Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Grand Tour of Europe

OK, now I am safely installed in a comfy seat of a Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft heading for Frankfurt enroute to Madrid, Spain. I will post this blog when I get to Frankfurt, asuming that they have free wifi.
This huge air bus is quite a step up from the smaller aircraft I came home from Cuba in. There are extra comfy seats and a personal viewing screen with a large movie selection at my beck and call. The attendant announced that there would be a dinner seved and a "morning" muffin and coffee service in the early hours of the morning before we landed. Lots to do to fill in the 7 hour flight. Most importantly, there are two power outlets above the tray table - a USB and a 110. I won't run out of juice and I play with my electronic toys. I got my early morning blog published while at the airport (thanks to Pearson's free wifi) and spent the remaining time with last minute emails.
Now that we are at cruising altitude of 33,000 ft, want to tell you what got me thinking of Europe for my "Part 2".
Approximately 350 years ago the idea of travelling for the sake of curiosity and learning developed and spread widely. The idea reached its highest peak in the 19th century as travel became more accessible and in particlular in Great Britain where there was a great deal of interest in the continent and classic culture. The travel was called Grand Tour and according to the Oxford English Dictionary the first recorded use of the term was by Richard Tassels in his book An Italian Voyage (1670). The historian Edward Gibson on the outset of one of his Grand Tours remarked: “According to the law of custom, and perhaps of reason, foreign travel completes the education of an English gentleman”.
Young and rich English men, starting from the second half of the 17th century and further on the 18th and 19th centuries, often spent two to four years travelling around Europe in an effort to broaden their horizons and learn about language, architecture, geography, history and culture in general. It was commonly undertaken in company of a knowledgeable guide or tutor and provided not only a liberal education but became a symbol of wealth and freedom.
So where dos that leave me? When I finished high school I was really anxious to finish formal education and start living life. I didn't consider taking a few years to travel.
So I went to a community college and trained as a computer programmer and started working for a living. I didn't feel it important to take a few years off to travel. Now I wish I had. But all is well that ends well and now I have that opportunity.
I can't afford to take off for 2 to 4 years, but I have worked really hard in the last two and saved enough to travel for 6 months. I have given a lot of thought about how the next 30 or so years of my life will unfold, God willing. I am not going to live what might be a conventional golden years. No, I will work a lot longer than would be expected - ok, by the time Harper gets though with us we will all be working through our 70s anyway. So instead of early retirement, we will all be faced with late retirement. I for one have decided to alter the equation. I will work for a few years and then take some time off to travel or to write or to do something meaningful with my life. I can probably do this 6 or 8 times in the next 15. This sabbatical is only the first installment of what I hope to be a regular feature in the years to come.
Stay tuned maybe I will get another blog posted during the next leg of my flight. I am waiting now for my connecting flight to Madrid from Frankfurt.


  1. You emulate my thoughts, Peggy.

    If I run out of money, I can always go back to work. To me, I now think of work as I think of golf: I can do it when I am too old to do anything else.

    Stay off the ridge lines ....

    1. Thanks for visiting Fram. We are of like minds about this thing called work. We have lots of time for adventure now and lots of time to work when we are to old for all that.

      I will keep in mind your comment about ridge lines as I walk through the mountainous area of Monesterio. :)