There’s no better way to pay tribute to your favourite authors or characters than to follow in their footsteps via these entertaining tours.
1. Millennium Tour, Stockholm, Sweden
The march of grim Scandinavian crime thrillers was spearheaded by Stieg Larsson’s novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and this walk in Stockholm, the picturesque Swedish capital, lets you relive the drama. Taking in the hip suburb of Södermalm, home to ace journalist Mikael Blomkvist and rogue IT genius Lisbeth Salander, the walk passes fictional sites mentioned in the Millennium trilogy, including Blomkvist’s home, his local cafe, Salander’s favourite tattoo parlour, Inspector Bublanski’s synagogue, Millennium magazine’s offices and, finally, Salander’s luxury apartment. It’s an atmospheric walk which helps colour in the dark outlines of Scandi noir.
2. Literary Pub Crawl, Dublin, Ireland
This combination of tour and live performance highlights the rich cultural heritage of Dublin, the Irish capital. Weaving between pubs that once hosted great writers such as James Joyce, Brendan Behan, Samuel Beckett and WB Yeats, tour members are entertained by readings, music and song. The tour passes literary sites such as Trinity College, where Oscar Wilde once studied. But the focus is firmly on the drinking holes where so much creativity flowed, from those featured in Joyce’s epic novel Ulysses to Behan’s old local. Raise a glass to their memory on the way.
Departs nightly in summer, cost €12
3. Literary Landmarks, Boston, USA
In the 19th century Boston was a hotbed of literature, spawning influential movements such as American Romanticism, American Realism and Transcendentalism. The Fireside Poets, including Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, triumphed here with their popular verse; joining other literary stars such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Henry James and Nathaniel Hawthorne. This tour reveals their haunts, including the secret of the Saturday Club.
Book at bostonbyfoot.org.
4. James Bond’s Mayfair, London, England
‘Shaken, not stirred.’ James Bond creator Ian Fleming coined this classic line while sipping cocktails at his favourite bar in London’s exclusive Mayfair district. This and other classified secrets are revealed on this tour conducted by guide Simon Rodway, who’s thoroughly researched Fleming’s life and its connections to his famous fictional creation. From the author’s birthplace through Berkeley Square to St James, tour members pass places with links to 007, including a naval club that evokes the author’s wartime experience in military intelligence. You can order the cocktail created by Bond, the Vesper, at the end.
Available by commission, see silvercanetours.com.
5. Greenwich Village Literary Pub Crawl, New York City, USA
This tour through New York City’s famous Greenwich Village drops into several pubs that were once the site of writers’ inspiration. Guides relate the stories of both the bars and the creative types who drank there, paying tribute to such famous local luminaries as Thomas Paine (author of Common Sense), John Reed (Ten Days that Shook the World), Henry James (Washington Square) and Edith Wharton (Age of Innocence); as well as less-remembered authors such as Dawn Powell (Wicked Pavilion) and Djuna Barnes (Nightwood).
Book tickets and browse a reading list at literarypubcrawl.com.
6. Writers in Paris, France
In the early 20th century the French capital was a magnet for writers, as detailed by American writer and Paris resident David Burke in this series of walks. There are four main tours, including ‘A Band of Outsiders’, which focuses on the Latin Quarter and the exploits of James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and George Orwell, as well as celebrated French writers such as Honoré de Balzac and Victor Hugo. Sites include the Shakespeare and Co. Bookship, Harry’s New York Bar, La Coupoule and the café Les Doux Magots. Other walks focus on the ‘Lost Generation’ of Montparnasse, the literary cafes of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and Père Lachaise Cemetery’s memorials to greats such as Molière, Proust and Wilde. Walk the streets with Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer”, for a literary time machine experience.
Check out writersinpariswalkingtours.blogspot.co.uk for these and other special tours.
7. Literary Shanghai, China
Shanghai’s literary heyday came during the 19th and early 20th centuries, a period when colonial traders rubbed shoulders with the local population. Starting with a talk from knowledgeable guides at a local teahouse, this tour takes place in Hongkou in the city’s north. It’s an area associated with great local writers, including Lu Xun, the father of modern Chinese literature. The walk also visits a backstreet neighbourhood where the romantic poet Xu Zhimo once lived and hosted guests such as Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore and Irish writer George Bernard Shaw.
Fees and bookings email firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. Jane Austen in Bath, England
It is a fact universally acknowledged that a Jane Austen fan visiting England must be in want of a good walking tour. Well, good sir or madam, here it is, and in a delightful city as a bonus. Bath is renowned for its graceful architecture. It was also where the famed author lived, and became the setting for her novelsNorthanger Abbey and Persuasion. The Jane Austen Centre leads this walking tour of literary highlights each weekend.
Book and find out more about Austen’s Bath at janeausten.co.uk.
9. Melbourne Literary Tour, Australia
This Australian city of Melbourne is at the heart of the nation’s literary scene, having become a Unesco City of Literature in 2008. Delving into a tradition of writers, bookshops and publishers stretching from the colonial era, this tour offered by Melbourne Walks explores literary highlights in the city centre. Along the way, tour members dip into both the present and the past: visiting the Nicholas Building, for example, a so-called ‘vertical laneway’ of writers, bookshops and publishers; and imagining the past glory of Cole’s Book Arcade, a well-remembered Victorian-era bookshop which once spanned a city block.
10. Wild Walk Along the Enchanted Way, Romania
After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, British writer William Blacker ventured into Eastern Europe and ended up living for eight years in rural Romania. The resulting book, Along the Enchanted Way, recorded villages untouched by modernity, where daily life retained the rhythms of the Middle Ages. Wild Frontiers offers a 10-day tour of northern Romania following in Blacker’s footsteps, including walks through the attractive Izei Valley and Rodna Mountains National Park.
The tour costs £1,725 exclusive of airfares wildfrontierstravel.com
11. Lawrence Durrell in the South of France
He lived the last 20 years of his life in Sommieres, in the Languedoc region of France just to the west of Nimes. Here he wrote ‘The Avignon Quintet’, set in nearby Province. Many locations still exist for fun literary detective work. Buy “The Mediterranean Shore: Travels in Lawrence Durrell Country”.
12. Jack Kerouac’s Lowell, Massachusetts.
Several of his books are about his hometown: “Visions of Gerard”, “Maggie Cassidy”, “Dr. Sax” and “Vanity of Duluoz”.
13. Hike the Deserts of Namibia.
“The Sheltering Desert” is the story of two German Geologists who fled into the Namib Desert to escape internment at the start of WWII. Rent a 4WD and go camping. What it means to be “primitive”.
14. Dylan Thomas in Wales
Visit several key sights influential in his life: Swansea where he spent the first 23 years of his life and wrote 2/3 of his work; Laugharne to see the Boathouse, the bar at Brown’s Hotel and his grave at St. Martins Church.
15. Homer’s Odyssey
To trace the journey back to Ithaca after the Trojan War, you will need a sailboat and a copy of “The Ulysses Voyage” by Tim Severin that charts the real life locations from Homer’s poem.
16. Overland from Cairo to Cape Town.
Follow Paul Theroux’s “Dark Star Safari” traveling in your own personal way.
17. Strand yourself on the Juan Fernandez Islands.
670kms off the coast of Chili, the real-life sailor Alexander Selkirk was dumped here in 1704 and picked up in 1709. It inspired Daniel Dufoe’s “Robinson Crusoe”.
You can chose from James Bond (above), Sherlock Holmes, Dickens or Iain Sinclair. Get a copy of “Lights Out for the Territory: 9 Excursions in the Secret History of London for tours that need to be done on foot.
19. New Orleans
Tennessee Williams, Kate Chopin, Ernest Gaines, Julie Smith. www.classicalpursuits.com
Besides being one of Britain’s most popular holiday destinations, Cornwall also has local novelist Daphne du Maurier, author of Jamaica Inn, Rebecca and The Birds – visit fishing villages, local pubs, Trebah Gardens, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, and castles.
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