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Travel blogger tracks down real-life movie and TV locations

Ever ogled the spectacular scenery of "Star Wars" and wished you could be transported to a galaxy far, far away?...

Posted: Feb 12, 2018 10:53 AM
Updated: Feb 12, 2018 10:53 AM

Ever ogled the spectacular scenery of "Star Wars" and wished you could be transported to a galaxy far, far away?

Or have the time of your life watching "Dirty Dancing" -- and fantasize about your own summer at Kellerman's resort?

Film fan Andrea David takes these dreams one step further -- she travels the world looking for the locations used in her favorite movies and TV series.

When she tracks them down, David aligns printed-out film stills with the real-life destination, merging the silver screen with our reality.

"I thought it would be fun to try to align the image with its real background to mix up fantasy and reality in one picture," David tells CNN Travel.

Movie magic

German-born David started the project while she was studying tourism management in Munich. She decided to write her diploma thesis on the influence of cinema on tourist habits.

"I gained a taste of it and started traveling to various filming locations," she recalls. "After my thesis I continued traveling this way because I really enjoyed it."

David started taking printed photographs of the film scenes with her -- but at first it was simply to help her track down specific locations.

"It's easier to ask local people about filming locations when you can show them the specific scenes," she explains.

It was while traveling in Cambodia, searching out a location for "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," that David had the idea to take a photograph of the photograph.

Since then, her idea has taken off -- and David posts photographs of her film stills in their real-life locations on her popular blog Filmtourismus.de and on her Instagram account @filmtourismus -- which has over 82,000 followers.

Worldwide attention

David's photographs are perfectly aligned, striking amalgamations of reality and fiction.

But they don't just have artistic merit: fans keen to follow in the footsteps of their favorite films now use David's pictures to devise their own itineraries.

"A lot of people wrote me that they are grateful -- because they finally know if and where they can find their places of longing -- or just received great new travel ideas," says David.

As well as promoting moments from blockbusters, David also highlights lesser-known German films -- and she has a knack for tracking down difficult-to-find locations.

Now she's gained a following, David has started working more with tourism boards and travel companies. This helps her track down some of the trickier locations.

But David still insists that a lot of it is detective work -- she says she spends a lot of time "comparing film stills with Google Street View or showing them [to] residents and tour guides while traveling."

Film fanatic

Some of David's favorite film locations are locales used in slightly older movies.

"Among my favorites ranks the real Kellerman's Resort of 'Dirty Dancing' in Virginia, the town in British Columbia where they filmed 'Rambo -- First Blood' and the village near Atlanta seen in 'Fried Green Tomatoes,' " she says.

David is fascinated by how location filming can impact tourism trends.

"These locations benefit even after decades," she says.

It's not just film fans who embark on pilgrimage to beloved backdrops. Hit TV series can also impact tourism. The success of "Game of Thrones" has upped visitors to Northern Ireland, Iceland and Croatia -- where some pivotal moments in the popular show were filmed.

"When it comes to TV shows I mostly like 'Game of Thrones,' 'The Walking Dead,' 'Sherlock Holmes,' 'Homeland,' 'Westworld,' 'Stranger Things,' 'Dark' and many many more," says David.

She has traveled to spots including Myvatn in Iceland and Audley's Castle in Northern Ireland -- both of which have become popular tourist spots after featuring in "Game of Thrones."

She has also photographed Jackson Street Bridge in Atlanta, Georgia -- featured in "The Walking Dead" -- and Scottish castles from hit TV series "Outlander."

Sharing passions

David loves that she can make a living out of her love from film -- and she also enjoys connecting with other movie fans across the world.

"It is great to see that so many people share this passion for the combination of travel and film," she says.

David admits it's a dream job, but says that "being on vacation all the time" isn't always easy: "Besides the passion, it's a great deal of work," she says.

Nevertheless, the blogger wants to continue to explore the world through the lens of the silver screen:

"I would love to travel to visit "Middle-earth" in New Zealand, the "Star Wars" locations in Tunisia, the valley in Hawaii known from "Jurassic Park," only to name a few," she says. "My wish list does not really have an end."

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