Wednesday Wander – EMP, Seattle: Part II

Last week I wandered to the EMP Museum in Seattle, a Frank O. Gehry architectural masterpiece. My post featured images of the exterior – however, several commenters expressed an interest in what lay inside, so I thought this week I’d wander through the doors and share some photographs of the interior.

IMG_0271 This was a giant interactive sculpture made of musical instruments, about three storeys tall.

IMG_0262 Inside the Fantasy section of the museum, dragon scaled and full of amazing items. I could have spent the whole day just in this section. Notice Buttercup’s wedding gown, Humperdinck’s outfit and Westley’s Dread Pirate Roberts ensemble in the display case at the back, courtesy of the classic movie, The Princess Bride.

IMG_0279 Some of the interior shapes and spaces were as mind bogglingly intricate as the exterior. This is in one of the central atriums, looking up.

IMG_0259 Gimli’s axe, Sting, and Aragorn’s sword, all from the Lord of The Rings films. A real ‘squee’ moment for me and my daughter.

I hope you enjoyed my Wednesday Wander this week – see you next time!

Walking Through Rivendell

This was the view from where I stayed

This was the view from my chalet. Pretty nice, hey?

About twenty-five years ago, I went on a trip around Europe. I was living in Canada at the time and this was my first big holiday by myself, so it was a Big Deal. The trip brought its own set of challenges and experiences, most of them positive, as well as some marvellous memories.

One of the places I visited was the valley of Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. I stayed there for a couple of nights, lulled to sleep by the sounds of the nearby waterfall and the gentle chime of cowbells. It was an extraordinarily beautiful place, and I felt the spectacular landscape had a fairy-tale quality quite unlike anywhere else I’d been before. While I was there, I also took the cog railway up to the top of the Jungfrau mountain, taking photographs of the scenery along the way.

Ascending the Jungfrau

Ascending the Jungfrau

What I didn’t know at the time was that J.R.R Tolkien had visited the same valley in 1911, and was so taken by its beauty that he used it as the basis for Rivendell, home to Elrond and the Elves. (Apparently, on the same trip, he also picked up an illustration that inspired his description of Gandalf.) If you look at Tolkien’s painting of Rivendell (which I don’t have permission to reproduce here, so here’s a link), you can see the similarities between his fantasy world and the real one.

The glacier on top of the Jungfrau - the original Pass of Carahdras?

The glacier on top of the Jungfrau – the original Pass of Carahdras?

I recently wrote a post about the landscape that had inspired my own book, Oak and Mist. Though not quite as striking as the Lauterbrunnen valley and its towering mountains, the park near my childhood home holds both beauty and memory for me, making it the perfect starting point for my story. And this is one of the things I love about writing fantasy – blending the real world with the one I create.

The valley seen from the lower slopes of the Jungfrau

The valley seen from the lower slopes of the Jungfrau – look familiar?

I know you can visit Hobbiton and some of the other locations for the LOTR movies in New Zealand, and that they are spectacular. However, to walk through the actual landscape that inspired Tolkien to create Middle-Earth is quite something as well (even if I didn’t realise it at the time) 🙂

So how about you? Has your work been inspired by real places you’ve visited or lived in? Or have you walked in the footsteps of your literary heroes?


You can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.