Unbeknownst to the traveller every journey has a theme. Some times you plan with a theme in mind, some times the universe conspires to ‘theme‘ it out for you.
Earlier this year, my sister Maria and I went on a euro trip. Our theme, (or at least we thought) was to see as much of Western Europe as our tight budget would allow us to. What really happened to our theme is a story for another time but in retrospective, we realised our theme was Inspiration.
Here are a few of the places we visited. The common link among all of them is that they inspired others before us.
In no particular order: –
#1: Banks of the Seine:
Seine translates into Sacred River. Sacred in deed it is. The banks of Seine has inspired artists of many genres, including film directors and poets. Perhaps Claude Monet would have denied the world several masterpieces if not for the banks of the Seine.
#2: Shakespeare and Co:
Despite that the fact that it is not strictly a ‘place’, I think it deserves a mention for the pure literary genius it has helped breed. Shakespeare and Co was initially started by Sylvia Beach as a book store. Many renowned writers have found solace in the bookstore. The store has 13 beds. It is said that a writer could gain accommodation here in return for manning the bookstore a few hours every day.Great names like Hemingway, Ezra Pound and Fitzgerald worked their magic while they were here.
The birthplace of Harry Potter.
I subscribe to the school of thought that people see the same things differently. J.K Rowling is my living example. Edinburgh has its fair share of castles and eerie stories but only J.K.Rowling was able to see through the stones and see wizards and flying broom sticks and magic wands.
Robin hood , price of thieves and resident of Sherwood forest. The real origin of the story of Robin Hood is not known but it is said to have stemmed from tales of actual outlaws.
# 5 Deacon Brodie’s Tavern:
The inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Deacon Brodie was a respectable man by day and a conniving thief by night.
# 5.Bridges across the Thames:
It is indeed a beautiful place. But there is only one who can put the beauty to words:
Upon Westminster Bridge
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning: silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky,
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
#6: Notre Dame, Paris
I would ask every person visiting Paris to re/re read Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame before the visit. When you climb the steps to the tower you will feel very much in a familiar place with the Chimera and the gargoyles.
#7:Christ Church College, Oxford
Remember Alice in Wonderful? Did you know it was written by Charles Dodgson,a mathematics tutor in Christ Church and inspired by no less than the then Dean Henry Liddel and his daughter Alice?
Charles Dodgson used the pen name Lewis Carroll to publish the tales with which he entertained the Liddel sisters. Many characters and characteristics were inspired by Christ Church people and objects.
The great dining hall has many connections with Alice in Wonderland. The dining hall has brass firedogs with long necks: Alice’s neck grows long in the story; Alice’s father the dean left dinner every night down a narrow spiral stair behind a raised high table: Alice falls down a rabbit hole, above the high table there is a portrait of Henry VIII who executed two of his wives: The Red Queen ” shouts off with her head” and finally the dean’s daughter Alice had a cat and yes it was called ‘Dinah’.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit was inspired by Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top Farm. Her works celebrates the natural beauty of the English country side. She studied the animals around her farm home and many of them became characters in her books.
#9 Grasmere:“… When all at once I saw a crowd, a host, of golden daffodils.”
Grasmere is my favourite place on this list. My teacher always said” Wordsworth was taught by mother nature in the open air school” and although I did not see a single daffodil, she now makes sense to me!
Grasmere may be delightful in the summer but let me tell you it is no less inspirational in the winter!