One of my weekly posts a long while ago was Travel Thursdays; and themed tours made their way into one of those early posts. As I revisited that post in the wake of a recent jobs for literary minded people post, I decided it needed a revamp. So here it is ‘Literary Tours and Other Wonderful Themed Tours‘ for you!
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A Little About Literary Tours and Themed Tours
What Are Themed Tours and Literary Tours?
Themed tours are regular escorted tours that are centered around a theme, an interest, a hobby, or anything at all. These can vary a lot; and I have seen themed tours around food and drinks, history, sports, culture, music, and even very ones that are specific to that location. I have seen (though not been on) haunted tours which intrigue me always, tours based on movies (that are on my to-do list), and so many more.
Literary tours are simply themed tours centered around books and/or authors.
Every city has it’s well-known landmarks, it’s must-see list, and also has it’s oddities, culture, and uniqueness which get captured in an hometown author’s book or article or memories and also get captured sometimes in movies. These unique aspects of the city are what I want to explore and I have known about these tours for a while now in many of these locations – just need to keep working through the list.
I need to say that I am not
a big fan of made for organized tours; especially the ones that last over one day. Going by ourselves means we set our own time limits, gaze at the sights a little longer if we want, and so on. So where I can, I might try out these themes and more all by myself.
On the other hand, a good tour guide can help build great memories of a place. We experienced this a few times; while visiting the magnificent Borobudur temple in Indonesia ages ago, and more recently at Ellis Island. And these organized tours help you cross those must-do items off your list!
So here are a few tours and places (many literary, and others built around other cool themes – sort of) that I am sure will (are) be fun!! And of course, I would love to hear more about any literary tours or bookish places or other interesting themed travels that you know of and/or love.
Note that due to current travel restrictions and local quarantine restrictions, some of these tours might not be available. Please do due diligence and check before traveling anywhere.
The Literary Tours
UNESCO Cities of Literature
Check out any and off of the cities that are currently designated as one of UNESCO’s Cities of Literature; and you will be off to a great start on your literary tours journey.
The Da Vinci Code Literary Tours
I know the book is aged now but the magic I felt when I first read the book is still there. And travel is always magical (sure to be even more so once a little more normalcy returns to our world post-quarantine).
There is a walking tour in Paris which sounds utterly fascinating and Paris itself is still on our to-visit list. Guided tours are offered in Rome as well with the book’s plot as the focus. Many tour companies across Paris, Rome, and London offer Da Vinci Code tours catering to a wide audience; prices range from the $100ish to a few thousands of dollars! And based on what I have read, they are all popular!! You have walking tours that last for a few hours, and then you have organized week-long or so tours across the country as you stay in the coolest lodgings.
As for me, I will start with the walking tours first!
Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters Themed Literary Tours
Explore the world of Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters! I love their novels; and as the U.K. is still uncharted territory for me, will try to see if I can include part of this itinerary when I plan my trip there. If you would like to have the guided tour, I found a few – one of them – Jane Austen Literary Tour
While I am not sure if there are guided tours, you can certainly do this on your own easily. I know because I have done this, and will repeat it for myself the next time we drive down to Salinas and Monterey along scenic Highway 1. Explore Cannery Row and other spots mentioned in Steinbeck’s novels as you take in the beauty of the Pacific coast.
Tour of Mark Twain House, Hartford
I know I would love to visit this beautiful historic home; and in a beautiful city worth a visit all its own.
Ulysses Tours, Dublin
If you are a fan of James Joyce, then these tours are sure to interest you. While I am yet to read Joyce’s Ulysses, I am bookish enough to be on this tour even without doing so!! But first, I would need to plan that trip towards Ireland, or rather any trip out of where I am right now!! And I was delighted to see that they also offer an Oscar Wilde walking tour. And I do love Wilde.
More Bookish Places
Talking about Oscar Wilde brings me to yet another place I saw while scoping out literary spots to visit on my next trip anywhere. This is supposedly the most visited cemetery in the world, and is the resting place for many celebrities, and writers, including of course Oscar Wilde.
City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco
I am not sure why I have not yet visited this bookstore right up the highway for me. My only excuse is that each time we visit the city, other sights and other plans have taken up our time there (which is usually just the one day we spend about twice a year or so). I realize this bookstore found itself in a previous post about literary landmarks in the Bay Area; and I am yet to visit it.
What is more amazing is that this beloved bookstore was on the verge of closing last year; and through the power of crowdfunding and fans of this iconic store, it has survived it all!
On a sadder note, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the founder of City Lights, died this past month (on February 22, 2021) in San Francisco, California. He was 101 years old.
The Library Hotel, New York City
Oh how did I miss this during our trip to NYC(and it was just one block from the NYPL!)? Or did I walk past it on the way to/from NYPL but missed it because I was enamored by the bronze plaques with quotes on Library Way?
I am keeping this in mind for a stay (or at the very least, a visit) for our next trip to this city of which we still have lots left to explore. One trip was definitely not enough; and when I see places like this that I have missed, I know I need to return.
The Literary Man, Obidos
My DH and I visited Obidos years ago, in 2001. It was a delightful experience. Stepping into Obidos was like stepping into a world in a different time and space! We wandered quaint, narrow, pebbled streets that were charming and colorful reminiscent of Portugal itself. And I had no idea of this hotel at the time else would have stepped in for a bit (since we were only on a day trip from Lisbon). Note: Obidos is a City of Literature as designated by UNESCO.
From TripAdvisor – The Literary Man Óbidos Hotel is a unique literary hotel and the biggest in the world. Located next to the Óbidos Castle, this former convent kept its original charm and was converted in to a hotel called Estalagem do Convento in 1965.
Zhongshuge Bookstore, China
This bookstore is sci-fi cool; like entering a wondrous combination of of Captain Nemo’s library and an inter-galactic bookstore! I am going to content myself with looking at videos and photos until that distant future where I can visit here.
Yasnaya Polyana, Russia
Are you a Tolstoy fan? Or even if you are not this beautiful locale will tempt you to visit Yasnaya Polyana. It is the place where Tolstoy was born and lived for most of his life. It is exceptionally preserved and based on photos, will be like stepping back in time.
I have read and heard and seen so much of this little book-town that I feel like I belong there already! My most recent experience with this “town of books” was through the pages of a sweet read titled Rosie’s Traveling Tea Shop (review coming soon).
Shakespeare’s Globe is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, an Elizabethan playhouse for which William Shakespeare wrote his plays, in the London Borough of Southwark, on the south bank of the River Thames. The original theatre was built in 1599, destroyed by the fire in 1613, rebuilt in 1614, and then demolished in 1644. The modern Globe Theatre is an academic approximation based on available evidence of the 1599 and 1614 buildings. It is considered quite realistic, though modern safety requirements mean that it accommodates only 1,400 spectators compared to the original theatre’s 3,000. [from Wikipedia]
This is literary manna for all (for who doesn’t know Shakespeare, right?)
This Cool 2D Cafe in Tokyo – 2D Cafe Shinokubo, Tokyo
Not fully bookish though entering this café is bound to make you feel like you are in a comic book yourself!! I am not sure when I will make a trip to Japan in the near future but the country is on our bucket-list, so…
& Other Wonderful Themed Tours
The San Francisco Bay Area
Silicon Valley Related Tours
I found this tour interesting –
they are a newly launched (brand new, actually)– the Silicon Valley Tech Tour offered by TowerTours. It offers stops at many companies and tech museums as part of the tour. It will be really great if we can get an inside look sometime in the future at the future! And I have been doing some of these a little by little – Free Tours by Foot – since I am already in the area!
Zeppelin Tours (Discontinued for almost a decade now)
Included this because (see my Aug 2020 update note below)!
This was on my wish list for the whole time the tour was on because of the price tag – $199 for an hour’s ride in the Zeppelin. And that was all it was and can be now. We always thought it might be worth it; a leisurely air ride where we could possibly see our home and work space and schools from up there.
August 2020 update: Airship Ventures ceased operations in November 2012; and no, I never got a chance to do this at all in the brief time it was around. So much for missed opportunities! It is true when they say opportunity never knocks twice.
These are magical words for me! I love the locales he has in his movies; I love the creator – both classy and classic. And these trips combine both the creator’s magic and his locales! They include the ‘Birds’ movie tour which takes you to Bodega Bay. The other is the ‘Vertigo’ movie tour.
Though I am not a fan of being underground, I am a big fan of Old Sacramento. We love to explore it every chance we get, so a trip to the Capital happens pretty often. This tour is something that I am sure all of us in the family will love.
As I looked for more information on themed tours for myself, I found one for my hometown/city of Bangalore. It is called BangaloreWalks. It looks like a great resource for people wanting to visit Bangalore, India. When I go next, I plan to Discover for myself with new eyes the History and Culture of Beautiful Bangalore.
Make Your Own
This is not enough or maybe you have already done it! Then you should definitely make your own themed tours!! I would love to do a train themed tour around the world; journey through the world as much as possible using the railways!!
References, h/t, Additional Travel Resources
- Be sure to check Nigel Beale’s aptly named website – Literary Tourist – for ideas, options, and etcs. I am sharing this simply because I chanced upon it; and loved the concept and idea!!
- Sophie Nadeau offers up so many literary travel itineraries on her website; many of them pinned on to her Pinterest board here for reference
- I love perusing BookRiot’s posts. Each one is wonderful, and their Literary Tourism ones are no different. Each one offers readers a look into a different location and the literary travels and options available there.
- Expedia offers a wonderful list of cities here to literally escape in a literary world!
- Check out these Top 10 literary walking tours of the world from Lonely Planet
Related Reads About Literary Tours (or close enough!)
- One fun read I found that I am going to read soon; a themed trip British travel writer Joe Bennett undertook after a purchase at his local supermarket – Where Underpants Come From! [Aug 2020 and March 2021 Updates: I did read this book; but never reviewed it here. Or did I?]
- This post I wrote listing Books That Inspire Travel
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, have you visited any of these places? I would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations on places you have visited with literary or themed tours that intrigue and inform!.