rally makes me think of a group of German artists I know of who took four Ural motorcycles (the ones with side cars) and rode them from Germany to New York, through Russia.

My husband and a friend followed their posts and then met them when they came to New York. Yes, we have a Ural as well, and I’d be up for a Ural trip, though maybe not through the empty vastness of third world Russia. 

Right now I’m reading a novel set in Venice. And I want to go to Venice! Maybe live there for a month. I can do that, right? I can work from anywhere. And I’m a night owl anyway, so the time difference would work in my favor. 

C. Michele Dorsey

Don’t get mad at me, but I used to hate New York City. Every time I went there, I felt claustrophobic surrounded by mile-high concrete. Then I spent a week in a small, but lovely hotel while I took Robert Mckee’s Story course. In a few days, I had combed my new neighborhood, found my favorite restaurants and deli, and was known by my first name at my local Starbucks. I felt the electricity in the air that New Yorkers talk about and decided New York wasn’t so bad after all.

It got me thinking that it would be fun to stay for a month in various places, immerse myself in the setting and culture, and of course, the food. Play “make-believe-I-live-here.” A month in a hunting lodge deep in Connemara would be fun or in a cottage in the Cotswalds. I wonder if Agatha Raisin’s is available. Scotland and Wales are also calling. Then there’s that City of Lights. I spent my 50th birthday in a tiny apartment at the top of a circular staircase in the Marais. The Amalafi Coast would work. I’d love to stay in a villa atop Ana Capri looking out at the water while I write my next book. Iceland would be fun to try. 

I’m game for more exotic travel anywhere with my fellow Miss Demeanors, but I do like the idea of spending a month or more in locations where I’d getting a taste of what it’s like to live there. 

Alexia Gordon

Two trips: The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (without the murder) and a round-the-world cruise on one of Cunard’s “Queens.” *sigh* Someday… I’ve done cross-country by train in the U.S. on Amtrak. I’d do it again. I’d also like to finish my trip across the remaining sections of Route 66. Okay, so maybe more than two trips. I also have a goal of reaching 1K status on United. Or, at least, regaining Platinum. 

Catherine Maiorisi

When I was a teenager I dreamed of going to Africa and Australia. I’d never dreamed of Europe until I was twenty-eight. Then a friend and I were so bored at work we started fantasizing about going to Europe for three weeks. By the time we requested the time off we were up to six weeks. Our request was denied and we quit. For almost six months, we drove all over Europe, as far east as Istanbul. Turkey was a little scary but driving back through Communist countries was even scarier.

Now I dream about New Zealand. But, for several reasons, going there or to Australia or Africa is probably not in the cards for me. A more realistic dream I’ve had for a while is spending three or four months a year in Italy. I’ve been there many times over the years but I was working and it was usually two or three weeks trying to do and see too much. Four years ago, my wife took me to Southern Italy (Puglia, Basilicata and Compania) and I fell in love with the people and the beauty of the land. If Covid hadn’t disrupted life we probably would have already spent a month or two there. When we feel safe to travel again, I hope to live somewhere in Puglia or in Sicily.

Keenan Powell

In 1980, I drove across country by myself in my little Mazda. I stayed in fleabag motels. Once, the manager argued with me about whether I was renting the room for one or two people.  On the one hand, I didn’t want to pay for two people. On the other hand, I thought he was overly interested in whether I was a lone female. Not much sleep that night. Also, I learned to hold my breath and work quickly when visiting the ladies room in southwestern filling stations. 

I’ve always dreamed of doing that trip again in a zippy little sports car, staying at the fanciest hotels I can find, and taking very artsy photographs. One idea I had was to do a project on barns, lots of opportunities for playing with light/dark, fields full of flowers, cows, very Americana. It would make a nice coffee table book. What interested me is how barn construction differs from one area to the next and why. I might still do that. It would take all summer, if not two, to do it right. 

But who leaves Alaska in the summer, I ask you.

Sharon Ward

I hate to travel–probably because I did so much of it while I was working in the corporate world. I was on an airplane almost everyday for years. 

One large company I worked at–which shall remain nameless–actually flew me from Boston to Sydney Australia to do a one hour presentation at a conference. I smiled at customers before and after my presentation, but I was so tired I could have been smiling at a horde of rabid kangaroos for all I knew.

I flew to China once–alas, in coach–and the woman in the middle seat next to me had a two year old child on her lap. The baby naturally squirmed and wiggled for the entire 19 hours. The mother changed his diapers while in her seat. I practically pole vaulted over the rows in front of me to get off that plane when it landed.

I’ve been to a ton of places. China, Japan, Australia, Italy, UK, France, Switzerland, and more. Most US states except a few in the middle. All lovely.

Every place I’ve ever been is great in its own way, but like Dorothy says in the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.” At least as far as I’m concerned.

Tracee de Hahn

What about you? What journey do you have in mind?

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One comment

  1. Calvin Trillin wrote that to him travel was going somewhere and just hanging around. Like Michele, I love the idea of hanging around various locations. Maybe I can get to them via some of the means Alexia mentions that are on my bucket list.

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