Where and WHEN? Fowler wants to know!

Dec 18th, 1998, 12:20 PM
Wes Fowler
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Where and WHEN? Fowler wants to know!

Typically, our European trips begin with a wish. We wish to place ourselves in a new environment, expose ourselves to a different culture, experience the thrill of adventure and return home with lasting memories of distant places. Too often our dreams are not realized; perhaps due to a lack of fluency in a foreign language and a reluctance to extend ourselves to Europeans through a sense of inadequacy in our linguistic abilities; perhaps because we don't allow enough time to absorb a society's culture and traditions. One thing we do find inescapable however, is a sense of the past, be it the ruined coastal fortresses of Great Britain, the opulent Chateaux of the Loire Valley, palaces and cathedrals beyond number, the ruins of Roman and Greek antiquity or centuries old folk festivals and traditions. This inescapable sense of the past prompts a question or two. If you could travel to Europe through time, where would you want to go and in what era? Would it be the 16th century Golden Age of the Low Countries when Brugges rivaled London as a trading power? Would it be Greece during the time of Sophocles, Aristophanes and Plato? Rome during the reign of Tiberius? The Italian states of the 15th century in the time of the Medicis, da Vinci and Michelangelo or Italy in the 19th century, the age of Gariboldi, Manzoni and Verdi? Elizabethan England or Victorian England? Perhaps the 17th century France of Louis XIV and Moliere, or the Belle Epoque of Toulouse-Lautrec, the Moulin Rouge and the Impressionists? The Austria of Franz Joseph and the Strauss waltz kings? El Greco's Spain of the 16th century or Goya's of the 18th and 19th? Which would it be and why?

Dec 18th, 1998, 12:48 PM
Bob Brown
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Wes, this may catch you by surprise, but there is no time like the present in Europe. My college undergraduate major, and graduate work were in European diplomatic history. And this is the first time in history when armies and navies of one nation were not set to attack another at the drop of a glove, or two dukes were not set to square of against one another over some imagined insult.

Revolutions, continental wars, wars of unification, civil strife, are not part of the western scene except to a very limited degree.

The economic unification of Europe is about to shift into a higher gear, trade among the nations of the EU leads to a sound economy, with Germany hopefully beginning to get a handle on unemployment. Transportation is at an all time best, and, above all, one can travel most of western Europe these days without only normal concern over contracting a commuicable disease!!

I for one don't long for the days of aristocratic rule when 10% of the people had 90% of the money. I frankly can do without the policies of the Iron Chancellor of Germany or the despotism of Napolean, or the massive alignment of powers that led to two world wars.

The future of the EU is bright and it will take all of Europe to a higher level. Can we match them?
Educationally, we have already slipped behind most of the nations of Wester Europe. Technologically, there is much of equality. Health delivery wise, we are slipping in relative position.

So my vote is for the next century in western Europe.
Dec 18th, 1998, 01:09 PM
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As long as I am assured of a safe return to my present situation, I would like to visit the Roman Empire of Hadrian, and I emphasize empire, not just Rome.
Dec 18th, 1998, 03:21 PM
Cheryl Z.
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While I'm not an overly religious person, I think I'd choose early biblical times.
Dec 18th, 1998, 04:49 PM
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Just as I was about to *poke* you to set us another question you come up with a doozy!
ALL the options you list are enticing. But I've always wanted to go back to the near the end of the Russian Imperial era. Before Nicolas II and the Bolshevik Revolution. I would like to have been present at the premieres of the famous Tchaikovsky ballets and to partake of the social and intellectual life in the St. Petersburg of that era. Of course I would want to be a countess
While it is true that past epochs involved great hardship for the masses, I guess I am less sanguine concerning our current track record...
Dec 18th, 1998, 06:31 PM
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The past is dead, the future is unborn; we only live in the present. Why yearn for what lies at a distance when we should grapple with what lies at hand? But if you wish to play games, let me pose you a question: after Saddam, who?
Dec 19th, 1998, 05:28 AM
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I would love to go back in time and lived in Pompeii....and been one of the smart ones that flew out of town just in time....

I was truly impresed with the fact that the Pompeyans had a real sense of community in the way they practice trade, government, religion, and fitness.

Dec 19th, 1998, 06:05 AM
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You have done it again Wes---a great question ! For me the answer is simple.
You probably did not know this but I was
there in a previous life--or at least I
like to fantasize. You see, I was a Captain in the personal guard of Lorenzo
de Medici---the magnificent one. It was
an awesome time in history and I can think of no more inspirational experience than to rub elbows with the
giants of this era.
Dec 20th, 1998, 10:37 AM
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I would have two choices:
1. The period of the Protestant Reformation would be exciting. I would love to hang around with Martin Luther and ask him about a milion questions.
2.Although the lifespan would not be sufficient to do so, I would like to have been around from the beginning to the end of the building of a great cathedral. I continually am fascinated by them when I visit. To see one built form ground up would be awesome.Probably would choose St. Stephans in Vienna. Then I could have enjoyed a cup of coffee, a croisant and later had a great Goesser beer!
Dec 20th, 1998, 05:45 PM
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I was an Art Major and have always been fascinated with and enchanted by the Age of the Renaissance in the magical city of Florence. I would love to have lived in Florence then and been a world-class artist with some of the greatest masters of all time!
Dec 21st, 1998, 04:36 AM
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If I could go as an observer only, and not end up a victim, I would love to go to Paris during the Revolution. Not a pleasant time by any means, but I studied a lot about the period in grad school and would be fascinated by the opportunity to get a better feel for what it was like. Another period would be the much more peaceful, if only temporarily so, inter-war period of the 1920's and 1930's. I would love to hang out for a while with Hemingway and the gang.

My choice for the worst time to revisit - 1940's Germany, Poland, or Soviet Union.

Dec 21st, 1998, 06:16 AM
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Wes: Where do you come up with these questions? Another great one to get us jawing.

As much as previous times seem so inviting, the Crusades, the French Revolution, Post WWI France among others, I can't help but think that "these are the good old days".

The opportunity to travel in Europe with respect to govenments and currencies make it very tempting indeed. The Europe that I know has progressed in many ways, but in so many others, remains almost unchanged. When I go to Europe now, it is like traveling back in time. I like it just the way it is.

Planning another trip right now...
Dec 21st, 1998, 11:46 AM
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Someone already said it, Wes, your query is a delightful doozy. Herewith my druthers:

The Isthmus of Panama before Balboa sited the Pacific

Hawaii before the advent of Captain Cook

Yosemite before the Park

A Christmas mass at Westminster, before and Henry VIII and another during the reign of Elizabeth I

The Globe theatre during Shakespeare's time

The library at Alexandria before it was burned to the ground

The places and times Laurence Durrell represents in the Alexandria Quartet.

Dec 21st, 1998, 12:25 PM
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No doubt about it- I'd be watching the Druids around the stone circles in Ireland.

Or visiting with Catherine de Medici.

Or having lunch with King Ludwig.

Great question! Provoking, but safe.
Dec 22nd, 1998, 09:25 AM
Neal Sanders
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While I acknowledge those messages above that caution us not to live in a past that probably never was; there is one time and place about which I regret that I was "born too late."

There was a magical period that lasted roughly a decade following World War II when to be a dollar-carrying tourist in Europe was to be king (or queen) of the world: a suite at the George V was about $55 per night; the finest meal in Rome was $10. To be able to prowl the Rue St. Honore in seach of great art at unbelievable prices was something that was available even to Americans of relatively modest means.

But I would also have experienced the rebuilding of Europe and the foundation of the modern states that have arisen. Theodore White told it as a first-hand account in his book "Fire in the Ashes," and the Europe he describes is one whose spirit lived through that horrible time. That American generosity was helping re-build post-war Europe made it easier on the conscience to be a tourist in that time and place.

And, if one came home with a cheap Mondrian or Klee under one's arm, well so much the better.
Nov 11th, 2001, 04:33 AM
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While in the Louvre one day I daydreamed about what it would have been like to live there-so maybe that would be my choice, running around the Louvre, otherwise, Medieval Times have always fascinated me..but then maybe in England when the Romans were running things, Bath,etc...Thank you Wes, for making me stop and think and still not be able to make up my mind~ c
Nov 11th, 2001, 07:23 AM
mimi taylor
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It is the 1900s and I am sitting here on the terrace of the Dome with my good friend, the queen of Montparnasse, Kiki.
"Look, kiki says, there goes my old lover Man Ray with his new mistress, that beautiful American girl, Lee Miller. They say she has become a wonderful photographer under his wing." There goes Jean Cocteau, Kiki, that is his new lover, the young writer Radiquet. Tonight everyone will be at The Jockey Club. including Ezra Pound, Mina Loy Tzara. This weekend, we look forward to the Watteau ball. I know Kisling will wear his favorite costume, madame of a Marseilles brothel. You know, mimi, one day I wll be famous they say. My photo collage that Man Ray produced of me, you know the one, Le Violon d'Inres, is being published by Breton. Yes, I say one day all our friends, Margritte, Hemingway Foujito, Pascin, Modigliani, Ernst, and all the others will be also. Come mimi, I am bored here today, let us go to the Select, Calder will be there with that other American with the amusing shoes.
Nov 11th, 2001, 08:11 AM
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I think you know for me I would be Cleopatra floating down the Nile with my toy boy Marc.
Nov 11th, 2001, 02:10 PM
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I want to go hang out with the Renoirs and their fun friends in Monmartre.
Nov 17th, 2001, 01:12 PM
Mary C
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Expatriate Paris of the 20's & 30's (and I don't just mean American expatriates, either). Reason? I've always been attracted to the literature of this era. I've often wondered why. Have never believed in reincarnation, but if there were ever an argument in favor of the idea it would be my nonsensical, overabiding interest in this era. Thanks for listening! MC

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