Travel Disasters that Aren’t

I’m planning right now for an autumn trip to Europe (Paris, where I’ve never been except the airport, and Zagreb, where I lived for 5 months). I’m also putting the finishing touches on a novel in which the protagonist, Jeff, makes a somewhat reluctant journey to Venice. Unlike Jeff, I love to travel. But like him, I tend to plan pretty thoroughly, and I worry about things going wrong (things do go wrong for Jeff, of course). On the other hand, I’m much more relaxed about mishaps than I used to be, because I’ve come to realize that sometimes they make for the best memories and the funniest stories–afterwards. At the time, they can be problematic!

My favorite travel mishap was 10 years ago, when I went to Budapest and Prague. When I arrived in Budapest it was very, very hot and although the hotel was lovely, it did not have AC. My attempts to use sign language with the maid to obtain a fan only resulted in the delivery of a hair dryer. Then they sent an English-speaking guy who was very apolgetic–they were out of fans. But he brought me a can of Coke and a big bucket of ice instead–no charge–and was very sweet when all I had to tip him with was a US dollar. I went to the market for dinner that night and due to my inability to properly convert kilos to pounds, ended up with way more raspberries than I’d intended. When I woke up feeling ill the next morning I blamed it on the fruit. But the illness stuck around for several days. In a square in Karlovy Vary, a fellow traveler asked me how I was feeling. “Okay,” I answered. “It comes and goes. A lot like morning sick…..” Ah. It was at that very moment that I realized the existence of my second child.

What’s your favorite travel disaster story?

Neil Gaiman interview Stephen King

I like this interview of Stephen King (who I think is a hell of a good writer) by Neil Gaiman (one of my favorite authors). Here’s a part of the interview that especially resonated with me:

“I never think of stories as made things; I think of them as found things. As if you pull them out of the ground, and you just pick them up. Someone once told me that that was me low-balling my own creativity. That might or might not be the case. But still, on the story I am working on now, I do have some unresolved problem. It doesn’t keep me awake at nights. I feel like when it comes down, it will be there…”

King writes every day. If he doesn’t write he’s not happy. If he writes, the world is a good place. So he writes. It’s that simple.

Book Review: Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore

Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore

I always enjoy Christopher Moore’s books. He’s one of the few authors I find laugh-out-loud funny. This book, while still funny, has more substance than most of his others. It contains an art history lesson and musing (hah!) about inspiration. The characters–both real and imagined–are wonderful. I didn’t have a strong idea about what exactly was going on plotwise until well into the book, which is a good thing. I was pleasantly surprised. And the places are well described also, especially Paris. One other thing–the look of the book is really nice, with paintings scattered throughout and the text in dark blue ink. I think this is one worth buying in print rather than e-version.

Really a fun–and even educational!–read. Highly recommended.