Message From The Founder The Vacation Reinvented Sojourn Variety

Lauren enjoying an evening in Winchester, England

The Scholarly Sojourns group in the
Parker Library at Cambridge University

A Chat with a Sojourner

Lauren Gaither of Suwanee, GA joined us for Anglo-Saxon Britain in July of 2016. We contacted Lauren recently and she was kind enough to share her thoughts about the tour with us.

What was the most memorable experience on the tour?
It’s hard to choose a most memorable moment when the tour allowed us to see and experience so much in such a short time! The part that stands out in my memory was our time at the Parker Library in Cambridge. If you had a lot of free time on your hands, you could probably expend the effort to plan your own vacation meticulously and manage to fit in all the sites we visited…but one would be hard pressed to finagle a private tour of this incredible collection. The opportunity to see these manuscripts in person, to touch and smell them, to hold a priceless piece of history in your hands–all with a period expert and a Parker librarian there to provide the historical context and insight… It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

How did you find the lodging/accommodations?
Scholarly Sojourns provided such a wonderful selection of accommodations! Several of the locations were highly memorable experiences. From the giant stone edifice and perfectly manicured grounds of Lumley Castle, where you can feel like the guest of an Earl; to the charming and historic timber-frame Pilgrim’s Hotel in Canterbury, where you can imagine swapping stories in the bar with the Miller, the Reeve, or even the man, Chaucer, himself.

Did you enjoy the signature picnic?
The Scholarly Sojourns signature picnic was a lovely breath of fresh air–an opportunity to spread out under the sky and slow down. The food and drink provided were lovely, and a picnic offers everyone the chance to mingle and chat rather than being stuck to a table setting.

Did you enjoy traveling with a small group?
I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy traveling with a group, but I was so pleasantly surprised by the experience. Scholarly Sojourns brings together like-minded people–a diverse group of men and women who share at core a deep curiosity, wanderlust, and love of learning. You find that your travel companions fast become friends. Dinners and seminar evenings are filled with rich conversation. You easily connect over shared interests. And you can share the tour experiences with people who appreciate them as much as you do.

Did you find traveling with a tour leader useful?
A key part of the Scholarly Sojourns experience is the presence of an expert tour leader. It adds so much value to the trip to travel with someone who is more than a tour guide–to see it all with someone who carries with them both a deep well of knowledge and a kind of heart-connection to the tour subject. They are able to impart knowledge, yes, but also a depth of appreciation for the places you visit, and an enthusiasm for the subject matter that breathes extra life into the experience.

How has this tour inspired your life once you returned home?
I’ve always loved to travel, but I had been overcome by the feeling that there is nothing left to find. There are no frontiers. No more trails to blaze. No distant lands to discover. You can see the Taj Mahal with Google Street View and there are no photos you can take of monuments that haven’t already been taken. The sense of mystery and promise was missing.

Traveling with Scholarly Sojourns reignited that feeling of adventure, of discovery. Because, while it may be true that there’s not much left to see that hasn’t been seen by someone–there is so much out there that I still haven not seen. Scholarly Sojourns brought back that untarnished enthusiasm for real-life experience. It helped me shuck my cynicism, and see again the whole world as a place wide open and waiting–undiscovered…just for me.

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