2006: The Year in Travel

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Q.What was your most memorable trip this year?

A.I went to Ogden, Kansas, to visit a set of octogenarian second cousins I had never met before. You fly to Kansas City and then drive two-and-a-half hours through the treeless frozen tundra. It was certainly memorable. The bleakness will be burned into my memory unto death.

Q.Your most memorable meal (not necessarily on the same trip)?

A.Well, no, not generated on the same trip, since I ate nothing but KFC (and I was grateful to get it). I had a wonderful birthday dinner at my favorite Nashville restaurant, Margot's—homemade linguine with broccoli rabe and ricotta. Very simple, very lovely.

Q.Did you stay in, or visit, a hotel that particularly wowed you?

A.Another magazine, a magazine that cares about me and my needs, sent me to Russia in February. I stayed at the Hotel Astoria in Saint Petersburg, and it was pretty splendid, with a big curving marble stairwell with an old brass-cage elevator running up the center of it. It would have been a great place to shoot a thriller. They also had first-rate slippers.

Q.What place did you find overrated or disappointing?

A.The American Resort in Kohler, Wisconsin, but that might have had to do with the fact that they didn't have a room for me for six hours after I checked in. The shower was so confusing that the instructions were laminated so that you could read them while the water was running, and the hallways were so endless I was lost for an hour. It was like The Shining.

Q.What was your worst (or funniest) travel experience?

A.I spent six hours sitting at LaGuardia waiting for a plane. Everyone was massively delayed, and there was barely enough room to find a place on the floor. I had just come from giving a graduation address and was wearing high heels and pearls and a navy silk dress that was very Grace Kelly. I got the first 150 pages of The Ambassadors read. You get a lot of attention reading James in a silk dress at LaGuardia, let me tell you.


Q.What's going to be hot this year?

A.Odgen, Kansas. You read it here first.

Q.Is there a restaurant or a chef whom everyone is watching?

A.Some New Orleans refugees washed up from Katrina have opened a little joint in Nashville called Nola's. It's very good but seems to be hanging by a thread. I'm hoping they'll make it.

Q.What trips do you have planned for 2007?

A.I'm going to be on book tour all year. If they read in English, chances are I'll be there.

Q.Where do you most want to go in the world that is still a dream away?

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