We are coming to the 25th anniversary of the release of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, my absolute favorite in the Indiana Jones franchise. For those who are unfamiliar the library has all four films, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, so spend your next Saturday marathoning them, you will not regret it.
When you are done taking in all those fictional adventures, maybe you should read about some real life adventurous archaeologists that inspired the character.
The story of Otto Rahn is quite tragic. He spent his entire life searching for the Holy Grail, opens a new window, much like Sean Connery in the Last Crusade. He authored books about the grail and its place in religious history such as Crusade Against the Grail and Lucifer's Court. He was specifically recruited by the Nazis due to his expertise to help them in their quest to find the Holy Grail, and spent his time during the war traveling all over Europe to find it. He is eventually found to be Jewish and inevitably it leads to his doom.
Hiram Bingham III is the a man who discovered Machu Picchu and he recounts the experience in Lost City of the Incas. He was an American academic fascinated by the ancient civilizations of the Americas. He later became a senator for the state of Connecticut, not as exciting but probably much more stressful.
Finally, soon to be a film starring the delightful Benedict Cumberbatch, opens a new window, the The Lost City of Z is an engaging tale of a man driven to his limit on his search for El Dorado, or the lost city of Gold. You are really pulling for the late Percy Fawcett to somehow make his lifelong pursuit worthwhile, who along with his son explored the Amazon long before anyone knew anything about what was required to survive it . The detailed descriptions of the environment and what it demands will definitely scare you away from visiting without any local expertise.
By mixing the real with the real awesome you can travel from the Alps to the Amazon, from Cairo to 1920s Shanghai all from home. Just make sure you are prepared for some serious jet lag.