It’s hard to put into words what the World to the Wise cultural tour does to a person. Part of that is that it does different things to different people. Some are overwhelmed with a sense of the gravitas of history — how we are dwarfed, in a sense, by those who have gone before us and the magnitude of human experience in the places we visit. Standing in the midst of the Roman Forum or the Coliseum next door, or in the magnificence of St. Peter’s Basilica or the Sistine Chapel, it is hard not to feel a sense of awe.
Others are charmed by the simple and pristine beauty of the countryside of the Old Continent. During our stay in Tuscany, we are hosted by two Italian families whose lifestyle speaks of a serenity that calls to a place deep within us. We spent longer at their table than any of us are used to — we simply had no place we would rather be.
And still others marvel at some of the greatest art the world has ever seen — from the awe-inspiring Sistine Chapel ceiling and the David to the masters in the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay (we also visited Monet’s famous house and gardens in the village of Giverny), we also try to notice the more subtle, less famous expressions of creativity everywhere we go. Paris is not only home to some of the great art treasures of the past, but it continues to be a city driven by creativity and innovation.
And then there is London. Although most people know me as an avowed francophile (among other things!), I cannot get enough of London. Because I and many of our participants hail from the UK by descent, it feels a little like visiting distant cousins you’re interested in getting to know better. Granted, it’s much easier to visit London than to live there; you couldn’t pay most of my British friends to live there. I will just let that be what it is and continue to enjoy the vitality and creative energy of that world class city. This year we saw The Lion King in the West End, and there was not a dry eye in my head. We topped off the tour with a day trip to the fabled city of Oxford, where some of the greatest minds have both studied and taught, and finished the day with a king’s feast at the Eagle and Child, the now famous pub where C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and their cohorts met for a pint and mutual encouragement.
How do we feel when we come home? The best kind of tired, but more importantly, extremely well fed.
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