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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Travel With A Writer's Eye

The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

Writers take vacations like lots of other people, but they have a distinct advantage. A writer often gathers material to write something either on the spot or later after enjoying the away-from-work time. A writer is often inspired to write while visiting a particular landmark or seeing something out of the norm while traveling. Or something that is especially appealing or moving.

The picture above is one my husband took on our recent trip to Germany. The Brandenburg Gate, built in the nineteenth century, has been the backdrop for many a political speech including ones given by American presidents like Clinton, Reagan and most recently, Barack Obama. A famous structure, famous people and a foreign country--perfect material to write a personal essay or a nonfiction travel piece.

Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

The famed 'Checkpoint Charlie' in a divided Berlin before the Berlin Wall came down. Today, it's a spot for travelers to take pictures. It begs a writer to pen a personal essay about the experience. 

The Palace At Potsdam

We toured this private home, termed a palace, in Potsdam where the famed Potsdam Conference was held with Stalin, Churchill and Truman as the principles involved. It was here that the three heads of state divided the defeated Germany in 1945. As a writer, I sensed many possible stories that might be written about this place--the family who owned the palace at that time, the three leaders who met together, the many other people that had to be a part of the conference, the beautiful grounds, the morality of the entire situation, human profiles of each of the three leaders, the interior of the home and more. When writers vacation, they enjoy and relax but they also see with the writer's eye. 

A mosaic tile picture in Dresden

Dresden is one of Germany's most beautiful cities as well as being a small miracle in in its own way. Almost totally destroyed in bombing raids toward the end of WWII, the city was rebuilt. Not only rebuilt but created to look exactly as it had before the destruction. The art work shown here is very long and on an outside wall in the city. Thousands of pieces of tiny tiles were put together to form the picture illustrating the nobles of yesteryear. A story on the creative arts of Germany would be easy enough to write after hearing the tour guides explanation and viewing the piece in its entirety. 

The suburban area of Hamburg

Not a famous place at all, this hilly area outside Hamburg told its own story. Many areas have no road that reaches the houses. Instead, inhabitants or visitors or delivery people must climb steep paths and steps to reach the destination house. It was here that we visited a coffeehouse that overlooked the Elbe River far below. Easy enough to write a personal travel essay about a place such as this which would include the terrain, the views, the climb, the out-of-this-world cherry kuchen we ate. 

One of the Blue Bears of Berlin

Ken took a picture of me with one of the many Blue Bears of Berlin that were all decorated a little differently and placed inside or outside various businesses. This one was at the entrance to our hotel. Berliners knew that any business that had a bear had also given a chunk of money to a charity. A whimsical poem or story might easily be written about these lovable blue bears. 

No matter where you go--overseas or an hour away to a favorite lake--for your vacation, you can find something to write about. Maybe not at the moment but soon after you return home. Don't wait too long or you'll lose some of the thoughts and feelings you had when you were on the scene. A few notes jotted down at the time might help bring much of it back to you. 

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