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Our theme this week will be mythical places.

Valhalla – (often ironic; often lower case) the place of honor for heroic combatants
Neither AHD nor MW contemplate such non-literal use, and are more closely confined to the original Norse legend.

From Valhalla, the great hall in Norse mythology where the heroic dead are received. They go forth daily to battle each other, just for fun, and return each evening to feast, their wounds magically healed.

quote:
Regarding political infighting in the Opera Bastille in Paris:
[T]he Wagnerian context for this meeting had come to seem all too appropriate. Valhalla, in the shape of a $350 million opera house, stood awaiting its finishing touches, but Daniel Barenboim was barred from crossing the rainbow bridge that led to its portals.
--Rupert Christiansen, Vanity Fair, May 1989


[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Tue Jan 7th, 2003 at 6:57.]
 
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Ultima Thule - ('Thule' pronounced as two syllables)
ancient geographers' term for the northernmost region of the habitable world;
hence a distant territory or destination; a remote goal or ideal
quote:
From there I caught the train to Chernyshevsk, a blight of a settlement 180 miles north of Mongolia, six time zones east of Moscow, and as close to nowhere as one can get this side of Ultima Thule.
-- Jeffrey Tayler, This Side of Ultima Thule; A dispatch from Eastern Siberia, Atlantic Monthly, April 1997

In 330 BC the Greek explorer Pytheas sailed north from the Mediterranean and became the first recorded voyager to cross the Arctic Circle. He had learned of a mysterious archipelago called Thule (pronounced "too-lee"¹), somewhere to the north. Thule became an irresistible attraction to the human imagination, but also an elusive goal. As the frontiers of arctic exploration moved north, so did Thule, until it took on mythical proportions, becoming in poetry "Ultima Thule" — the land farthest north.
For centuries the quest for Ultima Thule became the pursuit of the geographic North Pole, the most coveted of all polar prizes.
-- net travel site; note the variant pronunciation
 
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Thule is also the name of an USAF base in far northern Greenland. I never knew how it got this name before this and had always assumed that there had been a General Thule of one sort or another somewhere along the road.
 
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Gotham – a common sobriquet for New York City. But why?

Washington Irving, the creator of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," attached the name to New York in 1807. He depicted "Gothamites" as wiseacres and know-it-alls, a view accurate then and now. Tracing back further, an book from 1460, Merrie Tales of the Mad Men of Gotham, collected legendary stories of English villagers alternately wise and foolish.

Legend hath that two centuries earlier King John, he of the Magna Carta, came to a Nottinghamshire village to acquire land for a hunting lodge. The villagers schemed to change his mind, as they had no wish to be taxed to support the King's Court. Thus when the King's advance men arrived, the villagers were running wildly in circles and behaving in a thoroughly demented manner. The King promptly dropped his plans to reside among madmen.

The village was the named Gotham, and the wise fools there were said to have remarked, "More fools pass through Gotham than remain in it." Gotham itself passed into legend as the home of such wise fools, whose demented behavior has method in its madness.
 
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Arcadia or arcadia – a region offering rural simplicity and contentment.
From an ancient Greek region of that name, whose inhabitants, relatively isolated from the rest of the known civilized world, proverbially lived a simple, pastoral life.
quote:
Michiko Katutani, "Britons Chafe at Giving Americans a Shot at the Booker Prize", New York Times, June 10, 2002:
The brouhaha that erupted in Britain last month when it was learned that the prestigious Booker Prize might be opened to American writers by 2004 is one of those parochial flaps that reveal just how foolish the literary establishment can be. ... Through the end of the 19th century, Britain and Europe represented history and tradition and the sort of society of manners that Americans like Henry James felt that the United States still lacked, whereas America represented a kind of primeval Arcadia, vigorous and naïve, but lacking in sophistication. In the 20th century, the parent-child relationship between the Old World and the new began to shift.
 
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I wondered if "arcade" was derived from "arcadia", but my dictionary says it was derived from "arcus" (Latin). It seemed perfect to me for describing "amusement centers": "scenes of simple pleasures".
 
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My vague recall is that the name Arcadia was given to what we now call Nova Scotia.
 
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Timbuktu - a extremely remote place
going to Timbuktu - going to extremes
After the city in northwest Africa, in what is now Mali. Timbuktu was at one time a major outpost of the gold trade. Even now it is almost impossible to reach.
quote:
You'd also like your project site to have a short and simple URL, rather than stretching to Timbuktu and back, peppered with tildes.
--Linux Journal, May, 2000

Timbuktu is an expression that commonly signifies the limit of the world.[Novelist Paul] Auster explains. 'People say I've been to Timbuktu and back, when half the time all they mean is that they've been on a shopping trip to Manhattan.' A bit shame-faced, I tell Auster that I once made the same mistake. I'd followed a road in the desert, signposted to Timbuktu, for miles before I realised that it was going nowhere. It was just a joke. That's funny, he said, because, even if Timbuktu exists, which it does, he says, it's an oasis in the desert somewhere in Africa. Still, it exists more as an idea than as a place. In the world, our world, Timbuktu is fiction. And, as Auster might say, all the more real for that.
--Suzie Mackenzie, The Guardian, May 29, 1999
 
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Quote "...After the city in northwest Africa, in what is now Mali. Timbuktu was at one time a major outpost of the gold trade. Even now it is almost impossible to reach..."

Timbuktu has its own airport and is also accessible by bus and river steamer quite simply from Bamarko, the capital. Bamarko is served by several international airlines.

Thanks to the efforts of the burdgeoning travel trade, there are now very few spots on the globe that cannot be reached simply, quickly and in relative comfort (conditions of war and strife excepted)

Richard English
 
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quote:

Originally posted by Richard English:

Thanks to the efforts of the burdgeoning travel trade, there are now very few spots on the globe that cannot be reached simply, quickly and in relative comfort
Richard English


More's the pity. It takes all the fun out of it.

Purgamentum init, exit purgamentum

Read all about my travels around the world here.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Richard English:
There are now very few spots on the globe that cannot be reached simply, quickly and in relative comfort


In keeping with this thread's theme, may I suggest that there might be big money in the idea of a travel agency booking passage to mythical locales. It would be difficult, I suppose, but imagine the lines of travelers waiting to board the next flight to Shangra-La.

Proposed travel agency slogan: "A myth is as good as a mile!"
 
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cloud-cuckoo-land - Someone is said to live in cloud-cuckoo-land when they seem optimistically out of touch with reality
quote:
University heads were living in "cloud cuckoo land" if they thought they would get the £9.94bn they are asking for over the next three years, Margaret Hodge, the higher education minister, told them bluntly today. ... "It is cloud cuckoo land because it [Universities UK, which represents vice-chancellors] has not addressed priorities and it has assumed a public spending envelope which is totally unrealistic," she added.
-- The Guardian, September 17, 2002

On Thursday, the Bush administration announced that it would join with the United Nations, the European Union and Russia to host an international peace conference to settle the conflict in the Middle East. No location was announced for this meeting, but I can suggest a neutral country that would be perfect for the idea: Cloud Cuckoo Land.
-- Robert W. Tracinski, Jewish World Review, May 8, 2002
 
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When I was travel agent I heard this phrase and others like it many times. Obviously it would have been unwise to have taken issue with a potential customer since my job was to sell travel to people, no matter why or where.

However, the remark is rather elitist and usually made by those who are fortunate enough to be able to travel to exotic places beyond the reach of "the common herd".

I am sure that sellers of motor vehicles heard similar remarks when Henry Ford started to make cars for the masses, as did high class vintners when the supermarkets started to sell cheap wine.

The fact is that the travel industry, like many other industries, has made available to the masses that which was once the preserve of the fortunate few. The fortunate few will inevitably resent the fact that their fun has been diluted but the empowered many will usually be delighted!

Richard English
 
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Shangri-La is supposedly in the Himalayas, near to Tibet. Chinese government restrictions permitting, it is simple enough to get there on a package from the UK.

In fact, there are few places that the UK travel trade can't get its customers to; indeed, there is a substantial traffic of US citizens travelling via the UK to Cuba, since, of course, the US will not usually permit its citizens to travel to that fascinating country. From the UK it is a simple matter of buying a cheap package from your local agent and hopping on a plane.

Richard English
 
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I'll happily discuss with you my views on travel, the relative merits of a tent in a muddy field in China or a fluffy towels trip to some European Capital and the impact of global tourism.

Are you sure this is the best place for such a discussion though ? It seems a very long way away from the purpose of the board.

Purgamentum init, exit purgamentum

Read all about my travels around the world here.
 
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Cloud-cuckoo-land comes from Aristophanes' play The Birds, where the world's birds adopt a grandiose scheme to seize supreme power of the universe. They will establish a kingdom in their unique habitat, between heaven and earth. With that central position they can dominate the gods by intercepting their sacrifical supplies, and can terrorize mankind by the threat of devastating the crops. (Sort of an ancient version of Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative.)

The birds name their kingdom Nephelokokkygia, greek for Cloud-Cuckoo-Land.
 
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I agree that this is rather far from the purpose of this board so will not try to instigate an in-depth discussion.

Suffice it for me to say that most of the travel industry is well aware of its impact on the world - both positive and negative. "Sustainable" tourism (to use the latest buzz-word) is now a significant aspect of the industry and is the subject of much discussion, research and action.

Richard English
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Richard English:
"Sustainable" tourism (to use the latest buzz-word) is now a significant aspect of the industry and is the subject of much discussion, research and action.

Richard English


To swing the topic back to language then: another commonly heard term nowadays is "Ecotourism". Personally I feel this word is ugly and unnecessary although the concept which it embraces is neither.

Purgamentum init, exit purgamentum

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Yes. It's a word that's commonly used, though and I suspect that it's here for the medium term, at least.

Richard English
 
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Xanadu - an idyllic, exotic, or luxurious place

From Coleridge's poetic idealization of Xandu, the city in Mongolia where Kubla Khan had his summer palace. The poem opens thus:
quote:
In Xanadu did Kubla Kahn
A stately pleasure dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
The term in use:
quote:
In his lonely Xanadu on Pennnsylvania Avenue, the Citizen Nixon of Oliver Stone's sprawling new biography is let to contemplate what history has in store.
--Janet Masli, New York Times, Dec. 20, 1995, reviewing the film Nixon


[This message was edited by wordcrafter on Sun Jan 12th, 2003 at 10:22.]
 
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My vague recall is that the name Arcadia was given to what we now call Nova
Scotia.
-------------------------------------
My cobweg-clogged cranium cogitates that it's Acadia, not Arcadia. A bunch of 'em moved to Lousiana after the English took over and chased the French out and the name was foreshortened to Cajun.
 
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