Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Fantasy and reality sometimes blend together in much of today's travel

Ready to quaff like Tyrion Lannister
The past few years, there's been a new sort of travel niche forming.

While "literary travel" has been around for quite some time - the practice of visiting real world places where literary events and stories have occurred - the 21st century has seen the rise of what, for lack of a better word, could be called "fantasy travel."

In past years, there were plenty of tours one could take to visit all the places in London where, for example, Sherlock Holmes used to practise the art and science of detection.

You can take a pre-scheduled, all-arranged tour, or just buy a book and use it as a guide, as there are several books that will offer readers a chance to follow in Holmes' footsteps.
This book helps you create your own Holmes tour.

On a wider scale, you can take similar tours with a King Arthur/Camelot theme. You can set them up with a tour company or even design your own, with stops at places like Glastonbury Tor, Tintagel, or Stonehenge, to name but a few.

I myself have done a "literary tour" of sorts, although it does not follow a fictional storyline, per se. A few years ago, I did my own "Papa Hemingway" tour around South Florida and the Keys, with stops that included The Everglades City Rod and Gun Club, Hemingway House, and Ernest's Cafe (now shut down, I understand) to name but a few. Even did a bit of deep-sea fishing.

I was following in the footsteps of the real-life author, though, not one of his books.

While there are many tours designed around visiting the haunts of historical or fictional figures, and plenty of books written to help guide would-be travellers around from place to place, ever since the start of the 21st century it seems people are interested in visiting not only real world places in imaginary stories, they want to go to the real-world locations of fictional places.

It all started with the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.

Once that first movie came out, tourism and travel interest in New Zealand exploded, with hordes of would-be elves, hobbits, and other fans of the movie descending upon that country located in the southern reaches of the planet to see the places where their beloved movies had actually been shot.

Lots of quaffing going on in these tours
It goes beyond just being in the locations; there are actually numerous tours set up for travellers to take, tours where they can even visit the old movies sets, even walk through Hobbiton.

Now that's taken an even bigger step forward since Game of Thrones hit the airwaves on HBO.

That series, now in it's sixth season, has spawned an incredible array of tours and activities all built around the fictional kingdom of Westeros. They are far too numerous to list them here; but there are bus tours and beer tours and trips to Ireland and Iceland, Croatia and Dubrovnik. The possibilities are as endless as Tyrion Lannister's taste for wine and wenches.

The closest I've ever come to experiencing anything like that was the Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. But it's just a one-night activity, and if you're in a place like Toronto, it's right there.

On a bit different scale, there are all kinds of James Bond experiences to be had, as well. You can learn to drive like Bond, drink like Bond, there's even a seven-day world tour ultimate James Bond experience. Given the nature of the films, and their penchant for settings all over the world, this too is ripe with possibilities.

There's even a kayak tour in London where you can paddle into Q's secret workshop, for those who like a bit of outdoor adventure thrown into the mix. That's the kind of tour I'd be prone to enjoy. Go for a paddle, then quaff a few Vesper martinis.

Not your Johnny Depp type of pirates
Of course, on a lighter level, there are experiences ("rides") based on The Pirates of the Caribbean series.

Seen any pirates around, pal?
I've even been on a "pirate" experience myself, down in Mexico, during a trip to Puerto Vallarta.

(And yes,  I did meet a parrot in Mexico, while waiting at the dock - but it was not part of the pirate ship experience.) 

 That experience was not really related to the movie series at all, but probably benefited from it.

You don't need to go to Disney, though; you can create your own pirate experience in a number of ways and places.

With all these tours, all these options, this all this makes me wonder, is life imitating art...imitating fiction?

Or is fiction imitating life?

I think I'll stop now. I think I hear a Batman-tour calling my name...

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