By Sue Murphy
Well, I did it. I finally went on my bus tour of France, and it was wonderful. We visited three chateaus, four castles and a palace, and I think there is a difference between the last two, but truthfully, I can’t remember what it is.
Our tour director, Jean-Roch, told us so many interesting facts as we motored through the beautiful countryside that I should surely be smarter by now. I spent the entire tour saying, “No kidding! That’s amazing!” You know me, I’m a sucker for a good story, and there were some beauts. We heard about kings and queens and dukes who wanted to be king and one duchess who was married by proxy to a man who sent his representative to touch her bare leg under the bedclothes to make the marriage official. After all that, the marriage was annulled so she and her duchy could be united to someone a bit more ominously present.
Over 12 days, we toured battle fields and cemeteries that made me cry and Monet’s garden that made me cry, too, but only because it was so, so beautiful. The scenery was gorgeous, the food spectacular, but the thing that made the trip truly wonderful was the people on the bus.
Our group of 29 included an astrophysicist, a family of three physicians and a man who has won the Nashville gingerbread house-making championship at least five times. There were three generations from a single Cuban immigrant family and a special lady who lost half of her extended family in the Holocaust. We ate together and toured together and laughed together and cried together, until during our farewell cruise on the Seine, it felt like we were saying goodbye to old, dear friends.
As I winged my way homeward, I started thinking, (The flight was over eight hours. I had a lot of time on my hands.) maybe the bus tour convergence could work for other similarly disparate groups. Maybe instead of fancy dinners and face-to-face sit-downs, they could just put the G7 on a bus and tour them around … well, it really wouldn’t make any difference where they went. Each world leader would have to sit in his/her assigned seat, which would change every day, just to be fair. They’d have to show up on time or do the walk of shame down the center aisle. They would have to schlep their own luggage (and whatever emotional baggage they brought with them) without the fawning of their minions, underlings, or PC speechwriters. Security details could follow in another bus, but the major players would be quarantined for 10 days while they were shown the wonders of the country they were visiting, hearing about the history, eating the local food and if they didn’t speak the language, working that out somehow.
Maybe a G7 Bus Tour is too much to ask right up front. Perhaps we should put our own U.S. Congress on buses for starters. No Democrat or Republican bus, either. Senior and junior members, southern and northern and Great Midwest members would rotate through the ranks as equals. Together, they would peer into the Grand Canyon and paddleboat on the Mississippi. They’d hike a few paces on the Appalachian Trail and go to the Alabama/Auburn football game. (Forget that last part. They’d never get tickets.)
We could work out the itinerary later, but I believe the trip would do the world leaders a world of good, and us right along with them.
A Tour de Force? I’d vote for that.