10 landmarks for lovers of Western literature

shakespeare and company bookstoreAre you an enthusiast of everything Voltaire? Can you not get enough of Shakespeare and James Joyce? If you are a lover of Western literature, add these 10 landmarks to your upcoming travel itineraries.

The Shakespeare and Company Bookstore
Paris, France

It is only right that the first landmark on the list be in Paris, France, as this is where many French writers, such as Voltaire, Proust, Balzac, and Baudelaire spent most of their time. The Shakespeare and Company Bookstore has had some of the most well-known writers of the 20th century as clientele, including James Joyce, who published his famous Ulysses under the stamp of this bookshop. In fact, the founder of Shakespeare and Co., Sylvia Beach, was close friends with many of these writers, including Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, to name a few. What’s also special about this shop is not only do they host literary walking tours around Paris, but you can also sleep there as long as you help out with the chores.erneest hemingway houseErnest Hemingway House
Key West, Florida

Not only is Key West home to beautiful beaches and energetic nightlife, but it’s also a place with a literary history. In fact, Ernest Hemingway himself lived at 907 Whitehead Street for more than ten years. It was at this house that he created some of his best work, including the final draft of A Farewell to Arms, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber. While Hemingway passed away on July 2, 1961, his old home is now a museum that is open to the public.

The Globe Theatre
London, England

According to David Joshua Jennings and John McCarroll at BootsnAll, the Globe Theatre was built in 1599 and hosted some of the most influential verses to date. Even the notorious quote “All the world’s a stage, and the men and women merely players” was uttered by William Shakespeare himself at the Globe. While the original theatre burned down in 1844, it was rebuilt to be almost exactly like the original. Attendees of this theatre should expect to sit on simple wooden benches, just like in the days of Shakespeare.

Walden Pond
Concord, Massachusettes

It was at this site that Henry David Thoreau wrote his novel Walden, which he wrote during his two years living on the pond from 1845 to 1847. His home was a small hut on a piece of land owned by his friend and mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson. This area helped to inspire the novel itself and was also influential in the American Romantic movement in literature. Today, the pond has been made into a state park where visitors can hike through trails, explore Walden Woods, or see the replica of Thoreau’s cottage.

Vesuvio Cafe
San Francisco, California

Travelers should love this landmark as it is the stomping grounds of many Beat Generation writers including Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, and Allen Ginsburg. The cafe is also right across the street from the famous City Lights bookstore. According to Stephanie Yoder at BootsnAll, there is a famous story of Kerouac “holing up in the bar, getting incredibly wasted and missing an important meeting with Henry Miller”. If you visit, be sure to order The Jack Kerouac, a mixture of rum, tequila, and orange juice.

Chelsea Hotel
New York, NY

There are few hotels in existence that could rival the clientele of Chelsea Hotel, which includes Titanic survivors, Bob Dylan, Jean-Paul Sartre, Thomas Wolfe, and many other famous actors, writers, musicians, celebrities, and directors. Madonna’s Sex book was even photographed in room 822. The hotel is a cultural hub of art and literature, and visitors interested in learning about the hotel’s literary past can book a public tour.

james joyce dublinJames Joyce’s Dublin
Dublin, Ireland

While this technically isn’t a landmark but a series of related landmarks in one area, it is definitely worth adding to the list. James Joyce, Ireland’s most famous author, used Dublin as an influence for much of his work. In fact, a fun activity for visitors of Dublin is to trace the different sites that are mentioned in his writing. For the full James Joyce experience, start at the James Joyce Center, where you can see a recreation of the writer’s bedroom, then head over to the James Joyce Tower and Museum. Another noteworthy landmark is the House of the Dead, a small museum created in the house where Joyce spent his Christmases and is the setting in his novel Dead.

Mark Twain Museum
Hannibal, Missouri

Mark Twain, according to Michelle Fabio at BootsnAll, was born Samuel Clemens in 1835 in Hannibal, Missouri, the town that inspired his famous Adventures of Tom Sawyer novels. To honor Twain’s memory, the town has created the Mark Twain Museum, which is comprised of eight buildings that all played an important part in Twain’s youth. If you want to see the house where Twain grew up, visit 208 Hill Street, where you will find recreations of what the home looked like when it was still being inhabited by the author himself.

The Brontë Parsonage Museum
Haworth, England

Come to England and you can visit the home of three of the most famous 19th century British authors, Charlotte, Emily, and Ann Brontë (although their pen names were Currier, Ellis, and Acton Bell). These three were responsible for works such as Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. At the museum, you will see the dining table where these authors brought their ideas to life, as well as old photographs, original furniture, letters, and manuscipts.

The Eagle and Child Pub
Oxford, England

According to Stephanie Yoder of BootsnAll, not only is this a nice place to relax with a cold beer, it’s also the home to creative thinking. One infamous writing group, who dubbed themselves the Inklings, would meet here once a week to have a drink and compare manuscripts. Some names you may have heard of include CS Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, and JRR Tolkien who created The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Have a seat at their old table and take in the moments, sketches, and photos of these famous writers.

Homer Simpson’s voice on GPS tells you where to go and more

Earlier today Mike wondered what Bob Dylan’s voice would be like in a GPS system. Here’s another voice idea. Greg Phelps, the art car aficionado who tells me about car oddities from time to time, told me about this one. Homer Simpson’s voice can be downloaded to a portable TomTom GPS device.

Along with giving directions, Homer makes side comments to ramp up the amusement value. Homer pipes out with lines that carry the hope for food stops, as well as, lines like “You’ve reached your destination. You can hold your head up high because you’re a genius.”

In addition to helping you get where you want to go, I can see how Homer’s voice would be fun to have as a companion in a traffic jam. I once gave my husband a bottle opener with Homer Simpson’s voice that was triggered by popping the cap off. I didn’t know there could be something better than that bottle opener.

Would you want Bob Dylan to voice your GPS?

Earlier today, we ran a poll asking readers if they prefer their GPS devices to have a male or female voice? Andy Murdock, an astute reader, left us a comment pointing out that Bob Dylan is in negotiations to voice a GPS unit. Sure, Dylan’s a music legend and an icon, but is his voice conducive to getting me from Point A to Point B?

I’ve seen Dylan in concert. I would consider myself a fan. I’ve understood about six words I’ve heard him speak in interviews. He sounds like he keeps marbles in his mouth. I need my GPS to sound clear and keep me advised of my route. The last thing I need is Bob Dylan warbling, “The speed limits they are a changin’,” as I approach a school zone.

This news did get me thinking, though. What celebrities would I want to voice my GPS? Eartha Kitt would be amusing. And everything is better when voiced by Morgan Freeman. Christopher Walken does a great Lady Gaga, but not sure he could spit out turn-by-turn directions quickly enough for my taste.

Different strokes for different folks, I suppose. Having Bob Dylan tell you to turn left is a good idea for someone. But it ain’t me, babe.

What celebrity would you want to voice your GPS? Leave us a comment below.

Photo by Flickr user ♣Tigerlily ♣.

The sounds of travel: What to listen to when road trippin’ in the USA

Blue sky, open road.Here at Gadling we’ll be highlighting some of our favorite sounds from the road and giving you a sample of each — maybe you’ll find the same inspiration that we did, but at the very least, hopefully you’ll think that they’re good songs. Got a favorite of your own? Leave it in the comments below and we’ll post it at the end of the series.

“Do you like American music?
I like American music.
Don’t you like American music?
Baby-yyyyyy…”

–The Violent Femmes, American Music

For those who are gearing up to travel the vast roadways of America by car, we have here a list of appropriate music to make you feel relaxed, at peace with the road, and good’n American. Though you may be traveling for the holidays, we’ll exclude holiday music. You’ll hear it at every gas station.

The obvious first choice for pulling out of the driveway is America by Simon and Garfunkel:


Even the street on which you live looks a little more ripe with possibility when that song plays.


Once you head out into the amber waves of grain and the fruited plains, it’s a great time for expansive music like that from accidentally Canadian Joni Mitchell. I recommend Urge for Going, Heijira, and You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio. And those are just a couple of her travel-themed hits.

Going through the purple mountains’ majesty? Forests? (Yeah, “America the Beautiful” totally skipped the forests.) Try the soundtrack to Field of Dreams, composed by James Horner. It will fill you with wonder. Here, watch somebody on YouTube play The Drive Home. Want lyrics?

Next, get out some Bob Dylan and play Tangled Up in Blue. Make sure you dig through your classic rock collection. Especially as you pass through strange towns and cities, The Eagles, Guns and Roses, Jimi Hendrix, and Journey all take on a strange, retro-poignance.

Lastly, though it’s downright un-American, The Beatles are great for road trips. Everyone sings along, and if you’re really up in arms about the Britishness, you can get the soundtrack to Across the Universe with all the new covers.

Drive safe!

Click here for previous Sounds of Travel.

New Orleans Jazz Festival

About a week and a half ago, I mentioned the Tobago Jazz Festival, and a
commenter asked if I was aware of any other Jazz Festivals in the world.

You’re kidding, right?

You’d be AMAZED at how many jazz festivals there are.  There’s the Monterey Jazz Festival.  There’s the Montreux Jazz Festival.  There’s the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal.  And there are tons of others too numerous to mention

That said, the one I think that has the biggest meaning for me is the New
Orleans Jazz Festival
— having lived in Texas, it was the one I was the most familiar with, and the one I have
memories of.  Given the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina last year, it’s amazing that the festival will
still go on. And go on, it will:  this year’s lineup includes Bruce Spingsteen, Dave Matthews, Jimmy Buffett,
Herbie Hancock, Galactic, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Ani DiFranco, The Ohio Players, and The Meters, just to name a very
few.

Unfortunately, I now live too far away to attend — but if you happen to live around or near Louisiana,
do the Jazzfest a favour and pay them a visit — you won’t regret it, and your presence will serve to ensure a wonderful
festival continues to flourish.