Memphis, USA

Intermezzo: Used throughout Europe as a way to cleanse the palate in between courses, intermezzos are usually small, light and refreshing. Sorbet is commonly used, as is a light sparkling wine such as Prosecco (Foodgeeks.com)

I flew back from Amsterdam to The States through Paris. I chose not to spend any time in Paris as I will be returning there next Spring when I will have more time to explore. My round-the-world ticket, which officially begins in Paris, is a first class/business class ticket so I had my first taste of trans-oceanic first-class air travel. Travelling in a chair that converts into a bed at the touch of a button, having more space that I knew what to do with, eating edible airplane food served by two stewardesses only responsible for 21 passengers, Bose noise cancelling headphones leant to me for the plane ride, a travel kit (toothpaste, toothbrush, earplugs, socks, hand lotion, etc.)… I could get used to this.

My next leg was not for another 2 weeks so I needed an Intermezzo. (My preference is Lemon sorbet)

So, I headed off to Memphis. Land of the Delta Blues. Elvis.  Mississippi River boats. The Cotton Exchange. Parade of Ducks. Fried Okra. Fed Ex.

Although I was only there for three days I could have easily spent more time there. The city was easy to get around and the people were amazing friendly.

Of course, I visited Graceland. Needed to see those porcelain monkeys.

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And the Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel (where MLK was assassinated)

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I ate fried chicken at Gus’s and ribs (dry rub and wet rub) at three different restaurants.

And every night I headed down to Beale Street to listen to The Blues.

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And Back home

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Amsterdam: The Sights

During my stay I visited

The Rijksmuseum IMG_0216

Many churches including the Old Church, New Church, South Church, West Church, North Church, and St. Nicolas’ Church (pictured below). IMG_0236

The Royal PalaceIMG_0277

VondelparkIMG_3237

BegijnhofIMG_3213

Lots of book storesIMG_1434

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The Van Gogh Museum

The Stedelijk Museum

The Tropics Museum

Anne Frank House

And not being much of a beer or coffee drinker I typically steered clear of the cafés and coffee houses.

Amsterdam: Het Concertgebouw

Het Concertgebouw, The Concert Building, is consistently ranked in the top ten concert halls of the world. The music is crystal clear with the ability to individually pick out any instrument in the orchestra.  I had the pleasure of going to Het Concertgebouw on three separate evenings. The first two nights featured The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, often ranked as the best philharmonic in the world (Sorry Cleveland as you’re only ranked 7th best).

The first night I heard Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto but the real treat of the evening was Rimski-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. First time I’d ever heard this performed live.

The second evening I heard Bruch’s First Violin Concerto followed by Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony which was stunning!

And finally, the third evening I was entertained with an evening of jazz with the Branford Marsalis Quartet and Kurt Elling. They rocked the house for over two and a half hours.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

An uneventful flight landed at Schiphol airport in the Netherlands at 7:30am local time. I headed off to my hotel where they told me my room would not be ready until noon.  But if I could wait a few more hours a much nicer room would become available. Well not a room but one of three apartments connected to and run by the hotel. Living room, kitchen, bedroom, 1.5 baths in a split-level apartment. It was a three-story walk-up with another flight to get to the upstairs’ bedroom. Unfortunately, these photos do not accurately show the steepness of the staircases so I had the suicidal idea of filming my walk up and down the stairs.

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Repositioning Cruises

When the last Alaska cruise comes to completion, cruise lines don’t just keep their ships empty till May, they sail to a new region of the world. These trips from one destination to another, for instance Alaska to the Caribbean or Europe to the Caribbean, are called repositioning cruises. (cruiseweb.com)

So apparently, I need to reposition myself for my round-the-world trip.

I’m not quite sure if it’s a financial thing, or perhaps that the family I’ll be travelling with currently lives in Paris (although they are not currently in Paris… they are in the USA visiting friends and family and I will eventually meet up with them in Los Angeles in about 4 weeks).

Regardless, I need to start and end my trip in Paris, France so I’m heading off the Europe for 8 days. I’ll be spending time in northern Europe where I plan to visit Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp, and The Hague before heading to Paris.

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Apéritif

An apéritif is an alcoholic beverage usually served before a meal to stimulate the appetite.

Two weeks before heading out for the first leg of my round-the-world journey I joined an old friend for some great music, food, and sightseeing. It’s a yearly tradition that we’ve been enjoying since the early 80’s. Every year we pick a different city and this year we headed off to Chicago.

The first photo is a snapshot of my buddy and I partying with some of the locals at Chicago’s famous Dark Star club.

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The second photo is from the first of two concerts at Wrigley’s Field as we are listening to the first verse of Dark Star. The boys played the second verse of Dark Star the following night.

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I leave in 11 days