Armchair Traveler ~ Book: Secret Journeys of a Lifetime

The sub-title of this fabulous National Geographic book is “500 of the World’s Best Hidden Travel Gems.” The book does not disappoint ~ there are indeed numerous travel gems.

Magnificent photos will captivate the armchair traveler’s interest as well as information about the sites including when to go, how to find it, planning and websites. It is a treasure trove of places near and far, ranging from the “Frank” (Idaho) to the Wrangell-Kluane Wilderness (Alaska-Canada) to La Bagatelle (Paris) to Kerinci Seblat (Sumatra) to Galle Fort (Sri Lanka). Every continent is well represented.

On chilly, rainy days in the Pacific Northwest, this is a favorite book to browse. In addition to the photos and intriguing descriptions, there are marvelous off-beat “top 10” lists, including Odd Museums, Ghost Towns, Perfect Beaches, Ferry Journeys, Backwaters and Roman Sites.

In addition to looking at photos or reading about favorite places, it’s enjoyable to look at mementoes of your travels. Or asking friends about their mementoes – share your love of travel with others. Even if you currently cannot travel to a place you dream of, keep imagining.

Be an armchair traveler ~ learn about your favorite places: perhaps a language or cooking class, a history book or a good novel set in that county or city. You might well learn far more than tourists who travel but never become a traveler.

Most important, have fun and be creative as you “journey” to a favorite spot … even if for now, it is a dream.

Savor your journeys, near or far, real or imagined

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. Henry Miller

Once you have travelled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey. Pat Conroy

The journey not the arrival matters. T.S. Eliot

Armchair Traveler ~ Paris

Time to “travel” to one of my favorite places ~ Paris. I have visited several times and have many great memories, including enjoying a delicious pain au raisin early in the morning walking through a small park, walking along the Seine (browsing the book stalls), exploring the Louvre and Musee Marmottan and dining at special restaurants, one with a terrific view of Notre Dame.

As an armchair traveler, I start by browsing through favorite guide books, re-living treasured walks (Paris is for walking and exploring), while listening to Frank Sinatra’s “I Love Paris.”

Favorite movies set in Paris include “Midnight in Paris” and “Charade” ( I have to buy a new copy of “Charade” as I watched it so often my copy no longer plays).

Enjoy some of my favorite sites below. Of course, as an armchair traveler, your web browsing can be enhanced by a fabulous glass of French wine accompanied by delectable French cheese…..or pain au chocolat or …

Paris ~ Official website of the Convention and Visitors Bureau

Jardin des Tuileries – Paris tourist office (parisinfo.com)

The Louvre in Paris

https://www.louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne#tabs

Musée Marmottan Monet is located at 2, rue Louis Boilly in the 16th arrondissement of Paris and features over three hundred Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings by Claude Monet, including his 1872 Impression, Sunrise. It is the largest collection of his works.

Claude Monet — Musée Marmottan Monet

I took a train from Paris to the beautiful Chateau de Fontainebleau (easy to navigate the train) … 

Château de Fontainebleau Official Site Home Page (chateaudefontainebleau.fr)

To quote a favorite author: “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast.” Ernest Hemingway

As an armchair traveler, you can begin to get a feel for this wondrous city … captivating any time of the year … make plans to visit (or re-visit) … and for now, indulge your senses in things French.

Savor your journeys… real, imagined or virtual, near or far

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things ~ Henry Miller

Armchair Traveler ~ The Last Courts of Europe

Let’s go back in time for another Armchair Traveler journey. But not too far back …Let’s explore Europe, late 19th ~ early 20th century. And let’s narrow it down to royalty during this era. A marvelous book for just such a tour is “The Last Courts of Europe ~ A Royal Family Album 1860 – 1914.” Picture research and descriptions by Jeffrey Finestone.

The books’ well-written introduction by Robert K. Massie sets the scene for the reader. Each county or area has a very good overview of the monarchy plus fabulous photos, ranging from state funerals and family gatherings at marriages to candid shots. The books genealogical tables are interesting to note how all of the families were related.

The closing section, titled The Eleventh Hour, relates how many of the monarchies would not survive WWI. The age of royal pomp and splendor would end, tragically for some, but we can marvel at their unique world via beautiful photos and books.

Leafing through the book will transport you to another time and place. At the same time, it might awaken a desire to explore a particular country further. The internet is your starting point … pick a country or a royal family and explore. You may end up planning your next vacation.

As a start, here are my three favorite palaces in Europe. Each has a terrific web presence so that you can easily spend hours exploring … perhaps with a glass of wine from that country or a special dessert.

France ~ Versailles (a must visit!!)

http://en.chateauversailles.fr/

http://en.chateauversailles.fr/news/life-estate/versaillesvr-palace-yours

Austria ~ Vienna ~ Schoenbrunn (a delight)

https://www.schoenbrunn.at/en/

Should you journey to Vienna, definitely plan to visit Demel – the atmosphere and the desserts (think Sachertorte) are incredible

https://www.demel.com/en/

Sweden ~ Stockholm area (take the boat ~ beautiful palace)

https://www.kungligaslotten.se/english/royal-palaces-and-sites/drottningholm-palace.html

Savor your journeys… real, imagined or virtual, near or far

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things ~ Henry Miller

Armchair Traveler ~ Ancient Egypt

As an armchair traveler, your only limit is your imagination. You can journey via books or online to not only contemporary, world-wide destinations, but also to different eras. Let’s be time travelers and journey to Ancient Egypt.

Start your adventure on YouTube by searching “Ancient Egypt.” You can easily spend many hours exploring Ancient Egypt, from history to music to tombs to the Nile to … wherever your imagination leads.

A favorite book is “The Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt” (General Editor: Helen Strudwick). There is a wealth of information that keeps the reader enthralled for many hours. There are photos below to give you an idea of its contents which range from history (including Cleopatra), to religion, to art, to impressive information about their everyday life. There is also an intriguing section about their writing, reading hieroglyphs and the Rosetta Stone.

Over the years, I have read the marvelous Amelia Peabody mystery series by Elizabeth Peters. The author had a Ph.D. in Egyptology and while the series is set in the late 19th, early 20th century Egypt, the author imparts to the reader much information about ancient Egypt. As I had not read the books in order, two years ago I decided to do so, as it is a favorite series. It was thoroughly enjoyable, renewing acquaintances with interesting characters and scenarios and learning more about Ancient Egypt.

The book, “Amelia Peabody’s Egypt” contains fascinating photos from that era plus information about Egypt. It is a must read for any reader that has enjoyed the series. In addition to the photos, there are favorite quotes from the characters, a detailed synopsis and photos of The Winter Palace, a fabled hotel (opened in 1886) in Luxor. The reader will have spent enjoyable time with the characters at the hotel and it’s rather fun to see a photo, from 1905, of the hotel.

Of course, you can also watch mummy movies or check out a favorite, “Death on the Nile.” The Agatha Christie book is a fun read as are the movies: the 1978 film with Peter Ustinov, David Niven, Better Davis and Mia Farrow and the 2004 film with the very familiar David Suchet as Hercule Poirot.  The settings are beautiful … and you may find yourself adding Egypt to your list of countries to explore and plan a journey for the near future.

And while you are exploring Ancient Egypt online, take time to discover Egyptian food and experiment with recipes. Immerse yourself in your armchair traveler country of a different era … explore the possibilities.

Savor your journeys… real, imagined or virtual, near or far

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things ~ Henry Miller

Egypt is not a country we live in but a country that lives within us ~  Pope Shenouda III

Armchair Traveler ~ Ancient Greece

As an armchair traveler, your only limit is your imagination. You can explore not only contemporary, world-wide destinations, but also different times. Be a time-traveler and let’s journey to Ancient Greece.

You can start your adventure viewing some of the many fascinating videos on YouTube. Search “Ancient Greece” or narrow it down to Delphi or the Acropolis. You may find some so intriguing that you will subscribe. And don’t forget to check out the Ancient Greek language videos on YouTube.

A favorite book when I want to renew my acquaintance with Ancient Greece, plus gaze at modern day photos, is “The Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece” (General Editor: Carlos Gomez). There is a wealth of information that will keep the reader enthralled for many hours. There are photos below to give you an idea of its contents.

Your journeys exploring the ancient world may well lead you to explore and perhaps plan a journey to present day Greece and its islands.

As an aside, my first journey to Europe was to Greece (primarily Athens, Corinth and Delphi) and Rome. This trip with a friend has very special memories, including a terrific dinner in Athens with a spectacular view of the Acropolis and being at Delphi and feeling the presence of the Gods. It is a mystical place, well worth a visit – even if for now, it is only via YouTube or books.

And of course, while you are exploring Ancient Greece online and with reading material, take time to discover Greek food (Moussaka, stuffed grape leaves, hummus, as a start), crisp Greek wine, its incredible history, the origins of western philosophy … you get the idea! Immerse yourself in your armchair traveler country of a different era … explore the possibilities.

Savor your journeys… real, imagined or virtual, near or far

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things ~ Henry Miller

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man ~ Heraclitus

 True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us ~ Socrates

 Know thyself ~ (inscribed at Temple of Apollo at Delphi over 2,000 years ago)

Armchair Traveler ~ US National Parks ~ Photos

One of my favorite Armchair Traveler books contains gorgeous photos and essays about many of the incredible US National Parks. When I browse the book I remember past journeys (my favorites include Denali, Glacier, Mt Rushmore, Shenandoah and the Grand Canyon) and plan new adventures (Grand Teton, Yosemite, Crater Lake are on my list). 

In addition to books and maps about various National Parks, there is a wealth of information on line: https://www.nps.gov/index.htm  Remember when you plan your trip to a National Park, some are far more crowded than others and going in spring or fall is less crowded than the summer months.

Each park is very special and unique. While there are travelers whose goal is to journey to each park, there are others (like me) who prefer to return to a favorite park. I find that each time, I discover new vistas.

Be creative and have fun as you “armchair travel” using photo books, guidebooks and online sites. You could well be planning your next journey.

Take the time to put the camera away and gaze in wonder at what’s there in front of you ~ Erick Widman

One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things ~ Henry Miller

Savor your journeys… real, imagined or virtual, near or far.

Armchair Traveler ~ Road Trips

I think now is a perfect time to be an armchair traveler and what’s better than a road trip? You can fantasize about your trip from where to go (nearby or a faraway destination, using a rental vehicle) to your vehicle (your car or rent a motorcycle, an RV, a convertible ~ your dream vehicle ~ this is your armchair travel!). Now, take off, using your maps and guide books as you peruse your armchair journey.

Pick out not only special sights (a national park? an historic area? a mountain top? a city you have always wanted to visit), but also side trips to small towns, secluded beaches, local spots. Read about a hotel you have always wanted to visit or a special restaurant (you can check menus on-line and prepare a special dinner).

Have fun exploring …. be creative as you “journey” using your maps and guidebooks … who knows – you may well be planning your next trip. A road trip ~ where you can be spontaneous, take side trips, explore and enjoy your journey. 

Below are photos from a favorite guidebook which I used last year when planning my road trip to incredible Mount Rushmore. Plus, a photo of my favorite navigator (Shadow) who accompanied me on two road trips when I moved to/from South Carolina.

 Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Savor your journeys… real, imagined or virtual, near or far.

Armchair Traveler ~ France

Since travel is restricted, an Armchair Traveler journey to a favorite destination, France, is in order. France is a fabulous place to explore, from the Alps (do add Chamonix and Annecy to your bucket list), to Brittany (St Malo is fantastic), to Avignon and of course, to Paris.

“There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: at home and in Paris.”  Ernest Hemingway 

And there are so many other areas for me yet to discover. 

France is both a visual and gastronomic feast. The vistas are magnificent and memorable. Equally memorable is the cuisine from croissants and pain aux raisin at a neighborhood boulangerie to local bistro dining to incredible dinners. And of course, the magnificent wine and cheese. Yes, a journey to France is truly a unique experience.

I hope that this post lets you take a pause, think of memorable past journeys, plan future trips and enjoy your armchair travel. Not only peruse books, but watch favorite movies set where you want to explore, listen to the music of that area, and prepare special meals …. enjoy the journey! 

Savor your journeys… real, imagined or virtual, near or far.

Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît pas. -Blaise Pascal

“The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.”

 On ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

We see well only with the heart.”

Le monde est un livre dont chaque pas nous ouvre une page. -Alphonse de Lamartine 

“The world is a book – with each step we open a page.”