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Have you ever gone on a literary pilgrimage?
If so, where and why?
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The short answer is that I have not, unless you count trips to New York City or my 2000 trip to Ireland that later inspired my script: 8 Days in Ireland. New York is still largely viewed as a world capitol for literature, although that sounds rather American-centric. We tend to think only on our terms. The truth is that every great city is a literary capitol. Since girlhood, I wanted to visit London, which I viewed as a place of pilgrimage, to see the sites of all the cultural things I adored: red phone booths, the bridge, the thames, Piccadilly…Paddington bear.
There are so many places I’d like to visit now that I am older and my horizons are far broader. China, New Zealand, Germany, Austria, Kenya…the list just goes on and on. None of these are for the literary, expressly, however. As you know, I am a historical nerd. Traveling would be about the history and cultural for me, not just the literature. This aside, if I ever followed on the path for a PhD, I would want to study Chinese Literature and Film. I blame Red Cliff for closing that deal. Just a stunning piece of filmmaking.
When I go on tour, it’s usually to historical places to learn the stories of the people and their creations. I love museums and dusty old things.
I’m not saying that there are not other pursuits. My main reason for going to Kenya and New Zealand is the wildlife. Knowing that I am also a wildlife photographer, you start to understand a little better. Better, if you know, that I adore Giraffe, then you may know of the hotel in Kenya where they come right up to the building and stick their heads in the room. It’s terribly expensive, however, and I wonder if I will ever be able to afford that luxury. It’s a dream regardless, and I will work to make it happen at some point.
Let’s come back State-side…I have been through Maryland a time or two on vacations to other places (Virginia and Florida). I’ve thought about Poe. It might be nice to make the trip to do a Poe tour, but I’d rather go to New Orleans and do dark tours about ghosts, and learn more about the cultures of NO’s peoples. Food…
I nearly forgot, and that is funny, because I do the Culinary K spot on this blog from time to time–FOOD. That is a huge driving force behind the places I want to visit as well as the culture and history. Wherever I go, I like to try the local cuisine. No. The real stuff. Disney has a wonderful Italian restaurant in the pavilion at EPCOT, but it’s just not Italy, and I pine for the real deal.
In Ireland, I ate at a McDonald’s but only because I knew it wasn’t the American processed stuff. I wanted to taste what it could be. It was far too close, as I remember, to the food I knew–more like what it used to be when I was a kid before all the preservatives and chicanery took over. Sure, I wasted a meal on it, but I wanted to know exactly how different McDonald’s is in other places. Since I was in Dublin, I followed through. Lamb stew was something I was able to try, and brown bread, and fresh Guinness. Honestly, the brown bread with Broccoli soup that I ate on the day we visited Bunratty remains in my memory. Delicious.
Maybe someday I will get to go on a literary pilgrimage, but I am not even sure it’s on my list of things to do. I’d rather study and research–learn and experience other topics. But, those do feed into my writing. Much like I don’t follow celebrities, I don’t follow or study particular writers. There may be a bit of fear in that, being disappointed or the like, but I feel more like leaving them their privacy and enjoying that which they did make public: their books.
One other thing: I’d love to visit the New York Public Library in NYC. Maybe that will be my pilgrammage…
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Stevie Turner says
I’m afraid the number of red phone boxes are rapidly decreasing. In our village there’s just a shell of a telephone box outside the community hall, and instead of a public phone it now holds a defibrillator!
Captain Maiel says
Oh, I know. it’s a tragedy. I want one, but they’re costly to ship here. 🙁
P.J. MacLayne says
Brown bread with broccoli soup sounds like the perfect combination!
Captain Maiel says
It was pretty amazing.