Tourists flock to sites made famous by pop culture

Sunday, May 14, 2006

NEW YORK -- Beatles fans still take their pictures standing barefoot in the middle of London's Abbey Road in homage to the famous album cover. Each day, 80 to 100 fans of the movie "Amelie" visit the Cafe des Deux Moulins in Paris where the title character was a waitress. And the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland that figures in "The Da Vinci Code" had just 6,000 visitors in 1997 -- but is gearing up for well over 120,000 this year.

These are just a few of the destinations made famous by pop culture and profiled in an article in the May issue of Travel + Leisure magazine. The magazine points out that the real-life versions don't always look like what visitors expect -- many of them are "places that cannot properly be said to exist," like Harry Potter's England or the New Zealand of "The Lord of the Rings."

Still, if you film it, they will come -- witness the 65,000 people who trek each year to the corn field in Dyersville, Iowa, pictured in the 1989 movie "Field of Dreams." A company called Beyond Boundaries Travel -- www.beyondboundariestravel.com or (800) 487-1136 -- specializes in Harry Potter-themed trips, conducting classes in dragon-slaying, sponsoring falconry displays and organizing "Hogwarts Express" rides. Other fans organize their own trips using guide books like Fodor's "Guide to The Da Vinci Code" to help. And some destinations -- like the Rosslyn Chapel and another church featured in "Da Vinci," the St. Sulpice in Paris -- offer tours that point out the differences between fiction and fact.

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