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Famous Locations from the World of Fiction

Reality is better than Fiction

The World of Fiction invites us to travel beyond our means; to explore uncharted territory from the comfort of our favourite armchair. This month we're challenging you to go further than contemplating adventures that could've been while sitting back idly. We've explored fiction's top travel locations and so should you. So book your ticket and pack a bag for the experience of a lifetime. Who knows, reality may be even better than fiction!

TV Series: HBO Special

No channel has brought the English-speaking world more drama and depth of character than HBO. Their huge budgets and original series have attracted critical mass, cult-like followings and numerous awards. Since early 2000 viewers have watched Tony Soprano govern his crime family, followed Carrie Bradshaw’s writing and intimacy in Sex and The City, and seen gangland murder on the streets of Baltimore in The Wire. As part of this month’s Essential Travel Feature we pay homage to some of the locations in HBO shows, which have all gained a small army of armchair fans across the world.

Jump to: Boardwalk Empire | Game of Thrones | Band of Brothers

Visited any HBO series locations lately? Let us know and join in on the conversation on Facebook.

Boardwalk Empire

Adapted from: Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City, by Nelson Johnson

Enoch 'Nucky' ThompsonImage courtesy of Home Box Office Inc

Set in Prohibition America shortly after World War I, Boardwalk Empire invites viewers to walk down the boardwalk with local kingpin and immaculately dressed gangster, Enoch "Nucky" Thompson (Steve Buscemi). Though actually filmed in New York, the series is based mainly in and around Atlantic City, while also drawing on the underworlds of New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.

"You wanna see how I do business? Show your face again in Atlantic City"

Atlantic City, or ‘The World’s Playground’, saw a huge economic boom in the early 20th century when it became a popular holiday destination for America’s new wealthy class. A surge of hotels and nightclubs made the city the place to be seen during the ‘roaring twenties’; a time of more disposable income and real prosperity.

"But if you wanna be a gangster in my town, then you’ll have to pay me for the privilege"

Prohibition, from 1919 to 1933, may well have been the demise of the city, but it evolved to one where the masses would enjoy bootlegged liquor and illegal gambling; all as a result of racketeering. There were plenty of opportunities for both criminals and crooked officials to set up supply chains, from illegal distilleries to night clubs and ‘speakeasies’ - illegal bars usually identified by their green doors.

Fans will be pleased to know that due to the popularity of the show there are new Boardwalk Empire and Prohibition-style events and tours in many cities that have a history of gangs.

Atlantic City

Atlantic City's infamous Boardwalk

Atlantic City is a tourist haven with leisure and gambling at the heart of its character. The boardwalk still exists, as do a few of the art-deco hotels of the 20s, includes the Ritz Carlton that Nucky Thompson uses - though it’s now private condominiums.

By far the best attraction in Atlantic City is the boardwalk itself. Serving as the backbone of the city’s pleasure factor it hosts restaurants, bars, shops and casinos. It’s over four miles long and has inspired walking tours that highlight all the important bits.

Atlantic City Casinos

There are twelve large casinos and all offer high quality accommodation. We recommend the Borgata for its food, music and nightclub. Also try Caeser’s for its location, shopping and views. Many casinos will have staff dressed up in period costumes to add to the experience.

Each new season premiere of the series sees local businesses introduce Prohibition-themed dinners and cocktails, making it an ideal time to visit. We suggest the locally sourced seafood from SeaBlue
at Borgata or The Palm at Tropicana.

Prohibition era showgirls

For something a bit alternative, we highly recommend Atlantic City Cruises for dolphin spotting or a trip to the Atlantic City Art Centre. If you get lucky on the slots and have some cash to burn then don’t miss Spa Toccare in the Borgata Casino Hotel with relaxation packages and excellent amenities. A stroll out on the boardwalk shouldn't be missed, but make sure to stop at the bars and food outlets that stretch as far as the eye can see.

New York City

New York has known its fair share of gangs over the years, including Mobsters, Irish gangsters, Jewish crime syndicates and the American Mafia. Prohibition presented a ripe opportunity for a new breed of criminal to cash in on increased urbanisation. Visitors can join gangster tours around the city to learn about a violent history, albeit from a safe distance.

New York's Luciano & RorthsteinImage courtesy of Home Box Office Inc

Start your tour off with a visit to the Museum of the American Ganster at 80 Saint Marks Place in Manhattan. A two-room museum that has some fascinating original artifacts from that era’s mob lifestyle, including some of the bullet casings from the Saint Valentine’s Day massacre. The experience throws you in the deep end of gangster mentality, so much so that even Henry Hill (Ray Liotta in Goodfellas) showed a screening there of Goodfellas for its 20th anniversary.

Organise a tour with NYC Gangster Tours whose intricate knowledge of the city and mobsters will bring the history to life. If you’re feeling like a wise guy then hire a private car and chauffeur for a thorough examination of the history of organised crime in NY - bookings via Globetrips.

Dine with the high rollers at The 21 Club for fine dining in this ex-speakeasy, but the real fun is in the Bar Room with its endless collection of toys adorning the ceiling. Also try Bill’s Gay Nineties, which was originally a ‘wet’ bar and illegal gambling den. It’s similar to the kind of establishment NY Mafioso, Arnold Rothstein, would have run back in the 20s.

Bills Gay 90s New York21 Club New York

Chicago

Al Capone of the Chicago Outfit

Probably the most celebrated gangster location in the world, the big screen (think Road to Perdition and The Untouchables) has made sure that Chicago’s bloody history is not forgotten. The Chicago Outfit, which made Al Capone so famous, was born during the Prohibition era and there are plenty of reminders in this beautiful city that its history was often anything but easy.

Organise a tour with Untouchable Tours to see, hear and feel the Windy City from a guided tour bus. Expect two hours of role-playing characters and visits to the most notorious gangster hangouts - and it's also a good way to see the rest of the city. Or try Weird Chicago who offer tours not only for organised crime, but also ghost tours and pub crawls.

The ex-speakeasy Green Mill Jazz Club

If you want to dine in mob territory then head to the Green Mill Jazz Club on N. Broadway Avenue, which was once part owned by Jack ‘Machine Gun’ McGurn, an associate of Capone’s. The underground tunnels were once used for bootlegging, now alcohol flows freely while patrons enjoy a little jazz. We also recommend the Green Door Tavern (named after the speakeasy green doors - a sign of liquor being available there) at 678 North Orleans. Experience an authentic bar diner steeped in over 130 years of history and chow down on a Green Door burger while enjoying their huge selection of draft beers. We also have to recommend the Twin Anchors Restaurant at 1655 N. Sedgwick Street for out-of-this-world ribs.

Game of Thrones

Adapted from: A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

Game of Thrones Title

Welcome to the Seven Kingdoms, to a bloody power struggle across the lands, to backstabbing deceit and systematic violence. Journey into the land of Westeros and immerse yourself in the medieval strive for power and greed that is Game of Thrones. Such is the popularity of the series that internet memes as well as ‘winter is coming’ graffiti have been spotted around the world. The fantasy series is critically acclaimed due to its wealth of interesting characters and exceptional production.

Northern Ireland and Scotland (Winterfell and the North)

Winterfell, home of House StarkImage courtesy of HBO Inc

Northern Ireland and in particular the sweeping fields and hills of County Antrim, were used as the backdrop of Winterfell and the North, the main settings of the series. One of the six counties, Antrim is situated in the north east of Northern Ireland and is home to the Belfast International Airport and the Giant’s Causeway. The Glens of Antrim, an area of outstanding natural beauty, are synonymous with the fantasy landscapes many viewers have fallen in love with.

Doune Castle, StirlingTollymore Forest - copyright Stephen Emerson

Castle Ward, in County Down south of Belfast, doubles up as Winterfell for most filming with the castle walls and courtyard being used for many shots. Visitors to the castle will be able to enjoy the pleasant and immaculately maintained grounds while children enjoy the play area, Adventure Centre and Wildlife Centre. We also suggest a visit to Doune Castle in Stirling, Scotland, which was also used to depict Winterfell in the show's pilot episode. Doune is more of a classical castle with its own gory 17th-century history. You may also recognise the castle as the one used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, something that the castle encourages with a yearly Monty Python day. So enjoy a bit of history at Doune Castle that even Ned Stark (Sean Bean) would be proud of.

Ballintoy, Theon Greyjoy in the Iron IslandsImage courtesy of HBO Inc

There have been numerous other filming locations and custom sets produced across Northern Ireland. Explore Tollymore Forest near Castlewellan where many outdoor scenes in and around Winterfell were filmed. Take the short trip over to Ballintoy in the very north of Antrim and see the harbour which is used to depict Pyke, home to the Greyjoys and the other Iron Islanders.

Iceland (North of the Wall)

Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland

To represent the barren and harsh environment of the wild land of the North, the producers picked Iceland. The harsh mountains perfectly portrayed the wild element of such perilous surroundings. If you want to follow in the footsteps of the Wildings then head to the beautiful Vatnajökull National Park and scale the Vatnajökull glacier, Europe’s largest. A hotbed of geothermal volcanic activity and stunning mountain ranges makes this national park a breathtaking location used not only in Game of Thrones, but also James Bond and other films.

Malta (Kings Landing, Red Keep & Dothrak)

Mdina

Sitting just south of Sicily in the Mediterranean sea, the Republic of Malta has an expansive and interesting history. Strategically located between Africa and Europe, there has been a succession of empires and rulers who controlled the islands until their full independence in 1964. The well preserved old town of Mdina, which served as the former capital, was a perfect setting for King’s Landing in season one. Its old windy streets and sandy feel were easily made to look like the capital of the Seven Kingdoms, even though the town is in fact very small.

The Azure Window on Gozo

We recommend a visit to the stunning St Paul’s Cathedral, one of Malta's many attractions. Head to Fort Ricasoli to the east of Valletta, where not only Game of Thrones was filmed but also parts of Gladiator and Troy. If you want to see something truly stunning then head to the Azure Window on the island of Gozo - home to a natural rock arch on the shoreline. To see it and the rest of this spectacular coastline we recommend a scuba diving session.

Dubrovnik and Lokrum Island (Kings Landing and Qarth)

For series two the producers moved from Malta to Croatia, to film parts of Kings Landing and the as yet unseen city of Qarth. The walled city of Dubrovnik on the extreme southern coast doubled up as Kings Landing and allowed for the developing storyline involving the impending attack by Stannis Baratheon in the episode, Blackwater.

The walled city of Dubrovnik, Croatia

The city of Dubrovnik, with its high sea walls and internal fortresses, had seen its fair share of sieges and military action even before filming. Visitors will not be disappointed to learn about a rich history over a thousand years - featuring the Byzantines, Venetians, Crusaders and Napoleon.

Visitors to the city are spoilt by the classical architecture and walking tours can be arranged so that you can immerse yourself in history. With the Adriatic Sea on your doorstep, we recommend doing some kayaking or snorkeling. For 45 days during July and August, the Dubrovnik Summer Festival takes place with music, plays and performances - and is not to be missed. Other filming locations you might recognise include Sponza Palace, Rector’s Palace, Fort of St. Lawrence (Lovrijenac), Fort Bokar and the Minceta Tower.

Lokrum Island, home to the Benedectine Monastery

If you want to escape the city for a while then head to Lokrum, an island just 600 metres from the shore and home of the city of Qarth. The island’s Benedectine Monastery doubled as home for Daenerys Targaryen when she escaped the Red Waste. Lokrum is a nature reserve, but tourists can visit the botanical gardens, monastery and the Fort Royal castle. Follow one of the many walking trails, or if you’re feeling particularly brave join the naturists on the nudist beach.

Band of Brothers

Adapted from: Band of Brothers, E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne: From Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest by Stephen E. Ambrose

Band of Brothers soldiersImage courtesy of HBO Inc

It's over ten years old now, but it's still the best and most realistic war series ever made, in our opinion. This miniseries follows Easy Company’s combat for the 101st Airborne Division, from training to VE Day. Although mainly set over only one year, we follow as the men of Easy Company land in Normandy, breakout of France and drop into Holland, fight in freezing conditions in Belgium and finally cross into Germany, where they discover concentration camps and capture Hitler’s alpine retreat. The series mainly focuses on Easy Company’s eventual commander Richard Winters (Damian Lewis) and boats an ensemble cast of American and British actors who you see fight across numerous European locations.

Normandy (Episode Two: Day of Days)

101st Airborne Division - the 'Screaming Eagles'

June 6, 1944 is one of the most historic days in the world - the seaborne invasion of Europe by the Allied armies. Imagine jumping out of fast moving planes while being shot at and then having to land in enemy held territory and carry out special objectives that could decide the fate of the entire invasion.

For those wanting to retrace the footsteps of the 506th across the European Theatre, we recommend starting your trip at Ivy House in Normandy. It’s close to Sainte Marie Du Mont, Brecourt Manor (the assault that makes up the second half of the episode) and Carentan (the focus of the third episode). Using Ivy House as your base you’ll be able to explore all of the historical sites in the Normandy countryside.

"Once we get into combat, the only people you can trust is yourself and the fella next to you"

There are a large number of museums and for Band of Brothers fans we recommend the Liberation Museum in Saint Marie Du Mont with large numbers of American military effects as well as some German. Also try Dead Man’s Corner Museum in Saint-Côme-du-Mont or the Musée Airborne in Sainte-Mère-Eglise for a more detailed look at the Airborne operations.

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

One can not forget the sacrifice and huge loss of life occurred by soldiers on the beaches of Normandy on the morning of 6 June 1944. In memory of this, we highly recommend the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, which serves as a poignant reminder and actually overlooks Omaha beach where troops landed.

Visitors may also want to go to Bayeux for the Tapestry or to see other of the invasion beaches. There are plenty of museums and memorials to visit in this part of Normandy, most of which hold services on 6 June every year. Look out for the smaller memorials and plaques that are dotted around the local villages, they are a touching reminder and fascinating traces of a rich history.

Arnhem and Eindhoven (Episode Four: Replacements)

Operation Market Garden was an airborne invasion that took place in September 1944. It was carried out in an attempt to advance towards Germany. It was ambitious, relied on quick movement and hoped for token resistance. The plan ultimately failed; after days of bitter fighting especially around Arnhem and Eindhoven, the Allies were forced to withdraw after heavy losses. As this was such a large scale operation, and one that is still somewhat controversial, there are a number of museums and memorials around Holland which people can visit.

Hartenstein Museum Oosterbook

Our first recommendation is the Airborne Museum Hartenstein in Oosterbeek, which was actually used by the British 1st Airborne Division during the fighting. This museum gives a better overview of Market Garden so you find out about the various fighting elements on both sides. There is a dedicated section to airborne activities and the museum has won awards for the quality of its displays.

You will find 101st Airborne monuments in Son, St. Oedenrode and Veghel and there is a large American cemetery in Margraten in the south of the country. For a museum we recommend Wings of Liberation, which is close to Eindhoven and has an array of military vehicles and aircraft.

Bastogne (Episode Six: Bastogne)

The Mardasson Memorial - Pentagram design by Georges Dedoyard

The winter of 1944 saw a large-scale German counterattack with infantry and tanks forming a huge front across France, Luxembourg and Belgium. This became known as the Battle of the Bulge and the men of the 101st were right in the middle of it. Most of the action is centred around the Siege of Bastogne when the US army were surrounded for days on end in the town of Bastogne in Luxembourg. The Americans put up stubborn defense of the town and the surrounding area against superior numbers and in freezing conditions.

Bois Jacques Memorial

We recommend visiting Bastogne in the warmer months and making Mardasson Memorial your first visit on Rue de Clervaux. It stands as reminder of the sacrifice of over 75 000 American lives lost during the Battle of the Bulge. To brush up on your knowledge, head to the Battle of the Bulge Museum and to follow events in Bastogne go to the Bastogne Historical Centre conveniently located near the Mardasson Memorial. Don’t miss the Sherman Tank memorial in the middle of Bastogne or the Wood of Peace.

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother!

If you head out of Bastogne and up the N30 you will shortly arrive in the town of Foy. This is the town depicted in episode seven, The Breaking Point, and you will find a memorial to the men of Easy Company. The Bois Jacques woods are to the south of Foy and there are still remnants of the trenches and fox holes used back in that freezing winter visible today.

Berchtesgaden (Episode Ten: Points)

Probably the most beautiful of settings for Band of Brothers was the series finale where Easy Company captured Hitler’s ‘Eagle’s Nest’ (Kehlsteinhaus). Originally given to Hitler on his 50th birthday, it had little political importance, but that didn’t stop the huge spending involved. Saved from destruction, it has been preserved and now serves as a popular tourist destination available only in the Summer.

The Eagle's Nest in Berchtesgarden

Visitors can not only enjoy a piece of history, but also the breathtaking views of the Alps. Or experience traditional Bavarian dishes at the onsite restaurant. We also recommend visiting Königsee, the deepest lake in the alps, to ride on one of the many lake boats or to visit the Berchtesgaden Salt Mine.

Being in a very mountainous region means you’ll probably need a hire car to manoeuvre the winding roads, but you’ll be surrounded by spectacular views so remember to pack that camera. Munich is the nearest airport in Germany and it's a city with a rich and vibrant history, so make sure to spend a few nights there - even if only to enjoy the beer!

Movies

Movies often assist the travel industry by telling great stories that are set in some pretty incredible places. Think of The Beach, The Tourist and Safe House - films where the starring role is divided between the actors and the filming locations. This month, in celebrating 'Famous Locations' around the world, we decided to put together a list of our favourite movie destinations. From classic to terrifying, we've tried to spread the love.

Where is your favourite movie destination? Let us know what you think of the list and what we add to it by joining the conversation on Facebook.

The Classic: Roman Holiday, Rome

Piazza di Spagna

Roman Holiday is the quintessential travel classic: it's a tragic/romantic tale, staring two iconic actors, Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn (who won an Oscar for her performance as Princess Ann) and it's set in a place that never ages, despite being one of the oldest cities in the world. To do the most legitimate and fun Roman Holiday tour, slip into character and do a guided Vespa tour of the Eternal City, retracing the foot and wheel prints of Joe Bradley and Princess Ann. Happy Rent Tours offer a four-hour tour that covers all the iconic sites Joe and Ann visit in the film – the Spanish Steps, the Mouth of Truth at the Basillica di Santa Maria, the Palazzo Colonna (where Ann gives her sadly romantic final address), Bocca della Verità and six others.

The tour includes a photo album with screen shots of each scene at the location, which helps you stage your pictures during the tour. One of the amazing things about Rome and visiting all the destinations featured in the movie is that it'll probably look much the same as it did back in 1953 for another few hundred years at least.

The Mod Classic: Lost In Translation, Tokyo

Piazza di Spagna

Lost In Translation may have walked away with all the awards, but it's the city of Tokyo that won the hearts of its inspired viewers. Since its initial success, Japan's answer to New York has become one of the cherry-pick locations for film-buff travellers and cool kids in the know. The Shinjuku District plays a staring role in this quirky, surreal drama about two completely different people sharing similar feelings of sadness in a strange pace. The New York Bar on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel is a must for fans of the movie - you'll be at the place where Bob (Bill Murry) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) meet up every night. It's incredibly expensive to stay there, so just a drink there to salute your memory of the film will have to do if you are travelling on a budget. Outside, the city's karaoke bars offer a much cheaper and more lively way to experience the film's locations first hand.

The Island Adventure: Pirates of The Caribbean 2, Dominica

Caribbean Beach

Dominica is every bit the dream you see in Pirates Of The Caribbean 2, without any of the kitschy frills one might be wary of at a tourist-driven destination. Known as the Nature Island, this small Eastern Caribbean gem harbours a bounty of tropical rain forests, waterfalls and coral reefs – including the Eastern Caribbean's first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Morne Trois Pitons National Park. But it's also the slower pace and relaxing environment that makes it such a stand-out destination. Even after Disney had rolled through town and given the island a buzz of excitement, there hasn't been a massive drive to cash in on the pirate theme or erect any statues to Johnny Depp.

“There were no real attempts to capitalise on the film, besides referring to Dominica being one of the locations. Part of that was because of a sometimes casual attitude to tourism, part because sets were quickly taken down. And maybe partly because so much was gained at the time from the filming” says Steve McCabe of www.piratesdominica.com, one of the local business owners who got to be an extra in the film. "Having said that, all the locations are there and can be easily visited,” McCabe continues. “The scene where Depp escapes the cannibals, falls down a cliff in a stick ball, drops into a gorge, then re-appears at the church, was filmed at three locations that couldn't be further apart and do give an idea of the varied beauty of the island.”

For more information about Dominica, where to stay and what to do, visit www.dominica.dm/.

The Horror: Interview With A Vampire, New Orleans

Haunted History Tour

New Orleans is a wonderful city that marches to its own beat. It's America's Cajun-spiced melting pot of culture, music and weirdness – a spicy combination that keeps local and international visitors coming back year after year. But the city has a darker side too. Kalila Smith, acclaimed author and Vampire expert from Haunted History Tours explains that “New Orleans is the most haunted city due to two hundred years of tragedy, including two major fires that destroyed the city, numerous hurricanes, wars and massive yellow fever epidemics that killed thousands of people each year. The intense tragedies that took place in a small area, the French Quarter, makes it a hotbed for paranormal activity”. Anne Rice uses this sad, dramatic and terrifying historical backdrop to set the scene in her screen-adapted series, Interview With A Vampire. A tour of the area takes you into the world of vampires and their habits. As Smith explains, “it's a combination of fact, fantasy and myth. We bring participants to movie sites, discuss vampire history and folklore, and reveal crimes where blood-drinkers killed their victims. It's pretty disturbing”.

Check out our interview with Kalila Smith for more insight into the strange happenings in New Orleans. For full tour details log on to Haunted History Tours for full tour details – if you dare.

The Great Outdoors: 127 Hours, Utah

Canyonlands National Park

Utah's barren and Dali-esque landforms set the scene for Aron Ralston's story of survival and personal growth. Before he wowed us with the Olympic Opening Ceremony, 127 Hours director, Danny Boyle, showcased the beauty of the Canyonlands National Park for an international audience, giving a brief glimpse at the biking, hiking and bouldering possibilities there - before taking viewers into Ralston's nightmare. But an adventure holiday to this incredible place doesn't have to cost you an arm (we couldn't resist). In light of the film's success, Ralston's personal triumphs since his ordeal, and all the publicity the film has given the state, the Utah Office of Tourism has created a series of itineraries that celebrate the state's leading tourism sites, like Moab (one of the USA's most underrated ski destinations during winter), Highway 12 and the Ogden Valley. Adventure junkies (of Ralston's ilk) will enjoy the range of mountain biking, hiking, horse riding and skiing on the agenda. For regular visitors to the USA looking for something a little different than Disney Land and Orlando Studios, Salt Lake City is a refreshing breath of fresh air.

Novels

Long before radio and television, novels were the greatest way for a person to explore the world from the comfort of their own home. From the Odyssey to Gulliver's Travels and onto Eat Pray Love and the Motorcycle Diaries - so often the best travel adventures are contained within the pages of your favourite novel.

We're exploring the most popular travel locations from a selection of the greatest literature of our time. We'd also like to hear about your travel stories in the most beautiful parts of the world, so send us a comment on Facebook or drop it in the box below.

The Lord of the Rings - New Zealand

Tolkien may not have actually written that The Lord of the Rings Trilogy was set in the scenic countryside of New Zealand, but we certainly agree that it’s Earth’s closest resemblance to the otherworldly beauty described in the novel. Mythical Middle-earth is transformed into reality through the dramatic and varied landscapes of Aotearoa. Thousands of travellers head to New Zealand each year to experience the fantasy realm brought to life - from The Shire and Village of Hobbiton, to Isengard and the Misty Mountains, the spirit of The Lord of The Rings lives on in the valleys, lakes and forest of the world’s youngest country.

North Island

Tongariro - Mount Doom

The Shire region of Middle-earth encapsulates so much of the magic of Tolkien’s world. The picturesque scenery with its peaceful rolling hills is mirrored in New Zealand’s Waikato Region and more specifically, Matamata, one of the world’s most agriculturally rich regions.

To experience the almost ethereal beauty of Rivendall, head to the Wellington Region. Hobbiton Woods can also be found in the forested Areas of Mount Victoria.

Tongariro National Park on the North Island’s central plateau is Tolkien’s Emyn Muil. Described as one of the best day walks in the world, the Tongariro Crossing is the real-life version of Frodo and Sam’s traverse of Mount Doom - a trek between volcanoes, jagged lava flows, crater lakes and steaming fumaroles.

South Island

Found in the Nelson Region and depicting Tolkien’s Chetwood Forest, Takaka Hill is known for its unique landforms. As one of only two places in the world with rocky marble outcrops, it is a must-see for anyone travelling to New Zealand, “Ringer” or not.

The Alpine Region of Canterbury boasts the country’s largest peaks and glaciers, some of which have been in existence since the Ice Age. Many of Middle-earth’s battle scenes played out on this remarkable landscape.

For the most fulfilling and memorable experience of the South Islands emulation of Tolkien’s famous novel, secure a spot on the Lord of The Rings Tour by Southern Lakes Sightseeing. The world-class tour explores the power of the ring through the magic inspired by the South Island's breath-taking mountains, deep lakes and enchanted forests.

The Beach - Thailand

If I'd learnt one thing from travelling, it was that the way to get things done was to go ahead and do them. Don't talk about going to Borneo. Book a ticket, get a visa, pack a bag, and it just happens.
Alex Garland

The Beach may have been made more famous by the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, but it certainly deserves its due credit as an international best-selling novel. Alex Garland’s depiction of the country and its allure for backpackers is a vivid description of real-life Thailand: Bangkok’s Khao San Road is as chaotic, grungy and incredible as Garland describes, the islands really are as idyllic and mesmerising. So the big question is, does the beach really exist?

Koh Phi Phi Don

Koh Phi Phi Lee is a tiny island in the Andaman Sea between Phuket and the western coast of the mainland. It is both the setting of Garland’s novel and the famous location where the movie was filmed, and it is every bit as real and breathtaking as it is portrayed. Each year thousands of travellers flock to the white-sand shores of Maya Bay - the famous beach. The only difference between the fantasy and reality is that rather than being a secret cove, Maya Bay actually opens up to the sea, making it possible for people to share in the beauty of the island.

Maya Bay

For anyone wanting to explore Koh Phi Phi Lee and Maya Bay, head for the island paradise of Koh Phi Phi Don to set up camp (or rather to grab a bunk at a friendly backpackers). Phi Phi Don is frequented by interesting travellers looking to sip on sangsom buckets (a concoction of whiskey, Redbull and coke), dance the night away at the water’s edge or experience what is possibly the best pad thai (a traditional noodle dish) in Thailand, in a restaurant not much bigger than a tuk tuk (Thailand's most popular form of transport). It is also famous for its snorkeling and diving and offers an extensive range of exciting activities, including boat trips to the beach. Blue View Divers are the island’s experts on diving, other water activities and trips to the beach. They can also direct you to the closest ice-cold Singha Beer or fresh seafood restaurant.

Into The Wild - Alaska




142 BusImage Courtesy of wikispaces, CC BY-SA

Alexander Supertramp’s trek into the wild left a lasting mark on both the Alaskan landscape and the hearts of many people around the world. Since his death in 1992, thousands of followers have attempted to retrace his footsteps to the famous 142 Bus. Abdicating a life of materialism and power, Alexander Supertramp - or Christopher McCandless as his family knew him, set off for the great unknown, in search of freedom and life’s true meaning. The physical world that he encountered on his journey was often extreme or uniquely distinct, making the novel a most extraordinary example of travel literature.

Jon Krakaure’s novel, Into The Wild, describes Alex’s overpowering desire for the freedom of the Alaskan wilderness. Around 1.5 million people travel to Alaska each year to experience the rare landscapes and wildlife found in the Denali National Park. Situated about 240 miles north of Anchorage and 120 miles south of Fairbanks (both popular travel destinations), Denali attracts travellers looking to encounter some of the magic that Krakauer’s novel evoked or wanting to experience the untouched natural beauty of the alpine tundra and majestic Mount McKinley.

Mount McKinley

Anyone looking to travel to the Denali National Park is encouraged to do so via a tour company as the Alaskan wilderness can be as perilous and unpredictable as it is beautiful. National Park Reservations, located in the Denali National Park, are the experts in both guided tours of the area and Denali Park hotels and lodges. They also offer a wide variety of exhilarating activities, such as hiking, rafting and mountain biking. If you think you might want to take part in any of these exciting activities while you’re there, be sure to take out comprehensive travel insurance to make sure you’re taken care of no matter what adventure you end up on.

Last Updated: August 2012