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message 1: by Diane (last edited Sep 29, 2018 08:27PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Home country = USA, departing from Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in the ATL, the busiest airport in the world.
Traveling to: Charles de Gaulle Airport
Location of updates: I will be posting here. Photos of travels and travel diary here.

Status: Back home
Current location: USA
Currently reading:
Current 1001 score: 86 + 4 points pending for landmarks (Greece)
Non-1001 score higher (102 + 4 pending for landmark)

My progress:

Create Your Own Visited European Countries Map

~France (1 pt): Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris
~Belgium (1 pt): Fear and Trembling
~Netherlands (1 pt): The Laws
~Germany (1 pt): Effi Briest
~Denmark (1 pt): Quicksand
~Sweden (1 pt): The Red Room
~Finland (1 pt): The Unknown Soldier
~Norway (1 pt): Alberta and Jacob
~Iceland (1 pt): Journey to the Center of the Earth
~Scotland (1 pt): The Master of Ballantrae
~Ireland (1 pt): The Poor Mouth
~Wales (1 pt): Everything You Need
~England (1 pt): Crash
~France (0 pt): Old Bones
~Switzerland (1 pt): Homo Faber
~Austria (1 pt): Yes
~Czech Republic (0 pts): Spaceman of Bohemia
~Poland (1 pt): The Street of Crocodiles
~Lithuania (1 pt): Moscow to the End of the Line
~Belarus (1 pt): Summer in Baden-Baden
~Russia (1 pt): A Lear of the Steppes
~Georgia (1 pt): A Hero of Our Time
~Armenia (1 pt): Retreat Without Song
~Turkey (0 pts): Black Milk: On Writing, Motherhood, and the Harem Within
~Bulgaria (1 pt): The Green Hat
~Romania (1 pt): Forest Of The Hanged
~Ukraine (1 pt): In the Heart of the Seas
~Slovakia (1 pt): Embers
~Hungary (1 pt): Celestial Harmonies
~Slovenia (1 pt): Veronika Decides to Die
~Croatia (0 pts): The Walnut Mansion
~Bosnia and Herzegovina (1 pt): The Bridge on the Drina
~Serbia (1 pt): Garden, Ashes
~Montenegro (0 pt): The Coming
~Albania (1pt): Spring Flowers, Spring Frost
~Macedonia (0 pt): The Legend of Kalesh Andja
~Greece (1 pt): Deadline in Athens
~Malta (1 pt): Testament of Youth
~Italy (1 pt): The Path to the Spiders' Nests
~Greece (0 pt): Hyperion; or, The Hermit in Greece
~Italy (0 pt): One, No One and One Hundred Thousand
~Monaco (? pts - Point needs approval - see note in post 90): Twenty Four Hours in the Life of a Woman & The Royal Game
~France (0 pt): Père Goriot
~Andorra (0 pt): Andorra
~Spain (1 pt): Journey to the Alcarria
~Portugal (1 pt): Pereira Maintains
~Spain (0 pts): Tales of the Alhambra
~France (0 pts): Strait Is the Gate
~Luxembourg (0 pts): Priestblock 25487: a Memoir of Dachau
~France (0 pts): The Devil in the Flesh
~Switzerland (0 pts): The Black Spider
~Liechtenstein (0 pts): Stamping Grounds
~Austria (0 pts): Concrete
~Italy (0 pts): The Cloven Viscount
~Vatican City (0 pts): Laudato Si'
~Italy (0 pts): The Baron in the Trees
~San Marino (0 pts): San Marino: The History in Miniature
~Italy (0 pts): The Nonexistent Knight
~Moldova (0 pt): Missionary, Me?
~Ukraine (0 pt): Memories of Babi
~Belarus (0 pt): The Dybbuk
~Latvia (0 pt): Soviet Milk
~Estonia (0 pt): The Brother
~Russia (0 pt): Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle
~Azerbaijan (0 pt): On The Shores of The Khazar Sea
~Armenia (0 pt): An Armenian Sketchbook
~Turkey (0 pt): The White Castle
~Cyprus (0 pt): Bitter Lemons of Cyprus
~Turkey (0 pt): Motherland Hotel
~USA (1 pt): Sula

~La Grand-Place (4 pts)
~Brandenburg Gate (4 pts)
~Mont St. Michel (4 pts)
~Charles Bridge (4 pts)
~The Grand Bazaar (4 pts)
~Buda Castle (4 pts)
~Old City of Dubrovnik (4 pts)
~The Parthenon (4 pts - pending, I have read two different books that apply)
~Alhambra (4 pts)

~Creativity point (1 pt)
~Creativity point (1 pt)
~Special event: Avignon Festival (2 pts)
~Creativity point (1 pt)
~Special event: Appetizer (1 pt)
~Special event: Entree (3 pts)
~Special event: Dessert (2 pts)
~Special event: Museum (5 pts)
~Creativity points (2 pts)

Home (The ATL):

message 2: by Diane (last edited Jul 02, 2018 02:20PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments As a frog French girl, I had to start with the country of my forefathers:

I am currently visiting France with Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico.

At the moment, I am in Paris with the charming Mrs. 'Arris in her pursuit of a Dior Gown.

Here is an example of what she has in mind:

Paris is just lovely:

The food is amazing (OMG - Macarons!):


Hoping to catch a side excursion to Mont Saint Michel.

message 3: by Hilde (new)

Hilde (hilded) | 355 comments Great map, thanks for the link! :)

message 4: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
Love this map. Thanks for sharing the link for others to use too.

Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments How do you inbed photos to Goodreads?

message 6: by Diane (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Kelly wrote: "How do you inbed photos to Goodreads?"

It is hard to explain. The directions can be found above the text box where it says "(some htnl is ok)".

message 7: by Diane (last edited Jul 08, 2018 02:15PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Finished a wonderful tour of France with Mrs. 'Arris Goes To Paris by Paul Gallico Mrs. 'Arris Goes To Paris by Paul Gallico.

How does it relate to France? A major part of the plot takes place in Paris, France.

We also visited the landmark Mont Saint Michel. Here is a picture:

How does this tie in? Well, its a long story. Here goes.

Mrs. 'Arris's first venture out of the UK was her trip to France to buy her Dior dress. She did not know what to expect beforehand. After all, these French people ate snails and frog legs. She was pleasantly surprised. Naturally, she would want to see more of this beautiful and hospitable country (don't believe the myths about French people). She fell in love with Dior's designs, so she would want to see more...

She would learn that there is an entire museum dedicated to the creations of Dior called the Musée Christian Dior in Granville France:

Ooh la la, tres chic!

A Dior lover's dream:

A lover of flowers (especially geraniums), she would also be enthralled with the museum's gardens:

As we saw in both Paris and New York City, Mrs. 'Arris (Ada) is a real tourist. She likes to see as much as possible and she loves beautiful things. In her research to find landmarks and attractions close to the museum she would learn that Mont Saint Michel is a mere 20 miles away. This would be a place on her radar. How, you ask? 1) She would have learned about the Norman Conquest of England in history class as a youngster in the UK 2) As a lover of beautiful things, she naturally would frequent museums (taking advantage of her senior citizen discount, of course). She would learn that an exhibit of the Bayeux Tapestry is scheduled to come to the British Museum. The Bayeux Tapestry depicts Mont Saint Michel after the Norman Conquest of England. It was made in the 1070s.

Here is a picture of a section of the tapestry:

Being of advanced age, she wouldn't want to wait until 2022 to see the tapestry in England and would want to see it as soon as possible in its place of origin, Mont Saint Michel, where it has resided over 950 years.

I will be heading to Belgium and Ada will be going back to London. Here is a parting shot of Ada Harris. She kind of resembles Angela Lansbury a little, don't you think?

Connection to France
~Main plot of book takes place in France
Connection to landmark
~Protagonist is British and would have learned about the Norman Conquest of England and Mont Saint Michel
~Protagonist loves Dior and flower gardens and would want to see the Musee Christian Dior located near Mont Saint Michel
~Protagonist is very much a tourist and would want to see as much of the area she is visiting as possible
~Protagonist would learn of Tapestry of Bayeux coming to British Museum, but would prefer to see it sooner due to advanced age
~Christian Dior, the designer featured in the novel grew up on Mont-Saint-Michel Bay.

message 8: by Diane (last edited Jul 06, 2018 08:42PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments

I am now in Belgium with Fear and Trembling by Amélie Nothomb.

Ada (Mrs. 'Arris) had to return to her job in London, so I have a new tour guide named Amelie. She claims to be a fictional character, but she and I both know that she is a very thinly veiled replica of the author, also named Amelie (coincidence? I think not). I do wish she would stop wearing those ridiculous hats, but I am enjoying my time with her. I didn't think it possible, but she actually wears more black than my teenage daughter.

Here's a picture Amelie in one of her hats:

Amelie keeps telling me about her adventures in Japan while I take in the sites of Belgium. So far, the only place she's taken me to within Belgium is a dairy farm, even though I have been begging to see La Grand-Place:

We got to sample some chocolate, which was quite delicious:

While there, the proprietor asked if we'd like to try some green melon chocolate. Amelie was repelled by the color and refused. The proprietor was insistent. Amelie still refused, to the point of arguing with him. It wasn't until the proprietor yelled at her that she finally relented and tried the chocolate. Despite herself, she actually liked it. I thought it was pretty good, too.

Chocolate melon:

message 9: by Hilde (new)

Hilde (hilded) | 355 comments Diane wrote: "

I am now in Belgium with Fear and Trembling by Amélie Nothomb.

Ada (Mrs. 'Arris) had to return to her job in London, so I have a new tour guide named Amelie. She clai..."

I love this! The pictures and your stories are awesome!:)

message 10: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod

message 11: by Diane (last edited Jul 06, 2018 03:55PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Finished by stay in Belgium with Fear and Trembling by Amélie Nothomb Fear and Trembling by Amélie Nothomb.

How does the book relate to Belgium? Nothomb is a Belgian author and the main character is Belgian.

I didn't learn much about Belgium from Amelie, but I did learn a good bit about the Japanese culture. We did manage to see some of the sites, though.

We spent some time visiting La Grand-Place in Brussels. Amelie is a native and a long-time resident of Brussels, so she knew the place well. La Grand-Place means "Grand Square" or "Grand Market". It is the central square of Brussels. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We got to see the Ommengang, a historical re-enactment of Europe that takes place in the beginning of July. I would like to return to see the begonia flower carpet in August.

La Grand-Place at night:

The architecture is gorgeous:

The Ommengang:

While there, Amelie did a book signing in one of the bookstores on La Grand-Place called the Passa Porta Bookshop:

They are huge fans of her work:

Afterwards we enjoyed lunch at La Grand-Place. We both love Japanese food and went to a restaurant she recommended called Mangetsu:


After lunch, we walked a short ways to the Royal Palace to meet Queen Mathilde. Here is Amelie with the Queen:

Amelie had to fly to Paris, so we went our separate ways. I am moving on to the Netherlands. A parting shot of Amelie as she begs me not to go (she really is a strange bird):

Connection to Belgium
~Book written by a Belgian author
Connection to landmark:
~Author (and main character) lived in Brussels for most of her adult life and would be very familiar with La Grand-Place
~Author documented to have done book signings in La Grand-Place
~Author documented to have visited the Royal Palace, which is a short distance from La Grand-Place

message 12: by Diane (last edited Jul 04, 2018 10:42PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments

I am now in the Netherlands with The Laws by Connie Palmen.

My Travel Journal Entry:

My tour guide is Marie Deniet, a 20-something philosophy student. Between you and me, she is a bit of a letdown after spending time with Ada and Amelie. It's early yet, so hopefully she will open up and become more interesting. She keeps going on about astrology, which really isn't my thing. She also seems to have a thing about older men.

De Pijp, a suburb of Amsterdam, where Marie works in a bookshop.

The University of Amsterdam, where Marie attends school:

We took a walk along the Oudenzijds Voorburgwal in Amsterdam:

"I looked at the houses lining the canal and became ever more miserable. They've been made by people and people die but those houses continue to stand there. That's what I thought and at that moment I thought it all-encompassing and very tragic." ~Marie Deniet."

A cafe we visited in the Hoogstradt. Notice that there are bikes in almost every picture:

Marie, fortunately, has moved on to other subjects besides astrology. We continue to do a lot of walking around the city of Amerstam.

Haarlemmerdijk: I hear there's good shopping here.

We ate dinner at De Gouden Reael:

Marie ordered a lamb chop and I tried the stamppot:

Picked up some gum at Spar:

We even went to the beach:

Being a philosophy major, Marie is a bit obsessed with anything philosophical. Her choice in men, however, is questionable.

We visited a couple of art museums. Marie wanted to show me a teapot a friend of hers had on display. Did you know that the Rijksmuseum was closed for an entire decade for remodeling?

Marie's artist friend got us into Arti, and exclusive artist's club:

Connection to Netherlands
~Set in Netherlands
~Written by a Dutch author

message 13: by Diane (last edited Jul 19, 2018 02:43PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Finished my stay in the Netherlands with The Laws by Connie Palmen The Laws by Connie Palmen.

Marie really did open up to me, especially in the end. I was worried in the beginning. Let's not even talk about the men she encountered (especially the priest). She finally finished her Master's thesis and I'm happy for her. Her psychiatrist recommends that she doesn't follow me to Germany, so I will be getting yet another guide.

I got some good pictures of Amsterdam on my final day there:

Off to Germany...

message 14: by Diane (last edited Jul 06, 2018 04:40PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments

I am now in Germany with Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane.

My Travel Journal Entry

My new tour guide is named Effi:

I don't know much about her yet or where she is taking me, but I will keep you posted.

Effi is quite delightful company. She has a real sense of adventure and a love for nature. She is taking me to see a lot of Northern Germany. So far, she is the guide who has shown me the most landmarks.

We started at her parent's home in Hohen-Cremmen in Brandenburg. It is a fictional town based on Brandenburg an der Havel/Nennhausen, according to internet sources who studied the railway lines present during the time the book was written. Here is a picture of "Hohen-Cremmen", present day Brandenburg an der Havel:

We traveled into the city (Berlin) to purchase items for Effi's trousseau. The road from Hohen-Cremmen leads directly to the entrance of Berlin located at Brandenburg Gate. In fact, the Brandenburg Gate is the start of this road to Brandenburg an der Havel. In the book, this is how Effi entered the city:

Next to the gate, is the Berlin Palace. This is where Otto Von Bismarck resides. He is the Minister President of Prussia, and who Effi's future husband reports to. Effi and her husband strolled through the gardens here. Effi returned here later to speak with the Minister's wife about an important matter:

We spend a lot of time on Unter den Linden, the Boulevard of Lindens. This road starts on the other side of the Brandenburg Gate from the road into the city (see the Brandenburg Gate in the background). Effi comes here on multiple occasions for various reasons, usually to shop:

I was able to attend Effi and Innstettin's wedding. I had never been to a traditional German wedding before. They have some interesting customs. It is traditional for a newly wedded couple to saw a log in half. This is symbolic of cooperation in marriage.

After her wedding, Effi takes me to Northeast Germany to the Pomeranian coast. I had envisioned something like this:

But it actually looks more like this:

Effi's dog, Rollo, accompanies us on our travels around Pomerania and Brandenburg.
He is a Newfoundland and absolutely adorable:

We enjoyed a nice picnic on the Baltic coast, courtesy of Effi's servant, Kruse. This will later be the site of a duel:

Effi told me that the yellow flowers that grow wild near the beach are called imortelles. I love the name:

We returned to Berlin, to be closer to Innstettin's new appointment with the government.

We had ice cream at Schilling's in Berlin:

We visited the Tiergarten:

We visited the Zoological Garden. Effi's loves the giraffes:

We collected pine cones here at the Charlottenburg Palace:

We strolled the grounds of the Belvedere Palace. Effi says this place is haunted:

We walked to the Mitte and the Great Star:

We later took a side excursion to Stubbenkammer It was lovely:

We stayed for a while at a resort on the Ems River to help Effi's consumption That is until Effi received an upsetting letter from home:

While Effi was convalescing at her parent's house, I found this landmark. Is this not the coolest thing ever? :

Connection to Germany:

~Book is written by a German author and set in Germany.
Connection to landmark:
~During the time the book was written, Brandenburg Gate was the main entrance into the city. It was the beginning of the road between the Brandenburg (Effi's home) and Berlin. The main characters went through it, since they entered the city from the direction of Brandenburg and continued on to Unter den Linden on the opposite side of the gate. They were documented to be on both sides of the Gate and in various landmarks adjacent to and surrounding the gate. including the Reichstag and the Mitte. (see above)
~The author lived in Berlin for much of his adult life and would have seen this landmark most every day. He also was a member of the Tunnel über der Spree, a German literary society based in Berlin that met in the Mitte on Unter den Linden within sight of the Brandenburg Gate.
~Effi also traveled on a road called Frederick William Blvd. Frederick William II was the Prussian King who ordered the building of the Brandenburg Gate.
~From a figurative sense, the Brandenburg Gate is considered a gate of Freedom. When Effi was younger, she passed frequently through the gate. Later, when she lives in Berlin, her freedom to go back to her parents and daughter has been revoked and she know longer can pass through the gate to return home.

Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments I love your posts! I really wish I could figure out the image thing, but mine may have to stay on litsy. Do you save the images first and then try the instructions? Or do you add in a web address? I have looked at the Html link a hundred times and just don't understand it.

message 16: by Diane (last edited Jul 04, 2018 08:00PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Kelly wrote: "I love your posts! I really wish I could figure out the image thing, but mine may have to stay on litsy. Do you save the images first and then try the instructions? Or do you add in a web address? ..."

There is a way to save the images first, but that is a lot more work and involves downloading from the internet. This is just a matter of copying and pasting the html codes and embedding your image url within the code. I tried to explain it once and failed miserably and it is impossible to demonstrate it due to the coding.

I can't figure out images in Litsy, lol.

message 17: by Diane (last edited Jul 04, 2018 08:17PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments I finished my trip to Germany with Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane Effi Briest by Theodor Fontane.

See the journal of my trip in post #14.

Here is a recap of the summary:
Connection to Germany:
~Book is written by a German author and set in Germany.
Connection to landmark:
~Even though Brandenburg Gate is not mentioned by name, the main characters went through it, since they entered the city on the road that connects to it and continued through to Unter den Linden on the opposite side. They were also documented to be on both sides of the Gate and in various landmarks adjacent to and surrounding the gate (see above)
~The author lived in Berlin for much of his adult life and would have seen this landmark most every day. He also was a member of the Tunnel über der Spree, a German literary society based in Berlin that met in the Mitte on Unter den Linden within close proximity to the Brandenburg Gate.

I will be going on to Denmark via train.

message 18: by Diane (last edited Jul 15, 2018 08:03PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments

I am entering Denmark with Quicksand by Nella Larsen.

My new tour guide is Helga Crane. She is an African-American of mixed heritage who is living here in Denmark with relatives.


My Travel Journal for Denmark:

We started at Helga's Aunt Katrina's house in Copenhagen:

Her aunt threw a dinner party in Helga's honor:

Aebleskivers! When I get back to the US I'm going to dust off that aebleskiver pan and try to make these:

Copenhagen in the morning:

We had afternoon tea, Copenhagen-style:

We went shopping after Helga's uncle insisted that she go to a jewelry store to get some new earrings. In addition to the earrings, she bought new bracelets and shoe buckles.

Helga feels out of place here in Denmark. She says people are always staring at her and referring to her as "exotic". She says she really didn't seem to fit in much back in America, either.

After much shopping, we strolled through Copenhagen Old Town:

Helga likes to stand on this bridge and look out onto the water.

We watched the parade of soldier's in front of Amalienborg Palace:

We visited the Copenhagen Exchange:

Christiansborg Palace:

Gammel Strand. Helga likes to come here to watch the fish sellers.

I accompanied Helga to Herr Olsen's art studio so he could paint her portrait. Between you and me, I think he has a crush on her:

Aunt Katrina kept us constantly supplied with food and coffee. Helga felt she needed to walk around town a lot to burn the calories:

I got the opportunity to try Smørrebrød, or open-faced sandwiches, one of Aunt Katrina's Danish specialties. Helga wonders how many of these she has consumed since setting foot on Danish soil:

And so many Smörgåsbords! Helga says they are pretty much everywhere you go in Copenhagen. How do these people stay so thin?:

Helga has been telling me stories about her life in America and how she feels she never seem to fit in anywhere. She recently broke off an engagement with a man she met in college.

Helga's aunt and uncle are pressuring her to marry a man from Denmark and settle down here. She doesn't seem to be on board with that.

We did a lot more shopping, especially for new clothes for Helga:

We attended a circus. Helga says this is the first time she has seen other people of color since she came to Denmark:

...and a symphony mainly featuring works by Dvořák. Helga seemed to get moody when the orchestra played Swing Low, Sweet Chariot:

Helga seems very introspective since we attended the circus and the symphony. She is talking about going back to the states for a while. This surprises me since she has few good things to say about America and the people there.

I have finished my tour of Denmark. Helga has gone back to the US and I will be moving on to Sweden. I will be driving across the Øresund Bridge-Tunnel.

I have completed my tour of Denmark with Quicksand by Nella Larsen Quicksand by Nella Larsen. See my journal above.

Connection to Denmark:
~A large portion of the book is set in Copenhagen, Denmark
~Author lived in Denmark for several years

message 19: by Diane (last edited Jul 06, 2018 03:26PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments

I just crossed the Øresund Bridge-Tunnel into Sweden with The Red Room by August Strindberg.

My new tour guide will be Arvid Falk. He will be my first male tour guide of this trip. He is a poet and journalist, but has yet to become successful. He never seems to have any money. His stomach is always growling, probably from hunger. He is a starving artist in the truest sense.

Travel Journal:

Arvid Falk. He looks like a modern day Strindberg, doesn't he?:

Sunrise in Stockholm is so beautiful. A multitude of church bells are chiming:

Drottningggatan in early morning, before the crowds arrive:

Arvis was really poetic in the beginning, but since he can't get his poetry published, that has mostly stopped.

Arvid's flat:

Where Arvid does his writing:

We spent so much time indoors at Arvid's old place of employment, I didn't think we would ever see any of Sweden.

Finally, we walked to a farm. We passed by bee hives, gooseberry bushes, and many birds. There is an artist's colony back in the woods:

Back to the city on the way to meet some of Arvid's acquaintances.

We visited Bern's Salonger in Bern's Hotel, which was a popular meeting place for Arvid and his Bohemian acquaintances.

Bern's Hotel:

Entrance to the hotel:

Bern's Salonger:

They referred to their favorite meeting place in Bern's as the "Red Room". It gets its name from the red furnishing and reddish wood stain:

Here is one of the smaller dining areas connected to the Red Room where the group would sometimes meet:

Arund mentioned that there was a Norse festival over in Uppsala. When it became obvious he wouldn't take me, I went on my own:

One of Arvid's acquaintances wanted to buy the Varnhem Abbey in Uppsala and make the architecture more modern. He wasn't successful in his purchase:

We visited the Opera Restaurant a couple of times:

Turns out there are Strindberg statues all over Sweden. Here are a few:

Sadly, we didn't really get to see much of Sweden since we were indoors for most of our stay. Arvid wasn't the most engaging host, so my stay was often a bit lackluster.

I have completed my tour of Sweden with The Red Room by August Strindberg The Red Room by August Strindberg.

Connection to Sweden:
~August Strindberg was a Swedish author
~Book was set entirely within Sweden

message 20: by Diane (last edited Jul 15, 2018 08:09PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments

I am now in Finland with The Unknown Soldier by Väinö Linna.

My guides for this tour will be a group of Finnish soldiers:

My Travel Journal for Finland

We are out in the Finnish wilderness near the Russian border.

Lake in North Karelia, Finland:

The scenery here is breathtaking!

Spruce forest:

Good thing I brought my compass.

Private Maatta is from Kainuu:

A picture Private Maata gave me of his favorite place in Kainuu. I wish we could go there, but I'm we have a mission to accomplish and must head east.

We had to cross a swamp:

Yuck. I totally ruined my favorite pair of shoes and had to pick the leeches from between my toes. Horrors! I am also being eaten alive by mosquitoes and elk flies.

Picking wild berries:

Some days, this was all I had to eat. At least there was a variety of different berries growing wild in the forest, such as lingonberries, bilberries, cloudberries, raspberries, crowberries, cowberries, cranberries, buckthorn berries, rowan-berries, and Arctic brambles. There were lots of wild mushrooms too, but I didn't eat any since I didn't know which ones were safe to eat.

Finland is truly a beautiful country. I just wish my visit was under different circumstances.

This was the most difficult leg of my tour (so far) for a number of reasons:
~No hotel accommodations (I either slept in a tent or outdoors)
~No showers or flush toilets.
~Little in the way of good food available. I had to make due with military rations and what I could forage in the forest
~I had to forge through difficult terrain like swamps and dense forests
~Many of my tour guides were seriously injured and some died
~I lived in fear of injury and death at the hands of the enemy

Connection to Finland:
~Written by a Finnish author
~Book set in Finland (also set in Russia)

message 21: by Diane (last edited Jul 14, 2018 08:40AM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Finished my tour of Finland with Unknown Soldiers by Väinö Linna Unknown Soldiers by Väinö Linna. I have now headed north and crossed the border (via helo-vac) into Norway with Alberta and Jacob by Cora Sandel.

I suffered shrapnel injuries and a horrendous case of impetigo while in Finland, so I will be delayed for a week. I am currently convalescing in a hospital in Oslo, Norway:

Um, not my preferred route of travel...

Oslo University Hospital. I won't let on that I'm an advanced practice nurse.

Me, recovering from my shrapnel injuries and impetigo. The worst part is that the bandages make it almost impossible for me to read or even to listen to audiobooks.

Note to self: Might want to avoid the war novels in future countries.

message 22: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
Please note that you have been delayed this week. So you must take a week off from this challenge.

message 23: by Diane (last edited Jul 17, 2018 07:01AM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments I have been discharged from the hospital (see the post above for more details) and hitchhiked north to Tromsø, Norway in the Arctic Circle.

I am reading Alberta and Jacob by Cora Sandel.

View from the road en route to my destination:

There's even traffic way up here:

My guide for Norway is Alberta Selmer, a very shy teenager. She doesn't want me to post her picture, but allowed me to post a self-portrait she made:

Alberta lives in an upstairs flat above this museum with her parents and brother:

This is the parlor inside the Selmer home. Very Victorian. Very drafty, too. even in the summer. Alberta says the apartment is unbearably cold in the wintertime.:

The scenery in and around this town is spectacular. Here are some pictures of the town:

Overlooking the town from one of the surrounding mountains:

Alberta doesn't seem very fond of this town. She is afraid that she will be stuck here for the rest of her life. I can totally relate. When I was her age I lived in a small town on an island in the Maine maritimes. I had to travel 125 miles to go to the nearest mall and 30 miles to get fast food. No matter how beautiful a place is you feel isolated when you are so far from the city. As in my home town, there aren't a lot of good prospects for the future for women. Alberta says girls here are pressured to marry young so they don't become spinsters. Or, they become pregnant out of wedlock and are pressured into a quick marriage. I get the impression that Alberta isn't keen on getting married. She says she doesn't know what she wants, but this is definitely not it.

This is Alberta's church. I love the sound of the bells, even though they wake me up so early in the morning. Alberta says she tries to get out of going to church whenever possible. She regrets that her father doesn't sit up front with the more prominent townsfolk:

This is Alberta's school. She seems very smart and says she does very well in school. She loves writing and painting. Her younger brother, Jacob, isn't such a good student. She has to help him with his homework. She doesn't think it is very fair that her parents don't think school is important for her but want her brother to continue on to college.

We went to the bakery:

Alberta tells me all about the fjords nearby. Even though it is summer, there is still some snow on the mountains. We are in the Arctic Circle, so that makes sense:

Cruise ships even come by here. Alberta likes to watch the ships go by. The appear so small next to the fjords:

Ready to enjoy a picnic. Picnicking is a common summer pastime for the local families:

I love the houses with the mossy roofs:

We walked to the beach. The water is so cold! No swimming for me:

Fog rolling in:

There is a shipwreck out in the bay:

So beautiful:

Since it is summer here in the Arctic Circle, we are in the days of the midnight sun. It is light most of the time. This is Alberta's favorite time of the year.

Alberta said the Northern Lights are incredible here in the winter time. We can still see them some nights during the summer, but they aren't as dramatic since it never gets completely dark:

Here is a picture the Selmer's gave me of the Northern Lights in winter:

Alberta's neighbor, Beda Buck, invited us over for breakfast. I got to try some traditional Norwegian foods:
Heart-shaped waffles (vafler):

Smoked Salmon Omelet:

Cheese and bread:


And of course, coffee. Alberta loves coffee:

Will post more later.

message 24: by Hilde (last edited Jul 16, 2018 07:52AM) (new)

Hilde (hilded) | 355 comments Yay, you made in to my hometown:)
Love to see the pictures you were able to find, you are a good researcher! (Except that the town isn't really that small (in Norwegian scale at least;)

Enjoy lots, it's a superfriendly town. On Thursday the towns music festival begins (Bukta music festival), you should "join" if you're still in town. I will start my actual summer holiday that day to attend this event :)

Also, make sure to taste some of the nice sushi places and /or fish restaurants in the city, take the cable car or hike to the mountain "Fløya", and take a minitour to some spectacular beaches at "Sommarøy" (The summer island).

message 25: by Diane (last edited Jul 16, 2018 08:46AM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Hilde wrote: "Yay, you made in to my hometown:)
Love to see the pictures you were able to find, you are a good researcher! (Except that the town isn't really that small (in Norwegian scale at least;)

Enjoy lot..."

Are you from Tromsø? I am trying to portray it as a town and avoid the more modern pictures, since the book takes place in the late 1800's, when it was a small town and not a city. The music festival sounds fun! I will definitely check it out. Thanks for all of the travel tips!

message 26: by Diane (last edited Jul 16, 2018 10:24AM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments I told Alberta some of the sights that Hilde had mentioned. Alberta had spoken frequently of the mountains and also mentioned a place called summer island, so I'm sure she wouldn't mind taking me.

First, we took a boat ride out to Summer Island. The boats here are cool. This type of boat is called a snekke:

That's Alberta in the boat:

Beautiful Sommarøy. Thanks Hilde for suggesting this! I was thrilled to find it in the book, too (as Summer Island):

message 27: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
love reading your updates

message 28: by Hilde (new)

Hilde (hilded) | 355 comments Diane wrote: "
Are you from Tromsø? I am trying to portray it as a town and avoid the more modern pictures,.."

Yes, I am and I love seeing you portray it, you're doing a brilliant job!:) You even got in brunost (brown cheese), vafler (waffles) og krumkaker, lol. I don't know the English word for the latter, but we usually eat them at Christmas with cloudberry cream. Cloudberries (called 'multer' in Norwegian) are easiest to find in the Northern part of Norway and Finland, don't think it is very common elsewhere.

Glad you got Alberta to show you Sommarøy, it's a nice place indeed. In the Winter you get to spot lots of huge orcas in the area. How fun that the place was mentioned in the book as well. I read it in highschool, but since it's been a while since that I am afraid I don't remember that much of it. Cora Sandel, together with Doris Lessing, is my mum's favourite authors, so I should definitely read it again soon.

Enjoy the rest of your stay!:)

message 29: by Diane (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Jen wrote: "love reading your updates"


message 30: by Diane (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Hilde wrote: "Diane wrote: "
Are you from Tromsø? I am trying to portray it as a town and avoid the more modern pictures,.."

Yes, I am and I love seeing you portray it, you're doing a brilliant job!:) You even ..."

How cool that you are from there! It is such an incredibly beautiful place. Are the winters, with the cold and darkness, as brutal as they are described in the book? I can't imagine living above the Arctic Circle. The summers, the fjords, the orcas and other wildlife, and the Northern Lights probably more than make up for that.

message 31: by Diane (last edited Jul 16, 2018 08:43PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Alberta loves to go for walks and hikes. We hiked some of the trails on the nearby mountains:

We climbed Mount Fløya, as recommended by Hilde. You can almost see the world from up here. Here is a picture of Alberta and her brother Jacob at the summit:

Jacob has decided to go to sea and has taken a job as a sailor. He will be traveling to Iceland and his captain offered to give me a lift. Hmmm...

message 32: by Diane (last edited Jul 17, 2018 07:00AM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments As much as I'd love to stay for the Bukta Music Festival, I have to take the opportunity to travel to Iceland for free with Jacob. I was really looking forward to hearing Alberta's neighbor, the tailor, play his trombone at the festival. He also plays for the local orchestra. I should have brought my teenage son, they could have had a trombone jam session.

Finished Alberta and Jacob by Cora Sandel Alberta and Jacob by Cora Sandel.

So, now I'm off to Iceland.

Connection to Norway
~Written by a Norwegian author
~Set in Norway

This was one of the prettiest places I have been to so far and they all have been beautiful. I really enjoyed my stay here. I only wish I had packed a warmer jacket. It is cool here even in the summer.

message 33: by Diane (last edited Jul 18, 2018 09:51AM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments

Currently in Iceland with Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne.

As the boat pulls into Faxa Bay, I watch whales and porpoises:

Arriving in Reykjavik, Iceland:

I say my goodbyes to Jacob Selmer and wish him a safe journey back to Norway. While I am waiting for my guides, I am going to catch some of the sights in Reykjavik, the capital and largest city of Iceland.

Here are a few of the landmarks in the city:
Hallgrímskirkja church:

The Sun Voyager sculpture:

Austurvollur Square:

I have a little time before I meet my guides, so I am going to seek out some traditional Icelandic food for lunch. I learned that the national dish is Hákarl. It is Greenland shark that has been fermented (rotted, really) for 5-6 months. Back in the day, human urine was added in the fermentation process (not any more, thankfully). In much the way I passed on the Smalahove, or whole smoke sheep head, in Norway. I also avoided a few other Icelandic delicacies like Lundi (cured puffin), fermented Minke whale, Hvalspik (cured whale blubber) Súrir hrútspungar (sour ram's testicles), gellur (cod tongues), and Kútmagar (fish stomach), I am going to pass on this one too. In case you are curious, here are some pictures of both dishes:

Norway's Smalahove (they say it's really not that baaaa-d). It's a popular dish here in Iceland, too, and called Svið :

Hilde, do you eat this? I won't judge.

Iceland's Fermented Greenland shark:

Did you know? Greenland Sharks can live for 400 years or more?

Anyway, I decided on some more palatable Icelandic cuisine. This food reminded me a lot of the food I grew up with in Maine.
Langoustines (like mini lobsters) with caramelized potatoes:

For dessert, skyr cake with blueberries:

My tour guides for this leg of my tour are Professor Otto Liedenbrock and his nephew Axel from Germany, and a local Icelandic guide by the name of Hans Bjelke.

Professor Liedenbrock (right) and Axel (left). This picture was taken down in the cave. They didn't look this disheveled when I met up with them:

Dr. Liedenbrock is a professor of Mineralogy in Hamburg, Germany. He discovered a mysterious ancient Icelandic manuscript written in runic characters. His nephew, Axel, translated the manuscript and cracked the cryptic code (it was written backwards). The manuscript reveals the location of a passage in Iceland that leads down to the center of the earth. They are here in Iceland to find that passage and embark on the journey of their lives. They have enlisted the help of Hans Belke, a local guide.

I have met up with my German guides here in Reykjavik. We take a 3-hour walking tour of Reykjavik. Professor Liedenbrock shows me the lava fields near the city and we walk down a couple of the cities oldest streets. He tells me that there were only two streets here when he first visited. That had to be a long time ago as there are many streets now.

We walk past an old cemetery with a mud wall:

We walked past the Parliament Building. Professor Liedenbrock said it "looked like a hovel compared to the town hall of Hamburg". I thought that was kind of rude.

We passed by an old red-roofed church by the lake.

We saw some cool houses made up mostly of earth and peat:

We also got see how cod is salted and dried. Professor Ledenbrock said this was a chief export of Iceland:

We had dinner at Mr. Fridriksson's house in Reykjavik. The men chatted on about scientific stuff. I'm not really sure what we ate, but it was very good:

After dinner, Axel and I took a short walk on the beach.

In the morning, we met our Icelandic guide, Hans Bjelke. He hunts eider ducks for a living, and sells their down feathers.

We set out very early the next day for the the Sneffels Penninsula on horseback, following the coastline. We are to ride for 30 miles a day for about a week. From Reykjavik, we diagonally crossed the southwest corner of Iceland, known as the Sudvestr Fjordungr, or so Liedenbrock says.

The Icelandic coast is beautiful. The sand is black because of volcanic lava. The terrain was rugged, but our horses instinctively chose the right way.

Liedenbrock described our journey as thus. "We rode between meagre pastures which were having all the trouble in the world to look green; yellow came to them more easily. The rugged summits of the trachyte hills on the horizon were blurred by the mist in the east; now and then a few patches of snow, concentrating the diffused light, glittered on the slopes of the distant mountains; certain peaks, rising more sheerly than the others, pierced the grey clouds and reappeared above shifting vapours, like reefs emerging in the sky."

Verne, Jules. Journey to the Centre of the Earth (Puffin Classics) (p. 94). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition

Two hours after leaving Reykjavik, we reach the small town of Gufunes. We ate breakfast here. There's an interesting sculpture garden:

Three hours later, we rounded the Kollafjord and entered the town of Ejulberg. Then we passed though Brantär, and later through Sauboer.

We reached a point where the fjords were two steep for the horses and had to take a ferry. We arrived in Gardär in the evening. Gardär has some interesting rock formations on Reynisfjara beach.

A cool shipwreck. The locals say this ship was run aground on purpose by its captain.

We stayed overnight at this charming turf house and enjoyed Icelandic hospitality. A nice couple lives here with their 19 children. Since it is July, it is still light out at night.

We had an unusual supper of lichen soup, dried fish with aged sour butter, skyr with juniper berry juice, biscuits, and a watery milk beverage called blanda. For dessert, we were served a thick buckwheat broth.

The terrain changed on our second day. The ground became marshy and there were several streams to cross.

We passed through Álftanes, which is the official residence of Iceland's president.

We had to ford two rivers, the Alfa and the Heta. We spent the night in a deserted house on the river.

We walked across this interesting lava formation called the "Church Floor":

We passed through the seaside village of Budir. The Black Church in Budir:

After a few days of riding, we finally reach the village of Stapi, on the south shore of the Sneffels Penninsula. A house in Stapi:

Wow, Stapi is beautiful:

Here is how Axel described Stapi:
"Stapi is a village of about thirty huts, built on lava in the rays of sunshine reflected by the volcano. It lies in the bed of a little fjord, shut in by a basalt wall of the strangest appearance."

Verne, Jules. Journey to the Centre of the Earth (Puffin Classics) (p. 109). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

The basalt walls Axel is referring to:

Stone Viking in Stapi:

Here is the volcano we will enter, called Snæfellsjökull. It isn't as massive as I thought it would be. The professor says it is 5000 feet high:

Climbing the volcano:

We finally reach the summit. It took all day. The view is spectacular. We can even see Greenland in the distance. The professor says it is only about 100 miles away.

message 34: by Hilde (new)

Hilde (hilded) | 355 comments Diane wrote: "Hilde wrote: "Diane wrote: "
Are you from Tromsø? I am trying to portray it as a town and avoid the more modern pictures,.."

Yes, I am and I love seeing you portray it, you're doing a brilliant jo..."

No, usually it doesn't get that cold in the winter here, often it is actually colder in Oslo. But you can have some days that are really cold. You get used to it though. I love skiing, so the winters here are perfect for that. It does get really dark for two months though, so the really nice ski season doesn't start until late January when the sun is back. But if we're lucky the snow comes early and brighten up a bit. If the weather is clear, the horizon can be really amasing with the blue hour (where the sun tries to break through), and the northern lights as well. It's definitely not as cold as people seems to imagine, you have to go to Svalbard for that;) Except for the spring, which is non-existent, lol.

message 35: by Hilde (new)

Hilde (hilded) | 355 comments And smalahove, you really decided to pass on this one? ;)

I have actually eaten it, and yes it is actually good! Never managed to eat the eye though, even if it's supposed to be a delicacy...
It's more common in the western part of Norway though, and usually served for a special event, not that many people that cook it at home. It actually tastes pretty much the same as a common dish that we have for Christmas every year (it's called "pinnekjøtt"), which is delicious. I don't know how to add a picture here, but here is a link:

message 36: by Diane (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Hilde wrote: "And smalahove, you really decided to pass on this one? ;)

I have actually eaten it, and yes it is actually good! Never managed to eat the eye though, even if it's supposed to be a delicacy...

I'm sure it tastes wonderful. It is just hard for me to get past how it looks. I have trouble eating anything that still has eyes on it. I would definitely try the pinnekjøtt, though.

Tromsø sounds like such an amazing place. I would love to live in a place that beautiful.

message 37: by Hilde (new)

Hilde (hilded) | 355 comments Diane wrote: "I'm sure it tastes wonderful. It is just hard for me to get past how it looks. I have trouble eating anything that still has eyes on it. I would definitely try the pinnekjøtt, though.."

I agree, I have only eaten it two times (so far) in my life. It's not really a tempting dish, lol. Lots of us struggeled the first time!

message 38: by Diane (last edited Jul 19, 2018 10:40PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Be sure to check out my updates to my travel journal above. I add updates a lot without making a new post. I have added a lot more about my tour of Iceland. The fact that I update instead of making new posts is why a lot of you didn't send me get well cards while I was hospitalized back in Norway.

This is where are Iceland journey gets weird.

We entered into the crater of the volcano. The crater was very large with an opening about a mile across, and a depth of about 2,000 feet. By, now it was late evening, but the midnight sun made it seem much earlier. We slept on the rocks at the mouth of the crater.

We made our descent into the crater. Loose rocks and slippery glaciers made it difficult to descend and I kept thinking I was going to plunge into one of the crevasses.

Don't try this at home!

We reach the bottom of the crater:

We find an opening in the bottom of the crater that leads to what looks like an endless abyss. We entered into a cavern filled with beautiful rock formations. It was completely dark, but luckily I thought to bring a strong flashlight, unlike my tour guides who kept insisting on using 19th century tools

We descend further. Now things get really weird.

Giant mushrooms:

Huge tortoises:

An underground sea.

The fish I see are blind and have lost their pigment. I saw fish like this when I visited The Lost Sea in Tennessee:

Then we began to see strange prehistoric-looking creatures.

Holy @#$%&!

We managed to somehow find materials to build a raft to cross the vast underground sea full of scary sea creatures:

Look at this thing trying to bite my butt!

We made it across to land and found some tunnels going up toward the surface. At some point, I became separated from my guides and had to continue the rest of the journey alone. I stopped taking many pictures by this point since survival became my main priority.

I finally emerge from the tunnel back into Iceland. I later learned my guides emerged somewhere in Italy. I am happy to have made it out alive.

So, we never really made it to the center of the earth. I don't think we were even close. We did make it a quite a few miles toward the center, though.

Since Axel and the professor ended up in Italy, they asked that their ship, the Valkyrie, be sailed back down to Germany. The captain of the ship said he would be happy to drop me off in Scotland, the next leg of my tour.

Finished Journey to the Center of the Earth (Extraordinary Voyages, #3) by Jules Verne Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne.

Connection to Iceland
~Most of the book was set in Iceland, above and below the surface. All the places I named were mentioned in the book, as well as details of my journey.

That was exhausting! I am looking forward to a more low-key exploration of Scotland.

message 39: by Diane (last edited Jul 18, 2018 11:13AM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Hilde wrote: "I agree, I have only eaten it two times (so far) in my life. It's not really a tempting dish, lol. Lots of us struggeled the first time! "

A friend of mine from the Philippines eats balut, which has to be one of the most disgusting foods on the planet. She says she loves the way it tastes, but can't look at it when she is eating it. She closes herself into a darkened closet to eat it.

I probably wouldn't care for smalahove even if it was pretty. I rarely eat lamb, let alone meat. On most days, I am a reluctant vegan since one of my children is a vegetarian and the other is allergic to dairy. As a result, I have gotten out of the habit of eating large pieces of meat. It has lost its appeal.

Two weeks ago, my son and I went to an Asian market to buy ingredients for miso soup and vegetable maki rolls. He noticed a huge open freezer filled with lamb and goat heads and freaked out. That is something you never see in a typical grocery store here. I explained to him that most other countries eat foods like this since they aren't as wasteful as we are in the US, and choose to eat as much of the animal as possible.

message 40: by Diane (last edited Jul 18, 2018 10:00PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments

Currently in Scotland with The Master of Ballantrae: A Winter's Tale by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Side note: Unfortunately, this book is not proving to be as descriptive as the last several I have read. I have been able to "go to" places mentioned in my books and "do things" done in the books. This book hasn't taken me to many interesting places.

My guide in Scotland is Ephraim Mackellar. He is a steward for the prominent Durie family. He seems to be a very loyal servant, but a bit on the meddlesome side.

The Durrisdeer Estate in Ballantrae, Scotland. Mackellar is the house steward here. Lord Durrisdeer lives here with his son Henry Durie, and a cousin, Miss Alison. Lord Durrisdeer has another son named James, who is referred to as the Master of Ballantrae. Mackellar says his room is at the top of the house, with a splendid view of the bay:

Ballantrae, Scotland is a coastal town in the southwest part of Scotland and is part of the county of South Ayrshire. The community of Ballantrae:

The beach by the Durringdeer Estate:

Mackellar tells me a lot about the family he serves. He says that Lord Durringdeer favors his eldest son James. Alison also favors James and wants to marry him. Mackellar doesn't feel the same way about James as the other two. He says that James is a manipulative womanizer who drinks and gambles too much. He is more in the pro-Henry camp. He says that Henry tries really hard but never gets the recognition he deserves.

Here are a few of the places we visited during my stay:

Solway Firth:

Ayrshire Moors:

Crossraguel Abbey:

I accompanied Mackellar to Edinburgh, where he had to settle business on a loan for the Duries. It is a lovely city.

Edinburgh Castle:

We stopped in an Edinburgh tavern for lunch. The guests there were singing loudly and having a good time, even though it was so early in the day.

Back in Ballantrae, things have changed. James is missing and rumors are going around about Henry, saying that he betrayed his brother. Needless to say, Henry isn't very popular in the community at this time. Miss Alison is distraught about James' disappearance, but feels pity for Henry. She decides that she will marry him, even though she doesn't love him.

Picture from Henry and Alison's very traditional Scottish wedding.
Henry looks dashing in his kilt:

The bagpipe player added a nice touch to the ceremony:

Things continue to be strained between the brothers. I don't feel very welcome here. I don't think this is going to end well for them at the rate they are going. James plans to sail to the US to uncover a treasure he buried in New York. He offered to drop me off in Ireland whenever I am ready to go. That may be very soon.

Master Teach's ship doesn't look all that sea-worthy, though:

We set sail. If I didn't know better I would have sworn that Mackellar just tried to push James off the ship. Definitely my imagination going into overtime. Mackellar isn't like that. I hope to reach Ireland soon.

I have disembarked the ship and am now in Ireland. They are en-route for New York.

I have finished The Master of Ballantrae A Winter's Tale by Robert Louis Stevenson The Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Connection to Scotland:
~Set mainly in Scotland
~Written by a Scottish author

Not as interesting a trip as some of the others I have had. I would have liked to see more of Scotland than I did. The language could have been more descriptive, too.

message 41: by Pip (new)

Pip | 1471 comments I am absolutely loving your journey.

message 42: by Diane (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Pip wrote: "I am absolutely loving your journey."


message 43: by Diane (last edited Jul 19, 2018 10:47PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments

Now in Ireland with The Poor Mouth by Flann O'Brien.

Ireland is one of my favorite countries to visit. I even had my wedding here. So I am very happy to be back.

My tour guide is a Gael lad by the name of Bónapárt Ó Cúnasa:

Bónapárt lives in the village of Corkadoragha, in County Donegal, in Western Ireland. He lives with his mother and his grandfather, Old-Grey-Fellow (Old-Fellow for short). His father has been away in jail since he was an infant. The family lives in this house, which Bónapárt describes as "small, lime-white, and unhealthy".

The house has a lovely view. Bónapárt says that there is no house in Ireland with a comparable view. From the house you can see..
(from the right-hand window)

The Rosses:

Bloody Foreland:

Tory Island:

(Looking out the door)
The West of County Galway:


Aranmore Island:

The bright houses of Kilronan:

(from the window on the left)
The Great Blasket:

The town of Dingle:

As lovely as the view is, the Ó Cúnasa house smells very bad. Not only do pigs live inside of the house, one of the piglets has a condition that gives off a putrefying stench.

Old-Grey-Fellow and one of the pigs:

Bónapárt's family is extremely poor. Their diet mainly consists of potatoes. They eat potatoes every day. As their guest, I had potatoes every day, too. Potatoes to eat and buttermilk to drink.

I went to Galway City with Old-Fellow, so he could buy some tobacco and "tasting spirits".

We drove to Cahirciveen, where Old-Fellow heard a rumor about a language inspector:

We also visited Dunquin:

and Ventry:

Old-Fellow also brought me to Rannagast:

and Letterkenny:

The Ó Cúnasa's speak Gaelic as their primary language. The language inspector offered them money (which they desperately needed) to talk with them. Another man from Dublin wished to record them speaking and telling folklore tales in Gaelic.

I learned some Irish dances, like the Gaelic Long Dance and the Eight-Hand Reel.

Old-Fellow took us hunting in the Rosses. We wondered what kinds of animals we would be hunting. Turns out, his version of hunting is breaking into houses and stealing things.

We stayed the evening at Ferdinand O'Roonassa's house in Killeagh. He's a great storyteller. He served us more potatoes and buttermilk:

Bónapárt and I walked the 5 miles back from Ferdinand's house to Corkadoragha. We walked by the sea and then inland toward the east. We stood on a cliff and looked out over at the rocky beach below. We gazed at the little water pools which shone in the twilight. It was so calm and peaceful, the only sound was that made by the soft waves below.

Bónapárt walked away from me for a several minutes. When he returned he had a look of terror on his face and was out of breath. He said he just saw what he thought to be a monster of some sort. He said it chased him. We ran the rest of the way to his house.

He drew a picture of it in charcoal. It looked like a drawing of Ireland tilted onto its side. Old fellow said it was the Sea-Cat.

I attended Bónapárt's wedding to Mabel, a girl from Gweedore, who was reputed to be a skilled potato-boiler.

Unfortunately, Old-Fellow drunk all the dowry money and didn't have a drop of champagne to give to the neighbors during the reception. Needless to say, the neighbors were upset and threatened to devour all of the potatoes and buttermilk (about 3-months supply). The bride even tried to escape when she saw what was to be her fate in life, but Bónapárt's mum held her down . Fortunately, another neighbor arrived with a barrel of stout. The reception commenced.

Old-Fellow enjoying the reception:

Things got a little out of hand. Okay, a LOT out of hand. Some guests ended up without a stitch of clothing and others got into fights. A couple people even died in the revelry.

We took a canoe out to the Rock to look at seals. They're so cute:

The next day brought heavy rains. There was flooding in some places.

I accompanied Bónapárt to Dublin, were he met up with his father who was due to get out of jail.

Bónapárt had to leave quite suddenly, so we said our goodbyes. Hopefully there will be more than just potatoes and buttermilk where he will be staying, but I doubt it.

From here, I will take a ferry to Wales.

Finished The Poor Mouth by Flann O'Brien The Poor Mouth by Flann O'Brien.

Connection to Ireland
~Irish author
~Irish setting

My hosts were very gracious despite their profound poverty. I will admit I am tired of potatoes and buttermilk, since that is what I have had for every meal since I arrived.

On to Wales...

message 44: by Diane (last edited Jul 21, 2018 10:46PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Chronicles of my visit to Wales...

My book is Everything You Need by A.L. Kennedy.

My guides are Nathan Staples and Mary Lamb.

Mary aspires to be a writer, and has applied for a writing fellowship at an author's retreat in a small island off the Welsh coast. Her mother abandoned her when she was young and she was told that her father died. She has been raised by her uncle Bryn and his partner, Morgan.

Mary and her uncles live in Capel Gofeg, Wales. I meet them here to begin my tour:

Nathan is a depressed, neurotic, and suicidal writer who lives on Foal Island, a small writer's retreat off the coast of Wales. Nathan has a big secret. He is Mary's long lost, presumed-dead Dad. He has pulled the strings to get her this fellowship on Foal Island. Despite this, she proves to be a great writer in her own right.

Nathan is always accompanied by his faithful friend, Eckless. His name was originally Reckless, but Joe's daughter Sophie had trouble pronouncing her "R's", so he became "Eckless":

Mary is sad to leave her uncles and her boyfriend Jonno, but must pursue her dream of becoming a writer. I accompany Mary to Ancw, and take a boat to Foal Island. The town of Ancw:

Riding out to the island:

Foal Island:

A group of seven writers live out here on Foal Island. They are a quirky bunch, to say the least.

The island consists of a lighthouse and several buildings that used to be part of an old army barracks. Mary's lodging is in this Nissen hut:

My accommodations are in the main barracks building:

Here are some views of the island:

Mary took me to see the caves. We had an odd encounter with Lynda, a fellow islander here.

The boat dock:

The lighthouse:

The rocky beach:

A view from one of the cliffs:

We stayed on the island the majority of the time, so I didn't get to see very much of Wales.

Things are getting weird between Mary and Nathan. Why doesn't he just tell her the truth and get it over with! Sooooo frustrating. Everybody on the island knows except for Mary.

We took a side excursion to Barry Island, which is much bigger than Foal Island:

We also visited Cardiff to see Mary's boyfriend Jonno, who works there as a graphic designer. Mary says that Cardiff is "not even bloody Wales":

Nathan is driving out to London to see Mary's mother, Maura again. He says he will give me a lift.

Finished Everything You Need by A.L. Kennedy Everything You Need by A.L. Kennedy.

Connection to Ireland
~Book set in Ireland

I enjoyed a trip, despite the lack of sightseeing. I just wish there was less family drama to get involved in. I wish these people wouldn't swear so much, too. I wish Mary and Nathan both success in their upcoming novels.

Off to England...

message 45: by Diane (last edited Jul 21, 2018 09:21PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments

I am now in England with Crash by J.G. Ballard.

My tour guide is James Ballard, a man whose name is curiously similar to that of the author.

James is a man obsessed with car crashes. This obsession started after he was in a bad car crash and after meeting Vaughan, another man obsessed with crashes.

I am having a miserable time here in London so far. Its not the fog and its not the traffic. Its this awful tour guide I have. We only go to see car crashes. Not only that, his mind is always in the gutter (no pun intended).

Here is what I have seen so far:

This is not how I wanted to experience a doubledecker bus

This is all I have to show for my trip:

What a completely awful experience I have had!

Finished Crash by J.G. Ballard Crash by J.G. Ballard.

Connection to England
~English author
~Set in England

Definitely need to research my tour guides better next time.

Going through the tunnel to France:

message 46: by Diane (last edited Jul 26, 2018 06:47PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments

Back in France with Old Bones by Aaron Elkins (non-1001).

My tour guide is an American forensic anthropology professor named Gideon Oliver. He is currently attending the Conference for Science and Detection in nearby St. Lo. I will meet up with him shortly.

In the meantime, I head straight for Mont St. Michel - The featured landmark and key setting for the book. Its a little foggy out this morning, and it makes it appear as though Mont St. Michel were resting on a cloud:

I see an elderly man collecting shells down on the shore. I'll have to do that myself later on, after I have seen all the buildings.

I climb down to the tour du nord. The tide is coming in very fast. Calls to mind a nursery rhyme:
"With the roar of thunder,
and the speed of a galloping horse
comes the tide to Mont St. Michel"

I look over the wall to where the man was standing and he is no longer there.

I hope he is okay. The locals say the sandy bottom, which the French call the sable mouvant, is almost like quicksand. I hear a woman scream and point in the direction of where he was standing and feel a cold shiver run down my spine.

Shaken by the morning's events, I make my way to the conference St. Malo to met up with Gideon. St. Malo:

I have omelette aux champignons and coffee for lunch on the way.

When I arrive, I see Gideon speaking with Lucien Anatole Joly, the chief inspector of the Police Nationale's Provincial Department in nearby Cote-du-Nord.

Gideon is on the right and inspector Joly is on the left

Shortly after we meet up, Gideon is called to examine some bones in a nearby cellar at Manoir de Rochebonne in Ploujean.

Manoir de Rochebonne:

The manor's cook offered us croissants and cafe creme. I could get used to this.

After Gideon examined the bones, we headed back to St. Malo in Inspector Joly's Renault. They discussed some of the events that occurred here back in WWII.

The next day we returned to the Manoir de Rochebonne in time for some more peculiar going-ons. Gideon also established that the person belonging to the skeletal remains had been murdered.

We went to the quaint town of Dinan to get some lunch. Dinan:

We parked the car along the Promenade des Petits-Fosses and walked along twisting alleys to the Grill-Room Duguesclin, off the Place du Champ-Clos. This place serves authentic Breton food:

Our first course was palourdes, steamed clams on the half shell, drenched in garlic butter, which we accompanied with a bottle of Muscadet:

Our main course was grilled trout:

Next, we were served a cheese plate with baguettes and a bottle of Beaujolais:

We spent the rest of the day back at the Manoir.

The next morning we ate breakfast in the dining room of the Hotel Terminus in St. Malo, where Gideon was staying.

There we learned about a mail-bomb received by a member of the Roche family.

We walked along the fortified ramparts of St. Malo, feeling the breeze coming in from the Channel Islands:

For lunch, we went to a creperie.

We had buckwheat galettes with ham, egge, cheese, and tomatoes:

Cups of chocolat chaud (hot chocolate):

We split an order of crepes with Creme Chantilly for dessert:

After lunch, we went to Ploujean to look at a WWII monument that had relevance to Gideon's case, the Monument a Morlaix:

We stopped for Breton cider afterward in a cafe in Ploujean.

They served the cider in bowls:

We drove past the Hunadaie Forest. Yes, that is a full-sized castle:

We return to Mont St. Michel to test out a theory of Gideons about the tide and take a dip in the cool water:

We went to eat lunch at the Mere Poularde on the Grand Rue at Mont St Michel, but they were closed:

So we ate at Le Mouton Blanc at Mont St. Michel instead. When we opened the door, the aroma of pommes frites wafted out:

We shared a bottle of Chablis and had fruits de mer varies for our first course:

Next, they brought us two kettles of moules mariniere

For our main course, we had leg of lamb with potatoes and white beans accompanied by a fresh bottle of Medoc:

Gideon has solved his case and is very appreciative to me for my assistance. He is getting ready to fly back to the states.

Finished Old Bones (Gideon Oliver, #4) by Aaron Elkins Old Bones by Aaron Elkins.

Next, I am heading to Avignon for the performing arts festival. Will post a review when I finish my show.

The Avignon Festival. I am seated 4th from the right in row H.

Connection to France:
~Set in France
Connection to landmark:
~Key setting for book's plot
~Visited by main characters in more than one occasion
~Characters visited specific locations within Mont St. Michel, including the two restaurants I mentioned above and the tour du nord
~Entire book takes place in there and in the surrounding towns
~Plot revolves around incident that took place in Mont St. Michel
~Book begins and ends in Mont St. Michel

Connection to special event:

~I watched a French subtitled film called Bienvenue à Marly-Gomont (English title: The African Doctor). It is about a Congolese doctor who accepts a post as community physician in a small village in provincial France. It shows the experiences of the family being the only black family in a very white village and the lengths they go to to fit in with the locals. It provided a good insight into the immigrant experience, culture shock and cultural clashes, and the hardships faced those who are physically and culturally different from the dominant culture. The church scene is a real hoot. Lots of funny bits throughout. Sad parts, too.
Turns out that provincial France isn't that much different than the rural US. I didn't realize it was based on a true story until the closing credits. I highly recommend this movie.
The real life son (Kamini) in the movie wrote a rap song (that went viral) about his experiences that led to the making of the film. Here is the link to the video of the song:

Overall a enjoyable trip accompanied by an enjoyable mystery. A very positive experience after my harrowing experience in England.
This was the first Gideon Oliver book I read, and I hope to read more. I do own a couple of others in this series.

After the festival, I will be heading to Switzerland!

message 47: by Diane (last edited Jul 23, 2018 05:35AM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments

Currently in Switzerland with Homo Faber by Max Frisch.

My tour guide is a UNESCO engineer named Walter Faber. His job is to provide technical aid to underdeveloped countries.

Gosh, he really doesn't smile much. Here is a better picture, although he still isn't smiling.:

Being an engineer, he puts a lot of stock into logic, technology, and probability. He does not buy into fatalism or luck.

He's a real storyteller. We spend our time talking instead of touring. Let me rephrase that. He talks, I listen. He has quite a story to tell.

We sit on barstools at the Cafe Odeon in Zurich while he chats away. He says he hates this cafe because it is too full of intellectuals and bohemians.

Since we spent so much time here, I made sure I tried one of each type of tart they offered:

He tells me about a recent trip of his to Mexico. His plane crash landed, and the passengers were stranded for several days in the Mexican desert.

He tells me about his long lost love, Hannah. He wanted to marry her, but things didn't go according to plan.

He takes a ship across the ocean and meets a lovely young woman who reminds him a lot of Hannah. He later learns her true identity.

He tells me fascinating stories about the coincidences that happened in his life that caused him to question how much control he actually had of his life.

The only part of Switzerland we saw was Zurich, and not much of that. He was just too busy talking and I was too busy listening to his stories.

Here are the pictures I took of Zurich. It is a lovely city. I heard that it is the world's most expensive city. I don't know if that is true:

Finished Homo Faber by Max Frisch Homo Faber by Max Frisch.

Connection to Switzerland:
~Written by a Swiss author
~Partially set in Switzerland (most set elsewhere)

I really need to talk less and travel more. I saw very little of Switzerland. I also learned from here as well as in Wales to (view spoiler)

Next stop: Austria

message 48: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1608 comments Mod
Congrats, you won one extra point for creativity this week

message 49: by Diane (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments

It has been storming horribly here in Austria and the roads out are destroyed. There was a bad accident involving a cement mixer sent to fix the road. It is blocking the only somewhat usable road out of this rural town I am visiting. Road work isn't getting done due to the high winds, torrential rains, flash flooding, and lightning.

I got some good pics of the storm:


Road condition due to the severe flooding:

Overturned cement mixer:

Not my rental car! Noooooooooo!

I am stuck here until the situation changes.

Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments stay safe! :)

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