In the middle of this blistering heat, the only thing I can think of is getting out and far away, to somewhere that doesn’t result in immediate sweat the second you step out of doors or require smushing against fifty other people in a subway car or busy city block.

I can only ogle the crisp, breezy looking photographs in my Groupon Getaways emails for so long before realizing I have no need for an all-inclusive family vacation to a four star hotel in Mexico (also, definitely hot there), yet still feel the need to at least fantasize about a realistic escape.

At my wit’s end, I stumbled across Flavorwire’s “50 Places Ever Literary Fan Should Visit” and, as is my compulsion with every list of things to read, listen to, watch, visit or do whatever else you are supposed to have done, check off everything I’ve already got in the bag. Sadly, I can only lay claim to three of the fifty—and not even any of the ones in New York! To be honest, I had no idea so many literary landmarks were in such a small radius of my home.

Of course, the impetus here is to leave the heat behind, so I won’t feel so bad about it yet. Though there are a million more exotic, more prodigious and more exciting venues and monuments on the list, the one that struck me with the biggest pang was Green Gables on Prince Edward Island. A rabid L.M. Montgomery fan as a girl, my dream vacation growing up was a trip to Prince Edward Island (P.E. Island to those of us in the know). To see it on this list brought me back to all the times I begged and begged to go there—I think I had an idea that it was kind of like Colonial Williamsburg, which was another favorite of mine and the destination of not one, but two family vacations at my request.

I also couldn’t help but smile at the James Joyce’s Dublin entry on the list. As a personal project of mine (and okay, for a grade), I mapped out Leopold Bloom’s famed traipse around the city and its surrounding areas, complete with photos, quotes and analyses. It was a long day of walking and trains, which I guess it a lot of energy to expend on just checking off 1/50th of a list. Good going, Rachel.

Flipping through the slideshow was a good mental escape, trip down memory lane and bucket list facilitator for me. I know there are far more than fifty great literary destinations in the world and I’d love to know what ones you have visited or can introduce to me.

One Response to Escape

  1. Elsa Valmidiano says:

    One great literary destination that I stumbled upon was in Heidelberg, Germany while I had been visiting my sister a couple of years ago. My sister was living in Eppelheim, which isn’t too far from Heidelberg – about a twenty-minute bike ride which my partner and I had undertaken in the pouring July rain. The significance of Heidelberg is its university where José Rizal attended in the 1880s. Ask any Filipino and Filipino-American and the name, “José Rizal” sparks pride. National hero of the Philippines and famed author of Noli Me Tángere and El Filibusterismo, Rizal’s novels sparked the revolution and end of the 300-year Spanish rule in the Philippines in 1898. I had no idea about his attendance at the University of Heidelberg before I traveled to Germany. I was delighted to discover this piece of information from my mother and thus made it a point to visit the university where he studied ophthalmology and where it is said he wrote the last few chapters of Noli Me Tángere. While I pass the Palace Hotel everyday on my way to work in San Francisco where Rizal had stayed in the course of his only US visit, and I have visited his infamous prison in Fort Santiago, Manila, where he spent his last days before being executed by the Spanish, being in Heidelberg made me all the more amazed how far this author and revolutionary had been. As he wrote from the University of Heidelberg to his parents: “I spend half of the day in the study of German and the other half, in the diseases of the eye. Twice a week, I go to the bierbrauerie, or beerhall, to speak German with my student friends.”

    From your post, Fort Santiago in Manila is probably not a great literary destination considering that your “impetus here is to leave the heat behind,” and it is superhot in Manila, but if Germany is any consideration for literary destinations, I can definitely attest that Heidelberg has some cool streets, and I mean that temperature- and excellent-wise.

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