A selection of our photographs that we consider are #AccidentallyWesAnderson

One of the positives of the pandemic for us personally, and there haven’t been many that’s for sure, is that we have been able to order and absorb lots of reference books. In one form or another, all of them have a connection to what we are interested in looking for when we are on the road, namely architecture, Soviet/socialist-era relics, abandoned places and street art

The one exception in our ever-growing pile was a coffee-table book we ordered entitled Accidentally Wes Anderson by Wally Koval

Trying not to be stereotypical, but when you order books like Concrete Siberia (published by Zupagrafika) and Phaidon’s humongous Atlas of Brutalist Architecture, in which all of the buildings featured are in black and white, a brightly-coloured volume containing some of the most visually-striking structures and landscapes on the planet stands out like a sore thumb. 

Wes Anderson’s films are great. They might not be everyone’s cup of tea but if, like us, you are a fan then you will know that the enchanting, and often surreal locations for many of the backdrops in his movies are as integral to the film as, say, the plot, the distinctive fashion sense and the recurring use of his favourite actors such as Bill Murray (8 films), Owen Wilson (7 films) and Anjelica Huston (3 films), as examples. 

There are many, many scenes in Wes Anderson’s films where you think “I want to go there” and if Mark and I are watching one of his movies, it is not uncommon for us to pause it here and there whilst we figure out where the setting might be. The 2014 Grand Budapest Hotel is probably the movie in which we have done this the most. Who wouldn’t want to stay in the beguiling alpine resort in the fictional country of Zubrowka, in real life a defunct department store in Görlitz, Germany? Equally, Mendl’s cake shop, which also features prominently in the motion picture, is another irresistible location that actually is a functional bakery and dairy shop (Pfunds Dairy) in the east German city of Dresden. 

But, we also haven’t managed to watch either The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) or The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) without hitting the pause button and going off on a tangent to figure out some of the quirky places in which either of the movies were shot. And because we know the Indian city of Jodhpur and Udaipur fairly well, which is where The Darjeeling Limited (2007) was predominately filmed, it took us considerably longer than the 91-minutes running time to finish that particular movie.

The Accidentally Wes Anderson book, which was published in October 2020, doesn’t focus on actual locations used in any of the films. Rather, it’s a collection of places and scenes that potentially tick all the right boxes to be featured in a Wes Anderson screenplay. Places that are visually striking, hark back to a bygone era, and are abstract and eccentric, for example, are all good starting points. Colour, particularly pastels, also play an important role in defining a possible candidate for a Wes Anderson film set, as does symmetry, dreamlike and darn right weirdness. Sunshine and lots of blue sky are also considerations. More importantly, they are images that we think fit the criteria for the growing movement of #AccidentallyWesAnderson.

Accidentally Wes Anderson book cover
Front and back cover of Accidentally Wes Anderson by Wally Koval.

The book’s introduction begins with the words “YOU KNOW IT WHEN YOU SEE IT”. If you travel and you are into Wes Anderson’s movies then this statement hits the spot perfectly. We’ve certainly seen buildings and the like and thought they would be good backdrops for a film by Wes Anderson, and we aren’t alone. The accidentallywesanderson Instagram account, by the same author, and the phenomena behind the book, has 1.3 million-plus followers and the #accidentallywesanderson hashtag, where anyone can post their photos, features more than 183,000 posts. And the whole Accidentally Wes Anderson theme is endorsed by the film director himself. 

There are some really stunning images in the book (plus great descriptions) and I would urge anyone interested in Wes Anderson’s movies to purchase a copy. My only gripe is that, at the moment, it is a rather sadistic publication to be thumbing through given there are very few/zero-travel opportunities on the foreseeable horizon!

Keeping in mind the above criteria, what follows is our (more modest) collections of locations that we think ‘accidentally’ capture the essence of a scene for a Wes Anderson movie. Our explanations are brief – as the saying goes, “YOU KNOW IT WHEN YOU SEE IT” …

And finally, during the course of putting this post together, I have worked out what our ideal job would be. If Mr Anderson, or any of the other arthouse movie directors out there would like us to be location scouts for their up-and-coming projects, the email address to get in touch with us is [email protected]

Palaestra et Odeum, University Square in Lund, Sweden

Lund University Library Lund Sweden
Dating back to the late 19th century, this wisteria-covered building looks wonderful with its overgrown greenery. Located on University Square, the Palaestra et Odeum originally housed a gymnasium (Palaestra) and choir halls (Odeum). The building is now part of Lund University and is used as a lecture hall and convention centre.

Bus Station in Alba Iulia, Romania

Alba Iulia Bus Station Alba Iulia Romania-2
This retro terminal in the small Romanian city of Alba Iulia also made it onto our shortlist for a post we wrote about cool bus stations.  

Ice cream kiosk in Byurakan, Armenia

Armenian Alphabet Monument Byurakan Armenia
So, so retro, and plonked in the middle of nowhere! 

Abandoned Ho Thuy Tien Water Park in Hue, Vietnam

Ho Thuy Tien Water Park Hue Vietnam-30
I haven’t included too many abandoned places in the list, but the symmetry and lushness of this forsaken waterslide are why it made the shortlist.

Ford Transit Van in Delphi, Greece

Delphi Greece-1-2
Actually, this old Transit van reminds me more of Guy Ritchie’s brilliant 1998 Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (remember the scene with the traffic warden (played by Rob Brydon) and the joke in which you only get the punchline?), but nostalgic vehicles are also part and parcel of Wes Anderson’s cinematography.

Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Thailand

Democracy Monument Banglamphu (Phra Nakhon district) Bangkok Thailand (2)
The dreamlike combination of pink, cream and blue.

Halnaker Windmill near Chichester, England

Halnaker Windmill Halnaker Chichester England
Standing on a hill northwest of Chichester, Halnaker Windmill is one of Sussex’s most recognisable landmarks. 

Parked trucks in Jaffna, Sri Lanka 

Jaffna Sri Lanka 297
An ideal backdrop for a scene should Wes Anderson decide to make a sequel to The Darjeeling Limited. 

Beach cabins in Placencia, Belize

Placencia Belize (130)
Laidback, Caribbean vibe. 

Wooden Houses in Malmö, Sweden

Malmo Sweden-8
I don’t believe there is a rule that says everything featured in a Wes Anderson movie has to be full of vibrant colours. I think these endearing wooden houses in the Swedish city of Malmö would fit into a scene perfectly well. 

Nightingale–Olympic Department Store in Bangkok, Thailand

Nightingale–Olympic Department Store Bangkok Thailand-4
Thailand’s oldest still-functioning shopping centre is a wonderful 1960s time-warp, both inside and out.

Sana Sanatorium in Gagra, Abkhazia

Sana Sanatorium Gagra Abkhazia-9
The interior of the Sana Sanatorium in Gagra, Abkhazia definitely has a touch of Norman Bates as well as a hint of Accidentally Wes Anderson about it …

Classic Cars in Tha Khaek, Laos

Tha Khaek Laos-6
A beaten-up VW Camper van and an original Mini against the backdrop of a French-era colonial building – what’s not to like??

Plaza Vieja in Havana, Cuba

Plaza Vieja Old Havana Cuba (5)
There were so many places in Cuba, and especially in Havana that we thought would make an ideal setting for one of the director’s movies.

Streetside colours in Valladolid, Mexico

Valladolid Mexico (20)
Mexico is full of brightly-coloured Spanish-colonial buildings. Red and yellow are a faultless combination. 

Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Olympic Stadium Phnom Penh Cambodia | Architecture
1960s concrete architecture with a splash of colour. 

Women’s clothing store in Lefkosia/South Nicosia, Cyprus

Lefkosia (South Nicosia) Cyprus-80
An ideal environment for a foot-up-against-the-wall-smoking-a-cigarette street corner kinda scene …

Men’s clothing store in Malmö, Sweden

Malmo Sweden-22
Not as run down as the ladies’ version, the curious manikin in the shopfront window ensured the shop’s place in this post.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s Emerald Buddha in Ban Laem, Thailand

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej's Emerald Buddha Ban Laem Thailand-20
It’s the pastel hues and symmetry that give this temple a feel of the Accidentally Wes Anderson.

Restauracja Varoska in Łódź, Poland

Lodz Poland-1-3
A Hungarian restaurant in the heart of Łódź with a perfect facade for a Wes Anderson film set in Europe.

Kampong Ayer in Bandar Seri Begawan (BSB), Brunei

Kampong Ayer (Tamoi) Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei-20
Many of the stilted buildings in the BSB district of Kampong Ayer, which translates as ‘water village’, are painted in flamboyant colours like this one. 

Valgeranna Puhkekeskus in Pärnu, Estonia

Valgeranna Puhkekeskus (former Sanatorium of the Council of Ministers) Parnu Estonia-2
Surrounded by pine trees and overlooking the Baltic Sea, this restaurant was built as a sauna and was part of a sanatorium for Soviet officials. It would be a great setting for a secluded beach house.

Circular bench in Hsinchu, Taiwan

Hsinchu Taiwan-6
It would be remiss not to sneak a little bit of street art into the collection. 

Wooden doors in Valletta, Malta

Valletta Malta-5-30
Another lovely collection of subtle colours.

Ribersborgs Bathhouse in Malmö, Sweden

Ribersborgs Bathhouse Malmo Sweden-7
A stunning piece of late 19th-century Swedish architecture that is still used an open-air public bath.

If you enjoyed our collection of #AccidentallyWesAnderson photographs, please share the post…

25 locations that could be part of a Wes Anderson movie set #AccidentallyWesAnderson #travel #photography
25 images that belong in a Wes Anderson movie set #AccidentallyWesAnderson #travel #photography
25 images that belong on a Wes Anderson movie set #AccidentallyWesAnderson #travel #photography