Tag Archives: castles

Edinburgh, Scotland: Best Reason to Go

Edinburgh Castle

By PAT HARTMAN
News Editor

Theodore Koumelis has been keeping up with some statistics. In Travel Daily News, he tells us that each year, Great Britain welcomes to her shores 765,000 people. They visit film locations, hunt down the spot where their favorite music video was filmed, absorb the ambiance of a famous writer’s home, or find the scenic inspiration for some novel they’ve read. Koumelis is the founder and managing editor of TravelDailyNews International, which aspires to be always the most informative source in international tourism. In “2009 could be the year of literary tourism” he gives examples of what literary tourists are looking for:

The year witnesses the National Trust opening of Agatha Christie’s house, Greenway in Devon, where she lived as Mrs Malowan from 1936 to 1959…..A new film written and directed by The Piano’s Jane Campion, Bright Star, explores the three-year romance between 19th century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, cut short by Keats’ untimely death at 25.

edinburgh window

Koumelis mentions Edinburgh, Scotland, but does not mention what we see as the primary reason to go there (aside from ancestor-hunting, of course.) Edinburgh is where Ian Rankin’s detective stories are set. In the United Kingdom, one out of every ten crime books sold is written by Rankin. Not that numbers in themselves mean much, but these are really, really good detective stories with outstandingly well-drawn characters. There are also descriptions of Scotland that, for some perverse reason, some of us find alluring. (That picture at the top is Edinburgh Castle.)

In other Scottish literary travel news, Kaiya Marjoribanks reports in the Stirling Observer that next year, 2010, will be momentous in Trossachs. This is the area featured in the well-known poem “The Lady of the Lake,” by Sir Walter Scott. The lake in question is Loch Katrine. “Romantic tourism” is another name for the impulse that draws visitors to such places. It’s all about sharing cultural heritage, and we’re all for it.

Edinburgh photo courtesy of Jordan S Hatcher , used under this Creative Commons license; Edinburgh Window photo courtesy of Leithcote , used under this Creative Commons license

Advertisements

Prague, Czech Republic Capital, Has It All

Prague Main

By PAT HARTMAN
News Editor

Thanks to The Miami Herald, we learn some of the innermost thoughts of author Lisa Unger. An interview with her is conducted by Andrea Asuaje, who writes on music, fashion, and many other subjects for that paper. Titled “Dark imagination fuels her plots,” this dialogue illuminates Unger’s views. In search of an economical vacation, the author’s family tried out a home exchange, whose success she describes enthusiastically:

In our search for a place to go with our first home exchange, we wound up in Prague. It just turned out to be this amazing experience. I was so inspired by . . . the beauty of it. It’s an amazingly gorgeous place, but one that has a secret heart.

How does this tie in with a column devoted to literary travel? Glad you asked! As a result of that vacation trip, Unger was inspired to set her latest novel, Die For You, in Prague, premier city of the Czech Republic. Not long ago, we noted that this European capitol is one of the Top Ten Party Destinations according to Student Universe. One reason for this popularity is the annual music festival, called Respect, which draws musicians from all over the globe. And of course, as is proper to any old continental urban center, the outlying areas are rife with castles and other scenic delights.

Taking a closer look, we find that it’s also a good place to visit if your major is hospitality, naval technology, or Holocaust reparations. A venerable monastery has just been repurposed into a fine hotel, called the Augustine, in honor of the monks whose former home it was. The US Navy is in negotiations to open a center for technological research in the city, which also recently hosted an international conference devoted to figuring out how to recover Nazi loot and return the stolen property to its rightful owners.

“And,” I hear you ask, “has Kevin Dolgin ever written about Prague?” Of course he has. The travel essay of which we speak is “Kafka’s Erotic Dream: Prague, Czech Republic” and it’s one of the munificent number of similarly captivating pieces found in The Third Tower Up From the Road. He writes about the Charles Bridge (pictured above) and the Sex Machine Museum (not pictured; sorry) and, you’re not going to believe this, but he verifies the impression made by Prague upon suspense novelist Lisa Unger with these shivery words:

It’s a city with a lot of secrets…it’s no wonder Kafka built his tortuous worlds here, and it’s no wonder that the castle of his nightmares bore so many rooms.

Prague Castle

bridge photo courtesy of panorama , used under this Creative Commons license; castle photo courtesy of liber, used under this Creative Commons license