Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Five Places Books Make Me Want to Visit

I find myself making too many lists on this blog lately - the blame lies partly on Top Ten Tuesday, I'm participating after a whole year and very enthusiastic about it - and partly on the fact that having been annoyingly busy with exams, I hardly find time to read. Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic is the ten bookish things I want to buy - but honestly, while I love the idea of some, I'm always reluctant to spend on trinkets what I could spend on books.

My topic today is from Indiblogger's Indispire initiative. The idea is pretty straightforward: five places I want to visit because I read about them in books. I don't mean fictional places here, though, no Platform 9 3/4 or Hogsmeade in this list. Here are five real places I want to visit because I read about them in fiction. Hopefully, when I reach a point where I finance my own trips, I will get around to this. (Till then all the places in fiction I get to visit would be ones right here in India.)

Of course, these five mean hardly the end of my list, but I've only included those books which have extensive descriptions of locations, particularly those I could find!

1.
Transylvania - Romania - Carpathian Mountains - Do I even have to say it? 
- from Dracula by Bram Stoker
(picture taken from Wikipedia) The picture is the view from Bran Castle, which is one of the castles associated with Dracula's castle.

Beyond the green swelling hills of the Mittel Land rose mighty slopes of forest up to the lofty steeps of the Carpathians themselves. Right and left of us they towered, with the afternoon sun falling full upon them and bringing out all the glorious colours of this beautiful range, deep blue and purple in the shadows of the peaks, green and brown where grass and rock mingled, and an endless perspective of jagged rock and pointed crags, till these were themselves lost in the distance, where the snowy peaks rose grandly. Here and there seemed mighty rifts in the mountains, through which, as the sun began to sink, we saw now and again the white gleam of falling water. One of my companions touched my arm as we swept round the base of a hill and opened up the lofty, snow-covered peak of a mountain, which seemed, as we wound on our serpentine way, to be right before us:-

"Look! Isten szek!"- "God's seat!"- and he crossed himself reverently.

2.
Spain - Roncesvalles - or the road leading up to it! 
- from The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

These descriptions of Burgete made me swoon more than those of Pamplona. Pictured is the house where Hemingway stayed according to Wikipedia.
(picture taken from Wikipedia.) 

The bus climbed steadily up the road. The country was barren and rocks stuck up through the clay. There was no grass beside the road. Looking back we could see the country spread out below. Far back the fields were squares of green and brown on the hillsides. Making the horizon were the brown mountains. They were strangely shaped. As we climbed higher the horizon kept changing. As the bus ground slowly up the road we could see other mountains coming up in the south. Then the road came over the crest, flattened out, and went into a forest. It was a forest of cork oaks, and the sun came through the trees in patches, and there were cattle grazing back in the trees. We went through the forest and the road came out and turned along a rise of land, and out ahead of us was a rolling green plain, with dark mountains beyond it. These were not like the brown, heat-baked mountains we had left behind. These were wooded and there were clouds coming down from them. The green plain stretched off. It was cut by fences and the white of the road showed through the trunks of a double line of trees that crossed the plain toward the north. As we came to the edge of the rise we saw the red roofs and white houses of Burguete ahead strung out on the plain, and away off on the shoulder of the first dark mountain was the gray metal-sheathed roof of the monastery of Roncesvalles.

3.
Germany - The Rhein - The Loreley Rock - from the poem Die Lorelei by Heinrich Heine which is the first German poem I remember reading some four years ago. It's a haunting poem relating a legend of the siren. This is a Mark Twain translation.
(picture taken from Wikipedia)

I cannot divine what it meaneth;
This haunting nameless pain.
A tale of the bygone ages,
Keeps brooding through my brain.
The faint air cools in the gloaming;
And peaceful flows the Rhine.
The thirsty summits are drinking;
The sunset's flooding wine.

The loveliest maiden is sitting;
High-throned in yon blue air.
Her golden jewels are shining;
She combs her golden hair,
She combs with a comb that is golden,
And sings a weird refrain;
That steeps in a deadly enchantment
The listener's ravished brain.

The doomed in his drifting shallop,
Is tranced with the sad sweet tone.
He sees not the yawing breakers,
He sees but the maid alone.
The pitiless billwos engulf him;
So perish sailor and bark,
And this, with her baleful singing,
Is the Loreley's gruesome work.

4.
Ushuaia - Tierra del Fuego - Argentina  - the Beagle Channel - from This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson

Granted, the book is pre-colonization-old, which is the point - the channel was named after HMS Beagle, which carried Captain Robert FitzRoy and Darwin. And also, it is my favourite book in the world. The location is also famous for Verne's The Lighthouse at the end of the World, but the channel will always mean more to me.
(picture from Wikipedia)

The sun nudged aside the persistent grey clouds in celebration. There, in a sheltered cove, nestled an acre or so of rich, sloping pastureland, well watered by brooks and protected on three sides by low, wooded hills. The pretty little natural harbour was studded with islets, the water smooth and glassy, with low branches overhanging a rocky beach. It was so beautiful, so unexpected amid the wilds of Tierra del Fuego, that it possessed an almost dreamlike quality. It was the perfect place to build a mission.

5.
The Uffington White Horse - Oxfordshire - England - from the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett 

For me, this will always be Tiffany Aching's curious horse pendant. The young witch is from The Chalk, an area of rolling chalk downland near Lancre in Discworld and this is the most famous land mark. I love what Granny Aching says about the horse.
(picture from Wikipedia)

“'Taint what a horse looks like, it’s what a horse be.”
________________________________________________________________________

Is that it!? I only get to pick five? I can think of so many others. What about you? Any place you want to see from a book you love? Any place you already have been to? Content, though I am, as an armchair traveller, visiting the world through words, I'd love the words to make me go places, too.

17 comments:

Anita said...

Lovely places, Priya.
A different presentation with Book quotations. Didn't know of some. Horse is cool :) Hope you fulfill your dream to visit these places.

Priya said...

Anita - Thanks, any time I read such wonderful descriptions in books, I wish to be right there in the character's shoes. Thanks for the great topic!

barefootmeds said...

I've only read Dracula on this list, but I completely agree! And Hemingway is quite good at making you want to go places. After I read The Old Man and the Sea, I dreamed of going to Cuba!

Renuka said...

Nice! I'd say England! Books have inspired me to experience the high tea, the cute countryside and the Scottish Highlands.

vinisha shah said...

awesome places

Priya said...

barefootmeds - Anyone who has read Dracula is bound to agree, Harker's account is so vivid. I've always wanted to read The Old Man and the Sea and now I can't wait!

Renuka - Ooh, yes, the whole of England would actually do better. I do like the idea of high tea, and roaming around in the northern English countryside.. Thanks for stopping by!

Vinisha - Aren't they!? Glad you stopped by. :)

Linda said...

Awesome post. Greetings from Montreal, Canada.

Midnight scribbles said...

Wow priya. Makes me want to pick up thr book by Hemingway. The German poem was beautiful too. ^.^ I loved this idea btw makes me think of all the books that captured my mind with the picturesque places. There's far too many to writw them all down to be honest!

Priya said...

Linda - Thanks! Glad you stopped by!

Sabeeha - Oh you should pick it up, it's great. :) All of Heine's poems are really nice and vivid, even in translation. He's one of the few poets I'm well versed in, you should check him out, too.
http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/German/Heine.htm

Vishy said...

Beautiful places, Priya! I would love to take that coach ride in the middle of the night into the Carpathian mountains like Jonathan Harker did :) Ushuaia (The Beagle Channel) is breathtakingly beautiful. Argentina is one of the countries that I dream of visiting one day.

Priya said...

Vishy - I know! Even I want to be on that journey, except I'd rather jump out before I reach Drac's castle. ;)
Argentina does seem beautiful and I completely agree with the author's description of the Beagle Channel as having a 'dreamlike quality.' It does. That blue: mesmerizing. I'm glad you liked it. Here's hoping your dream comes true!

Viktoria Berg said...

Love the quote about the horse! I visited Brontë-country (that would be Haworth, Yorkshire) with a friend in 2009 - her husband came along as our driver - and it was a real treat. We also visited Anne Brontë´s grave in Scarborough and I even managed a detour to Sylvia Plath´s grave. I do think, though, that if the story and its author matters to you, go alone, and stay a while. It takes time to soak up the atmosphere and I think both my friend and I want to go back there.

Delia D said...

Your number 1 is on my list as well. Transilvania is a beautiful place, I miss it very much - the people, the food, the forests...
India is on my list - I've always wanted to wear a sari and take a yoga class taught by an Indian yogi.

Midnight scribbles said...

Oh my, I just read a few and I'm in love. Btw this reminds me I'm reading this poetry book translated from arabic. The book is called modern arabic poetry. Absolutely beautiful :)

Priya said...

Viktoria - So do I, especially since you're bound to find people who take one look at the figure and go, "But that doesn't look like a horse!" The only bells Scarborough rings for me is that it was partly the setting of A. S. Byatt's Possession, but it sounds gorgeous. That's the plan, once I'm done with college, I do plan on roaming around all the literary-places here.

Delia - It does sound beautiful. And I do hope you get around to coming here to India!

Sabeeha - I so have a thing for Arabic - I mean, it sounds like a pretty artistic language, so I'll definitely to see if I can find this book - thanks for the tip!

nishitak said...

Lovely list. I would like to add the Scottish Highlands from Outlander to my list

Priya said...

Aren't those the time-travel books? I have always wanted to read them. Now I will! :)

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