Pop culture travel: Vanessa’s pop culture travels, Part 2, off to Europe!

Hi all, after Part 1 of Vanessa’s pop culture travels through the United States, today, we’ll join her in Europe!

Reims, France

The Amazing Race has inspired me twice during my French visits. During the Spring of 2010, they featured an episode with the teams having to compete some pretty interesting tasks at a champagne house. The next day, I had booked my flight to Paris, along with a train ticket to Reims. I went on to spend a lovely day in Reims, visiting both the Mumm and Charles de Cazanove houses.

Champagne Mumm Reims France

[Krista again: If you’re going to Reims, these champagne houses are conveniently located close to the train station. You can also read about my trip to Mumm in Reims elsewhere on the blog.]

Paris, France

Another The Amazing Race challenge from one of the first seasons also inspired me to take a sewer tour of Paris at the Musée des Égouts. It is a working museum so yes it was pretty smelly, but also very informative because I chose to go with a guide. I learned that the drinking water in Paris is very pristine, especially when compared to tap water in London.

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IMG_2021 (591x800)Yes, that dirty water is what you think it is.

I love the movie Midnight in Paris, sure it gets a little heavy handed at the end, but I love it anyway, and about a week before my mom and I went on vacation we watched it together which kept it fresh in our minds so we paid a visit to some of the spots featured. Our first visit was to the steps where Owen Wilson’s character waits for vehicles to bring him back to the roaring 20’s. I thought it was pretty cool, and while it may not be worth it to go out for your way only for this spot, it’s right beside the Pantheon and also very close to of the few spots in Paris that has some of the original city wall remaining, so I think it merits a visit.

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Also as in Midnight in Paris, we took a tour of Rodin’s gardens which includes his great work The Thinker.

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A few days later we strolled along the shops near La Place Vendome and stopped to admire the jewelry in the Chopard window like Rachael McAdams and her mother do. Before Sunset has inspired me to visit both Shakespeare and Company as well as talk a walk along the stunning Promenade Plantee, an old railway line that was converted into a skinny, but long park.

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South of France and Monaco

I love Grace Kelly, o on multiple visits to Monaco, I’ve paid visits to the church where she is buried. I love to Catch a Thief, which along with Grace Kelly, stars Cary Grant, another one of my favorite actors, one of the main settings of the film is the Carleton Hotel in Cannes. On a family trip in 2008, we paid the town, famous for it’s film festival, a visit. We had lunch on the beach below the hotel, it was so beautiful but we definitely paid for the ambiance because it was one of the most expensive lunches we had ever paid for (and it was nothing fancy, think pizza and salads)

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Salzburg, Austria

While visiting Munich, I took a day trip to Salzburg and included in that visit was a Sound of Music tour. It took us to all of the popular settings in the movie, from Mirabelle gardens, to the glass gazebo to a trip into the Alps where we visited the charming town that hosts the church where Maria and the Captain got married. Unfortunately the tour did not include twirling on mountain tops.

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Mirabelle Gardens from the Sound of Music
Gazebo from 16 Going on 17 scene in the Sound of Music
Gazebo from 16 Going on 17 scene in the Sound of Music
The house from the Sound of Music
The house from the Sound of Music
The church where Maria gets married in the Austrian Alps from the Sound of Music
The church where Maria gets married in the Austrian Alps from the Sound of Music

Füssen, Germany

Beauty and the Beast was my all time favorite movies when I was a child, and still ranks highly among my top 10 nowadays, it started my love affair with books and France. My favorite scene was at the very beginning where it shows the beautiful, massive castle set in a gorgeous forest. I was always enchanted with that scene and when later on in my life, I found out the castle was based off of castle in Germany, I knew I had to go there. In 2008, I finally got my chance. The castle completely lived up to my expectations – at least the outside, the inside was never finished so it’s a bit of a letdown), The castle is built on a hill in the most quaint and lovely small town. There is a (scary) wooden bridge that you can walk on to get amazing views of the castle and surrounding land, there are even waterfalls around, it really is pretty magical.

Neuschwanstein Castle from Beauty and the Beast
Neuschwanstein Castle from Beauty and the Beast

London, England

On a recent overnight trip to London, I was staying a hotel across the street from St. Pancras station. St. Pancras is right next door to King’s Cross, which is where Platform 9 ¾ is in the Harry Potter series, meaning I had to stop by. While there is nothing at the actual platform 9 3/4 (at least that we muggles can see), they do have a little area set up in the station with half of a shopping cart going into the wall. While it was extremely cheesy, it made me extremely happy.

King's Cross Platform 9 3/4

Also, another chef my family enjoys is Gordon Ramsey, so when my mom and I were in London we treated ourselves to a fancy dinner at Gordon Ramsey at Claridge’s, which was an awesome experience. The hotel itself was breathtaking, the dining room was very refined, the staff were professional and warm and the food was delicious to boot. We had the three course meal, which actually included 2 amuse bouche courses, a pre dessert and two rounds of after dinner marshmallows and truffles.

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Another Woody Allen film that influenced me (there’s a reason I haven’t seen his movie set in Rome yet!) is Match Point, which turned me onto the Tate Modern, a modern art museum. I’m so glad I saw the movie and visited the Tate, because it has become one of my very favorite museums. The architecture of the building itself is impressive and it has such unique pieces and installations. The best part of course is that it is completely free and you can just wonder in off the street through the door and the next thing you know you’re looking at a Picasso.

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Edinburgh, Scotland

For those continuing on with their own Harry Potter pilgrimage while in the United Kingdom, don’t miss the Elephant House cafe in Edinburgh, Scotland, where J.K. Rowling wrote much of the first book. On my trip to Scotland, this was the first place I sought out. The cafe itself is warm and cosy, with lots of shared tables. I had the best Lentil soup I’ve ever eaten there.

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Europe is definitely full of endless possibilities for pop culture travel. I’ll be sharing more of my own pop culture travels in Paris later this week. Thanks again to Vanessa for providing so many (well-documented) pop culture travel ideas. Have you gone on your own travels influenced by Midnight in Paris or Harry Potter, or any of the movies listed here? Tell us about it in the comments!



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