Hello! I've traveled a fair share of US, but my international trips have thus far been limited to Canada. That latter fact may change someday, but even if it doesn't, I'm always good for some armchair traveling. And thrift stores are good places to pick up trip accounts, such as these three books I've purchased recently:
From top to bottom: Cafe Oc, by Beebe Bahrami; Grandma's On The Camino, by Mary O'Hara Wyman, and The New York Times Explorer Mountains, Deserts & Plains.
The first two books are somewhat similar in that the authors immerse themselves in European countries for several weeks (Wyman) to a year (Bahrami) at a time, which gives both women time to make new friends, learn the history and customs of an area, enjoy local foods and drinks, and observe flora and fauna.
Wyman doesn't have a car at her disposal, since she's "on the camino" - that is, a 500-mile route that starts in France but primarily traverses through Spain. Wyman was 70 when she set out on her 48-day walk, and was a solo traveler. I admired her for putting up with variable weather and sleeping conditions. She mentions others who made the walk easier by signing up with touring companies that arranged nice lodging and hauled excess gear. But even though Wyman was consistently beset by various foot injuries (she stops for medical services several times along the way), she rolls with the punches and keeps on walking.
Her book is presented as a three-part journal. Part One is the daily postcard she wrote and mailed to her five-year-old granddaughter. Part Two is her daily journal entry, and Part Three includes reflections she added for each journal entry after she had returned home. (Thus, each day's walk includes three entries.) Considering how challenging the walk was, I was impressed that Wyman kept to her writing schedule every day! I think I would have been nodding off the minute I stopped walking.
Bahrami doesn't have a car, either, when she settles into the town of Sarlat in southwestern France for a year. So she does a great deal of walking as well, both around town and in the countryside. She revels in local foods and wines, explores prehistoric caves in the region, makes new friends, brushes up on her French and meets with a group who gather to speak the local dialect, Occitan. This gathering takes place in Cafe Oc, the basis of Bahrami's book title. (By the way, "oc" means "yes" in Occitan.)
I'm a regular visitor to our local farmer's market, so I really enjoyed Bahrami's frequent trips to Sarlat's version of this enterprise. Such wonderful descriptions of such wonderful food! I swooned at the delectibles she brought back to her rental apartment.
The last book, the one produced by The New York Times, is very different from the first two books. Instead of one author who describes her adventures in (mostly)a single country, Explorer is a compilation of travel articles about locales the world over. Sure, there's write-ups of visits to US spots in Idaho (Sawtooth Valley), Georgia (Okefenokee Swamp), Alaska (Inside Passage region), and more. But there's also descriptions of trips to Peru (Machu Picchu), Chili (star-gazing hot spots), Germany (the Alps in the winter) and so on.
The articles are short and I found myself wishing they'd been a bit longer. I would have liked to have learned even more about each writer's experiences during their visits. But again, these articles had originally appeared in the travel section of a newspaper, where space was limited.
Explorer doesn't skimp on page quality or photographs though. Both are along the lines of what I'd consider a "coffee table book". I wasn't surprised to learn that brand new, this book was $40.00. I was happy with the $2.99 I paid at a thrift store.
So until my next big trip (a summer vacation out west is in the works), I'll continue with my armchair traveling.