Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Context Tours Expands Its Offerings to Boston, Istanbul, Madrid and Athens

We were in the Vatican, crowds swirling around us, yet my two young daughters (then aged 6 and 10) stood still and quiet, raptly staring at a small, elaborately carved, stone sarcophagus. It was the coffin of a very young ancient Roman, likely no more than 7 years of age, our guide explained to us. That made the work very, very rare because most well-to-do children from the age of the Caesars wouldn't have lived with their parents until they were over 10. So many young children died in those days, she went on to say, that parents found it easier not to get to know their children until they were of an age when they'd likely survive. So they were farmed out to live with servants until they were older.

This was just one of the fascinating tidbits we learned on Context Travel's family Vatican tour. That its stuck with me for over a year is testament, I think, to what a powerful experience the tour was for our entire family.

Idiosyncratic, engaging and high quality walking tours are the hallmark of Context which, unlike many tour companies, carefully vets all its guides. Instead of using full-time professional tour guide, it turns to the academic community when hiring, letting graduate students and professors earn a bit of extra cash for putting together these intellectual yet entertaining walks.

Rome was the first city Context served, soon adding Venice, Florence, Paris, London, New York and Philadelphia. I was pleased to learn yesterday that the company has now added the four cities in the headline of this piece to its offerings. Among the tours in these city's, I was particularly intrigued by the Goya in Madrid walk (which takes participants to works of the master in situ) and the exploration of the Acropolis in Greece, which is being labeled a "seminar" and is led by a noted archaeologist.

For more info on Context, click on the link above.

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