From the 17th through the 19th centuries, many upper class British young men traveled a traditional path through Europe called the Grand Tour. The Grand Tour served as an educational rite of passage whereby the traveler learned about culture, history, architecture, and the arts. The traveler became knowledgeable about classical antiquity and the Renaissance, and was usually accompanied by a learned guide.
The itinerary for the British traveler started in Dover, England, crossed the English Channel to France or Belgium, and then continued down through the middle of Europe to Italy. Finishing in either Rome or Naples, the traveler might take a ship back to England. Grand Tours lasted from several months to several years.
Grand Tours are a thing of the past. The days of the landed gentry wandering the capitals of Europe seeking knowledge and life experiences are long gone. Instead, today we have gap years, study abroad programs, hippie trails, and sabbaticals.
I’m fortunate to work for a company that offers an eight week sabbatical after every seven years of service. Add in three weeks of vacation and I don’t have to sit in a little grey cube staring at a computer screen for almost three months. My sabbatical is fast approaching. I have looked forward to it for at least a couple of years now. I’m going to make the most of it.
I can’t do the Grand Tour. There is not enough time and money. But I can try to do some portions of it. In reverse. I’m starting in Rome, Italy. My plan is to detour first to Greece, Turkey, and Israel. After returning to Rome, my Grand Tour will take me to Milan, Lake Como, the Berner Oberland, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Krakow, Budapest, Vienna, Prague, London, Bath, and the Cotswolds.
I invite you to follow along.