Welcome to the inaugural DesDinations blog post!
The purpose of this blog is to inspire your next vacation destination, add something you would like to see to your itinerary, and/or engage you to think about the different perceptions, issues, and new concepts facing travelers today. This blog will serve to be a mix of that - insprational, informational, educational.
As I sit here wondering what I could possibly entice my readers with when there are so many interesting things to say about travel, I decide on books. Yes, books! Thank you to the dusty overstuffed bookshelf in my office for the inspiration!
Books have been around for centuries and can be found salvaged from times past in countries all around the world. Us humans have a thirst for knowledge, a need to explore, a desire to tell our stories. Books in essence offer a similar experience to travel. They allow you to escape to new worlds, learn about new cultures, places, people, etc., and tell fresh and exciting stories or maybe even ancient ones.
There is nothing more romantic than wandering around a new city or village and stumbling upon an adorable little bookstore showcasing the world's stories or a library from a bygone era hiding thousands of dusty books carefully preserved to continue their duty of telling the author's tale.
For this reason, my first post is dedicated to all you beautiful and antique book homes around the globe. Here is a list of some of the finest, must see book homes for your travels:
1) Last Bookstore: Los Angeles, CA USA
Image by: Jennifer Boyer, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jenniferboyer/24152937804
Founded in 2005 by a former online retail entrepreneur, the Last Bookstore could very well be the last book store standing in an industry slowly disappearing from the brick-and-mortar world to the web. Housed in a 22,000 sq ft. space in Los Angeles, this bookstore has a collection of over 250,000 new and used books, rare books, and vinyl records. Did I mention their displays are out of this world?? http://lastbookstorela.com/#home
2) Libreria Aqua Alta: Venice, Italy
Image by: Pietrolambert, https://www.flickr.com/photos/pietrolambert/4849282408
Image by: Dimitris Kamaras, https://www.flickr.com/photos/127226743@N02/31298312081
Stacked wall to wall and floor to ceiling with books, magazines, and posters (60% new/40% used), this bookstore has dubbed itself the Most Beautiful Bookstore in the World. All I can say is, this place is definitely a strong contender for that title! If it's not the most beautiful, then it's definitely the most unique as this shop has to battle with Venice's notorious annual floods by piling the books in old bathtubs and a Gondola (in the middle of the store) among other things. And if that's not enough, the owner has transformed old, unsellable books into fixtures for the store like the steps seen above. http://en.venezia.net/2014/02/04/libreria-acqua-alta-library-in-venice
3) Boekhandel Dominicanen: Maastricht, Netherlands
Image by: Bert Kaufmann, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMaastricht_(3262151815).jpg
How's that for re-purposing! This 700 year-old Gothic church was converted into this stunning book shop with every area of the church serving a purpose. For example, enjoy a nice cup of coffee at the former choir stand turned coffee shop. https://www.libris.nl/dominicanen
4) El Ateneo Grand Splendid: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Image by: Miguel Vieria, https://www.flickr.com/photos/miguelvieira/6212344528
Image by: Niels Mickers, https://www.flickr.com/photos/mickers/16615347342
Here's another splendid example of breathing life into old but beautiful structures. The El Ateneo bookstore is the most famous and likely one of the most photographed bookstores in Buenos Aires - I don't think I need to explain why! The theater was built in 1919 and has gone through a transformation from a theater to a cinema to its current purpose as a bookstore. Most notably, however, it was home to tango performances by some of the greatest artists of the dance. http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/el-ateneo-grand-splendid
5) Real Gabinete Portugués de Lectura: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Image by: Boris G, https://www.flickr.com/photos/gameoflight/13147949963/in/photostream/
This dark and almost eerie looking but stunning library and cultural center was founded in 1837 by a group of Portuguese immigrants/political refugees living in Brazil. The image above shows the Reading Room done in the Portuguese Manueline style. The library houses more than 350,000 books, including some copies of very valuable books written in Portuguese on Portuguese language and culture from the 16th and 17th centuries. http://www.realgabinete.com.br/
6) The Morgan Library and Museum: New York, NY USA
Image by: By Paolatrabanco, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AThe_Morgan_Library_%26_Museum.jpg
Image by: By Mike Peel, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMorgan_Library_%26_Museum%2C_New_York_2017_25.jpg
Founded in 1906 to house the private book, print, and drawing collection of JP Morgan, this now museum and research library was designated as a National Historic Landmark and NYC landmark in 1966. It's easy to see why! Those murals on the ceilings and walls, the wooden bookshelves and stained glass - this library is gorgeous! http://www.themorgan.org/
7) Library of Parliament: Ottawa, Canada
Image by: By Tony Webster, https://www.flickr.com/photos/diversey/14579996318
This library is the principal research center for Canada's parliament. Originally built in 1876, the library has undergone numerous renovations and additions. In 1916, the main building that the library is connected to burned down completely following a fire that destroyed most of the buildings on the block. The books and the beautiful library were spared thanks to the quick thinking of the library clerk who closed the iron door to the only hallway connecting the library to the main building, preventing the fire from spreading to the Library of Parliament. https://lop.parl.ca/About/Library/VirtualLibrary/library-of-parliament-e.html
8) Stuttgart Public Library: Stuttgart, Germany
Image by: O Palsson, https://www.flickr.com/photos/opalsson/18963844186
Straight out of an M.C. Escher painting, this library is futuristic and unique. Yi Architects won the competition for the design of the library in 1999, and it was completed and unveiled to the public with an opening ceremony in October 2011. The location of the Stuttgard Library was specifically chosen to be the center of what is believed to be the future city center with the library building as the focal point. http://www1.stuttgart.de/stadtbibliothek/bvs/actions/profile/view.php?id=159
9) Trinity College Library: Dublin, Ireland
Image by: David Illif, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Long_Room_Interior,_Trinity_College_Dublin,_Ireland_-_Diliff.jpg#filelinks
Trinity College is a famous tourist attraction for visitors of Dublin, but the library is truly the focal point. The stunning Long Room shown above was built between 1712 and 1732, with the semi round ceilings added in 1860 to make room for additional shelving. The Long Room is home to a collection of thousands of books, including some extremely rare and one-of-a-kind books, most famous of which is the Book of Kells (believed to have been created around 800AD). The Book of Kells is bound into 4 volumes, containing the 4 Gospels of the New Testament as well as gorgeous and intricately detailed illustrations. The library keeps one volume on a rotating basis in an illuminated glass-case display , with one page of illustrations and one page of text illuminated for visitors.
10) Livraria Lello: Porto, Portugal
Image by: Alegna13, https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livraria_Lello#/media/File:A_Livraria_Lello_e_Irm%C3%A3o-A_ponte_de_encanto.jpg
Image by: Alegna13, https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:A_nostalgia_na_Lello.jpg
Image by: Edgar Jimenez, https://www.flickr.com/photos/chilangoco/6813983383
Image by: Enrico Rubio Ros, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3APORTO._Harry_Potter_(31470224023).jpg
This colorful and whimsical bookstore is the oldest in Portugal, having been built in 1869. The architectural features are incredible, and make this bookstore worth a visit! https://www.livrarialello.pt/en/