I am a little late on this but this week marks one year since I put together the blog and this page. In that time, I’ve written a little less than I had hoped but had four excellent trips, visiting 8 different countries. There’s been a slight focus on South West Europe with time in Greece, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia as well as Austria and Turkey whose past empires had such an influence on that part of the world. And I also had my biennial visit to the Edinburgh festival.
Each of these trips have left me wondering how this current age will be seen in the end:
- Standing looking at the stadium at Ancient Messene or the entrance gate at Mycenae on the Peloponnese I wondered what cultural or physical traces will be left of 21st Century Britain in 3000 years – will we, too, be an ancient people admired for our advanced technology which faded in to nothing? Will the last 50 years be seen as a short period of relative calm and peace in between centuries of upheavals?
- Looking at how the Ottomans, Austro-Hungarians and Communists each tried to win favour in Sarajevo by building infrastructure and not aggressively imposing their cultures, is the European Union’s investment in roads & buildings a similar attempt at empire building? Will the EU last for 4 centuries like the Ottomans or be a passing skirmish?
- Will London in a hundred years become like Vienna with grand buildings built to rule a rich, vast empire but now overlooking a wealthy but now a bit player in a wider union of countries? Will Edinburgh be like Bratislava: split away from its traditional neighbour but an increasingly powerful player in a wider group of countries?
It is difficult to see how current events fit in to the longer trends of history; where do events during my life of 80-100 years (God willing) fit in to the centuries and millenniums either side of it. Big questions with few answers. In an age where there is a rush for instant news and information, there is a lack of time to sit and reflect. This is where research and travel can offer us time to gain a perspective.
In the coming year, my travels will focus on locations a little closer to home but no less historically varied. From the Roman artefacts and remains in the bay of Naples to revolutionary nineteenth century Paris, these trips (and others yet to be booked) will offer insights in to other cultures and histories, thus helping us to understand our individual place in it all. Which is part of the reason I will always continue to travel and try to share my experiences with others.