a man's birthplace, or the scenes of his first love, or certain places in the first foreign city he visited in youth. Even for the most frankly nonreligious man, all these places still retain an exceptional, a unique quality; they are the 'holy places' of his private universe.A lovely idea, right (assuming you can get past the sexist language of his time!). It got me thinking about my "privileged places". My birthplace, Perth, will always be an important place for me - especially as I now live here again - but I think some of the other kinds of "privileged places" that Eliade describes are even more significant.
|Perth by night, from Kings Park, with full credit to my clever husband|
My romance with Berlin
One of my earliest special spots has to be Berlin. Being in Berlin as an impressionable 14-year-old at the exact moment of reunification of East and West Germany, standing at the Brandenburg Gate with a local family - that set the scene for many travel yearnings and a lot of thinking over the years. I have been back to Berlin probably half a dozen times since, and it is still a place I want to return to again and again. It's one of those cities where you could always find something new to do, and it's continued to be the scene of special moments - for example, my last visit to Berlin was with my husband just after we were married, and we had to visit the Australian Embassy to apply for his visa to move with me to Australia. It was nerve-wracking (we'd banked everything on him getting it in as short a time as possible) but Berlin came through for us.
My ties to Osaka
I guess because Osaka was the overseas city I lived in, and because I truly adored the two years I spent there, it is very high up on my list of "privileged places". I have only returned once so far, and that was just a short time after I'd moved away, so I'm starting to get a little nervous about the return I have to have. Will it live up to my expectations? And the description I've given of it to my husband and son? I fear that it's the kind of city that grows on you, that you love because you live there and know where the funny little man is with the delicious takoyaki snacks or you know exactly how to use the ticket machines at the station; that if you visit just for a week or two that it might seem just like a grey, smoggy city, punctuated with occasional patches of temple or park beauty. I'll have to wait and see.
|Umeda Sky Building in Osaka|
Sentimental for Bratislava and Vienna
But last week I was trying to figure out some travel arrangements and I started to fear that the "privileged place" feeling I reserve for Vienna is coming undone. I've long felt it's a city I knew well, despite never living there, but when I hopped online to check train times for a transit from Vienna to Bratislava, I got myself in quite a tangle. I was sure I'd always left Vienna from Südbahnhof (South Train Station) to head to Bratislava's Hlavne Stanice (Main Station). But search as I might, I couldn't find a connection and something called Wien Hauptbahnhof (Vienna Main Station) kept popping up. What is Wien Hauptbahnhof, I wondered. It took a question to a friend over there before I understood - Vienna is changing, and the Südbahnhof was actually demolished recently to make way for a new Hauptbahnhof, and that's where I'll need to catch my train to Bratislava from.
|Stephansdom in Vienna|
Where are your "privileged places"?