What is your conception of an ideal stay in a world class city? Does it include visits to museums? Some of you will say, "Of course, that's a no-brainer," while others may want to avoid museums altogether. This puts a tour host such as myself in a precarious position: how much time should we spend wandering the halls of great museums such as the Louvre in Paris (pictured), the Victoria and Albert in London, or the Uffizi in Florence? Here's where we land:
Our approach, as you know by now if you're a regular reader, is to look at a culture from a holistic perspective. What makes up a culture? History, geography, language, religion, politics, leisure, and yes, art in all its forms. So what do I personally take an interest in? The answer is yes. One cannot fully understand and appreciate a given culture without taking all of the above factors and more into account. And it happens that many of these things are best captured and assembled in museums. What we do want to avoid is going into a museum with no orientation to its contents -- believe me, we've made that mistake; a museum can indeed be boring if one has no appreciation of the significance of the museum's treasures. That is why we now make an effort to prepare our travelers so they can take in as fully as possible the reason we're bothering with a given museum. We also try to take into account the particular interests of our travelers, realizing, of course, that we cannot customize each tour completely for every individual.
There is much to be discovered about culture, however, outside the museums -- on the streets, in the churches, the homes, the restaurants, cafes and gathering places -- and especially in the people themselves. After all, if culture is about anything, it is about people -- their shared values, their past, their present and their future.
For my part, an ideal experience contains as many of the above as possible. We can't guarantee that you'll come home with lifelong friendships, but we do promise you'll be impacted in a way that will cause you to look at life and the world differently. For information on our two tours in 2011, click here.