This is the time of year that I begin to develop itineraries for next year's trips--and for this reason t is usually a time of great excitement and anticipation. This year, however, in light of the Paris attacks, it feels deeply inappropriate not to acknowledge that as of last Friday evening the world feels less safe and travel less secure. Indeed, I have already begun to receive questions about this in relation to next year's trips.
My only answer so far is that the horror of these attacks makes it hard not to be concerned about what this could mean in the near future. We are in shock and do not know what the future holds. Let us hope, though, that a sense of security will be regained as fast as is possible in such fraught circumstances. In the meantime, it strikes me that continuing to plan is a small act of confidence in a version of the future in which everyday life is regained and the terrorists have failed.
On the purely practical level, deposits for Studio Traveler trips are fully refundable through December 31st of this year; at which time this period of refundability may be extended should events warrant.
Now on the far happier focus of today’s post—London
London has always been one of my favorites and, of course, I am not alone! London seems to act as a sort permanent center of gravity for the whole planet. In one way, its abiding appeal is this sense of permanence. Take for example the line that connects us to our literary heritage--Chaucer to Shakespeare to Milton to Austin to Dickens...it feels mighty and enduring and that's as it should be. I have to admit, though, that what grabs me most these days about London is not this sense of the 'eternal' but, rather, it is what seems to have so profoundly changed in the city in recent decades. London's image once included a certain inextricable drabness. Before the 1980's one rarely thought of London as the site of exciting or important contemporary art and certainly one never ever thought of it as even having a food scene, much less being an exciting food destination. What a complete and utter difference these few decades have made.
Our upcoming week-long trip to London, led by University North Carolina art history professor Cary S. Levine, will give us one whole week to focus on the visual arts, both the historical at the great encyclopedic museums like the National Gallery and the Victoria and Albert as well as the exciting and ever-expanding contemporary art scene at venues such as the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, Whitechapel Gallery or the Tate Modern, a vast venue that nonetheless retains its cutting edge.
And because it is a Studio Traveler trip, we will spend our evenings enjoying the now excellent food scene.
The London itinerary goes 'live' on the website in two weeks, on December 1, that is, unless you signed up for a 'London Early Bird' in which case a sneak peek at this itinerary as well as instructions for sign-ups will be coming your later today.
There will always be an England and thank goodness for that--this week even more than most...