Several years ago I bought a journal at the Library of Congress to record my dream travel destinations. Unfortunately medical issues may now limit my options and I haven’t recorded much in the journal. But I can still dream, hope, plan and I should. I think it’s called a bucket list. But how, why, does a place end up on my list. I remember saying I was ready to go to Europe in 1976 (specifically England) because I wanted to do photography. I had a reason. I think I was influenced by Lawrence of Arabia who traveled to Italy to study architecture, churches and cathedrals. A purpose.
I just finished reading “Novel Destinations: literary landmarks from Jane Austin’s Bath to Ernest Hemingway’s Key West,” by Shannon Schmidt and Joni Renton. It’s one of those books about books; a genre I like. The authors like to explore, visit sites, houses, places associated with writers. Their travels are primarily in the United States and Europe. Since I majored in literature at Boston College, I enjoy reading classic authors, traveling to their homes, exploring their sources of inspiration, fantastic.
It was fun to read about places we’ve visited — for instance, Hemingway’s Spanish villa in Key West; or the Alcott house in Concord. The replica cabin of Henry David Thoreau on Walden Pond was a special pilgrimage for me. I recall a fairly recent stop at a Robert Frost house in Vermont on a snowy afternoon. We’ve been to the Pearl Buck “Green Hills” farm house in Perkasie several times. Most recently to see a display of community decorated Christmas trees. There is the Edgar Allen Poe house in Philadelphia and Washington Irving’s “Sunnyside” on the Hudson in NY. We’ve intentionally visited (but should spend the night) in the Algonquin Hotel in NYC open to the literary vibes. We’ve had drinks in the Plaza like Scott and Zelda.
It was interesting to see how many areas had walking tours of places from the authors’ lives or places related to the characters in their books. Bars, restaurants, hotels are frequently featured. The last time we were in London, I wanted to take a Sherlock Holmes walking tour. I’d been to the SH pub with it’s recreated rooms; and I’d walked past 221b Baker Street. But to just tour the city with Holmes and Watson, in a hanson cab maybe. This should be entered in my destinations journal.
There are places closer to Yardley. I’ve never been to the Walt Whitman house in Camden or the James Fenimore Cooper house in Burlington. We’ve talked about visiting Nathaniel Hawthorne sites in Salem, MA and the Mark Twain house in Hartford, CT.
More ambitious would be traveling to Cannery Row, Steinbeck territory or Harper Lee’s Monroeville, Alabama, “To Kill A Mockingbird.” And how I would love to explore Dicken’s London; Hemingway and the expatriot’s Paris, and Joyce’s Dublin.
There is still time. I need to find that journal, dream, hope but most importantly plan.