Back when I was younger, I did my utmost to visit every castle I came upon. I have my favorites, including Conwy Castle in Wales, the iconic Warwick Castle, and Urquardt Castle in Scotland. I don’t mean to be anglo-centric, but the truth is that I prefer my castles to be solid and utilitarian. The French Chateaux are amazing confections that confound me. Even the most austere, Angers, the homes of the Dukes of Anjou, is deceptively simple with lines that appear impossibly precise. Amboise and Chenonceau are marvels of engineering and design. But, I understand how the English lived in their castles. I have a hard time understanding how the French used theirs.
My favorite movie is The Lion in Winter. Peter O’Toole stars as Henry II of England, who has declared a Christmas Court at Chinon in 1183. He brings together his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, his sons, Richard, Geoffrey and John, his mistress Alais, and her brother, King Philip II of France, for a holiday. His family all wish to resolve the issue of succession, even if the resolution requires a little sedition. The thing about the movie is that it makes you want to book a trip to the Loire.
Similarly, Caroline Costello found herself shopping for a trip to Paris after seeing Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, which made me think about the reasons I go where we go. Certainly, movies are great travel porn. Tom and I decided to take a cruise to Mexico after seeing The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. We did not exactly find the treasure, but on an excursion into the mountains, we definitely found an essential Mexico that simply does not exist in Cabo San Lucas, no matter how beautiful Cabo is.
Tom and I watch Black Orpheus whenever it’s on, and imagine that we’re in Rio for Carnival. I’m not sure the Brazil of Black Orpheus still exists, although, if it did, it would probably be suspended somewhere between the neighborhoods of Santa Teresa and Lapa. I find myself, like Ms. Costello, looking at trips to Rio, although the cost is nearly prohibitive (that is, I cannot find a trip that fits my minimum requirements within my travel budget). Maybe next year.
Unless… I keep looking at pictures of castles. I found this slideshow of English castle ruins that reminds me of how much I love an English ruin…