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Off The Page

Off the Page

Bestselling author Elizabeth Berg finds creative inspiration at home and away.

Fondest travel memory — I once took a cooking class in Positano, Italy – alone. For weeks, I worried about traveling so far by myself, but from the moment I arrived, everything was wonderful. I think it opened me up to having a better experience than I might have had with a companion.

Next vacation — I want to go to Nohant-Vic, France, to see George Sand’s country house.

Best travel tip — My favorite cab driver said, “I deal with all the problems that come up before I get through security and then, once I’m through, I just let go. I read. I talk to people. I just relax. I start my vacation right then and there.”

Favorite quality in a hotel — A rose on a room service tray. Good coffee that you can make in the room. Nice soap and shampoos and lotion. Friendly staff. And nice sheets. Oh, the sheets...

When traveling, I wear — Soft, stretchy fabrics that still look good. My favorite is a gray pants and tunic top combination that never wrinkles and that can accommodate a spill or two. Or three.

Best thing about traveling — It exposes you to something different and can make you appreciate your own life more. My mother-in-law used to say, “It’s good to go away; it’s good to come home.” I agree.

Best way to get to know a city — Leave things up to chance and take cues from the people you meet. Guidebooks are good for a general orientation, but don’t rely on them – or on schedules – so much that you miss serendipitous events.

Favorite city in the world — Chicago. It has everything you could want, except good weather.

I never leave home without — Many books to read. I stack them on my nightstand and regard them with the same sense of joy and greed as a box of fine chocolates.

Favorite museum — The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Utterly unique and enchanting!

My idea of travel happiness — Feeling as though you get a real sense of what a place is, and the kind of people who live there. Also, finding street food that’s delicious.

My favorite place to write is — At home, at my desk, with a vase of flowers and a cup of coffee nearby. I’ve also taken retreats to places by the ocean. The sound of the water was both calming and energizing, and I really loved to walk on the beach when I took breaks.

The best place to people watch — An airport is great. So many nationalities and so many personalities on display. We’re an endlessly interesting species.

The Dream Lover is set in France. My favorite part of visiting there is — How, in Paris, nearly everywhere you look is something artful. And the language, of course. Listening to French. Even if you’re being insulted, it sounds sublime.


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