Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Grand Tour Goes Global

Recently I read Lawrence Osborne's The Naked Tourist. In it, the author travels the “Asian Highway” to Papua New Guinea in an effort to escape what he called the “wherever”-ness associated with travel in our “age of the airport mall.” The book was moderately entertaining. But, I thought the first chapter on the history of travel was most enjoyable... and enlightening.

In particular, Osbourne recounted the history of the “Grand Tour,” a journey by young British aristocrats through continental Europe in search of culture refinement, aesthetic beauty, and connoisseurship. As self-proclaimed Anglophiles and frequent European travelers, Libby and I are well acquainted with “The Tour.” Indeed, one of my favorite artists, Canaletto, made much of his income selling “souvenir” paintings of Venetian scenes to British patrons. (True story: having seen numerous Canaletto's in England, I was shocked to discover on my first visit to Venice that almost none of his paintings remain in that slowly sinking city of elegant decay.)

Anyway, I digress.

What I'd never bothered to consider was that the first stop on the Grand Tour once it went global was Egypt. How appropriate! How Victorian! (How touristy!) In any case, I can't think of a better place than Egypt to launch our global “Grand Tour” outside of Europe, which we intend to eventually take us to all seven continents.

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