Traveling is one of my favorite passions…few things give me more pleasure than wandering around a new location – the scents, sounds, sights, sense of history, the food, the people, even the weather adds an extra layer of flavor. I love to meet the locals and hear their stories. It’s fun to travel with someone, if it’s the right someone for the place, but I’ve had some of my grandest adventures with myself for company and a supporting cast of friendly strangers. Some of my favorite moments…many of my photos are from the pre-digital age and I’m yet to digitize them…
- Being with my mum in the Highlands of Scotland – hiking the Lost Valley in Glencoe against the backdrop of double rainbows, soaring eagles, and purple and orange heather – and witnessing a night sky over Skye with so many shooting stars that the air appeared thick with cobwebs. And I got to sing the ‘Skye Boat song’ on the wee ferry. I always like to do something iconic when I visit somewhere for the first time.
- Doing the Monkeys walk and singing the song – ‘here we come, walking down the street…’ with 3 new friends…at 3 30 AM…on Bourbon St in New Orleans…the French Quarter at that hour is deserted except for the ghosts. Painting a ballet dancer in Degas’ studio.NOLA is a city where I felt instantly at home, and was giving directions to tourists 24 hours after landing; I have made some great friends there in only 2 visits – Stanley, Carl, Patricia, Chris…
- Being on Capri, Italy, an Italian Millport or Catalina! There, everything is brighter and more glorious, all senses are heightened, I could live there in a heartbeat. Just to breathe the air makes you feel more alive…that was one of the best days of my life. In fact my Gravatar photo/one on my business cards, with me in the big hat and shades, was taken that day by a lovely lady from Australia.
- Scaling the heights of Mount Etna, Sicily. I love volcanoes; they have fascinated me since I was a child. Hot steam emanating from the many vents, and fresh lava from recent explosions, proved I was standing on something very much alive. It was thrilling – until the wind shifted and the air grew heavy with sulphur. It reminded me of a bad chemistry class, it was chokingandeye watering, my throat was scratchy, and voice hoarse, for hours.
- Wandering the streets of Venice and dancing in St. Mark’s Square at midnight..cocktails at sunset on the deck oftheGritti Palace with Kris, Robert and Andrea. There’s something magical about that city. Everything is ether on legs or on the water…no where like it on earth, except Vegas has a cleaner, sanitized Disney version; it is no surprise that some key parts of my novel take place on Capri/in Venice.
- Climbing Huana Picchu, the little peak over looking Macchu Picchu, which give spectacular views of the ancient city. I wore my Celtic Hoops, did a bit of yoga and ate wild strawberries! The Incans chose to build where their cities were hugged by mountains – watching the moon rise from behind the Andes was another special moment – nourished by running water and kissed by the clouds. Cuzco was such a fun place drinking with Mark in an Irish pub was surreal.
- Niagara Falls with my mum, aunt Carol, Robert, Elaine and Carlo….I have never been so cold in my life. The American side of the Falls were frozen solid, pure ice, and people asked if I’d used black and white film – I hadn’t; everything was shades of black, white and grey, no color anywhere, except me!
- New York pre 9/11 – standing in the piazza below the Twin Towers and straining my neck looking up to see to the top. Visiting the Winter Garden, 30th December 1999 at night with only the cleaners around. I descended the grand staircase feeling like Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady to walk between the forest of Xmas trees and hypnotized by the helicopter on the roof of a yacht on the Hudson River outside. I saw the ball rise over Times Square 24 hours before it was officially dropped for the masses. Dining at Tavern on the Green. Another trip to NY, I was attending a cast barbeque after the Sunday matinée performance of Beauty and The Beast at the Palace Theater on Broadway; coming back from the bathroom, I got lost and found myself on stage. Yes, I sang! The audience was one of the lighting guys, my pal, Kim, and the ghosts. But I sang on Broadway!
- Driving up Highway 1 – from Los Angeles to Monterey via Big Sur in my new wee red Ford Fiesta singing along to Elvis…and Sinatra…and Broadway stuff…I’d always wanted to do that since I saw Elvis do it in a film when I was a wee kid! The sparkling Pacific Ocean that stretches into oblivion to the Far East, the skyscraping cliffs, with their sharp descent to the grim rocks below, the hair bend curves and graceful Art Deco bridges…A drive for drivers! Hiking at Point Lobos, between Big Sur and Carmel.
- Florence. Climbing the Bell Tower, which was relatively deserted, and looking down over the city at sunset, and across at the tourists packed in at the Duomo across the way. Visiting the Uffizi Gallery, wandering the city on the same streets as Michelangelo, Bernini, Puccini, while listening to Puccini on my ipod. The pizza – the olive oil – the wine – the gelato…ahhhh….although Rome was equally as captivating, where antiquities are lying about all over the place and police cars fly about as though they’re featured in a Bond movie…
- More photos to follow and I will be doing articles on my favorite/must do things in these places, if you are ever following in my footsteps…
Also love wandering around Glasgow, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Boston, London, Barcelona, Paris, Dublin, Vancouver, Toronto, Dubrovnik – so many fun adventures that I’ve had with old and new friends – so many more to go…
I have started to write reviews on Trip Advisor…here is a link if you’re interested…I like nice things at a great price…always start with booking.com, cross-reference on trip advisor, before checking the hotel’s own website; quite often they offer a better deal if you book direct!
Yvonne McLeod Enterprises
Scottish Woman of the World residing in Los Angeles, California