I guess I’ve always known I would travel. I grew up in a family of educators, and after school was out, we hit the road! We brought our camper and stayed in state and national parks while we traversed the country. I was hooked on travel from an early age! When we were not traveling, we lived in a village in northeast Louisiana. I read books as an escape from the small town life that I knew. I read all kinds of books; but my favorites were set in cities, states, and even countries with which I was unfamiliar. The thing I liked the most was learning about the different places I read about and the culture of those who lived there. Reading books was the inspiration that sparked my passion for travel, and it still does.
Over the years I read numerous inspirational travel books. I tend to gravitate to those written by or about amazing women. Here are three of my favorites.
Book About Life in Another Country
Under the Tuscan Sun – Frances Mayes
I suppose my first favorite travel inspiration book would have to be Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes.https://amzn.to/2MyfEDW Now I know that you probably saw the movie when it came out in 2003. But did you read the book? It’s so much better than the movie because it describes, in detail, Ms. Mayes’s actual life in glorious, sunny Italy. Her descriptions of the land, the town of Cortona, the restoration of the villa she and her husband purchased, and the lovely people she met there just made me want to see it for myself. Life in a small village is inherently slower and more relaxed than life in a city. But Mayes discovered that life in a small town in Italy is even slower. Workmen didn’t come to work on the villa on time (sometimes by days or weeks) and meals lasted for hours. She learned the beauty of learning to slow down, relax, and enjoy life with those she came to care about so much.
A bonus of actually reading the book is that there are chapters in the book solely dedicated to recipes for the local Tuscan food. Mayes is known as a gourmet cook so check out her recipes and try one or all of them.
My travel to Cortona, Italy
I eventually traveled to Italy myself twice (so far!). The second time was a much more relaxed trip, and I finally found my way to Cortona with my husband, R, who was already a seasoned world traveler. Cortona is a hill town in Tuscany, and the hills are STEEP. The parking area for tourists is at the bottom of one of these hills. Here’s an important tip to write down for your trip to Cortona. If you don’t want to walk up that first steeply angled hill you see, keep looking until you find the ESCALATOR (I’m not kidding), at the end of the parking lot. It takes you quickly and easily to the main town street!
We were only in Cortona for one night and spent it at the Hotel San Michele, formerly a 14th-century palace close to the center of town. It’s been restored and turned into a beautiful hotel with a fascinating history. We were guided to our room the first time since the hallways and stairwells meander around the building. The hotel’s location is perfect to explore the local streets, bustling with museums, shops, restaurants, and the Piazza della Repubblica that Mayes discusses in her book. Ahhhh…Tuscany.
Books about Travel Adventures
Down the Nile – Rosemary Mahoney
Rosemary Mahoney was a rower long before she traveled to Egypt with a dream of rowing down the Nile River alone. Her positively engaging book describes her research of travel on the Nile, using the diaries of famous people from the past who had written of their trips down the Nile. One traveler she admired, in particular, was Florence Nightingale. Yes, the very same Florence Nightingale who nursed soldiers on the battlefield. She was an adventurer, that one; from working on the battlefield to touring the world, Florence Nightingale carried her adventurous spirit with her. Rosemary Mahoney was no different.
Ms. Mahoney’s book https://amzn.to/2MyF8B5 vividly describes the difficulties she faced in 1999, the year she journeyed to Egypt a second time to fulfill her dream. In 1999, the Egyptian people were very protective of tourists, and especially of women tourists. She notes in her book that they were friendly to the point of becoming intrusive, telling her not to do certain activities but naming others that would be safer for her. So it was the difference in culture that became her biggest obstacle. She simply wanted to buy a rowboat and travel down the Nile at a time when Egyptian women weren’t allowed to go anywhere alone, much less travel alone down the mighty Nile River in a rowboat. Impossible! That’s the message she kept getting from everyone she met.
Finally, Ms. Mahoney met someone who believed that she could travel down the Nile in a rowboat. He helped her arrange to travel down the Nile using his own rowboat. Now, this was against the law, and one was required to obtain permission to travel by boat down the river. The man, who owned a felucca which is an Egyptian sailboat, agreed to tow the rowboat behind his felucca until they were out of sight of the police in Aswan where her dream began coming true. You’ll have to read about her journey and her “secret.” I love reading about adventurous women willing to step outside of their comfort zones to achieve their dreams and this book is one not to be missed!
Grandma Gatewood’s Walk – Ben Montgomery
After reading these three books, I’ve learned that women truly are capable of doing anything we set our minds to. Whether it is a physical task or stepping outside our comfort zones in another manner, as long as we persist, we can accomplish our goals. So what are your travel goals? Have you always wanted to see new places but haven’t been supported by others around you? Has your dream been to travel overseas to Europe, Asia, or Central America? Start thinking of where you most want to travel and how you might accomplish that. If you feel uncomfortable about planning your own trip, talk to a travel agent or look into tours by established tour operators, such as a Rick Steves tour to Europe or a cruise tour. There are endless opportunities. Spend a little time in the travel section of your favorite bookstore looking at guidebooks and other inspirational books about travel. You and I CAN travel ANYWHERE we want! Now, let’s go!
P.S. What is your favorite travel inspiration book? Do you struggle with the thought of traveling outside of your comfort zone? Leave a comment and tell me what your biggest struggle is related to travel. I would love to address your struggles in a future post so tell me all about them. We can do this together!
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