Friday, February 11, 2011

Recommendations: Travel Movies and Travel Books

If you are a travel lover like me, you probably find yourself watching and reading anything related to travel. Much of my Goodreads list is composed of either books dedicated to historical events, specifically World War II, or you guessed it…travel books. Whether it is a memoir, a piece of fiction, non-fiction, or a book compiled of short stories, I’m interested in reading it.

Now, when I’m not reading, I love watching movies, so while my taste in film include comedies, action, dramas, and even a few horror and rom-com flicks, what matters most to me is a good, solid story.

I’m hoping to use this post as a chance for all of us to recommend and share our favorite travel books and movies. It is always a joy for me to learn what other people are reading and watching. So without further ado, here are my favorites…


Eat, Pray, Love”: Some of you may say this was a typical “travel writer” dream/fantasy book, but I loved it. I don’t know how many times I sat on a plane and saw someone reading this book. I held off for quite some time as I figured it would be one of those “everyone reads it but it’s only a mediocre book” kind of reads; however, I decided to see the movie and quickly decided that I had to read the book. Elizabeth Gilbert is an author, writer, traveler and pretty good story-teller if you ask me. Having been to Rome, I immediately grew interested in her experience and time there. Traveling through Italy, India, and Bali, I found myself wishing I could follow in her footsteps and experience exactly what she did that life-changing year she spent away. Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of the whole divorce/woe-is-me/finding love aspect of the book, the details of each destination and experiences helped to make up for all of that.

By the Seat of My Pants”: Donald George has compiled numerous short stories by travel writers who have experienced some humorous, eye-opening, and even somewhat dangerous adventures while traveling the world. At times, I found myself literally laughing out loud at these stories. Some of the stories you can expect to find are a man’s experience with a “friendly” taxi driver in Prague, a couple’s experience of staying in a tent on an animal reserve in Africa, and even a man’s unlucky experience of being trapped in a Dutch men’s bathroom. If you want a quick read that will have you laughing, you must check out this book.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”: Okay, if you read my review on Goodreads, you will probably wonder why this is on my list of favorite travel-like books. Mainly, I loved the movie but somewhat disliked the book; however, I LOVED the portrayal of Savannah, Georgia. Having never been to Savannah, the way that John Berendt describes the city, the people, and the atmosphere; I’m ready to jump on a plane and go experience it all for myself. I’ve always wanted to go to Savannah and sit on someone’s porch and sip some sweet tea (that’s what I imagine) but I imagine the moss hanging from the trees, the big white plantation homes, and of course, the southern charm of the people. In my opinion, Berendt drags the story along for far too long, but he does a fabulous job of making you a part of Savannah culture and making you wish you had that southern drawl and were sporting a wide-brimmed hat.


Eat, Pray, Love”: I won’t go into detail since I did above. But let me just say that I love Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem is seriously growing on me so yes, I loved this movie.

Chocolat”: Okay, for all you women, if the title doesn’t entice you, then maybe the mention that Johnny Depp is in this film will do the trick. Set in a small village in France, Vianne and her daughter, Anouk open a small chocolate store, which is located across the main square from the town church. Opening her shop during the time of Lent, the church’s priest and many of the townspeople resent her efforts to entice the community with her chocolates. However, her efforts are not in vain when the people of this tiny French village learn to let-go a bit and enjoy the finer and sweeter things in life.

Mamma Mia”: Yes, this is by far one of my favorites. I just recently saw the play for the first time and loved it. Not only do you see the gorgeous country of Greece, but you will have a hard time staying in your seat when you heard the great songs of Abba. Sophie and her mother Donna live on a small island of Greece. Sophie is getting married but wants to find her dad, which could be three possible men whom her mother had some wild times with back in the 70s. Upon their arrival, hilarity ensues as Donna struggles to deal with her past while her daughter works to find out which man she can call “dad.”

Schindler’s List”: In 1993, Steven Spielberg created a movie so true, so realistic, and so heartbreaking, that anyone who can sit through it and not be touched by Oskar Schindler and his story must be lacking a heart and emotion. Filmed in Poland and Jerusalem, movie watchers get an intimate look into the world in which so many Jews experienced loss, terror, and death. Spielberg filmed outside the gates of Auschwitz-Birkenau; an entrance that led to the deaths of millions of Jews, homosexuals, and gypsies just to name a few. This movie will not only provide you with a historical lesson of the Holocaust, but it will provide you with a look into the county of Poland and the terror that rained upon it during World War II.

South Pacific” (1958): Although this was filmed in Hawaii and Spain, you certainly get the feel of being in the South Pacific with all of the lush green scenery and vibrant blue oceans. This movie tells the story of an American nurse (from Arkansas—my home state!) who falls in love with a Frenchman who is involved in a secret military mission. With songs dedicated to Bali Hai, you can’t help but wish you were sailing to this magical and exotic island.

What are some of your favorites?


Meri said...

I just watched south pacific on TV yesterday- I hadn't seen the movie version since my sister was in it in high school :)
Oh, and I went to it in NYC and fell asleep hahaha.

I'll have to check out "by the seat of my pants" at the library- looks interesting!

Anonymous said...

OMG Mamma mia!! I saw it on Broadway before I saw the movie and the visuals in the movie are just breathtaking! Made me wish for a trip to Greece immediately.

And I have the Chocolat soundtrack but have never seen the movie. I was looking for something to watch today, I think I just found a winner.

Nicole said...

I just saw Mamma Mia the other night at our local arts theater and it was fabulous! Of course, loving Abba's music helps too LOL

You MUST watch is seriously one of my all-time favorites. It also helps that Johnny Depp is in it and provides nice eye candy :) said...

mamma mia is a good one - also love shindler's list- my fave old movie is one that not everyone knows about - "sylvia scarlett" is an old black and white film starring katherine hepburn, cary grant, and brian aherne. they were all in their early 20's when the film was made. it holds a special place in my heart for many reasons- mainly, i had the privilege of caring for and traveling with brian aherne's widow & have heard many personal stories shared between the actors in their very glamorous generation.

now, i'm all about traveling & adventures with my 3 kids- love the book "camp out" -the ultimate kids guide- by lynn brunelle
most of our adventures in this economy are on the CHEAP! :)

Alycia (Crowley Party) said...

Okay... thank you for this list! Some of these I hadn't heard about and I can't wait to look into them. I love to travel!

Nik said...

Ooooh! I love Chocolat! I love, love, love Johnny. I think one of my favorite travel movies is "Under the Tuscan Sun". I also like the scenes in the "English Patient" that show both Italy and the Sahara. Lovely!

iuli said...

Great entry! I am the same way - love to travel, and love to watch/read anything that has to do with travel! I find myself thinking/saying out loud "i know that place ... i've been there!". Those are my favorites! I am going to try some of these recommendations.

And in return, I have a few for you:
"The Art of French Kissing" and "Italian for Beginners" both by Kristin Harmel. Each is the story of a woman abroad - Paris and Rome respectively - going through life changes and self-discovery. Light, chic-lit writing interspersed with descriptions of beautiful places.

Also ... the movie "Roman Holiday." No travel movie collection would be complete without it!

Nelieta said...

Hi Nicole, I love the list that you have compiled. Mama Mia is one of my favourite movies but my husband hated it! I also love Schindlers list. What a movie!

I would love to read "Eat pray love"! My best friend said she thought about me when she read the book..hmmm?

Keri said...

I love your blog! I love travelling but unfortunaly I don't get much opportunity right now being in uni.
I loved the book eat pray love - the "my divorce was sooo difficult" part was a bit of a downer... but the travel part, the places she went and the people she met - Loved it!!
I havent seen the movie yet.
I will definitely be checking out the other books on your list!

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