Newsletter for the Rotary Club of Western Endeavour - Issue No.: 922 Issue Date: 2 Aug, 2020

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Grand Vienna Building & Lin

Peter & Lin's Odysseus Tour Europe

Peter Batskos entertained and informed us with his presentation on his and Lin’s odyssey to central Europe.  Entitled “Odysseus Tour Europe- Social, Historical and Political Reflections on Sofia, Vienna, Plovdiv”, Peter challenged us to identify the reason for this title “Odysseus…”. The story of Odysseus begins in Homer's epic poem The Iliad, but his second poem, The Odyssey, relates the tale of Odysseus wandering the seas for ten years as he struggled to return from the Trojan War. Peter and Lin were away for about 2 weeks, and he didn’t explain what war he was struggling to return from!  Peter’s explanation was “somewhere different they hadn’t been to before”, but I think he was in search of the Sirens, those mythical bird-like creatures whose beautiful voices lured men to their deaths.

Leaving the mythical, Peter reflected on the frequent warring in the region, history generally, park/café fun, commercial elements and Art/architecture.

We were informed that Bulgaria and Austria were part of the German alliance in WW1 and 2.  However, Bulgaria never declared war on Russia.  Russia had in fact assisted to establish Bulgaria as a separate state in the late 19th century. In late 1944, Bulgaria switched sides to join the Western Alliance, fearful of Russian tanks amassed on its border.  It didn’t help much- in 1946 Bulgaria became a one-party socialist state and part of the Soviet-led Eastern Bloc. The ruling Communist Party gave up its monopoly on power after the revolutions of 1989 and allowed multi-party elections. Bulgaria then transitioned into a democracy and a market-based economy.

Rotary International!

Romans- Sofia to Black Sea

We then delved into some ancient history- 400BC to 1890, including the Thracians, Romans and Byzantians!

Peter and Lin enjoyed riding through the parks and the café culture- it had the feeling of Western Europe, rather than eastern bloc/asia. We were impressed with Peter's reading of the sign he is standing in front of, with his bike.

We then enjoyed some slides of the magnificent buildings and art so typical of Europe.

Thanks Peter for an excellent presentation that kept us all enthralled, and generated questions until well after closing time!

Author: Tony Parker

Published: 24 July, 2019


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