August 2007 Bar Bulletin
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August 2007 Bar Bulletin

Sabbaticals: A Road to Relaxation, Release

By Merrilee MacLean

 

In this era, it seems like the law-firm sabbatical more and more is becoming a thing of the past. However, when extended time off, without pay, was one of the accepted benefits of tenure, there was no shortage of creative and adventurous ways to spend a few relaxing weeks or months away from the daily grind. Here, we present two such stories.

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Turning 50 can be traumatic and has been the butt of many jokes regarding mid-life crises. As I approached that milestone a few years ago, I decided the best way to do it would be on an extended sabbatical, and with style. So, I made reservations on the Orient Express.

We all think of the Orient Express in Agatha Christie terms, with Hercule Poirot and his mustache, traveling from London to Istanbul. In today's world, there are a number of other options, from a simple overnight trip between Venice and Paris to a more extended trip, involving more exotic locales. Just check out www.orient-express.com. My friend and I chose something in between - a trip from Venice to Prague, a stopover in Prague for two days, then overnight to Paris, continuing on to London. It was everything we hoped for.

We started out at the special Venice-Simplon Orient Express desk at the Venice train station. You could tell this wasn't an ordinary trip - there were big machines washing the green-and-gold rail cars, men in white gloves handling the luggage, and the arriving passengers were dressed in a style one doesn't see anymore. We had been warned in advance that one didn't wear "trainers" (read athletic shoes) or jeans on the train, and one "dressed" for dinner. It seems everyone had gotten the memo.

As we found our assigned carriage, we were greeted by Richard, our personal steward. The interiors of the compartments are gorgeous, with polished inlaid hardwood, fresh flowers and cushy upholstery. As we left the station, the ladies that had checked us in stood in a line and waved goodbye, while a four-piece band played music. We all waved back, watching the people left behind gaze at us with envy.


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