I walked out of Woody Allen’s recent film Vicky Cristina Barcelona with a gut feeling: I desperately needed to go to the Spanish city of Barcelona. The movie gave me such a hankering to visit the city, a city which, in a way, was a character in the film. The outdoor cafes, the robust red wine, the Spanish guitar and the Gaudi architecture all worked their magic on me.
Whenever I travel, I like to bring a novel written about the place to dive into while away. Some of my favorites include Smilla’s Sense of Snow, a 1992 novel by Danish author Peter Høeg which is a film as well. I read this on a trip to Iceland and it really got me in the mood. I know the book is set in Denmark and Greenland but I took a little imaginative license and got myself in the groove for a blustery March trip to the lunar-like island.
Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon, by Jorge Amado, set the tone for a trip to Brazil years ago and helped me understand the culture and geography of Bahia. This book was also made into two films for Brazilian television. Sometimes, films offer an appetizer for the main dish of the trip. Recently, I recommended two films to a colleague who was headed to Vietnam: The Scent of the Green Papaya and the Academy Award winning Indochine.The former gives you a taste, a visceral sensation of the place, the latter offers historical insight and helps one understand some of the dynamics that led to the Vietnam War. Do you have a book or film that inspired or enhanced your travels? Let us know.