Ponderings on Travel Books…

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>I love travel books… from start to finish. I love the joy of planning a trip, the joy of standing in a bookstore with my arms loaded down with exotic locations. Pre-trip I read, I highlight, I sticky-tab the books, draw pictures in the margins of what I intend to pack or make little lists of things to do before I leave (like hire a pet sitter, get my hair cut or clean the refrigerator!) When trip time comes, I pack the books in my suitcase or carry on & they make the journey with me, adding to the weight of my luggage.

Once in my hotel room, I place them on my bedside stand and then when it’s time to hit the streets of whatever location I happen to be in… I begin to I load my Longchamp carrier bag – the one that is easiest for long days wandering foreign cities. Inevitably, the last thing to go in is my favorite tour book (plucked carefully from the pile next to the bed) and inevitably, that book is the straw that breaks the camel’s back and makes my purse too heavy to carry for a full day. So I return the book to the bedside table where it rests for the next few days or week but I carry it with me in my mind and when my husband asks “What do you think this building is?” from the recesses of my mind, my trusty travel book whispers the answer into my ear and my husband is impressed with my knowledge and I’m reassured the memory techniques that got me through university still work as well as they did back then!

At night in the hotel, I sit my glass of wine on the book. Then my husband comes around the corner, sees me lying on the bed and attacks me with a flurry of spontaneous kisses brought on by the wonderful relaxing joy of being on holiday. In his enthusiasm, I knock over the wine glass, marring the book cover and pages with a deep rouge smudge.

Returning home, I place the book on the bulging buckling book shelf, and after each trip I comment to my lazy literary cat who likes to sleep on my piles of beloved books, “We should get rid of all these old books” and I scratch behind his ears. Then I run my fingers across the book spines remembering various trips. My finger lands on the first travel book I ever bought. It’s a book on England and I purchased it as a university student for my study abroad trip to London and this book is so old with prices, dates & times so out of date that I know I should throw the book away.

top:10px;margin-bottom:10px;margin-left:10px;font-family: Arial,Helvetica,Georgia;font-size:22px;line-height:23px;color:grey;text-align: right;”>“The world is a book and those who don’t travel read only a page”

But then I pull it off the shelf, and stuck between page 122 and 123 is travel brochure for Turkey I used to mark my page on the city of Bath. I remember thinking Istanbul seemed, at the time, as the most exotic location in the world. On the corner of the brochure I’ve jotted a phone # and a time and have drawn a heart around it. It’s the time I was supposed to call my boyfriend who was across the pond still in the USA and this little doodle proclaiming my love for the man who is now my husband makes me smile yet again. I put that travel book back on the shelf, with the brochure returned to its proper page, and I remember how my husband proposed – taking me by surprise just before I left to study abroad. He was fearful that in going to Europe I would forget him and he wanted to “seal the deal” before my odyssey. How funny now that we’ve spent most of our marriage in Europe and yet it was my first going abroad that caused him to propose sooner than he’d planned. I tread downstairs and give my husband, who is sitting at his computer catching up on missed emails, a kiss on top of his head.

“Feel like going to Istanbul?” I ask… He nods and says, “I could be convinced …” and excitedly I make a note to stop by Waterstones or The American Book Center and the journey starts all over again.

All the best,

The Antiques Diva™

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Author: Toma Clark Haines

Toma Clark Haines is a Global Tastemaker, Speaker, Writer & Entrepreneur; and founder and CEO The Antiques Diva® & Co, Europe, Asia and America's largest Antiques Sourcing & Touring Company.

  • Sarah:
    If you are in Paris for two weeks, you DO have plenty of time for a train trip to Provence. The super-fast TGV can wisk you down to Provence for a long week-end and a fabulous French experience that is very unParisian…the train ride itself will show you a life in France you’ll never see in Paris. I suggest the TGV to Aix-en-Provence (only 3 hours!) or Avignon (only 2 1/2 hours!) as your base and a day of sightseeing and shopping, and then maybe rent a car for a day of exploring the nearby towns.

    As for Paris shopping tips, our good friend Rebecca just published a fabulous shopping guide, Chic Shopping Paris. She also offers Paris shopping trips to personally escort you to all the secret addresses she’s spent years tracking down… visit her website http://chicshoppingparis.com/ for more information on her book and tours.

    Other shopping books I can personally recommend are Suzy Gershman’s Born to Shop Paris and Maribeth Clemente’s The Riches of Paris.
    bon vacance!
    la Reine

  • We have oodles in common…you are a bit ahead of me in living out my dream but I am working on catching up to you!! we need to chat someday

  • Whats the best travel book for France? I brought a Paris guide with me, which gets me to the sites, but theres not enough shopping tips! Don’t those people realize that Paris shopping is big business? Where would you go for a weekend if you were onlyu in Paris for 2 weeks? We’d liek to get out of the city, but not sure what’s do able. Provence is what I want but its too far.

  • La Reine,
    You’ve mentioned my favorite traveling guide “1000 Places to See Before You Die” – I couldn’t agree with you more. It doesn’t dictate where I go on holiday, but does definitely help determine what I do while there!!!
    The Antiques Diva (TM)

  • Dear Name Twin,

    Harliquin? That’s not a bad idea… perhaps The Antiques Diva (TM) has a potential new profession!! Happy traveling (and happy whatever else you may do on holiday)!

    The Antiques Diva (TM)

  • I too love to peruse and dream and remember with my travel books…I vacilate between styles full of history and stories and 4star hotel and restaurant recommendations, and those travel books with lots of colorful pictures that make identifying that unusual building so much easier!

    But my lastest crave, which has lasted a couple years now, is 1000 Places to See Before You Die, and now 1000 Places US and Canada to See Before You Die.

    Yes, I was skeptical, but I’m a convert. It doesn’t help me to decide where I want to go, but its a great reference check before I go to make sure I’m hitting all the must-dos…and surprisingly, some of them I never would have heard of without the book.

    One of my finds was Villa Vizcaya in Miami, a true gem that I never would have visited without 1000 Places. And now I’ve succumbed even further and purchased the accompanying Traveller’s Journal, which is basically a checklist of all the places you’ve travelled.
    bon voyage!
    la Reine

  • Oooh with those steamy lines you could get a writing job with Harliquin!
    Makes us all want to travel more!
    Name Twin………