Anyone who relishes travel likely has a source of inspiration that draws them to their destination; perhaps it’s a career, an affinity for history, visiting friends and family, or a desire to learn about other cultures and languages. For me, it’s a combination of all the above, and my all-encompassing love of the arts. Whether it’s film, literature, dance, or any other type of medium molded by the creative forces of an artist’s mind, these elements have always been a significant constant in my travels and serve as a catalyst to want to explore future sights yet unseen. I’d like to share with you the following list of people, works and illustrations that have been most influential to me.
Renowned for earning a Nobel Prize in Literature and writing cult classic novels such as The Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway had an unpretentious knack for describing the complicated era he experienced during early to mid 20th century. History generally portrays him as having a bit of a bad-boy persona; simultaneously, his legacy also bears a seemingly romantic spirit. He lived in several countries during his life, having spent considerable time writing about and traversing Cuba, France and Spain. Movies like Midnight in Paris let our minds live vicariously through its depiction of what it may have been like amid the Bohemian, les Années Folles (the Crazy Years 1919-1929) in Montparnasse. Imagine being able to rub elbows with the likes of Gertrude Stein, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, T.S. Elliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Cole Porter in the somewhat seedy, smoke-filled bars Hemingway frequented in the City of Light.
Robert Frost | The Road Not Taken
I am originally from southern New Hampshire, and Robert Frost’s poems were a staple in many of my English classes growing up. He was from NH himself, so it is not surprising the four-time Pulitzer Prize winning poet’s verses were a major facet in my New England-ah upbringing. Frost’s The Road Not Taken has always held a special place in my heart, and it’s interesting how my own interpretation of the poem has grown more profound as the years go by. Put simply, no one knows where life will lead them, but when I look back on decisions that I’ve made in my life, I don’t want to reminisce about regret for the things that I should’ve done differently.
The Road Not Taken Robert Frost (1874–1963) TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
Amélie: Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain
Amélie is my all time favorite film; the English subtitled picture takes place in modern day Montmartre, a Parisian district north of Montparnasse and the River Seine. Follow the quirky romance between two introverted yet endearing characters, Amélie Poulain and Nino Quincampoix, through the vividly presented streets of the Montmartre district. Although the movie came out a little over ten years ago, people still retrace the young amants’ footsteps along the fanciful, cobblestone streets in Monmartre.
While in college I studied abroad for a semester in Seville, Spain and decided to take a dance class at a local studio with some classmates. Actually, we took Sevillanas’ lessons; it is easier to learn because you have a partner and the movements are more clear-cut than the improvised steps of the solo Flamenco dancer. I had a blast, but I could not, for the life of me, coordinate the hand and foot motions! Ten years later and I can’t think of a better way to learn about one of southern Spain’s most graceful pieces of heritage.
Vincent Van Gogh
Van Gogh’s paintings have always captivated me, particularly his ability to transpose a canvas from his emotions into vibrant, moving masterpieces. The Danish artist created most of his works while living in France and England. Tragicly, the talented painter battled bouts of severe mental illness and took his own life at the young age of 37. I find The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, at Night and The Starry Night to be some of his most moving and stunning work. One day, I hope to see a collection of his in person at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.
What inspires you to travel? Which road will life take you down next? Rent a car in Paris, set your GPS (or don’t) and see where your destination takes you.