Travelogue: The written world
Swap all those foodie breaks, spa trips and shopping spree for a literary adventure. Lisa Paul rounds up the best of the bookish breaks.
If you ignore the Hollywood inspired Austen hordes who descend on Bath and semi-literate Brontë-buffs getting lost around Haworth, following the trail left by an author can be a deeply personal experience. It can add to your understanding of the books you love and can also unlock a place in a new, authentic way. Here are a few choice destinations to fire your imagination.
The Chilterns: Roald Dahl
The tranquil Chiltern Hills in Southeast England, where the Cardiff-born author lived and wrote for more than 30 years, are dotted with places and landscapes that inspired the stories. The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden, Bucks, invites children and adults alike to explore his life. Attractions in the area include the inspiration for Matilda’s library, Danny the Champion of the World’s gypsy caravan, and Fantastic Mr Fox’s woodlands.
Los Angeles: Charles Bukowski
Bukowski’s work is shot through with the ghettoised grimness of Downtown LA. Traverse the poet’s literary landscape by visiting his bungalow on De Longpre Avenue, an official cultural landmark, before taking a drive down Hollywood Boulevard to Thai Town. Though many of his haunts have been demolished, there’s still a lot of LA that doesn’t form part of the Hollywood cliché. Skid Row may not be top of the tourist attraction hitlist, but an afternoon of heavy drinking in the King Eddy Saloon where nobody gives a shit about your name’ will make you feel like a real barfly. See www.timeout.com/losangeles for listings; Esotouric does literary tours of LA.
Buenos Aires: Jorge Luis Borges
Borges once wrote that his city was a map of his humiliations and failures. The Argentinian capital is full of little corner cafés. The Richmond, on Calle Florida, is a grander affair and still preserves the starchy atmosphere of the 1920s. Take a stroll from the leafy Plaza San Martín, which Borges loved, to the labyrinthine Recoleta Cemetery - ostentatious resting place of Argentina’s elite. Beyond the capital, Villa Ocampo is where Borges hobnobbed with his aristo pals in the lap of luxury. www.timeout.com/buenos-aires
Istanbul: Orhan Pamuk
Retrace the Ottoman Empire’s crumbling glories through Pamuk’s wistful eyes. The Nobel-winning author cherishes the city’s lesser known backstreets and the areas that whisper Turkey’s real history. Escape the buzz of Istanbul’s westernised commercial district and head to Sahaflar Carsisi, a bookstall bazaar where a teenage Pamuk once took his sweetheart, then indulge your spiritual side in Eyup, home to the sacred tomb of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari and Istanbul’s holiest mosque. Finally, unwind with a potent Turkish coffee in Pamuk’s Cihangir district – a bohemian yet upmarket area south of the Galata Bridge full to the brim with antique little cafes. www.timeout.com/ istanbul
Paris: Arthur Rimbaud
Become a flâneur – defined by Charles Baudelaire as one who understands the art of wandering a city in order to truly experience it. Libertine poet Rimbaud, who outraged the sensibilities of his time, should be your model for a shrine-free pilgrimage. Follow in his footsteps and roam the city, swapping your map for some of the poet maudit’s verse and perhaps a little bottle of absinthe. If you get lost, just log on to www.timeout.fr/paris.
St Petersburg: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Even though he was born in Moscow, Dostoevsky’s literary works rarely stray far from St Petersburg. Head to the Vladimirsky area of the city where he lived, and visit the Dostoevsky Literary Memorial Museum (Kuznechny Pereulok 5/2), his last apartment preserved along with fascinating memorabilia. Other landmarks include Pionerskaya Ploshchad (where, in 1849, Dostoevsky was mock-executed) and Sennaya Ploshchad, a square that figures prominently in ‘Crime and Punishment’. For a kitsch treat, grab a bite to eat at The Idiot Restaurant and check in to The Brothers Karamazov, a four-star hotel near the Memorial Museum.