Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.
This week's topic is Places Mentioned in Books That I'd Like to Visit. This one is extra special because, lucky for me, these places are real and it is very likely that I will actually get to most of them some day. Another win for non-fiction 😘
Basically, I want to do this trip with my mom and daughter - In the Footsteps of Eleanor of Aquitaine. It was a ten-day trip taken by historical fiction author Sharon Kay Penman in 2011. It will be absolutely magical, to see the places that remain of the life Eleanor knew. There are so few, after all, that I must see them before I die.
The first three entries hold very special places in my heart because are all connected to Eleanor. If you are new around here, Eleanor of Aquitaine is pretty much my fave historical figure ever. I am currently writing a book about her, though that damn Latin gets in my way a lot.
(The links go to websites about the various places. None of the photos are mine, and are linked back to the website where I found them.)
However, I also like some variety (sometimes) for my TTTs. And seeing as how I read about some really bad-ass places, there are tons of trips I have already planned in my head dozens of times.
Eleanor chose this site as her burial place, and was the abbey she retired to a handful of times before going into retirement for good. Her effigy rests beside that of her second husband, Henry II. Later their son Richard would be interred here as well. It absolutely broke my heart to learn that during the revolution, the bones of this family, and so many others, were taken out and scattered in the wind. It pains me to no end to think that the mortal remains of this great queen were tossed out like trash and never recovered.
By the time Eleanor was (likely) born in the palace at Poitiers in 1124, there had been a structure on the site since at least the 9th century. It was the seat of the counts of Poitou and dukes of Aquitaine, and Eleanor's home. Over time the palace was used less as a residence and more often for the dispensing of justice, the chancery, and courts. The Maurbergeonne Tower, which Eleanor's grandfather Duke William IX had constructed especially for his mistress, Eleanor's maternal grandmother, still stands as well.
3. The Louvre
Despite my affinity for Eleanor, I am not all that enamored with France otherwise, so this will be the last stop, but perhaps one of the most important on the whole list. Here at the Louvre is the only known possession to have survived that belonged to Eleanor, known as the Eleanor vase. Eleanor gave the vase once belonging to her grandfather to her first husband, Louis VII. In turn he gave it to his most trusted adviser, Abbot Suger, who then found a place for it at St Denis.
You didn't think I was done with those Plantagenets yet, did you? A few years ago when Mom and I were in the UK, one of our day trips was to involve a stop at Salisbury Cathedral to see one of the four surviving copies of Magna Carta. The morning of the trip we arrived at the visitor's center to find out that Salisbury had to be closed for some repairs and we would be going to Windsor Castle instead. Sounds great, right? WRONG. It would have been great, except we didn't get to see anything I actually wanted to see, because everything was closed off, because Queen Elizabeth was KNIGHTING PEOPLE THAT DAY. Which brings us to spot number five...
I have to see where Henry VIII was interred. The Tudors were my first love, when I really got back into reading and finding my love of history again. I read any and everything I could get my hands on about the Tudors and absolutely loved every minute. But then that Dan Jones guy introduced me to the Plantagenets and my attention kind of wandered. Even so, and despite the fact that Henry was a horrible beast, I would like to go to St George's Chapel and see the final resting place of the king who still captivates us so many centuries later.
Yes, I want to visit the whole country. Again. On said trip when I was irritated by the Queen with her knighting and whatnot, Mom and I had spent several days all over this beautiful country. I have never felt I belonged any place so strongly before as I feel Edinburgh is where I belong (and really, that's saying a lot, because I loooooooooove Minnesota). Mom and I had tons of adventures and saw some really amazing places. it would be wonderful to back for another round, and this time just wander the city, and the country to see what treasures we can discover on our own. We visited many of the must-see places, and there are also a few of those that I want to revisit. For example, Stirling Castle. We saw everything except the Royal Palace, which was undergoing major renovations at the time.
I want to spend a good two weeks here at least. I will only bring three books, because these are really the only books you would need on a trip like this, where I want to see EVERYTHING!
(The first two book links go to my reviews, third goes to Goodreads because I can't quite bring myself to write the review yet.)
I have been quite obsessed with New York City for many years and my only fear about going there is that somehow, it won't quite be what I imagined, it won't feel in real life the way it felt in all three of these books - gritty and real. I don't expect it to be like F·R·I·E·N·D·S (one of my fave shows), but I want it to feel like home as much as Edinburgh does. And you best believe, OF COURSE I am going to see the apartment building used for exterior shot of the show. But I also want to see as much as I can of what glimpses remain of New Amsterdam, to at least imagine what it was like in this place 400 years ago. I want to see Ground Zero, and Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. I want to see the memorials to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, to the General Slocum. I want to see all the places the Beasties rap about in An Open Letter to NYC, and just BE there.
The 15 year old in me will never let go. I have to see where they made her, where she became Titanic.
One day, there will be no survivors left to tell their stories, and the stories of loved ones who did not make it. One day, there will be no soldiers left who liberated the camps, who saw firsthand the absolute savagery perpetrated by one of the most evil regimes in history. As an 8th grader visiting Washington, D.C. on a class trip, I barely made it through the Holocaust Museum, blubbering like a baby to the point where my friend Martha literally had to guide me through the rest of the tour because I was crying so hard I could barely see. Visiting the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam a few years ago was equally emotional. I have never been more humbled than in that moment, standing in those tiny rooms, completely in awe of the sacrifices so many made in order to save as many Jews as possible. I imagine this trip will be that, times a thousand. But it is one that I must make, that we all must make, so that this history is never lost.
What places would you like add to your list of 'some day visits'?