A week or so ago, Leslie told me that she was at a hotel bar called Rick’s Bar. She said she instantly felt like she was in Casablanca. She said it made her want to jet off to Morocco on the spot. I have to admit, I’ve never seen Casablanca. I’m so ashamed to admit it, but it’s true. It did get me thinking though of movies and books that has inspired travel (both travel that I have done, and also places I dream of going). It’s amazing that a city can become a major character, and can even steal the show.
Roman Holiday is what first came to mind when I thought of a movie that transported me to Rome through my TV screen. I wanted to enjoy gelato on the Spanish steps, and get whisked away on the back of a moped. I don’t think the film would be half as memorable if the movie took place in L.A. (sorry L.A.). The carefree, innocent Princess Ann motivated me to want to be spontaneous in a new setting.
French Kiss was another movie that really inspired me to want to learn French and travel to Provence as well as Paris. This is my favorite movie, even though it is a bit girly. For those of you that haven’t seen it (and shame on you….run out and rent it), the movie stars Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline. Kate’s (Ryan) fiancé goes to Paris for work, and once there, calls Kate to tell her he is breaking up with her as he has found a French goddess. She overcomes her extreme fear of flying to go to Paris to win him back. On the flight though, she meets a Frenchman named Luc. Everything goes wrong in Paris, but she is determined to follow her ex to the South of France to win him back. Through a cheese gorge fest on the train, you see the wonderful countryside. I guess cheese is not the best for a lactose intolerant person, so they jump off the train, which happens to be Luc’s hometown….lucky, right? The scene at his family’s vineyard is so wonderful. It was full of family sitting together, enjoying great wine and food. The idea of truly enjoying life with friends and family couldn’t be any more evident. The best part though was when Luc took Kate to his old bedroom and showed her an old wooden box that he had made for a school project when he was younger. Inside the box were tubes full of dried herbs, spices, and fruits from the area….each of which influenced the taste of wine. This is where I first learned of terroir, which shows how many things from the sea, to the air and the community influencing the wine.
A book series that I loved when I was little was Anne of Green Gables. Leslie reminded me of
this book when I asked her what inspired her to want to travel. It brings Prince Edwards Island alive and sounds like such a beautiful place. I think Anne is what prompted my desire for red hair for years (I still want red hair in fact). Her adventures were captivating, and made me envious of growing up in such a wonderful area.
The Namesake made me feel like I was in India. From the hours she would spend in the kitchen making Samosas, to their trips back to India through the years, the book made me feel like the country was my long lost home. I loved how they captured the Indian culture in both the U.S. as well as back in India. The vibrancy of the country shined through the pages. I have also seen the movie and was pleasantly surprised that they were able to capture the essence of the culture, as the book had done so wonderfully. After reading the book, Leslie and I asked (bullied is more like it) a guy that lived in our building to make us a traditional Indian meal (he said he was on the phone with his mom constantly to get the meal right). It’s one of the best meals we shared when we lived there.
Two books that come to mind that have opened my eyes to both the wonderful culture and landscape of the Middle East. The Kite Runner, which is set in Afghanistan, took me to a wonderful area of flying kites through alleys and streets of the city, to lively markets. I know the city is transformed in the book as the city is taken over….but I just loved the way the book described the city in both political environments. Another book that I loved was Reading Lolita in Tehran. The book is a part history lesson, part memoir, and part book club. Women sneak to her house for monthly book clubs in a time when some of the books were banned. They discussed books such as Lolita, the Great Gatsby, and Jane Austen works, among others….and related them to issues they were facing in the trying times in Tehran. I felt like I was at the University when I read of the protests, and could clearly see the propaganda signs through the pages.
These are some works that have inspired me, but there are countless others. What book or movie has led you on an adventure?