My Literary Travel Bucket List
1) A cruise on the Danube River, inspired by Jean Auel’s The Plains of Passage. Obviously, I don’t plan to replicate Ayla and Jondalar’s entire year-long journey from Ukraine to France. But I could handle a week-long river cruise that flows through Hugary, Austria, and Germany. Depending on my relationship status, I could make it a Romantic tour with my own personal Ayla or Jondalar (yes, I know, Romance vs. romance 😉 ). If I’m feeling truly hardcore, I could even spend a few hours horseback riding in Budapest, or take a leisurely walk along the Wachau Valley river path in Austria (a UNESCO Heritage site, no less!).
2) After disembarking in Germany, I might as well take the opportunity to travel the Fairy Tale Route. The path takes you through 50 towns and cities (including more UNESCO sites) associated with the Brothers Grimm and their Household Tales. You can visit the Grimm World museum in Kassel; hike through the forests of Little Red Riding Hood Country; kiss the statue of the Goose Girl in Göttingen’s central square; spend a night in Sababurg Castle, where Sleeping Beauty dreamed away an entire century; and check out a (human) concert in Bremen. What better way to truly lose myself in one of the most popular faerie universes?
3) On the other hand, if I feel like a more relaxing, one-location vacation, I might save up my Galleons for a stay in a literary hotel or B&B. What fairy tale buff doesn’t dream of spending a night in room 800.005 at New York’s Library Hotel? Besides a room full of fairy tale books, I’d have access to a 24-hour Reading Room with freshly brewed coffees and cappuccinos, a rooftop lounge featuring literary cocktails, a nightly Wine and Cheese Reception, and a Belgian Chocolate turndown. Open, Sesame, indeed!
For a cozier, more nautical feel, I could book a room at the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon. The hotel features 21 rooms, each styled after a different author (yes, they have a Hogwarts-themed room). There’s no WiFi, no TV, and no telephones, so you can focus entirely on reading, writing, and daydreaming. Sitting in the third-floor ocean-view library, I know I’d feel just like Aran and Nellie, sneaking into the Walrus’ reading room to look for selkie stories.
For an even more affordable* option, I could try any of these literary Airbnb’s. The Library Treehouse in Eugene, Oregon is certainly calling my name. Perhaps I could make it a combo trip — a Secret Paths in the Forest experience in Eugene and a Secret Paths to the Sea experience in Newport.
4) After reading Gareth Rees’ mythic memoir/short story collection, Marshland, I’ve been dreaming of taking my own soundchronicity walk through the Hackney and Walthamstow marshes of East London. Maybe I’ll hop onto a time-traveling riverboat for a few hours. Maybe I’ll watch a football game with a pair of anachronistic Victorians. Maybe I’ll contemplate the ghostly politics still raging in the abandoned Matchmaker Wharf factory. Or maybe I’ll make up my own, more optimistic stories about river mermaids and goblins who re-purpose all the trash into surreal glam rock sculptures.
5) Speaking of modern mermaids, I absolutely can’t descend into Davy Jones’ locker before I attend at least a few #reallifemermaid shows, the likes of which several YA authors and one graphic novel have portrayed.
The 73-year-old Weeki Wachee Springs Mermaid Show is an absolute must. Located in west-central Florida, the vintage attraction sounds just like what Beth Mayall described in Mermaid Park. The theater is scooped into the side of a natural spring, and the performers use hidden air hoses to take occasional breaths, allowing them to stay underwater longer. I could totally imagine a rogue manatee crashing one of the performances to show us how the original mermaids did it 🙂
Other shows I’d love to see are the Mermaid Encounter boat tour on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina; the Dive Bar mermaid aquarium in Sacramento, California; and anything done by the Perth Mermaids in Western Australia.
6) Finally, speaking of Australia, THIS LAST ONE TOTALLY COUNTS. There’s an official Ocean Girl novelization so it totally, totally counts as a literary location. Pretty much the highest item on my travel bucket list is to see the Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef, in northeast Australia (gee, I sure am fond of these UNESCO sites!).
What better way to experience Neri’s island than to stay in a tree-house eco-hotel (or any of these other lodges) in the world’s oldest rainforest, where much of the show was filmed? What better way to feel like an Ocean Planeteer than to scuba or snorkel over one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World? And what better way to get the full ORCA experience than to visit the Great Barrier Reef Aquarium in Townsville, where some of the underwater station scenes were filmed? Or, at least, to spend a day in the tourist town of Port Douglas, where the ORCA crew takes their shore excursions?
* * * * *
Sound off, bookwyrms! What are some of your biggest literary travel dreams? Any places you think I should add to my list?
* Prices vary, of course. Many of these B&B’s are well below $100 at the time I’m writing this, but a few are priced more like regular (or even luxury) hotels.