Do You Need a Visa to Travel to Distant Lands?

Not if you're visiting fictional worlds, while sitting on your armchair and drinking hot chocolate.

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Photo by The Hollywood Archive/Dinodia Photo Library.

Feel like getting out of here? I’m game—let me just grab my jacket, and my map of fictional places, and we’re good to go. Why fictional places? Well, because there is an excellent chance that I won’t run into any of the people I know over there. Because, if you’ve noticed, I love armchair travel, and there really isn’t anything more armchair-ey than fictional places, especially on really rainy days, with a hot chocolate in your hand. And I’m talking about travel travel, what it would be like to visit those places as a tourist, not as part of the movies.

Just to narrow it down, I’m sticking to fictional places from movies—the ones from books look so different in everyone’s minds, it’s impossible to convey what I feel. Hogwarts in the films looks very little like it does in my head, for example, and if I took you on a tour of the Hogwarts in my head, you might need to cancel the milk.

First, let’s eliminate one. Middle Earth was as wonderful in the movies as in the books, so it would seem a keeper. However, I think it might actually be a bit of a pain: for one—whisper it—I don’t think they bathe much there, and so, sitting in a café and people-watching would not be much fun if you were going “Poo-ey!” every time a hobbit walked in. The touristy sites tend to see a lot of death, and the accommodation isn’t always up to scratch (Rivendell looks great, but I’d ask for my money back if I had to stay atop Saruman’s tower at Isengard).

Let’s start, instead, with Jurassic Park, a place I’ve been dying to visit ever since I first saw the movie, with that wonderful music, that sense of staying in a tiger reserve, but amped up to 11. I quite liked Jurassic World too, but that place with its McDonald’s crowds sounds hideous. A petting zoo!? (Only if you think your children have too many limbs!) The futuristic spheres were pretty cool, but no. It has to be like the original, with that sense of isolation, the wonder, the bowel-chilling size of the park doors. You’d get there, landing amid the mist and the ferns, quaking slightly. Drive along those rolling hillocks and then, something that is manifestly not a palm tree—and you follow that leg up to its owner. Imagine staying the night, in cottages in the forest, with those sonorous bellows coming up from the valley and eating your dinner knowing that, out there, there’s a T-rex eating hers. Or trying to sleep knowing that the velociraptors were sizing you up. Oooo, I’m shivering just thinking about it.

Talking about dinosaurs, what about Skull Island? But here’s the thing: if you went to an island and discovered that dinosaurs were still alive and thriving, would you really be distracted by a big ape, no matter how large and endearing? I mean, I’ve seen and fallen in love with gorillas, but you couldn’t show me a remnant of the Jurassic age and have me still think, “Nah, I’ll take the big monkey.”

Also, it’s a pretty dangerous place, I’m told, and so I might stay away, even if there are really great package deals—some things just aren’t worth the trouble. Like Gotham too: sure I’d love to get a glimpse of the bat, but catch me taking a ferry. Or going to hospital. Or out on the ice. Or anywhere, really. Somehow, I wouldn’t be surprised if Gotham didn’t make it to too many “Places to visit this year” lists.

Where I would, absolutely, totally, love to go, is a place you might laugh at me for: it’s the town from the Dennis the Menace movie of the 1990s. No, really. It was this perfect little American town, with sweet little houses on little lawns, set back from the dappled sunshine of leafy streets. The centre of town was tiny, there were woods nearby to go explore, with all the hideout possibilities kids could need, and bridges, railway tracks, a stream. You could imagine riding a bike to meet your friends, poking at frogs in ponds, and never wanting to leave. You could be Dennis there, or Calvin, and have an endless childhood. There is actually a real place like that. It’s called Deerfield, in Massachusetts, and the main street was named by actor Robert Duvall as the prettiest in America.

Of course, it was also the site of a famous massacre, and the wonderful hotel there is haunted. Is it any wonder I don’t like living in reality? Seriously. Come on, you don’t even need visas—let’s go explore.




  • Vardhan Kondvikar is a travel, car, and humour writer and editor, who is known for road trips, generalised exasperation and far too many bathroom stops.


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