by Maddy Vonhoff
Who says nerds have to stay indoors? Put down your comic books (or take them with you), pack your bags and book your plane ticket now to one of these exotically geeky locations! Here are 10 quests for any geek with an adventuring heart and your strategy guide for getting there and back again.
Start off your adventure with a trip to one of the most beautiful places on earth. Not only is there enough surfing, hiking, spelunking, and camping nearby to satisfy any Ranger, you can take a two hour tour through the Hobbiton Movie set from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. The entire village has been rebuilt and fans will be able to see Hobbit Holes, The Mill, and many other pieces of the movie set. Relax after your tour at The Green Dragon Inn with a Beef & Ale pie. And if this doesn’t convince you, take a moment to watch this promotional video for Air New Zealand featuring Elijah Wood himself.
When The Doctor comes for you, you will want to be prepared! Take a trip to London to see famous locations featured in the show, such as Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, Buckingham Palace, and Canary Wharf. See if you can find the TARDIS near Earl’s Court Station and sign up for a walking tour of Doctor Who locations from the past 50 years. Costumes encouraged. End your trip through time and space with a visit to the Doctor Who Experience. The Exhibition Hall holds the world’s most extensive collection of Doctor Who props and artifacts, including costumes, 3 full TARDIS sets, and tons of fun facts. Rest for your next day in London by returning to your hostel and watching your favorite episode or two.
Have you ever wanted to live in Westeros? If so, you are a weirdo and need to get yourself checked out. However, Ireland is as close as you can come to the North without the chance of losing your head. Northern Ireland is one of the most important film locations for Game of Thrones, including the Red Keep, the Sept of Baelor, and the Eyrie. You can leave from Dublin or Belfast, whichever is more convenient for you. The tours include two long location treks, including visiting Winterfell where you can dress like a Stark and even take an archery class or two! Your ticket also includes an “authentic thrones lunch”. Considering the meals in Game of Thrones so far have consisted of horse hearts and getting poisoned, I really hope it’s not that authentic.
Consider this your official Hogwarts letter. The College of Wizardry is a larp inspired by Harry Potter and takes place at Czocha Castle in Poland, otherwise known as the fictional Czocha College of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Participants play as students, teachers, ghosts, and other people at the school. Last time over 190 participants from 11 countries played for 4 days and the coordinators worked hard to ensure that the experience felt real, from classes to bumbling professors. Their next event is April 2015 and while ticket sales have just ended, keep this on your radar if you were a kid (or an adult) who couldn’t wait to get sorted. Tickets run at about 345 dollars which isn’t bad for 4 days of lodging and food but transportation to Poland could set you back if you don’t know how to ride a broomstick. Their short documentary contains everything a muggle needs to know about getting accepted.
The annual pilgrimage for anyone who reads comics, watches TV or movies, or pretty much engages at all with pop culture. Once a comic convention, San Diego Comic Con has turned into a 5 day spectacle with every major media outlet represented. Not only do you have the chance to talk with A-list stars (seriously, it’s possible to run into the entire cast of The Walking Dead in your hotel), it’s where you can get a front row seat to the latest and greatest movie announcements and footage before anyone else. And if you get tired of wandering the massive exhibit hall, the gaslamp district in San Diego is full of things to do. Last year, there was a Gotham zipline, Assassin’s Creed Obstacle Course, and Borderlands laser tag, to name just a few options. The whole city gets in the spirit and you can find tons of late night parties, a MTV festival hosted in Petco park, and lots of exclusive parties if you keep an eye out on Facebook for tickets.
With Episode 7 not far on the horizon, feel free to tide yourself over with a vacation to Tunisia! 5 out of the 6 existing movies were partially filmed here and many of the original set pieces are still in great condition. Forget a hostel, Luke Skywalker’s house is now a hotel, and you can stay there for 12 bucks a night! Spend the rest of your time touring scenes from Mos Espa, the pod racing arena, and the dunes where C-3PO and R2-D2 landed on Tatooine. Tours to all the locations can be arranged through the tourism office in Tunisia and you are certain to meet other Star Wars fans making the same pilgrimage.
What kid didn’t dream of being a spy? Writing notes with milk as invisible ink and creating secret codes was some of the best parts of growing up. Now as an adult, head to Washington DC to further your education at the International Spy Museum! Some highlights of the museum include a special exhibit on 50 years of James Bond villains, exclusive traveling shows, and regular exhibits on the history of spying and espionage in our country, legendary spies, and a spy school. Even the gift shop is a blast, with edible paper to write evil plans on and safes disguised as pop cans.
Science nerds, you shouldn’t need me to tell you that Switzerland should be on the top of your list. Switzerland is the home of CERN, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, as well as the birthplace of the World Wide Web. It is also the site of some incredible international collaborations for high-energy physics research. They offer guided tours and visitors can explore one of two permanent exhibits, Universe of Particles and Microcosm, in addition to any of their traveling exhibits. Their forum, The Globe, hosts exhibitions lectures, events, and debates, and everyone is welcome.
While Japan is home to some of the geekiest organizations around, the Toei Animation Gallery is not something to miss. Toei Animation brought us some of the most influential anime to date, such as Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, and Precure. Visitors can see storyboards, original drawings, and other materials. Unfortunately, Japanese is the only language spoken there, but since it’s animation, there is still so much to look at for those of you who don’t speak the language. Best of all, it’s free
Ahh Italy. All the gelato you can eat, beautiful architecture, and the only place in the world with a lightsaber academy. Wait what? That’s right, Italy is the home of LudoSport LSCA, the first and only school for light saber combat. With centers in Milan, Rome, and Genoa, you can tour this gorgeous country while being a padawan apprentice. In every LudoSport location, you can take a free trial lesson. Make sure to bring a sweat suit, indoor sneakers, and protective gloves though. This is a perfect way to work off the pasta you will be eating too!