As the captain promised, sunny skies and nice temps in the high seventies. We were up at 6 am to see the sunrise and have an early breakfast.
The cruise is definitely coming to an end. Today the bridge handed out info about customs and disembarking, and delivered the bills for all the extras that guests ordered .
It is our last day at sea. Tomorrow morning at six we will dock in Half Moon Cay, Bahamas, and the morning after, we disembark in Fort Lauderdale. I thought I would be getting bored by this point in the voyage but I am not - both of us are relaxed and completely rested.
This evening is a formal one. We arranged to have dinner in the Pinnacle with Gaby and Matthew, and went to their stateroom ahead of time for canapés.
I ordered the lobster mac and cheese, to see if it was as good as the Gordon Ramsay version that my son makes. Ramsay‘s is better, but this one was good, and had a whole lobster tail on the top.
MS RotterdamDay Sixteen: Rough Seas
We seem to be in the middle of some rough weather. Ironically the movie playing on the television today is The Perfect Storm. Is the captain playing with us?
It is still warm , about 79 degrees, but the sky is overcast and there are force eight winds. So the ship is rocking and several people are looking green. Good thing Bob and I are hearty sailors. Running on the treadmill is challenging, though the view is fascinating.
There was a Grand Buffet at lunch, with ice sculptures , really good big shrimp, (No, Miss Al, I didn’t eat any!) roast beef, the whole nine yards, as well as rum babas and triple chocolate cakes.
After, we did the audio guided art tour of the ship. There are paintings, sculptures, archaeological pieces, antique ships models - a couple of million dollars worth of art works. It makes the ship far more interesting than most.
I then went to a talk called Five Hundred Years of Art History - a real gallop through the ages, but well done. Bob opted for a talk about navigation in the Queen’s Room.
I have encountered such strong Anti American feelings on this trip, shocking and
nasty. The Brits and other Europeans have expressed real disgust, not only with the country but with the people. Even the Americans are anti- American and fear their country is falling too far behind the rest of the world to ever catch up. The general opinion seems to be that the country is doomed, that Obama will never overcome the goon mentality of the powerful right, and that the reforms that are essential will never happen. The best result would be that America would draw in its tentacles, build walls around itself and exist in isolation from the rest of the world.
There used to be admiration mixed with the complaints about America, but that doesn’t appear to exist any more.
The captain has promised sunny skies and quiet seas for tomorrow.
MS RotterdamDay Fifteen: Steaming Towards the Bahamas
Woke up at six thirty this morning (actually seven thirty but we are turning our clocks back an hour each night to keep up with the time change) and went up to the promenade deck to watch a gorgeous sunrise and enjoy a cup of (not very good but at least hot) coffee. I was surprised at how many people were up and about. One couple was in the outdoor pool doing aquatics, a few staff were in the Lido pool doing lengths, and some early bird types were already tucking in to breakfast.
I brought espresso from the Explorer Café back to the room as a wake up for Bob, and then breakfast was delivered.
I only managed two miles on the treadmill because I had to shower and meet the executive chef Thomas Schumann for a tour of the galley kitchens. They bake thier own bread daily and most things are made fresh on board.
They are immaculate, and they are run with military precision.
Then we headed for the Lido pool, - it’s 82 degrees today - and managed to grab two deck chairs, where we dozed in the sun and read our books . I’ve finished The Angel’s Game, not very good but I felt I had to finish it, and have started another Ian Rankin. Bob is deep into David McCullough’s 1776.
Our cabin steward, Miftah, is thirty years old and comes from west Java. He has helped his younger brother get a job with the company and he will be joining the same ship as his older brother in Fort Lauderdale. Miftah is a very likeable young man with perfect manners and a good sense of humour.
I think he l0ooks live an Indonesian version of Brad Pitt.
Yesterday one of the passengers died unexpectedly on the ship. He was 75, and was apparently a very large man. It is rare that someone doesn’t die on a crossing - the average age of passengers is older for long voyages - and they have refrigerated cubicles for just such an occurrence. They keep the flowers there when it isn’t in use.
John Duffy used to say that a ship was in reality just a floating city, and anything that could happen on land could happen here - crime, death, insanity, love. So death is something for which they are prepared. But I was wondering how they would get that man’s body down the hall. He would be dead weight (pardon!) and would be very tricky to manoeuvre through the narrow cabin door and into the hallway. Maybe they would put him in a wheelchair and take him out that way.
I feel so sorry for his wife who must now continue the voyage, without the solace of friends and family, until she reaches Florida on Wednesday.
There’s approximately 1790 miles to Bermuda, and almost the same distance to the Canary Islands. We are very definitely at sea.
We had breakfast delivered to our stateroom and ate on the balcony. The temperatures are warm, but there are rain clouds. We saw a perfect rainbow that ended in the ocean way out on the horizon.
I did my 5 K in the gym, then Bob and I did a mile around the promenade deck. The day began with clouds, but the benefit of a ship is that it can steer away from clouds and into sunny skies, which our captain did, and by ten the blue skies were back.
One thing that has really impressed me on this cruise is the service. Stewards and servers are unfailingly pleasant and quick, and very well trained. There’s a feeling of teamwork and a sense that this is a happy ship. The dining room captains are observant and smart, moving guests to the right tables, pairing up suitable guests at larger tables, saving tables for two for old romantics like Bob and I. And since the first day, they have addressed us by our name.
There is only one little baby on board, one of the officer‘s wives is sailing with her husband, and has brought along their little 17 month old boy. He is so sweet - makes me long for a hug from Riley or Lulu - and his mother has a sort of harness and tether that she has on him to make sure he doesn’t get away from her.
We dined with our friends in the upper level of the dining room, and then returned to our stateroom,
which had been cleaned and tidied in our absence with the covers turned down and the daily programme for the morning, along with two chocolates and a new towel animal placed on the bed.
MS RotterdamDay Thirteen: Still the Mid AtlanticLovely and warm today, high seventies and sunny.
We have asked Miftah to help us plan a birthday cocktail party for our new friend Matthew, who will turn 65 today. He and Gaby are coming to our room for cocktails before we go to a special Indian dinner in the Pinnacle Grill. Miftah arranged to get some extra chairs, a wine bucket, more champagne glasses and ice, as well as some nibbles to be delivered to the room.
Room service outdid itself. ‘Nibbles’ turned out to be an elegant tray of cheeses, pistachios, sugared walnuts, dates, fresh grapes, French bread, and little crackers. We sat out on the veranda of our room and watched the sunset, enjoyed a glass of bubbly and toasted Matthew’s birthday.
Then we went to the Pinnacle Grill, the gourmet restaurant on board ($20 extra pp) and had a special Indian meal:
Here's the menu:
Aloo Bonda ( spiced potato quenelles, fried in chickpea batter and served with mint chutney
Tamatar Shorba ( slowly simmered tomato soup flavoured with coconut and coriander)
Kozi Varta Currry (spiced chicken in black pepper gravy)
Jinga Masala ( Goan style prawns prepared with coconut milk and Indian spices)
Malai Kofta Korma
Cheese stuffed potato dumplings in a creamy tomato sauce
All served with saffron and geen pea pilaf rice, butter naan bread anda condiments
Gajar Ka Halwa ( carrots cooked and sweetened with cream and nuts)
Washed down with cold Dutch beer - Grolsch’s - it was delicious. The dessert was a bit odd, kind of like a mushy carrot cake, but the spicing in all the dishes was aggressive and delicious.
But no dancing for us, although many on board do so. I’m afraid that the rocking of the boat combined with Bob’s problems with balance would put us overboard.
Not such a bad way to go, really, romantic and dramatic at the same time. Apparently it takes over half an hour to slow the ship and get it turned around to come back for you , and that’s only if some one notices and raises the alarm. There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, although John Duffy, the hotel manager on the QE 11 for many years swears it is true, of a couple in their eighties who dressed up in their best outfits for dinner, enjoyed a good meal and a bottle of champagne, and then disappeared off the back deck. No one saw them go over, but their stateroom was empty the next day. The wife, so the story goes, had a terminal illness and had only months to live, and they had been together for many years.
MS Rotterdam: The Mid Atlantic Day Twelve: At SeaDining on a ship is always tricky. It isn’t as if you can switch to a different restaurant if you don’t like the ones on board. Your choices are decidedly limited.
For casual fare, the Rotterdam’s Lido is perfect. Situated on Deck 8, this is a busy, casual space, always full of light because of the glass roof in the pool area and the big windows.
While the food may not be exemplary, it is fresh and there is a great deal of choice. I have discovered the pasta bar, and anyone who knows me won’t be surprised to learn that I have developed a liking for their linguine with sauce bolognaise. There are Panini’s, oriental dishes, roast beef, fresh sushi, fruit, cheeses and, out by the pool, continual hamburgers, fajitas and pizza. Breakfasts here offer the usual things, omelettes, pancakes, waffles and French toast as well as an ‘Eggs Benedict’ station where you can order a different style each morning - smoked salmon, spinach, Canadian bacon, etc.
The big disappointment for me here, and actually this applies to the whole ship, is the coffee. It is undrinkable, made from liquid coffee stuff that doesn’t even smell like coffee. There is a coffee bar near the library that makes passable espresso and cappuccinos, but it is expensive. When you are coffee aficionados as Bob and I are, this is something that you really miss.
The formal dining room, “La Fontaine“, is a beautiful room with white table cloths and fresh flowers. The food is pretty consistently good , with a significant failure in their Lobster Thermidor which was inedible. Portions are on the small side, which is good, especially when you are consuming so much so often on a cruise, and the plating is very nice. I like the fact that there is always fresh fruit and a very good cheese board for dessert.
High tea is served in La Fontaine every day at three, and a light meal is available every night from eleven to midnight. Haven’t tried either of these yet.
Tonight we met friends in the Ocean Bar where there is a nice string quartet each evening. We had champagne, then went to dinner in La Fontaine, which was a celebration of French cuisine.
All of this is even more reason for me to make my daily visit to the gym for my five K’s on the treadmill.
Today we are really at sea, with no land in sight, and the next stop the Bahamas. There are many activities on board, but few of them are our kind if thing - you can play bingo, learn to make marzipan, try your hand at the ring toss, do the Wii challenge, learn about wine, or attend some lectures about sea life or Christopher Columbus’ voyages to the new world.
But we are lazy and spend most of our day reading, lolling by the pool on the back deck or talking with people we have met.
I forced myself to work out for 40 minutes in the gym, but it is not such a difficult thing - the view of the sun and water from the treadmill makes it easy.
Dinner is at 7:45, and we joined some friends for coffee afterwards and then attended the show in the Queen’s Lounge at ten, a tribute group to Frankie Valli and The Four Season’s - Bob’s favourite music from his teenage years. They were surprisingly good.
Each night our steward, Mufti, leaves a towel sculpture on our bed. Tonight he outdid himself!
Day Ten: MS RotterdamSanta Cruz, Tenerife, Canary IslandsWe walked up the Calle Castillo, bought a few things, and had an espresso. We ran into Matthew and Gabriella and arranged to have dinner at their table tonight.
Then I tried to visit the new Museum of Modern Art. I walked around the building three times before I found the entrance, and then was told that the museum was closed, which I should have known since most museums are closed on Mondays.
So I wandered over to the fresh market, the Mercada de Nuestra Senora de Africa,
and bought jars of picante sauce, torrone, and a bottle of Tio Pepe sherry fino blanco.
We also somehow wandered onto a street that was obviously for “working women” - there were two or three young ladies, in short skirts and very high heels leaning against the doorways on every corner.
Dinner this evening was a long and leisurely one, with good conversation. Both Matthew and Gabriella have led interesting lives. It was the Master Chefs dinner, where the staff sing and dance as they deliver the courses, with the last course being the famous baked Alaska.
At about six pm, the ship left port and headed out into the Atlantic. We won’t see land again for seven days.
Day Nine: MS RotterdamArrecefe, Lanzarote, Canary Islands.
I was last here twenty four years ago when the QE11 stopped here. This is where, at that time, we had lunch in a little café by the ocean that served icy beer and spicy potatoes that were unique to the Canaries. They are little potatoes boiled in their skins in a thick salt and water solution so that the potatoes have a crust of salt on the outside. They served a delicious red picante sauce, quite hot, and mayonnaise to dip the potatoes into. When I got home, I created an equivalent recipe that I called Lanzarote potatoes and everyone has loved them for years.
So of course one of the orders of business was to try the special potatoes again. We found the Café Central, which claimed to serve the best tapas in town.
We had a good strong espresso then tried the potatoes. These ones were a bit different , served with both a red and a green sauce. The red sauce was the hot one, as I remembered it, except that this one had tons of garlic in it. The green sauce was a cilantro sauce, not as spicy. So now I will have to tweak my recipe when I get home.
We walked along the pretty breakfront boulevard, and found a food fair in progress, despite the fact that today is Sunday. There was a man offering tastes of sausages and grilled ribs, with a loud Spanish patter that was lovely to listen to.
It was also nice to see the men, generally older, sitting in the cafes beside the ocean, drinking sherry fino and playing cards. They looked so relaxed.
That evening, as we left Lanzarote behind, we enjoyed the Sommelier’s dinner in the Pinnacle dining room. The food was lovely - I will post a separate sidebar with the menu and pairings for those of you who are into such things (as I am) - but the wine pairings were disappointing, by and large.
Day Eight: MS Rotterdam At Sea, Heading for the Canary Islands
Mid seventies and sunny today, and a nice day to catch up on emails, on reading, on getting a tan. One of the little luxuries on this cruise is the laundry. You send your dirty clothes away in a laundry bag and the next day it is returned, all clean and folded and neatly wrapped in tissue paper, like a present.
We were very lazy, enjoying a late lunch by the pool . I am reading Ian Rankin, lovely , complicated spy thriller, with lots of blood and murder and not too much concentration required. Bob is reading the life story of The Widow Cliquot and the history of her famous Champagne house. A real feminist icon at a time when such women were rare.
It’s easy to lose track of time when all there is to see is sea. The coast of Morocco is off to the left somewhere, but it is out of sight.
This evening we attended a special reception held by the captain for his important guests - we were invited only because we are Press - and it turned out to be an interesting event. We all ended up crowded into a narrow corridor in front of the elevator, with the doors to the reception room closed until the opening time of 7:30. Bob and I tried to move over to one side to get out of the crush and a rude old American man scolded us for “getting in front of us in line!”
“I’ve been waitin’ for twenny minutes to get in first!!” he growled (Add the accent in your imagination) I wonder if he thought there would not be enough champagne to go around, or if being the first to shake hands with the captain was a special prize - I think his wife was embarrassed by his rudeness. At least I hope so.
We moved back, and Bob being Bob, he made it known that he thought the fellow was an idiot, and a very nice Dutch couple behind us agreed. We made friends with them, Matthew and Gabriela, and sat with them during the reception. He’s a banker, she’s an artist, and they are completely charming and great conversationalists. We have arranged to dine with them n a few night’s time. So it is an ill wind that does not blow some good.
We had been warned so many times that Casablanca is a different port from any European port, - that we should be careful of our belongings, not wear any jewellery, not eat or drink anything while there - that we were a little on edge.
But while the city was not the romantic place I had imagined, neither was it threatening or apparently dangerous. The best part was visiting the suq - narrow alleyways full of stalls selling everything from shoes to live chickens, from dried figs to spices.
It was noisy, colourful and smelly, full of life and dirt and energy. I would have pent more time there, but our companions were a bit put off by the odours and noise so we toured the other parts of the city.
The mosques are impressive, but the city itself has an air of decadence and decay. I’m glad to have seen it, but I don’t think I would make a special trip to go back.
The suq was full of cats! - they were everywhere. One little creature in particular broke my heart. I found this little kitten cowering on a ledge, trembling. It was so little, and one of its eyes was either missing or badly infected. It was obviously doomed.
I wanted to sneak it back to the ship and nurse it back to life, but that was impossible. I thought about hiding it in a bag under my sweater, but you have to go through a scanner, and I assume they would find it, and a kitten probably wouldn’t stay quiet either. It would undoubtedly be full of fleas and bugs, too.
So I left it to its fate …. But I can’t stop thinking about the poor thing.
Another day of perfect weather, and another lovely Spanish city. But this was one of those days when all of our choices turned out to be unwise. Maybe we had just grown over confident.
Because we like to travel independently we decided that we would bypass the cruise line tours and do our own trip to Jerez, the sherry capital about 60 kilometres outside of the city.
All began well - we found the tourism offices, got the info we needed, and walked to the train station in time to catch a train at 11 for Jerez. Great train, must have been brand new, and an interesting trip that took about forty minutes.
But things began to go awry when we decided that we would tour the Harvey’s Bodega, which seemed to be a short walk from the train station. Not so short a walk, it turned out, and we had trouble finding the entrance. We slipped into an open gate and wandered around the property - nice gardens, great caves full of sherry barrels, but not a soul in sight. Finally found someone who said there were no tours today. Hmm.
We decided to walk to the Tio Pepe Bodega, which appeared to be a short walk on the other side of the city centre. In the meantime we tried to get some money from a bank - we didn’t have enough euros for our return trip to Cadiz. The bank refused to give us any money - something about regulations that had been in place since the time of Franco! And now it was one o’clock and in order to get back to the ship in time for the four o’clock boarding, we had to catch a train at two. Finally found a bank whose machine would spit out money for us, and got enough cash for our return
But, always the optimists, we thought we could still manage a visit to Tio Pepe within the time limits.
So we walked some more, lost our way, and arrived at the bodega to discover that there would not be another tour for an hour. And now our time was really short - we sprinted all the way back to the station, fumbled with the ticket machine which wouldn’t take our euros, and finally got it to produce two tickets. We slid into our seats just at the train doors closed.
But that wasn‘t the end of our woes. I take full responsibility for our next error. I looked up at the monitor on the train, and thought that we were at the final stop at Cadiz, and we jumped off. Wrong stop. Not only that , it was miles from the port, and it was now three.
We were in some industrial suburb of the city, with no buses or taxis in sight. The next train wasn‘t leaving for over an hour, too late for our purposes.
I may have had a little meltdown. Perhaps I raised my voice. Panic and guilt will do that. But just as we were beginning to think about how much it would cost us to fly to meet the boat at the next port, a taxi appeared miraculously out of nowhere.
He got us to the ship and I would have to guess that we were the last guests to board.
So, happy ending, but I am sorry to have missed Cadiz. It looked like a very pretty city and I have promised myself that I will come back sometime to do it justice. And Jerez too.
The day ended on a happy note - a glass of wine in the Crow’s Nest with good conversation with new friends, and a view of Cadiz by sunset.
Day Five: Malaga, Spain
We arrived in Malaga just after dawn and the harbour, though very industrial, was beautiful.
Malaga sits comfortably between the Mediterranean and the Sierra Nevadas. It’s a very pretty city, with an elegant promenade and many historic buildings. We walked up the Molina Lario to the Malaga Cathedral, then headed for the historic district. We visited the small house where Pablo Picasso was born, now a museum and gallery, and had an excellent coffee and churros in the Café de Picasso. We spent some time photographing the narrow streets and plazas, toured the shopping district, and were back at the ship by 3.
We had an early dinner and then watched the movie “Julie and Julia”.
While I love to visit the exotic ports on a cruise, I enjoy the days at sea almost more. I suppose that is why I am on a cruise that will spent eight days at sea with no port stops as we cross the Atlantic. Today we slept in, had a leisurely breakfast, then an espresso in the coffee bar. We walked the deck, worked out for an hour in the gym, and drowsed by the pool with a book. This evening dress was formal for dinner, and most guests were nicely turned out, although this is a much less formal ship than the Cunard line, for example. The captain had a champagne reception before dinner. He is from Eindhoven, a town in Holland that we know well.
Another perfect day of weather, and a chance to visit one of our favourite cities. Because we have been here a few times and are familiar with the territory, we merely did a leisurely walk-about, spending some time getting photos in the gorgeous Boqueria ( fresh market). I‘m a foodie so I was interested in all the varieties of fruit, stalls with piles of different mushrooms, jambon that sells for 150 euros a kilo, salt cod pilfered from Newfoundland, and candy stalls with nougat and marzipan.
Then we continued up the Ramblas, enjoying the crowds, photographing the street performers. We did some shopping at El Corte Ingles, mostly food, and mostly special treats to put in my grown children’s Christmas stockings. This city is a paradise for anyone who loves food. We walked through the lovely Gothic Quarter, and had coffee in a little corner café with deep leather chairs. While we were there, a woman had her purse stolen from her table. It happened in a brief second - and it made us be a bit more aware of our belongings, We walked back to the ship in time for dinner.
Day Two: Breakfast was delivered to our room at eight and we were ready to enjoy this little principality that we had visited on our honeymoon many years ago. The weather was perfect for touring - bright and sunny and low seventies. Because it was All Saints Day as well as Sunday, all the shops were closed, but the casino was open, the Café de Paris was in full swing and the Ferraris were wheeling along the Corniche. We walked from the ship along the boardwalk, past all the fabulous yachts, up to the casino and the Hotel de Paris, where lunch would have been 160 euros each, before wine, tax and tip. But such a beautiful hotel! Isn’t it the one where they filmed “French Kiss”?
We had an excellent coffee at the Café de Paris, watched the French femmes et hommes parade past, then wandered through the back streets and back to the ship.
We settled into the Queen‘s lounge with a cold beer, chatted with some fellow Canadians, and watched Monaco disappear. Dinner was excellent. We watched the prerequisite broadway show in the Queen,s Room, and then went to bed.
Day One: Embarkation:
Our ship was scheduled to begin boarding at one pm, and to sail at eight, from the port at Civitavecchia. While the cruise line will arrange bus transportation for any client, we tend to be independent travelers and like to travel at our own pace and at our own price point. Since the Cavalieri runs a complimentary shuttle from the hotel to the centre of the city, we took that to the Piazza Barberini . From there we caught a taxi to the Termini, the central train station, for about 9 Euros. The drive took about ten minutes. Purchasing a ticket for the train to Civitavecchia was easy and cost between 9 and 10 euros for the two of us.
We had to rush to catch the next train, but there are several that leave about twenty minutes apart. The only drawback is that the train for Civitavecchia always leaves from the farthest platform, and it is a long walk, although not a difficult one. Also, you have to be able to lift your luggage up about a foot or so onto the train.
We were traveling on a Saturday so the train wasn’t busy. It might be a more difficult trip in a crowd.
At the station, we found a taxi to share with another couple. That was 5 Euros each. We discovered later that we could easily have walked to the main gates of the cruise terminal where a free shuttle will take you to your ship, but the taxi was a very easy and convenient way to get there.
We were glad that we didn’t arrive at one pm which was the official beginning of boarding. That’s when all of the bussed passengers arrive and there is a long line up. We arrived at about two thirty and were on board in under five minutes. That left lots of time to get to our stateroom, unpack, have a light lunch in the Lido and do a walk-around to get familiar with the ship.
We waved goodbye to Italy as we left the port of Civitaveccfhia, had dinner in the main dining room, went to bed early, and were rocked to sleep as the ship sailed for Monte Carlo, our next port.
Ever Spent An Extended Period of Time on A Ship? Or Dreamed About It?
Follow me as I spend 18 days on board the Rotterdam, cruising the Mediterranean, and then heading out for a transatlantic crossing. I’ll blog daily about the experience, - the ports, the food, the people, the experiences, and the thrill of being 900 miles from land in all directions.
The Next Best Thing to Actually Being Here! I’ll include pictures and video as we go along. All aboard, and enjoy!
We spent three days in Rome before the cruise , in order to recover from jetlag and get ourselves oriented. It was a good decision. We stayed in two lovely hotels, one in the very heart of Rome, the Hassler, at the top of the Spanish steps,
and one on the hills above the city, the quiet park like Rome Cavalieri, with its views of the eternal city and St. Peters.
August, 2009: The Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), the world’s largest organization of professional travel journalists and photographers, recently polled its members to come up with the “Top 10” best North American cities for live music.
“Travel should involve all five senses, and one of the great travel experiences is listening to live music in the places where it originated or in spectacular settings,” says SATW president, Bea Broda.
Listed in order of votes with comments from SATW writers, here are North America’s “Top 10” destinations for live music.
“Where else can you “Rent” a seat next to some “Guys and Dolls,” let down your “Hair” and be transported anywhere from the “South Pacific” to “Chicago,” and leave the theatre thinking, “Mamma Mia!” that was some enchanted evening!” Evelyn Kanter, freelance travel writer/photographer
“Only in Austin, Texas can you go for super-delicious and inexpensive barbecue, sit outdoors at a picnic table and hear decent live rock at no additional charge.” Carole Terwillger Meyers, travel writer
“Austin is home to the yearly South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival, where nearly the entire city becomes a music venue for a week. There are hundreds of live shows a day, making it just as fun for locals as for industry executives.” Joshua Hinsdale, freelance travel writer
“Chicago's reputation as home of the blues can't be understated, with live shows available at clubs every night. The diverse neighborhoods and city-sponsored events also offer live music, from Old Town School of Folk Music to Lollapalooza in Grant Park and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It's all here, all the time.” Laurie Borman, freelance travel writer
“Barbecue and blues, blues and barbecue. Memphis is a foot-tapping, sensory delight.” John H. Ostdick, freelance travel writer
“Doesn’t get any better than Memphis, Beale St. and barbecue, wow, what a concerto. Plus the ghost of old Elvis is always hanging around somewhere, munching on a fried banana and peanut butter sandwich and strumming his guitar.” Rich Browne, host, Barbecue America
“From Elvis and Frank through Barbra and Barry to Celine and Bette, Vegas has been THE venue every great act hopes to get booked into. And with all the smaller lounges at the major hotels, you can catch talent on the way up, too.’’ Bob Jenkins, freelance writer.
"Where do top sidemen go when they tire of the LA lifestyle? To Branson where they can play their music at any of its 52 live performance theatres, enjoy life on three pristine lakes and 12 championship golf courses. Every day's a musical high, but the Christmas scene is fabulous!" Lorraine O'Donnell Williams, travel writer.
“Red Rocks is the most visually stunning outdoor amphitheatre in the country, maybe the world. “ Ted Alan Stedman, freelance travel writer
“A concert at Red Rocks should be on everyone’s bucket list…Red Rocks is one of a kind.” Kim McHugh, freelance writer
The Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) is a non-profit professional association that works to promote responsible travel journalism and to provide professional support for its members, including travel journalists, photographers, editors, electronic media, film lecturers, television and film producers, and public relations representatives from the travel industry.
Searching for the best tables in the world? (This one is in Puebla, Mexico) Read On!
Touring The World, One Meal at a Time
Here's the next five iconic dining experiences that should be on every traveling gourmand's list. Let me know if you have dined at any of these, and leave a comment if you would like to nominate a foodie destination for the list.
6.Castle Mallow, Ireland - Dine in your own castle, with staff. Order what you want, but be sure to include fresh soda bread, freshly caught salmon from the Blackwater River that runs past the estate. A warm inviting home with an engaging staff of family retainers, this fine castle was the 16th-century seat of the Lord President of Munster and the home of this family for four centuries. You may stroll through the eight-hectare (20 acre) deer park, where over 100 white deer roam freely (a christening gift from Queen Elizabeth I to her god-daughter). The 'new' castle, occupied since 1689, overlooks the stately 'old' castle ruins, a national historic monument.
Before dinner enjoy a game of snooker in the billiard room or a quiet drink in the drawing room. The castle can be rented, complete with staff, at www.elegant.ie
7. Eigensinn Farm, Ontario, Canada -Michael Stadtlander's amazing dinner which is a four hour walking dinner with each course taking place at a different station, where he and his wife Noboyu have designed an art installation that matches the food course.
The barbecue is made in the shape of a red wattle pig and the roasts being grilled are from the same red wattles, served with an apple and sage sauce, baby green beans and dumplings with caramelized onions and bacon ( made from the same red wattles) .
That was course #5 in a twelve course feast. Eigenssen Farm has been named the sixth most expensive place to dine in the world by Forbes Magazine.
8. Iles de la Madeleine - The lobster festival every June is one of those dining experiences that seafood lovers should put on their must-do list. The islands produce the best lobster in the world, because of the cold water and the rocky, as apposed to sandy, sea bottom.
Most of the dining rooms are modest, and can be found in the small inns dotted around the island.
The seafood is unbeatable, but the scenery - red cliffs, blue water - is spectacular too.
9.Dine With the Nobility at Swinton Park Hall, Yorkshire - If you time it right, the resident Lord and Lady might join you.
You can watch the white deer run in the park outside the window, while tucking in to a great venison stew. Not really that disturbing.
The historic hall has a cooking school as well, and you can arrange to take classes while enjoying a stay.
10. Tea with a Princess in Beautiful Bermuda - Stay at the pretty pink Princess ( Fairmont Hamilton Princess)one of the nicest hotels anywhere, and be sure to book a room on the gold floor so you can enjoy the lovely high tea each day.
Breakfast is served on the patio in the warm Bermuda sun. Lovely.
And you can finish the day with a "Dark and Stormy", Bermuda's official cocktail ( made from dark rum, ginger beer and lime juice)
So there it is, part two of a culinary journey around the world. Be sure to leave a comment if you've been to any of these. And check in again for part three.