Travel was at one time a necessary facet of Elizabeth Kemble’s profession. Now it’s her passion and something she has successfully turned into a growing business.
“This had been on my mind for at least five years or so,” Kemble said of Travellati Tours, the company she started in 2015 that organizes themed interactive travel tours to Paris and Berlin.
To provide her customers with a more personal travel experience as opposed to taking them on run-of-the-mill sightseeing tours, Kemble believed she could provide more intrigue in the form of literary travel journeys.
Watching the romantic comedy “Midnight in Paris” for the third time gave Kemble the inspiration for “Papa’s Paris Tour.”
“A light bulb went off,” said Kemble, who was born in France and moved with her family to Cincinnati and later to New Jersey as a child. “I wanted to go back in time.”
With the help of a scriptwriter, she developed her first tour, a weeklong saunter through Paris where visitors follow Ernest Hemingway’s footsteps throughout the city.
She has since developed another excursion called “Bowie’s Berlin Tour,” which takes visitors to places that David Bowie frequented during his three-year stay in the German city when he composed the Berlin Trilogy albums “Low,” “Heroes” and “Lodger.”
Two accomplished playwrights help create what Kemble describes as “pop-up theater” in both travel tours. She hired local playwright Angelo Parra, the author of “Playwriting for Dummies” and a theater and playwriting teacher at Rockland Community College, and the Los Angeles-based Lucy Wang, who wrote the Berlin tour script.
During the second day of the Paris tour, travelers get to meet the Hemingway character in one of his favorite cafes, La Closerie des Lilas.
“He tells us what Paris is like, he interacts with us and he has a drink with us,” explained Kemble, who worked as an IT project manager and is also an actress, having played dramatic and comedic roles in local theater groups in upstate New York and improv in Westchester.
The Paris tour also includes encounters at the favorite haunts of American novelists Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The Berlin tour includes three custom-designed interactive experiences with actors and musicians portraying Bowie’s flat mates Iggy Pop and Brian Eno and features a visit to Dschungel, the quintessential 1970s Berlin club where Bowie often partied.
The tour takes participants to Bösebrücke, the site of the border crossing where the wall came down, and The Mauer Memorial, where remains of the wall can still be seen.
“Both travel experiences foster community and intimate conversations,” Kemble said.
Kemble’s tours has attracted an “underserved market” of solo travelers and baby boomer women, she said. Tour travelers don’t need extensive knowledge of either Hemmingway or Bowie to enjoy the trips, which are given in English.
The cost of both tours includes hotel accommodations, meals and admission to various attractions. Airfare is included in the “Papa’s Paris Tour” as is luggage transportation fees and a car service to the airport.
Kemble said she books hotels where she has stayed previously and takes visitors to restaurants that she personally recommends. Both tours accommodate six to 12 people.
Working from her base in Tarrytown, Kemble maintains a busy schedule organizing tours, arranging auditions for actors in both cities and approving scripts. She hopes to add additional tours in the future.
“These are not educational tours, per se,” said Kemble. “I like to say they are fun tours for educated people.”