A lot of planning goes into every World to the Wise cultural tour. An awful lot. But sometimes the best memories are made from unscripted moments. Like when you happen onto a pair of super talented street performers in the Trastevere area of Rome. (There are virtuosos on the streets of almost every major European city.) Or when you run into a new friend in Venice whom you had just met in Tuscany only days earlier. Or when you get an impromptu performance from a professional opera singer on a perfect night under the stars in the Tuscan countryside, celebrating the birthday of one of our participants, sitting around the fire pit singing old standards, and eating millefoglie cake by a local artisan baker.
These are moments that cannot be orchestrated, when spontaneity and serendipity meet, and you have the distinct impression that heaven is smiling on you.
Like being handed two free bottles of locally produced wine, as the group leader, by the owner of your favorite gelateria in San Gimignano. Or discovering much in common with your Italian guide whom you only just met. Or even getting caught in the strongest hail storm you've ever seen (fortunately not the longest) and getting in the van just in time to remain mostly dry. Like happening onto a beautiful pond in the park on a hot Roman day and soaking your feet. (Until the mounted policemen ride up and ask you to get your feet out of the water.)
Or walking into a glorious 700-year-old basilica in Barcelona, enjoying the classical guitarist playing at the front and discovering that you are an invited guest at a wedding. You catch a photo of the radiant bride just steps away from you as she makes her way down the long aisle to the altar.
Or having a three-hour delay on the overnight train from Venice to Paris and thus being awake at 6:00 in the morning to see your old neighborhood in Lausanne, Switzerland out the window as the train whizzes by -- something you wouldn't have seen at 3:00 am because you would have been asleep.