Untourist of the Week: Janet Dieman, another amazing Untourist grandmother

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We asked Janet Dieman to be an Untourist of the Week. Her creative answer to the questions—Tell us about your last Untour? Why did you go there? What’s your favorite Untour memory? What three words best describe Untours?—are  below. We’re not sure it’s ever been so poetically stated. 

Rather than telling you about my most recent Untour, I prefer to share highlights from my many trips to Switzerland over the last thirty years. The vivid images from each trip are treasures that form a montage I think of as a trip to Switzerland. To separate them into component parts (eg. a particular trip) would force me to abandon a precious memory. Switzerland is my preferred destination for the obvious reason—its beauty. If you’ve been there, I need say nothing more. If you haven’t, Switzerland should be your next trip. There is nothing to rival the Alps. They are soul food. I am renewed and rejuvenated by their quiet yet mighty majesty. Each trip strengthens my bond and draws me back to the magnificence of the Alps. So, of course, I couldn’t wait to share Switzerland with my daughter and her family.

My first dream of taking them to Switzerland happened when my first grandson was only three years old. There is a long story about that decision and its outcome in my memoirs. Of biggest concern was whether a trip with a toddler would be enjoyable and if he would recall anything from the experience. What a surprise on both accounts. What began as a once-in-a-lifetime dream trip morphed into a series of trips that eventually included a second grandson. Both grandchildren experienced Switzerland for the first time at the age of three.

After the first fifteen years of travel to deeply anchor me to my mountains, I’ve enjoyed a second fifteen years overlayed with family. Can you imagine a richer experience of beauty and bonding? My photo library is in excess of 38,000 (and counting). A large number of these are from Switzerland. And, in addition to the spectacular vistas, many recall family fun in the mountains. I can trace the growth of my grandsons through Swiss memory shots. That little three-year-old who snuggled in the locker at the train station in Grindelwald, that seven-year-old who made friends with animals while hiking. Those boys who share experiences at age eight and twelve that only brothers can know and remember for the rest of their lives. It’s all there. We carry these images in our hearts. The shared experiences are glue that strengthens our sense of familiness. 

And so, my favorite Untour memory is all of my travels. Sorry, I can’t elevate one above the others because they are all fabulous. Plus, I’ve always had trouble making a decision. Forced to choose a favorite memory would simply be impossible, and I’d spend the rest of my life sorting through all the possibilities. The only decision that is easy is the one that takes me back to Switzerland.

Taking an Untour puts me precisely where I want to be—in a small village where I can connect with people. To me, part of my responsibility when traveling is to be an ambassador. I represent the United States. And I represent a link in the family of man.

When I connect with people, I feel the relationship that makes us all the same. We all want to live happily with our families and friends in a secure place where we have the basic elements of life. On a people-to-people basis, there is respect and world peace. We build that basic foundation through our connections. It is only governments that interrupt this condition.

There are lots of words to describe an Untour. Many have been used in other blog postings.They are all perfect descriptors. I would like to pull them all together by saying an Untour is:

THE VERY BEST.

(Stay tuned for tomorrow’s quickie quiz and slideshow on the joys of taking your grandkids to Europe)

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