Marie Claude Arnott

Marie-Claude Arnott is a freelance writer and a global citizen. Raised in France near cosmopolitan Geneva, Switzerland, she speaks four languages, has lived in five countries and visited close to fifty. She holds a B.A. in International Studies from California State University East Bay, and studied Feature Writing with the London School of Journalism. In addition to writing real travel stories, she writes short stories about imaginary people and places.

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Attending the Traditional Cart Marking Ceremony in London, England

1920 Fowler Road Locomotive (Photo credit: MCArnott)

What do Montgomery’s Rolls Royce and a butcher’s handcart have in common? They appeared in a London ritual dating back to 1667: Cart Marking. The first time I heard the name of this ceremony -- Cart Marking Under the Worshipful Company of … [Read more...]

Shopping for Native Arts and Crafts in Western British Columbia, Canada

First Nations arts and crafts at The Spirit Gallery by  Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal in West Vancouver, Canada (Photo credit: MCArnott)

Why is shopping so often considered to be the frivolous side of travel? Perhaps it’s a matter of destination because, here in British Columbia, it’s truly a cultural experience. Browse in the vibrant tourist shops and galleries and you will get … [Read more...]

Learning about Totem Poles in British Columbia, Canada

Totem poles in Stanley park, Vancouver (Photo credit: MCArnott)

Bulging eyes at the top gaze at the horizon, a grinning mouth bares teeth at the base of the pole. A bear? A wolf? The various symbols engraved in the wood still hold mystery, and sometimes misconceptions, about Canadian aboriginal culture. … [Read more...]

Searching for the Yellow-eyed Penguin in New Zealand

Yellow-eyed penguin in nest (Courtesy Yellow-eyed Penguin Trust)

The word “maybe” is out. We might see some, but there is no guarantee. Do we still want to go? We do. A guide points us toward our transportation, an 8-wheel-drive Argo. We'll be taking this vehicle, a cross between a tractor and a boat, to see … [Read more...]

Shopping and Learning about Jade on Vancouver Island

The Jade Mine Store (Credit: The Jade Mine)

Jade is not what you think: It's just a name given to either one of two minerals. And if you think it comes from China where it has been a spiritual symbol for 6.000 years, think again: Today, Chinese jade is ... Canadian. Yes: Three quarters of … [Read more...]

Learning about Volcanology in Auvergne, France

Vulcania's cone in the Parc Naturel Regional d'Auvergne (MCArnott)

I hold my breath as I hang on to a railing. A few fellow voyagers let out screams of exhilaration. We are tumbling at a vertiginous speed -- so it seems -- into the magma chamber of an active volcano. The idea of hell crosses my mind. Then I … [Read more...]

Walking the Centennial Seawall of West Vancouver in British Columbia

The beginning of the Centennial Seawall in Dundarave

I can’t say that I would take up dancing in the rain, but I am enjoying its drumming sound on my umbrella as my wellies (read: Wellington boots) splash in puddles. I have not completely adapted to the rainforest climate of the Pacific … [Read more...]

Visiting the Oakland Zoo in the San Francisco Bay Area

Entrance-to-the-Oakland-Zoo-

I am looking at the elephants when I remember reading a story about a female pachyderm living at the then-downtown Oakland Zoo. "Effie" was so used to seeing the owner's family stroll on the grounds that one day she did what families do: Push the … [Read more...]

Visiting the Vancouver Aquarium of British Columbia, Canada

Orange jellyfish at Vancouver Aquarium

The creature has no bones, no heart, no brain and no eyes. Shredded ribbons of white jelly seem to drift away from its flamboyant bell-shaped body. The orange jellyfish is one of the fascinating exhibits of the Vancouver Aquarium. Like most people … [Read more...]

Boating to Villa del Balbianello’s Garden on Lake Como

Ficus Pumilia (Creeping Fig) at Villa del Balbianello on Lake Como.

I had planned to walk from the Lenno dock to Villa del Balbianello through a trail in the wooded promontory, but instead I am sitting on a taxi-boat. The trail is closed on Mondays. Perhaps it is true that things happen for a reason. Glimpsing the … [Read more...]