Readers really seemed to enjoy the “Castles!” blog a couple of weeks ago, so I’ve decided to try a short series (maybe the next two or three Fridays) of places that can inspire writing and, in particular, fantasy novels. As I’ve mentioned in the past, travel can be a great inspiration for fantasy world-building and for writing in general. Even though global travel is still mostly off-limits at present, we can all look forward to a time when the world will open up again.
So, to start off the series, I’ve chosen five places that made me feel as if I was walking through a story when I visited them.
Venice, Italy– Yes, the city really does have canals…and gondolas…and beautiful piazzas. The first time I stepped onto a stone bridge to cross over a canal, I knew I was in a magical place. The city seemed to be full of twisty alleys with new things to discover at every turn.
Petra, Jordan– If you’re like me, you first learned about Petra from a fictional archaeologist who didn’t like snakes and once got chased by a giant boulder. There is more to Petra, however, than the “Treasury” (which is the place used in the movie). Just walking through the narrow gorge to reach the famous site is an adventure. There are also many other beautifully carved structures, although the Treasury is the best preserved.
One cautionary note: Remember that you have to climb back up the gorge once you are done. It almost killed my dear co-author to walk back up the trail too fast in the heat of the day!
London, England– I love London! The city has always seemed like a larger-than-life place to me. You can’t walk for ten feet without seeing a street name or locale with a literary or movie reference. The British Museum, alone, is the stuff of legends.
Cesky-Krumlov, Czech Republic– Over the years, I’ve visited many beautiful, fairy-tale villages. Cesky-Krumlov is definitely one of the best. The river winds around ornate, old-fashioned houses and shops. As you walk through the streets, you can easily imagine yourself in another time or place.
The Black Forest, Germany– “John, are you sure we’re on the right road?” Sometimes you enter those fairy-tale moments unintentionally. Back in the days before cell phones, when tourists still relied on paper maps, John and I were trying to drive from Stuttgart, Germany to Triberg. We had planned our route in advance, only to learn that there were long delays on the main road due to construction. A helpful person at a restaurant told us of a route we could take via backroads to arrive at our destination more quickly.
Of course, he gave us the directions in German. John understands some German…some…enough to get us on the correct road…I think. It was a little, windy, one-lane road through the mountains, with snow-covered forests on both sides. After driving for a while, we realized two things: first, we were the only car we had seen for a long time, and second, we had no idea where we were. It was very beautiful, with snow drifting down from the tree branches, but part of my mind was thinking of all those stories that ended with the words, “And they were never seen again.” Maybe not the best type of fantasy story to land in.
Fortunately, the directions were good and we did eventually reach our destination. In retrospect, it was a lovely adventure. Triberg is definitely worth a visit.