In honor of her new release, The Notorious Scoundrel, historical author Alexandra Benedict gives us the inside scoop on her top ten historical travel destinations. See where (and with whom) she would love to spend her time. Make sure to check out the GIVEAWAY after her all-time top ten!
It’s no secret: I’m a history buff. If I’m not writing historical romance, I’m working in a museum (I’ve a penchant for archaeology, too). And so, I’ve put together a travel list: my top ten destinations throughout history. I hope you’ll join me for the trip through time!
10. Tel el Amarna, Egypt, circa 1346 BC:
Break out your sun block! The City of Akhetaten is nestled in the lush Nile Valley, about 300 miles north of Thebes. With glitzy palaces and open, airy temples, Egypt’s new, innovative capitol is the cradle of poet, artist (and heretic) Pharaoh Akhenaten. He’s married to the beautiful Nefertiti, father to the legendary Tutankhamen, and he’s broken with all religious tradition! As his city was destroyed soon after his death, we know very little about the “Sun Pharaoh.” I’d love to sit and chat with him about philosophy, discover why he abandoned centuries of belief to worship one deity.
9. Pompeii, Italy, circa 78 AD:
Why this Roman settlement? Perhaps it is the city’s tragic end (and the ghostly plaster casts of the dead) which captivate me, but I’d appreciate a stroll through the main forum a year before Mount Vesuvius erupts and buries the city (and all its inhabitants) in ash.
8. Newfoundland, Canada, circa 1001 AD:
I’d like to sneak onboard the ship with Viking Eirik the Red, set sail from Greenland to “Vinland” (Newfoundland), and meet up with the Beothuk First Nations (there are no living descendants today). How awesome to bear witness to the first exchange between cultures from two different worlds. Today, the abandoned Norse Village is a museum at L'ans aux Meadows.
7. Mount Lishan, China, circa 250 BC:
The burial ground of the First Emperor of China. A massive terracotta army (over 8000 soldiers strong) stands guard at the entrance to the emperor’s tomb, which is rumoured to be a jewelled replica of his entire empire. However, as there are no plans to excavate the necropolis, I’ll have to go back in time to see this ancient wonder in all its glory.
6. Alexandria, Egypt, circa 35 BC:
I’ve always had a fascination with Alexandria. There’s so many wonders to see! As we approach the beautiful city, we sail past the 450 ft Pharos Lighthouse. It’s beacon shines 30 miles out to sea, guiding us safely into the world’s largest, most bustling port. We disembark and enter the metropolis through the impressive Sun Gate, heading for Alexander the Great’s mausoleum. Next we travel to the famous Library of Alexandria, containing the world’s largest collection of writings. After we peruse this giant database of knowledge, we dine with Cleopatra and Mark Anthony (and finally put one mystery to rest: was she a stunning beauty or not?)
5. Wiltshire, England, circa 2150 BC:
I love a good mystery! Why would Neolithic Peoples drag over 50 stones (weighing up to 50 tons each) 240 miles and arrange them in a circle? I’m off to Stonehenge to find out.
4. Knossos, Crete, circa 1500 BC:
In a time when so many people are still living in huts, the city of Knossos is a highly advance civilization with sophisticated architecture, innovative sewer systems, and breathtaking art. The citizens enjoy Bull Jumping (where young men and women seize a bull by the horns and leap over its back), and construct vast edifices, including the Great Palace of the legendary King Minos with over 1300 rooms (and an underground labyrinth housing a Minatuar). However, the city is completely destroyed by a tsunami. Sound familiar? If Knossos is the Lost City of Atlantis, I want to see it!
3. Port Royal, Jamaica, circa 1665 AD:
No tour of the past is complete for a writer of pirate romance without a (brief) stop at “the Dunghill of the Universe.” Aptly named, the pirate capitol of the world provides shelter for up to 7000 scallywags. As we quickly skirt through Lime Street, passing thousands of chaotically constructed wood frame houses and sidestepping all sorts of the drunken misfits, we sneak inside a rickety tavern, have a pint of ale with the infamous buccaneer Henry Morgan, and then high tail it outta there!
2. City of Babylon, Iraq, circa 600 BC:
Ok, I’ll admit it: I don’t have a green thumb. But I love gardens! I couldn’t travel through history without spending a day (or two) in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It consists of vaulted terraces, resting on pillars. The ascending tiers hold every beautiful tree and fragrant flower from the queen’s homeland of Persia. What a sight!
1. My Own Backyard, circa 1900 AD:
I grew up in an old farmhouse ca. 1900. There was still a ground well in our basement! I can’t end my tour through history without stopping off at my old stomping ground to see the original farmhouse and to meet the family who first lived there. As a child, I found all sorts of “treasures” in the backyard (like horseshoes), and I’ve been fascinated by the past ever since. It just goes to show, you don’t have to travel vast distances to find buried gems, so why not visit your local museum and uncover the treasures in your own backyard?!
- Alexandra Benedict
*GIVEAWAY ALERT* Three readers will be chosen at random to receive copies of Alexandra Benedict's first two Hawkins Brothers books: The Infamous Rogue and The Notorious Scoundrel. To enter please e-mail Whitney@RTBOOKREVIEWS.com. To be considered, your email subject line must be "Hakwins Brothers Giveaway" and your U.S. mailing address must be in the body of your email. Winners will be announced on May 24th!