EVENTS LEADING UP TO THE CREATION OF SOJOURNER TOURS
Our story begins where the lives of the co-owners intertwine...
A TRADITION OF GUIDING BEGINS:
Francis leaves France to spend a year in Ireland at the University of Limerick perfecting his English and falling in love with the country and the language. Over the next decade he will return many times to introduce friends and family to the places that seduce him.
Lisa leaves the States to spend a year studying in France in Francis' hometown Besancon. While studying at the university, she shares an apartment with other foreign students, including two from Japan. When one day an Irish friend invites a young French fellow to a party: Lisa meets Francis.
Francis takes Lisa hitchhiking across Ireland. Lisa then backpacks around Europe.
Francis spends a year in Germany to complete his compulsory military service.
Francis and Lisa are accepted in Master's programs in Ohio. Lisa takes extra classes to complete the International Studies program in one year.
1999 Swaziland (Southern Africa)
Lisa spends the summer in Swaziland at a teacher training college.
Lisa spends two years teaching English in Japan and falls in love with the country. She travels from the south to the north and then begins organizing and leading excursions to introduce friends and family to the places that enchant her. She also writes a guide to the Ibaraki region which is published for other foreign teachers.
Francis joins Lisa in Japan for her second year and teaches French and English.
THE SOJOURNER PHILOSOPHY IS BORN:
2001-2002 China, Southeast Asia, India & Nepal
Lisa convinces Francis to join her for a year of backpacking in Asia.
Spending at least one month in each country, they will visit almost a dozen countries. During the first month in China, they engage in intensive tourism with a focus on visiting the biggest and most famous tourist sights. Hopping from one tourist destination to another, they see all the big sights, are exhausted and realize that they have a lot of great pictures of important places but have learned very little about Chinese culture.
During the second month, in Vietnam, they begin to ease into "slow travel" and shift their focus toward food and culture. They are rewarded with richer experiences and more contact with the local people by staying in one place for an extended period of time and taking day trips. They start asking local people and other travelers what they should see instead of relying heavily on a guidebook. They begin choosing restaurants based on how many people are in them rather than how attractive they look. Gradually these methodical changes grow into a full-fledged travel approach, the travel philosophy of "sojourning" is born. By the end of the year they'd: eaten in local people's homes; learned how artisanal products are made; had countless "off-the-beaten-path" adventures; and, were even invited to join a wedding!
Now, Lisa and Francis put "sojourning" at the heart of every itinerary they create both for themselves and for Sojourner Tours.
A PARTNERSHIP IS FORGED, THE FIRST JOINT TOUR
On June 22, the day after the summer equinox and the official day of music in France, Lisa & Francis get married. A life-long partnership begins.
Following the ceremony, the couple plans a week-long sojourn based in Besancon for guests who have flown from around the world for the wedding. This first itinerary will later become the basis of Sojourner Tours' signature sojourns based in Besancon (Best Kept Secrets & Off-the-Beathen-Path in the French-Swiss Borderland).
Fast forward ahead...
YEARS OF INFORMAL TOURS
2002-2008 USA (from Santa Barabara, California to Austin, Texas)
Francis completes his PhD in French Literature. Lisa has completed a second M.A. in Anthropology and gives birth to their first son.
Francis' father has left the antique business and has opened a hotel which is named "most charming hotel" in eastern France by a major national magazine "Le Figaro".
Francis chooses a tenure track post in the Austin area.
Lisa puts her PhD plans on hold to focus on being a mother for few years, teaching some French classes at a local university.
Lisa & Francis welcome a second son into their lives and continue to informally guide groups in France as the opportunities arise.
Francis begins an annual summer routine of bringing the family to Paris where he can conduct extensive research at the French National Library and teach for an American summer study abroad program. He is enthralled by teaching the students French history through visits to Paris' major historic sites.
Lisa & Francis add Paris to the list of places where they informally organize itineraries and guide groups.
2010-2011 Japan & France
Lisa gets a research grant to return to Japan to conduct research for her PhD project.
Francis is granted a sabbatical to complete his first book and accompanies Lisa to Japan to write and care for the boys.
Due to the Earthquake that year, Francis & Lisa leave Japan early. They spend the next six months in France.
Francis's father opens a second boutique hotel in a former convent.