I was thinking of a couple of places that inspire me as a writer. I focus on a few elements of the place that give me different perspectives.
Now for this list, I chose only places I have been to myself. This list does not include place I want to go. They will be the subject of another list.
Chateau de Versailles , France For a whole century it was the center of the civilized world. Politically. Musically. Socially. It was at the heart of so many trends. It sponsored great works of art, awesome music, an architectural style that to this day signifies wealth and power. During my stay in France I must've gone there at least ten or twelve times. Each time, I was in awe of this chateau.
Washington DC USA The capital of the United States holds a special place in my heart. I first visited the city while I was in high school, a 10h+ bus ride. Next a few years later, I played in a DC by night with some guys in Ottawa (shout out to Raf & Shawn) where the group was involved in a number of plots. Including the city of Baltimore... a fun game it was. Forward a few years and I end up in DC again. This time in Reston, at the headquarters of AOL. There I trained for a week a few times. While there, I served as tour guide for my Irish coworkers, showing them the Mall, the White House, Congress, the Washington and Lincoln memorials. There is a pleasing aesthetic about the city. While what happens IN it is not as niceor clean, the heart of the city is beautiful: the wide avenues, the open spaces, the great monuments. There is something to be said about the city itself. If you've never been you are missing out!
The dirty politicking going on there is also part of the ugly fascination the city holds.
Nikko Mountain, Japan This volcano is one of the marvels of Japan. Among them are the many tiny monkeys that snatch and eat potato chips. These little guys are cute, quick, and unforgettable. The top of the mountain has shrines and shops. But the most enduring memory is the 3 hour drive DOWN. Along extremely narrow roads, the back of our bus occasionally suspended over nothing... I remember it well.
Vieux-Québec Canada It would be hard for me not to include a place from my homeland... A few years ago (okay now "many" years ago), I would've included Old Montréal as part of this list. But since I live in Quebec City for 2 years, the Old Capital took the cake. A true parcel of Europe in North America, the old town still has part of the old city wall and some of its gates (as pictured here). The history of the city, particularly during the French regime is still alive here. Yet, it also includes elements from the British, then Canadian regime. I have rarely seen a place that holds it all in such a small space. Vieux-Quebec conjures images of a town that evolved throughout the ages, retaining something of each subsequent era, adding to itself and making itself more beautiful for it.
Dublin Ireland In many ways what draws me to Dublin is similar to what draws me to Quebec City. However, Dublin is much older than Quebec. One of the element of the city is that the Liffey bisects the city. Much smaller than the St-Lawrence, it divides the city, giving it two distinct identities (at least in the first few blocks near O'Connell Bridge) : the business-like north side and the partying south side. This tale of two halves makes for interesting contrasts in a city.