At approximately 7pm Thursday night, my plane thudded to the ground. The wheels rumbled. The plane shook. The flight attendants casually spoke to each other in Icelandic, while the passengers quickly gathered up their materials, repacked their bags and unclipped their seatbelts.
We were back in the United States.
The last year has certainly been a busy one; these twelve months or so have involved a lot of settling in, establishing myself and forming new roots. As of this July, I’ve now lived in New Hampshire for three years – the longest I’ve lived in a single area since I was in high school. It’s been over a year since Veronica and I moved into our apartment—and almost a year since The Cage Legacy was published.
Amongst this flurry of events, I haven’t had the opportunity to travel as much as I normally do. I’ve yearned for the open road, waiting for the right moment to stretch my legs out and see new places. So this trip was a lifesaver – a much-needed dose of adventure, a chance to go jetting across the globe and rediscover myself once again. The excitement was only heightened by the fact that Veronica and I were going together; our wandering natures were a large part of what first brought us together, and there’s no one in the world I’d rather travel with.
Anyway, so here’s the question on everyone’s mind:
What was it like?
My answer? It was an amazing, perspective-changing experience in many, many ways. I expect that many of the more bizarre and exciting incidents will find their way into my future writings, as they always do.
Now, as far as the countries I visited…let’s start at the beginning.
Iceland is an absolutely breathtaking, one-of-a-kind place; it feels a bit like stepping into an entirely different world, possibly a contemporary version of one of the nine worlds in Norse mythology— Niflheim, perhaps. It’s a cold, windy land of concrete and metal architecture, amazing volcanic landscapes, geysers, an ancient language, still-present Viking influences and remarkably warm, inviting human beings.
Great coffee, too. Always a bonus.
Really, though, I can’t say enough about how gorgeous Iceland really is. After flying out of it, I’ve talked to many others who ventured there, and it seems that everyone who goes there comes away with an unexpected love of the little northern island. It’s a country that truly does all of the things that everyone says a country should do; it has a small, friendly population, 99% renewable energy, and a prime minister whose number is listed in the phonebook. How could it get any better?
Now, England; what can I say about England that you don’t already know? Being an American in England feels much like being inside the body of one’s brother, in many respects. Overall, England is probably my favorite European country (so far!), and there’s really not enough nice things that one can say about it.
On this particular trip, Veronica and I toured through several small towns, had fish and chips over in Windsor, and then finished our stay with a couple days in London, riding around the tube like a couple of professionals (or so we thought…). We made a point to see many of the usual attractions, did a pub crawl and stopped for a couple hours in Tate Modern – an art museum right at the end of the Millennium Footbridge, and definitely a must-see for all modern art fans.
Following that, we took the chunnel to France, spent a couple nights in Paris and then finished the rest of the trip in Dijon.
Now, part of what made France so interesting – as this was my first visit – was the dramatic contrast between it and England; despite their relatively close proximity, the cultures of France and England couldn’t possibly be more different. Wandering the streets of Paris was a fascinating experience, and something that everyone should do at least once. The classic tourist stops such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and Sacré-Cœur are well worth a visit, and absolutely live up to the hype.
Oh and yes, the coffee in Paris is great; once again, always a bonus.
Paris is a fast-paced city, so it was nice to take a breather and go to Dijon for the majority of our stay in France, where we were warmly welcomed into the house of Veronica’s best friend and her family. Dijon is a beautiful town, full of intriguing sights, a nice atmosphere and amazing food. I have to admit, I actually preferred Dijon to Paris in many respects. I would highly recommend that anyone going to France should make a point to stop in Dijon.
After that, it was back to Iceland for a day, and then back to the US where I was picked up by a couple of friends here in the states. Since then, I’ve been slowly trying to readjust to EST time…something I’m still working on. Apparently, I seem to have completely lost my internal clock; it could be 2am or 2pm right now, and my body can’t really tell the difference.
Overall, the experience was an exhilarating one; it was an adventure that truly redefined many of my views on the world, mostly for the better. As many others can probably attest, there’s something very interesting about looking at one’s own country from the outside in.
I’m going to cut myself off here, but before I do, some news:
- News Item #1: I’m going to NECON 33 later this week! NECON – short for Northeastern Writers’ Conference – is an annual writing convention that’s been held in Bristol, Rhode Island for almost three decades. I’ll be going there with the New England Horror Writers organization, of which I am a member. This is my first visit to NECON, so it should definitely be intriguing.
- News Item #2: While I was gallivanting around in Europe, it appears that a couple of new reviews for The Cage Legacy popped up. One of these articles was on Horror Novel Reviews, and the other on MaineMuse. Before I wrap everything up, I want to extend a warm thank you to both of these reviewers; I’m honored that you both chose to review my work, and I’m very glad you enjoyed Ethan Cage’s dark narrative. Now, to supply some quotes, and some links to the reviews themselves:
“I simply loved this book.”
– Sharon C. Williams, MaineMuse
“The Cage Legacy is a novel to read.”
– Vitina Molgaard, Horror Novel Reviews
That’s all for now!
– Nicholas Conley