As I’m sure many of you lovely readers have noticed, the summer is over. For some of you this may mean a return to high school or college, or maybe starting a new internship. For others, it might just mean that it’s fifty degrees cooler and now we can finally go outside.
But the end of summer doesn’t only bring cool fall weather, it’s also the beginning of what I like to call Travel Envy Season. Ah yes, the time of year when your Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook feeds are filled with pictures of getaways and exertions to far off lands, to either escape the cold or check out the autumn foilage.
Except instead of wishing I were in Vermont or Colorado, I develop an intense desire to visit Narnia or Hobbiton. This may sound shocking, but it is nearly impossible to find a plane ticket to Narnia.
If this problem sounds familiar to you, today is your lucky day. With my summer travels all but finished, I have decided to fill the void by compiling a list of the five (mostly) fictional places I would love to visit, and their real-life counterparts. Hopefully some of these vacation destinations will end up on all of our itineraries next year!
1. Mount Olympus
Featured In: The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan, The Illiad
For those of you unfamiliar with the land of the gods, here’s a rundown of the Must-Sees in this fictional land of plenty. The weather is always perfect, so you can feel free to enjoy the soothing sounds of Apollo’s lyre or the enchanting talents of the Muses and the Graces anytime of the year, see the city’s classical architecture and tour the palaces of the Twelve Olympian gods, or even spend a day at the Olympians’ private zoo. But before you leave, make sure to ride your flying horse over to some local restaurants to experience the nectar of the gods, ambrosia and honey. It’s to die for. Olympus is a land of relaxation and luxury at its finest, with a view that can only be found above the clouds.
Image via Tumblr
Real-Life Alternative: Santorini, Greece
When people think Greece, they think white and blue houses on cliffsides with gorgeous ocean views. They think donkey rides on winding roads (which tourists are actually advised against) and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie. Or is that just me? Either way, a Grecian getaway would not be complete without visiting Santorini, the world’s top island according to the B.B.C. and U.S. News & World Report.
If you think about it, Santorini does have a lot in common with the mythical Mount Olympus (as opposed to the real Mount Olympus, which happens to be just a mere… fourteen hour drive away). Its beautiful white houses are pretty cloudlike, it has a flourishing wine industry, and I’m sure Mount Olympus would also have ancient Greek archeological sites. They just might be less like ruins and more like functioning buildings. But jokes aside, Santorini’s famous sunsets and relaxing beaches are worthy of the gods, and whether you’re looking to live a life of leisure in a Grecian paradise or to live on the edge knowing that you’re standing near an active volcano, Santorini is the place to be.
Image via The Hopeful Traveler
2. 1920s New York City
Featured In: The Great Gatsby (and basically everything else Fitzgerald), Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen, a lot of other things probably
Now, I realize that New York City in the 1920s isn’t exactly fictional. In the sense that it did, in fact, exist in reality. But the 1920s New York I know and love was probably more of an illusion than I’d like to admit. Idealized in books, movies, and songs in the decades following the Stock Market Crash of 1929, this version of New York City sparkles with life, merriment, and rebellion. Speakeasies were the worst-kept secrets in town, and newly liberated flappers danced the night away in their shocking beaded dresses to big band music and jazz. It was revolutionary and crass, but time has given it a new layer of innocence and extravagance. It was fun, carefree, and bad (the best kind of bad), without seeming too bad.
Image via The Classy Traveler
Real-Life Alternative: Ibiza Town, Spain
You probably thought I was going to say 2014 New York City. Honestly, I probably thought I was going to say 2014 New York City. It really is the obvious choice, being the City That Never Sleeps and all, and considering the city’s many adorable speakeasy-themed bars.
Although today’s N.Y.C. remains close to my heart, I thought that the party capital of the world was probably a more fitting modern counterpart to a city that was considered so shocking in the 1920s. The city is actually credited by many as the home of house and trance music, not unlike how New York City was considered the birthplace of a wild new form of music in the 1920s – jazz.
Other attractions include extravagant resorts, with recently-passed city laws requiring all new resorts to be five-star, and the summer concert series at Ibiza Rocks, this year featuring Bastille, Haim, and the Kooks. And if at the end of the day/night/morning you want to get away from it all, Ibiza’s rustic coastline injects some natural beauty into the whirling energy of the city.
3. The Snow Queen’s Palace
Featured In: The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, Frozen
Okay, so maybe this isn't at the TOP of many "Places I'd Like to Visit" lists. But with its recent surge of popularity through Frozen, chilling in an ice palace could be a cool way to spend a winter break. Or a really hot summer one. (Get it... Chilling? Cool? Nevermind.) The ice palace’s biggest draw is probably its sparkling beauty and improbably intricate architecture, but I’m sure a vacation to Elsa’s castle would also include a boatload of hot cocoa and some wicked ski slopes. Come for the ice skating, stay for the trendy winter coats.
A visit to an ice castle would be an interesting idea as far as beating the summer heat goes, especially since in the realm of fantasy and eternal winters the ice will never melt. And there’s nothing like sub-zero temperatures to make you appreciate the nice, low-nineties weather you’re griping about back home.
Real-Life Alternative: ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
After extensive research (i.e. about twenty minutes of Googling), I have discovered that the original ice hotel is not only the first of its kind but is also the best, with everything from searches for the Northern Lights to literal space travel available at the snap of your fingers. Yes, you read that right. Sweden’s own ICEHOTEL has partnered with Virgin Galactic to give its guests access to the world’s first private spaceline and send them on a day trip into space. If heights aren’t your thing, visitors can also experience a variety of extreme sports, ice sculpting classes, guided horse tours, or a gourmet meal at one of ICEHOTEL’s luxury restaurants, where I’m sure you’ll be able to find some of the best hot cocoa that side of the Atlantic.
And at the end of a long day of adventuring, guests can take in ICEHOTEL’s renowned ICEBAR, where the glasses are made of ice and the dance floor is made of snow. Which brings us back to the real appeal of a visit to the first ever ICEHOTEL (setting aside the possibility of space travel, of course): staying in a hotel made entirely out of ice. I guess you could say that the amenities are just the tip of the iceberg. From the specialized art rooms to rooms based on the Northern Lights to even the regular suites, ICEHOTEL proves itself to be at the top of its class, showcasing new artists every year and proving that the hotel isn’t just an accommodation, it’s a source of inspiration and a nice reminder that sometimes real life CAN be sweeter than fiction.
What fictional places would you most like to visit? Tell me in the comments or tweet me @kristypirone on Twitter.