Great European Journey, Smithsonian, 2018, poem
Janetta Rebold Benton

75 Smithsonian travelers set out, without hesitation,
And with Amsterdam as their initial destination.

We boarded the Amadeus Silver II,
And sailed to Cologne’s Gothic cathedral, enjoying the view.

In Koblenz, at the confluence of the Moselle and the Rhine,
We visited St. Castor, built in a Romanesque design.
We tasted fine wine,
In Rudesheim.

In Heidelberg, we toured this university town, in a bratwurst-induced daze,
Reminiscing about our own misspent student days.

At the ruins of Heidelberg Castle, we considered what was lost to history,
Leaving behind a complicated, royal mystery,

Raising questions about the proper role of restoration,
As opposed to conservation and enduring preservation.

Sailing from Germany to France, to Strasbourg, picturesque, so pretty,
To admire a Gothic cathedral, in a medieval city.

We sailed from France to Switzerland, disembarking in Basel, and riding to Bern,
Where we saw bears, and arcades, and a mechanical clock, each in turn.

We admired the mountains, the waterfalls, the greenery,
The Interlaken paragliders, and the spectacular scenery.

Lucerne’s beautiful lake, covered bridges, painted facades—who could complain?
We ascended Mt. Pilatus via gondola, and descended via the steepest cogwheel train.

Driving from Lucerne to Andermatt, the landscape green, clean, pristine,
Completed with other views to be the most spectacular we’d ever seen.

We took a train from Andermatt to Zermatt, but I confess,
I think it would be more accurately called the “Glacial,” than the “Glacier Express.”

To see the Matterhorn we ascended 10,000 feet,
A fitting grand finale to our journey, a glorious treat!

Oh, Europe, tomorrow when we must return home, how we will pine,
For your delicious foods, beer, champagne, and fine wine.
Now it is time to say--in Dutch “vaarwell,” in German “auf wiedersehen,” and in French “adieu” —
I am so glad to have had this chance to travel with each of you!

And finally,  who fed us? Led us? Never lost even one of us?
Please raise your glasses in a toast,
To Katherine and Laetitia, tour directors with the most!