Great European Journey, Smithsonian, 2022, farewell poem

Janetta Rebold Benton, Ph.D.


44 Smithsonian travelers set out, without hesitation,

With the Netherlands’s Amsterdam as their destination.


We boarded the Amadeus, with its fine chef and crew,

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 to a Romanesque design.


We cruised the Rhine,

And tasted fine wine,

In Rudesheim.


If you wondered about politics and history,

Ralph Nurnberger explained every mystery.


And Barbara Horlbeck told us about contemplation,

Of natural beauty and its spiritual fascination.


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 picturesque Strasbourg, 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, arcades, and a mechanical clock, each in turn.


We admired the mountains, the waterfalls, the greenery,

The Alps and their spectacular scenery.


To see the Matterhorn we ascended 10.000 feet,

Literally a highlight of our journey, a glorious treat!


We took a train from Zermatt to Andermatt, but I confess,

It would more accurately be called the “Glacial” than the “Glacier Express.”


Driving from Andermatt to Lucerne, the landscape green, clean, pristine,

Competed with other views to be the most impressive we’d ever seen.


The Alps! Their magnificence almost hard to believe,

Extreme cliffs and streams only Mother Nature could conceive.


Lucerne’s beautiful lake, covered bridges, painted facades—who could complain?

We ascended Mt. Pilatus via gondola, and descended via the steepest cogwheel train.


Oh Europe, tomorrow when we must return home, how we will pine,

For your delicious food, beer, champagne, and fine wine.


 Now it is time to say in Dutch “vaarwell,” in German “aufwiedersehen,” and in French “adieu”--

I’m so glad to have travelled 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 Giusi and Diane, Tour Directors with the most!