All of that is good reminder of how I'm not a traveler, at all. Going between college and home drives me nuts. I am perfectly happy sitting in my room on my computer or reading, because I am social like that. When I do travel, it's usually for a writing or music retreat/conference, which I do absolutely love to do when I get the chance! But the one place I would really love to travel, on an actual vacation just-for-fun basis, is to Britain.
It was Doctor Who that made me realize how much I loved British culture, and Sherlock that reinforced it. I already had a bunch of favorite authors from England, but I'd never really thought about the culture of the area and how much it would be a fangirl's mecca until I got into the BBC shows. Now, I am dying to go there! My dear friend Julia was just there this summer, studying abroad at Oxford, and I am terribly, terribly jealous. I think I spend half my time being jealous of her, haha! But it's okay, 'cause I also love her and her writerly face. ;)
So today I thought I'd sort of plan out an ideal (literary themed) trip to Britain, the places I'd go if I ever got to go to ye olde country. Now, this is a very vague itinerary--I don't have a particular order, because I don't have a central location (i.e. hotel) to map out from. I do know, however, that I would be using trains. Lots of trains. And buses. Because England.
The Bronte sisters are legendary authors of classic literature, and I'm especially a fan of Charlotte's Wuthering Heights. So stopping by the house in West Yorkshire where they grew up, now a museum in their honor, sounds pretty cool to me. Not sure what all you can do there without having to pay an extra tour fee, but I feel like just being at the house would be pretty darn awesome. They do have new exhibitions and lectures every once and a while. There's also a classic, Bronte-themed library attached.
Doctor Who counts as literary, okay? It's too awesome to not be included here. This "experience" is a family friendly exhibition in Cardiff, where first you go on a "action-packed, multi-sensory journey", as they call it, with the Doctor, presumably something along the lines of the Harry Potter theme park stuff in Florida, and then you can look around at a lot of props and costumes and go through a bunch of hands-on exhibits that show how Doctor Who is filmed and created. It's designed for children, I don't doubt, but no way am I letting that stop me. It's the Doctor!
Obviously, in a literary-themed look through England, Shakespeare has to be included. His birthplace is only one of many places associated with him, but I think it's the most interesting and accessible. In Stratford-Upon-Avon, the house is maintained by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, which also runs most other touristy things associated with Shakespeare in the area. Similar to the Bronte Parsonage Museum, this is a place where you can walk in the footsteps of literary giants, and there's a museum exhibit as well.
It's Oxford, it's a big freaking fancy old library, and some of Harry Potter was filmed in it (probably the library scenes, but I dunno). I don't know how you could skip it on a trip like this. There are tours, there are exhibitions and lectures, and all kinds of literary stuff. Mostly, I'd just want to look around and see what all is up, and possibly smell some books. Because book-sniffing is what cool people do. I bet it's an epic place to be.
As a Sherlock fan, I can't miss going to 221B Baker Street, where a small museum in honor of Sherlock Holmes is maintained. I know that's a bit cheap, going to it on the basis of a TV show, but I am in the process of reading through all of the Sherlock works by Arthur Conan Doyle... because of the TV show. But it still counts, haha. Sherlock rocks my socks.
Last but never least, I would absolutely have to visit the famous train station where Harry Potter (and all other Hogwarts wizards/witches) cross over to get to the Hogwarts train by running straight through a wall. Fun fact: Rowling put this in the book because it's where her parents met! Today, the station actually has a trolley placed halfway through the wall where the entrance to Station 9 3/4 would be. I have to see this. I HAVE TO.
There are a few other places I'd love to see while I'm in England, pending time and means.
- Stonehenge, because duh, that's kind of a really big deal. Also, the Doctor was here once. I've read probably three thousand books with various fictional explanations for the existence of Stonehenge, including the Gatekeepers series by Anthony Horowitz, which I love.
- Seven Stories.The only reason this is on the optional list is because it's further north than any of my other destinations, in Newcastle upon Thyne, and that might make it harder to get there. Seven Stories is England's National Centre for Children's Books, and they have all kinds of fun exhibits and lectures and events and ohmygosh. Lots of big YA authors go to talk here, even!
- The British Museum. Free! Museum! Egyptian stuff! Viking stuff! Lots of old stuff! Epicness!
I'd also like to go to the Deep Sea World, which is an aquarium with apparently a legendary amount of sharks, but that's in Scotland, which is even more north.
Images via bronte.co.uk, shakespeare.org.uk, tennantnews.blogspot.com, humanities.blogs.ie.edu, budgettravel.com, and Wikipedia.