Travel: A Literary Growth Experience

By Jessi Pierce


There are a few undeniable truths about myself that I’ve been aware of since I was a little.

  1. I absolutely love to read anything and everything (nerd alert).
  2. I have an unrelenting thirst for travel.

Luckily, my chosen career allows me to adequately fulfill both of those cravings in some pretty exciting ways (even if the majority of reading and travel is hockey related).

Recently, due to an early Stanley Cup exit by the Minnesota Wild, I was able to expand on both passions with a two-week European excursion with stops in Ireland, London, and Paris. There’s no question that each of these places is filled with such a rich history in arts and literature that even the most nonchalant reader/writer, like my travel partner husband, can’t help but become immersed in the literary surroundings.

I’ll admit that our travel plans weren’t solely, if at all, meant to expand our literature horizons by any means, but once you get to these spots it’s amazing what you find interesting. Each night while writing my journal entry, I found myself reading and researching more about the day’s history lesson from whichever city/village/town we found ourselves in. It added an element to our trip that I never even considered and I’m so thankful it did.

Reflecting on all that we saw and learned in 14 days, being in pubs and homes of some of literature’s most infamous people definitely stands out. If you ever feel the need to get lost in another culture and country and want to pique an added interest in some of history’s greatest writers, I suggest stops at the following:

Dublin, Ireland

Dublin lays claim to literary fame thanks to playwright/author/poet Oscar Wilde (The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)) and James Joyce (Ulysses (1922)) and Dubliners (1914)). Both are prominently on display in bronze statue glory throughout the beautiful city, some statues offering resting stops for those pub stumblers. We stayed not far from the James Joyce statue and were able to visit James Joyce Centre to learn more about the spots throughout Dublin that inspired many locations in his work. We also stopped at the Oscar Wilde Centre at Trinity College.

Also fascinating in Dublin is The Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript Gospel book from 800 A.D., housed in the Trinity College Library. It’s absolutely beautiful and helps you really appreciate the history of written and illustrated work.

London, U.K.

Charles Dickens, George Orwell, and let’s not forget Shakespeare, London is without question an epicenter of great literature. We did the typical tourist visits and stopped at Shakespeare’s Globe, The Sherlock Holmes Museum and the Charles Dickens Museum, but our favorite spot was The George Inn, a pub that apparently Dickens and Shakespeare frequented. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese was another street pub that was said to have been visited by some of literature’s greats and the wall decoration showcased some truly fascinating history, though rebuilt after the London Fire of 1666.

Paris, France

I loved Les Miserable and The Hunchback of Notre Dame growing up, written by Victor Hugo, arguably France’s most famed writer. As a whole, all of Paris is a must-see and both those pieces of literature really are about the romance of Paris. We weren’t able to stop at the Maison de Victor Hugo to learn more about the author’s life, but visiting Notre Dame in person was unbelievable.

Of course, these are just blips of all the amazing sights, sounds, and experiences you in Europe—literary driven or not. Get out and explore. Expand your horizons and come back to work refreshed, refocused and with a new appreciation for a craft that you’ve chosen. I know I certainly did.