In terms of travel, the year 2020 couldn't be more unusual. First, local lockdowns forced people off planes and into their homes, and as limitations eased up, travel bans compelled many to answer the call for adventure by land instead of air. It's no wonder that RV sales hit a peak in June. Neither is it that Disney's streaming service hit its 60 million subscribers goal four years ahead of schedule, as many of us sought escape of the virtual kind.
It makes sense then that one of the most interesting new travel guides of the year combines close-to-home reality with a somewhat fantastical twist. That's the essence of Accidentally Wes Anderson, the print offshoot of an Instagram account by the same name that has amassed over one million followers. Both feature images of buildings, outposts and landmarks from around the world, each one adorned in symmetry, bright pastel hues or some innate quirkiness that evokes the sets and scenes of films like The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel.
"While we may think we need to venture far from home to find something extraordinary, there are so many amazing things in our own backyard waiting to be found," writes Wally Kopal in the book's introduction. That might mean an auto shop, an ice fishing shanty or a courthouse, all of which count among the book's 200-plus images.
Whether you're familiar with the director's films or not, Accidentally Wes Anderson deftly suggests that a shift in perspective is all that's necessary to transform the everyday to the extraordinary. The photographs and accompanying stories encourage a second and third look at our usual surroundings while we're still stuck in them, and they're sure to inspire a new travel bucket list for when we're not. Here's a peek at what's inside.
Úlfljotsvatn Church — Iceland
Looking at its quaint white and red structure, you'd never know that the name of this little Icelandic church, and the lake behind it, means "Ugly Wolf."
Wharf Shed — Glenorchy, New Zealand
Before a road connected Glenorchy, New Zealand to Queenstown, this little red shed was the hub where visitors came and went, via steamboat. Now it houses a historical society and a small museum.
Ascensor da Bica — Lisbon, Portugal
One of Lisbon, Portugal's three remaining funiculars, the Ascensor (or Elevador) da Bica transports passengers up the short but steep Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo. Built in 1892, the Ascensor's photogenic yellow-and-white cars are just as much of an attraction as a means of transport today.
Hotel Opera — Prague, Czech Republic
The fairy tale buildings lining Prague's Old Town Square receive most of the fanfare, but a five-minute walk from there can bring one to the Hotel Opera, which sat unused for years under communist rule — and has since been revitalized.
Post Office — Wrangell, Alaska
The 3,000 citizens of Wrangell, Alaska rely heavily on the local post office to stay connected with the broader world. The building sprang up in the 1930s as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, but the mural inside dates to the early 1940s, when it was painted by a couple in Woodstock, New York and shipped thousands of miles to its outpost home.
Crawley Edge Boatshed — Perth, Australia
Instagram turned this nearly condemned boathouse into a photography landmark so popular, the city of Perth had to install a solar-powered toilet to facilitate the number of visitors. Now it's the most-photographed place in town.
Cable Car — Cologne, Germany
Head to Cologne and, for a few euros, you can take a ride in this red four-seat cable car yourself. It offers panoramic views of the city from its half-mile route over the Rhine River, with Cologne's cathedral, Germany's most visited landmark, a particular highlight.