The Three Perfect Travel Films to End the Summer

It’s officially September, which means summer is nearly over. But, while the weather is still hot — take advantage of those last lazy days when you need to stay inside in order to beat the heat. Here are three summer movies to help you escape the hot weather to adventures in far off lands.

L’Auberge Espagnole

L’Auberge Espagnole or The Spanish Apartment is a film anyone who studied abroad can relate to. The film follows Xavier (Romain Duris), a French economics student who goes to study in Barcelona for a year with the hopes of impressing a financial firm he wishes to work for upon graduation. Leaving behind his quirky girlfriend (played by Audrey Tautou), Xavier finds himself living in a flat with seven other people from countries all over Europe. Despite their different languages and backgrounds, the housemates bond over their misadventures and excitement of life in Barcelona. These events include watching Xavier learn to “speak like a true Spaniard,” embark on an affair with a married woman and ultimately discover his passion for writing. The film is full of nostalgia and the impressive sights of Barcelona.  In true international fashion, L’Auberge Espagnole incorporates French, Spanish, Catalan and English throughout the dialogue of the film. This film is also currently available on Netflix so take advantage while you can!

Copenhagen

The Danish capital makes an impressive backdrop for this coming of age story and plays as major of a role in the film as any of its characters. William (Gethin Anthony), a jaded 28-year-old New Yorker is drinking and sleeping his way through Europe until he makes his way to Copenhagen. As an immature and mean-spirited man, William proves at first to be an unsympathetic character, who goes to Copenhagen to deliver a letter from his deceased father to the grandfather that abandoned the family decades before. To guide him in his search for his grandfather, William enlists the help of Effy a local who works at the hotel he is staying. As the story unravels Effy and William begin to fall for each other with Effy seeming to have a stabilizing influence on William. But, the audience soon learns that the relationship would be impossible. Copenhagen is a modern story that shows us in a new way when it is time to grow up. The film is different than anything else I have seen before and one of the best movies I have seen in a long time.

Stealing Beauty

                       Please excuse the cheesy twenty-year-old movie trailer!

When I was 19 years-old there were two movies that made me want to see Italy more than anything — Under the Tuscan Sun and Stealing Beauty. Directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and starring Liv Tyler, Stealing Beauty is set in a villa in the hills of Siena.The movie follows Lucy Harmon who goes to Italy to have her portrait done by an old family friend, following the suicide of her mother.  Lucy’s arrival sparks intrigue among the villa’s ex-pat residents whom were all old friends of her mother and who live in this secluded part of the Tuscan countryside. In a case of art imitating life, Lucy also seeks to learn who her biological father is after finding a poem her mother had written about Lucy’s conception after visiting the same villa twenty years earlier.  The movies colorful character as well as the breathtaking Italian countryside create an incredible setting as Lucy seeks to discover the truth about her parentage and her own ideas of love.

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Movies that will give you itchy feet: Roman Holiday

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A postcard I picked up in Rome of the film poster

Those who suffer from wanderlust or the ‘travel bug’ can attest to the fact that it is a pricey passion to enjoy. So, for those of us who are not millionaires or lucky enough to work in the aviation business (where discounted or free flights are an option) there might be large gaps between our travel adventures. It is during this down time that I indulge in the only travel I possibly can afford — the movies. Movies help us travel vicariously through the lens of a camera. I can honestly say that there are some locations I would never know about had I not heard or seen it in a film. One of my favorite movies (and definitely my favorite Audrey Hepburn film) is Roman Holiday.

For those of you who have never seen the film — it’s about a Princess (Audrey Hepburn) that has become frustrated with the rigidity and structure of her life. So, while on a trip to Rome she sneaks out and takes in the night life of the city incognito — until she falls asleep on a bench and is rescued by an American newsman (Gregory Peck) who quickly realizes he has landed a potentially big story. False identities, romance and a lot of physical comedy make the movie a quick favorite.

Despite that the film is in black and white — the scenes of Rome in this film are incredible. All the big landmarks are showcased; the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, The Trevi Fountain. But, the film also shows what its like to experience Rome — riding a vespa through traffic, eating gelato, and sleeping in a realistic cramped Roman apartment. It’s a film about experiencing life and Rome for the first time which is endearing because it reminds me of the first time I started to travel and how amazed I was by everything and how I still am. I saw Roman Holiday long before I finally went to Rome and every time I see the film now — it only makes me yearn to go back. Especially, since I did not find the Mouth of Truth last time I was there! If you’ve seen the film you’ll understand…

What are you some of films that inspire travel for you?

Venice – The City With No Locals

My parents took me to Venice during the summer of 2012 to celebrate my 25th birthday. I was living in the U.K. at that time and in the thick of working on my dissertation — so it was a very welcome birthday trip. I was only there for a few days and unfortunately was so caught up in just walking around and sight seeing that I didn’t get a chance to get off the beaten path too much. But, this is what I took away…

Venice is truly as beautiful as advertised in every vintage poster or postcard you have ever seen. There is absolutely no other place like it. As many of you probably know, there are no roads in the historic part of Venice. If you need to get somewhere you can hop on a water taxi or a water bus (yes, they exist and they have routes).

The city of Venice is literally a city full of tourists. People from all over the world clamor to Venice for it’s unique beauty. Also, I feel like there might be some urgency to people wanting to see Venice as it’s a sinking city that won’t necessarily stand the test of time. As Venice is a city of tourists, it doesn’t really have locals. The Italians you see working there don’t actually live in the historic part of Venice. It’s just too expensive.

A friend and course mate of mine is Venezian and he was back in Venice when I visited. I met up with him and his girlfriend in the city one night and they explained that outside of the Venice I knew was a Venice with actual roads and cars.  The “locals” don’t live in the main part of the city but they work there in the thriving tourism trade selling Murano glass and Venecian carnival masks or running shops and working in restaurants. Tourism is an old trade in Venice — it’s probably one of the oldest tourist attractions in the world and people have been coming to marvel at it for centuries. And it’s no wonder why…

Postcard Pick: The Bones in Rome

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Whether you’re sick of touring churches or you just have a thing for the macabre — the Capuchin Crypt can be an interesting sight for tourists who want to delve slightly off the beaten path. The small crypt is underneath the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappucini, just off the Piazza Barberini in Rome. As you can see from the postcard (they didn’t allow photographs to be taken in the crypt) the place looks like something you would find on the cover of a heavy metal album rather than as a destination point in Italy. However, the place has drawn visitors for the last several centuries including Mark Twain and the Marquis de Sade.

Over 4,000 Capuchin monks have been buried in the crypt since 1631 and the soil in the ground was brought over from Jerusalem. The display is meant to be a reminder of mortality and that our time on Earth is short. The Capuchins would bury their most recently deceased in the soil and after 30 years of decomposition, arrange their bones around the crypt in the ornate motifs. While I’m sure the displays were indeed meant to remind everyone of their own mortality; I am curious if it became a practical/slightly strange way to deal with the small space they were allotted to bury their dead. Either way, the Capuchin Crypt makes an intriguing site that you are not likely to forget anytime soon and something to certainly write home about!

 

2012: A year of travel in review

While it is still the beginning of 2013, I wanted to take the chance to look back on all the amazing trips I have had over the last year. Some of them have not yet been featured on this blog but hopefully I will begin to catch up with the details of those journeys. In the meantime here is to a fantastic year and I’m looking forward to an even better one!

Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh is one of the best cities I have ever visited. It is one of those places that just feels like home. My favorite thing to do in this ancient Scottish city is to get up early in the morning on a sunny day, pick up a cup of coffee and walk through the streets of Edinburgh until I end up on top of Calton Hill. It’s the best way to see the city wake up.

Madrid, Spain

Quite opposite from Scotland, it’s ideal to wake up late in Spain along with the locals.The earliest you should be eating breakfast is at 11 a.m. and it should be churros con chocolate with a strong iced coffee. Once you make it through the sprawling urban city of Madrid it will be 3 p.m. before you know it and time for lunch with a nice glass of tinto de verano.

Salamanca, Spain

After a few days in the massive city of Madrid, it’s good to take a vacation from your vacation and head to Salamanca for a weekend. The historic city is alluring with it’s two massive cathedrals and the most beautiful main square in all of Spain. In addition you can see the oldest university in Spain — the University of Salamanca.

Venice, Italy

Venice looks every bit like the postcards and posters you have seen of it. It’s a city that exudes history, magnificence and a massive tourism industry. Get caught up in the sinking cities infamous piazza’s, glass shops and canals. There is no other city in the world like it.

Prague, Czech Republic

The fairy tale like city of Prague has it’s own unique culture that includes a history of communism, a preserved Jewish quarter untouched by WWII and a steady German/French influence that has shaped it’s architecture. Walk over the river Vltava on the beautiful Charles bridge towards Prague Castle. Then hike up your way up to Strahov Monastery where you can drink amazing Czech beer that has been brewed by the monks there for centuries.