Travel can seem almost incomplete without a good book; lounging around the pool, following guidebooks or a novel to inspire a new trip. Before Instagram, books such as ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, ‘The Beach’, ‘The Alchemist’ and ‘On the Road’, were and are well known for acting as travel inspiration to the locations so inspiringly described on their pages, leaving us to discover even more through our own experiences.
To satiate the travel hungry and recognise World Book Day (2nd March), I’ve picked a ‘novel journey’ that has inspired my wanderlust travels or have bookmarked for the (hopefully) not-so-distant future.
The book – The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Set in the post-Spanish Civil War period, this story within a story sees a boy, Daniel, discover the history of his chosen book ‘The Shadow of The Wind’ from the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books. His attempts to find more by the author Julián Carax, lead him down a path to more than he could have imagined.
Must see: Barcelona plays a huge part in this novel and the most noted thing to see is Antoni Gaudí’s La Sagrada Família. Ninety years after Gaudí’s death, the basilica is in its final stages of construction – over 180 years’ in creation, it’s a sight to be seen.
The book – The Old Man & The Sea, Ernest Hemingway
A short novel about the struggle of an old Cuban fisherman, Santiago, and his five-day battle with a giant marlin off the Gulf Stream after a long streak of bad luck fishing. It goes through the motions of defeat, struggle and determination.
Must See: Tipped as the number one holiday destination for 2017, Cuba’s streets are steeped in history and exceptionally lively so it’s easy to wander and become lost among the street food and live music, especially along The Malecón. You can also get adventurous and hike the highest point on the island – Pico Turquino. Or simply head to one of Hemingway’s two favourite watering holes in Havana, La Floridita and La Bodeguita del Medio, which still stand today, to sip a Mojito or two.
The book – The Mountain Shadow, Gregory David Roberts
Roberts, a former convicted bank robber in Australia who escaped Pentridge Prison in 1980, fled to India for ten years where he wrote the famous Shantaram. This sequel is a thriller that takes you through a mafia culture in Mumbai that’s changed since the events in the first book. The main character, Lin, can’t leave without his soul mate and caught in the clutches of a fatal promise.
Must See: Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is home to rock-cut temples on Gharapuri – or Elephanta Island – a Unesco World Heritage Site. An hour ferry trip out from the Gateway of India, marvel at the immense temple carvings through the caves.
The book – A Room with a View, E.M. Forster
Between England and Italy, this classic novel depicts the struggles of a young woman, Lucy, and her modernised views against Victorian values. Her trip to Italy with her cousin opens her eyes to a wider world and their relaxed society compared to Victorian England and her love interests along the way.
Must See: With part of the book set in Florence, also known as the ‘the cradle of the Renaissance’, a visit to the Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral should be top of the list. Take a walk up to the rooftop for the views at night and see a close-up of the intricately painted ceiling of the dome, then amble through the Piazza della Signoria, walking in Lucy’s footsteps.
Destinations to watch inspired by the big screen
In case you live under a rock, the 89th Academy Awards took place last night with the film world’s glitterati turning out for the culmination of what has been one of the most exciting and surprising awards seasons yet. Although a certain ‘Best Picture’ mis-hap seems to have overshadowed the event, rather than focus on that, our travel team are more interested in taking a look at the locations that played home to this year’s Oscar nominated pictures. Has La La Land inspired a mass exodus to the city of angels? Or is Miami, location for winning film Moonlight, on the bucket list of travellers this year?
La La Land – Los Angeles, California
If the opening scene of the movie, or the now iconic shot of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone doing a ‘Fred and Ginger’ above the sparkling lights of the city, doesn’t have you running for the Hollywood Hills, then there’s a small chance you may be dead inside… From the sun-kissed trendsetters of Venice Beach to the swanky hole-in-the-wall bars in West Hollywood, LA has become a must visit spot for travellers all over the world. The Getty centre is a must-do for all wishing to visit the star-studded city. J. Paul Getty Trust is a billion-dollar trust treasuring art and artefacts from around the globe. A collection of priceless pieces to rival The Louvre, it’s easy to immerse yourself for hours. Finish the day with a picnic on the grass, a glass of vino and the ever-enchanting scenery where blockbuster dreams are made. The city of angels will leave you dazed and dazzled dreaming of your name in lights. Plus, Norwegian has just released its schedule of super cheap trans-atlantic flights to destinations including LA so now there’s no excuse for putting off the dream!
Lion – Calcutta, India
The heart-wrenching story of an adopted boy who tries to find his family will make you love, laugh and cry for sure, but it will also have you yearning for the colourful climes of India. Set between Australia and India, the film is a fusion of two rich cultures. Food, history and cultural immersion are a few of the major draw cards for travellers lucky enough to be heading there. Dev Patel’s character Saroo starts life in the slums of Kolkata, the capital of India’s West Bengal state. Today, the city is known for its grand colonial architecture, art galleries and cultural festivals. There is a saying in India ‘athithi devo bhava’ which means ‘the guest is God’. To get the full experience a home-stay is well recommended, given that Indian hospitality is second to none. Whether travelling for food, soul searching or the spectacular scenery, India needs to be on everyone’s bucket list.
Moonlight – Miami, Florida
Although this masterpiece, which (eventually!) triumphed at last night’s ceremony, is shot in an impoverished area of the city, Miami still shines. The beach plays a major role in leading character Chiron’s journey from boy to manhood. Virginia Key Beach, where Chiron learns to swim, is now a state park and trust, dedicated to preserving natural wildlife and endangered species. Elsewhere, the film’s stunning visuals capture sides of the city rarely visited by tourists. With soft focus shots of housing complexes or long character scenes set against a backdrop of rolling waves, you almost feel you’re there in the warm air. Miami is trending now, not just for its beaches but as centre for art, food and culture, plus with spring break approaching, it’s on Expedia’s top ten list of destinations for March and April. What are you waiting for?
Moana – Polynesian Islands
Ok, this one didn’t actually win, but you only have to look at the poster for Disney’s latest blockbuster, which was nominated for Best Animated Picture, to understand that you want to go wherever it was set. If you’re curious, it was inspired by a number of Polynesian Islands, one of them being Tetiaroa, which looks as paradisiacal as you’d expect. If you want to go there, you’ll have to wake Marlon Brando from the grave, because he actually owns it. Only joking. He did own, it but it is now home to the inconspicuously named The Brando, a new eco-friendly, ultra-luxurious resort. As we write this, on a breezy morning whilst gazing out at Hammersmith Broadway, we wonder why anyone would ever want to go there..?
To see the full list of winners, visit: http://oscar.go.com/winners
This time last year, Reykjavik, Copenhagen and Croatia were just some of the places tipped as the top destinations of 2016, and many of us at Lucre were lucky enough to spend at least a couple of days (or more, in some cases) exploring what these locations have to offer. But twelve months is a long time in the travel industry and with every New Year comes a host of new trends that will influence how, and where, consumers will be heading over the coming year.
As tech has become more integrated into our day to day lives, cities such as Barcelona, Oslo and Vienna have driven innovation to enhance visits to their cities. Think super-fast public transport, city-wide free WiFi and USB charging points on every street corner… this will become even more important over the next year, with tourism boards doing all they can to entice consumers to choose them over alternative options.
A recent survey has revealed that as many as 69% of UK travellers will be going it alone at some point this year, suggesting that solo travel will continue to rise in popularity in 2017. Last year saw a surge in women-only travel companies, perfect for consumers that are looking for enriching travel experiences. As pockets get tighter, we predict that ‘second cities’ will attract more visitors as cheaper alternatives to the capitals that are a bigger burden on budgets. Krakow and Marseille are just a couple of destinations that are already proving popular this year.
Speaking of budgets, we can’t ignore how the unpredictability of the pound will impact where the holidaymaker decides to visit either. Rather than spending savings on a summer holiday abroad, many consumers will opt for a UK break instead. Tourism at home has already benefitted from things like ‘The Poldark Effect,’ and with everything from our coast to crown appearing on screen in programmes such as Victoria, Countryfile and Game of Thrones, consumers have all the more inspiration to holiday closer to home this year. That said, the uncertainty and lower levels of confidence that have become commonplace will also make it harder for consumers to commit far in advance, making way for last minute bookings instead.
So, where will 2017 take you?
A report this weekend revealing that seaside resort Skegness has been ranked as one of the world’s worst holiday destinations has touched our hearts here at Lucre.
Not only do a few of us recall happy memories spent on the beach (or at Butlins), but we think Skegness deserves the chance to redeem itself and perhaps just needs a helping hand in promoting its good points!
Take a look at the likes of Hull and Blackpool – both of which have suffered from negative press for years and are now starting to thrive again following huge investment in advertising, PR and marketing campaigns. Hull has especially hit the spotlight as the UK’s City of Culture for 2017 and was today announced to be BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend location. We particularly loved the use of their campaign hashtag #ForTheHullofIt which we’ve seen all over buses and billboards across Yorkshire.
We think with a bit of love and attention to improve its “rough around the edges” reputation, a hard-working communications campaign and tailored social outreach inspired by previously successful campaigns could do the world of good, and make Skegness great again! After all, isn’t the staycation on the rise?
We had enormous fun last week setting up a series of frankly fantastic photo-shoots for Jet2CityBreaks, around the airline’s exciting announcement that its New York breaks were back by popular demand for winter 2016.
And – yes there’s more – this year there are special New Year breaks… we don’t know about you, but here at Lucre Towers we reckon there can’t be many places that would best a New Year’s Eve spent in the Big Apple! Shopping? Check. Wining and dining? Check. Watching the world famous New Year’s Eve Ball Drop in Times Square? Check, check, and check again, just take us there! Everything you need to know is on the website so hop on over there for details.
Now we just have to see if we can keep the rather wonderful replica Statue of Liberty in our offices (no dice on the yellow taxi, alas).