The One Step I Take to Fall in Love with a Destination Before I Get There
I travel to fall in love. I fall in love with the people, the landscape, the culture, the animals (hey, lots of places have some adorable creatures hanging around!).
It's really exciting to travel to places I've heard about my whole life. I remember specifically being so delighted to move to Buffalo, NY for grad school in large part because I would be able to see Niagara Falls--a place I'd seen pictures of and heard about, but never thought I'd see in my lifetime (I grew up without much opportunity to travel, and always hoped but didn't really think I'd be able to travel as an adult).
The feeling I had seeing the huge falls with my sister the weekend I moved to Buffalo was intoxicating--and we didn't actually even see the impressive falls, little did we know at the time.
But often, I'm traveling to places I've never heard much about. For those of us who are American, we hear a ton about certain countries--mostly in Western Europe--and not so much about other places.
What did I know about Turkey before my advisor sent me on an expedition traversing the western portion of the country and settling in at an archaeological site for 5 weeks? I had a vague notion that the Hagia Sophia might be there. Other than that? Almost nothing, except...well, I had read a novel set there a few years before, and had loved it.
It's called The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, in case you're curious. I still had it on my Kindle, so immediately upon learning that I would 100% be spending the summer in Turkey, I started rereading it.
Even though it's fiction, it had so much fascinating history included, so I got a sense of some of the amazing richness of Turkey's background. I also learned that Turkey's sultan Mehmed II was responsible for Vlad the Impaler's death, and that his head had been displayed on a spike in Istanbul--so cool, right? It made it that much more exciting when I was able to see the tomb of Mehmed II in Istanbul.
For me, reading a book set in the place I'm going to visit helps me to get capture some of that "Oh my goodness, I've heard of that!" that I'm missing for so much of the world.
Now that I'm planning an adventure to Iceland, I need to get to work finding a great book set there!
I heard about website called TripFiction that I'm going to check out. It organizes books by travel destination to make it easier for travelers to find books set in their destination--apparently I'm not the only one who knows this trick! I haven't used it yet, but I'll report back.
Update: I'm cracking up--almost every book they have listed as set in Iceland is a crime thriller. In certain moods, I love a good crime thriller. But I think I'll try one of the few from other genres this time...