Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tours for mystery readers

Two of my most memorable trips ever were to England and Scotland, through Smithsonian Journeys (an arm of the Smithsonian Institution). It's something I've written about in the Smithsonian Journeys blog this week.

Smithsonian Journeys has two tours: the Classic Mystery Lovers Tour, which takes you from London to Torquay (where Agatha Christie lived) to the Cotswolds and Oxford. We also spend an afternoon in Wales. The other tour, Mystery Lovers England and Scotland, takes a different route, from the Yorkshire Dales to Edinburgh. Both tours are led by three wonderful women: Rosalind Hutchison, tour guide; Carol Fleisher Kent, study leader; and Moira Black, tour manager. All three are incredibly knowledgeable and main reasons for my returning for a second trip.

Another reason: These trips don't just take you to sites where books are set, but we meet with current-day big-name authors, including Ian Rankin, Colin Dexter (creator of Inspector Morse), Ann Cleeves and Andrew Taylor, among others. Author Robert Barnard, shown above, gave us a personal tour of the Bronte Parsonage during one trip.

These trips are on the pricey side, but worth it. We stay at luxury hotels and the groups are never very large. There's a relaxed atmosphere to the tours -- not the usual mad dash, no-time-for-the-restroom tours that I've experienced before. In fact, the bus has even stopped at times so we can get out and snap photos of the countryside. These are trips I would recommend to anyone who loves mysteries. I'm awaiting the day when the Smithsonian adds a third mystery tour!

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