Is it just me, or when people use words like Baroque or Gothic do you wonder whether or not if the words are used to indicate a specific historical style or if they’re used in a more vernacular way.
Now that Halloween is over, I’m back on my castle kick. I will probably, sometime in the near future, take a trip to Europe with a particular interest in Medieval structures. My particular interest is in the early Middle Ages, but since there’s less from that time period, I will probably wind up including sites that are a little bit later in time. When I was at that late childhood age that kids develop a fascination with knights in shining armor, I happened to go to the library and find the relevant King Arthur books checked out. Instead, I wound up reading the Song of Roland. My romantic knight fascination therefore has a decidedly French feel to it. It’s also a little bit more historical, and very much rooted in the early Middle Ages. I think it’s something in my fastidious brain (as opposed to body – remember, I’m the sexy sloth) that mixing up different historical eras has always bugged me a bit. I guess that’s why I’m always asking, “Do you mean Gothic or gothic?”
If anyone has any historical sites worth seeing, I’d love to hear about them. My main direction is France, but that’s mainly because I’m comfortable enough with the language that I feel at ease going places that might not be a main destination for foreign travelers. My first trip to Europe was to Austria and Italy and it was very poorly planned and was very stressful. Later I went to France and there’s such a dramatic difference when you can ask complicated questions – and understand the answers! If I go places outside of a Francophone or Anglophone area, it needs to be well planned. For France, I could just get on a plane and worry about what happens when I get there.
It’s funny, when I was younger, I didn’t have that strong an interest in traveling. I did a little bit. That trip to Italy and Austria I mentioned was my first opportunity to go overseas and I jumped on it. I wanted to go places earlier, but finding a traveling companion was always a bit of a problem. Now, I’ve got three trips in mind. One is a hiking trip to Utah. Another is this early Medieval Europe trip. I’ve been looking at the cost of flights to Nairobi. Oh, yeah, I have a trip to Florida planned as well. So that’s four. I feel that as I get older and know more about the world, there’s more that I want to see. I also have gotten a better idea of what is really good to see in person as opposed to reading about or looking at pictures. I still think the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen was Venice. The thing that was so impressive about Venice is that it’s 360° beauty. It’s not one picture or one sight. You really do get more from being there than from seeing a picture. That’s why people say things like the Eiffel Tower is a disappointment. It’s not really any more impressive than it is in photos. In fact, it’s exactly like it is in photos. Now, there are lots of great things about Paris. I think it’s a wonderful city, but the big monuments that you see on post cards are not really what makes it enjoyable. One convenient thing about Paris is that the big monuments are located at major crossroads and you can almost plan your trip and see them by accident. But I don’t really care to see the major monuments. It’s the smaller revelations, like: “Golly, the Seine is a lot smaller than I thought.” Or standing along the Cap Gris Nez, looking out towards the water as the sun is setting and saying, “What’s that white line out there? Is that… no, it can’t be. Can you see England from here?” (Yes, you can.) It’s almost hard to predict what will strike you, but you probably haven’t seen it on a postcard.
Oh, right, speaking of Venice, the Venice Carnival is something I’d really love to go to. Of course I’ll make a costume. There are days I think I should have learned Italian. You may be thinking that, if I know French, Italian should be easy. However, I once tried taking a Spanish class and it was almost like there was a short-circuit in my head. Everything came out French. The teacher actually thought I was French because of the sorts of mistakes I was making.
It reminds me of the time I had an Anglophone Canadian compliment me on my English. Since I was living in Quebec at the time, he assumed I was a French speaker. Yeah, my English is so good I sound as if I come from New Jersey. I still can’t help wondering what he was assuming about my accent.
Getting back to where I started, it seems that the large portions of the Český Krumlov Castle are indeed Baroque, which is just as well since the Czech Republic is not currently on my itinerary. I mean that as no disrespect for the country. It’s just that I already have four trips planned and haven’t yet figure out how to pay for those!
Although I say that my interest is in the early Medieval period, I confess a special fascination for those towns whose roots go far back enough to disappear into prehistory.
Enough rambling for one day!