I grew up in a different era than my students, in a time when the adventures described by wanderers like Hemingway or Kerouac still seemed plausible; like, okay, the world has changed quite a bit since then, and there are more channels on television, but leaving the world of what you know and getting lost in the elsewhere is still possible.
Today in the rush to escape the crowded elevator at Amsterdam’s Centraal Station, I lost track of a brown sling bag which contains: My laptop, my DSLR, 2 smartphones, a kindle, and an I-pod. All told, about two grand worth of gear, as well as my lifelines to our group, and to home.
I hope it will happen on every trip. And it always does. But until it does I don’t really believe it will. It’s that magic moment when you feel you are not just far from home but have transcended the concepts of far and near and strange and familiar and are embraced – just embraced, not immersed – in the place where you are.
Today I accidentally took a 22-mile bike ride through eastern Paris. I say “accidentally” because soon after setting out for Père Lachaise cemetery – about a four mile ride – I got distracted by an interesting lane that led up past an old canal and when the canal ended I took my best guess at where Père Lachaise might lie…
We had a nice group dinner at a trattoria near the hotel last night and it was fun to hear everyone swap tales of their adventures in Paris. It is impossible to see and experience everything Paris has to offer in six days, but no one is leaving feeling that they did not make the best use of every minute.
France has seen many upheavals, defeats and resurrections since its bloody Revolution. World War II was likely the most severe test of its survival and its principles. My father played a role – a small role, a soldier’s role — in restoring to France its freedom and culture, which myself and my students now enjoy and marvel at in our wanderings through Paris.
When we discuss International Media, we think first of the big companies and institutions like Radio France and Burson-Marsteller, but I believe our visit to the Louvre is equally important. After all, art is the first medium — the graphical representation of someone’s idea of reality.
Long ago, the mayor of Zagreb was beside himself because the church bells that signaled noon and dinner rang at wildly different times. So, he installed a cannon high in a tower that overlooks the Old Town. Twice a day it would be fired and then the churches were to all ring their bells at once.
Last night people thronged Zagreb’s central square, which is lined by cafes and clubs and is a gateway to winding streets with more cafes and clubs, and also to the “old town” which is home to ancient churches and the national parliament. On a raised stage, musicians sang passionately about Croatia while images of the country’s scenic wonders panned by on a plasma screen behind them.
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