Hello – I Must Be Staying!

Hey Everyone!

So, it’s been just about 7 weeks since I started TheCulturedTraveler and I’m thinking that I want to recap what’s been happening with the blog and the life.

OK – full disclosure – I was offered a “blogging 101” primer to help me improve my blogging skills (such as they are) and, perhaps, to breathe new life into this adventure. I’m game for it and eager to see what may happen as a result. Of course, that means that I’ll have to do my “homework”, which means you may be seeing a lot more of me over the next few weeks.

For those of you who have stuck with me (and many, many thanks for that), you’ll know that I had a lot of friends who have encouraged me over the years to share our travel experiences, as well as our culinary and cultural adventures. Living in New York City, we’ve had the very good fortune to take advantage of all that this amazing place has to offer, and we’ve been equally lucky to be able to travel hither and yon and to meet some wonderful people along the way.

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Blog Highlight #1 – AAC CPA gets ready for takeoff.

Finally, just before our Queen Mary 2 crossing in later September, I took the plunge and, even since, have posted about 2 times a week. What’s been really interesting to me is that the travel posts get a very good readership, while the posts pertaining to culture and food, less so. That’s something I’ll have to figure out as we go along.

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Blog Highlight #2 – AAC CPA on Embarkation Day aboard QM2

My goal is to connect with fellow travelers, culture and food mavens and to share experiences. I’m pretty good on all of these tracks, but I’m also fortunate to have good friends who share their experiences as well which gives me – well – food for fodder.

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Speaking of food for fodder: Blog Highlight #3 – Post-theatre dinner at The Ivy in London

I’ve had some success so far in connecting with other bloggers who somehow found TheCulturedTraveler, and that’s been great. It’s given me other blogs to read and, from them, to get ideas about things that I might want to do myself. Hopefully, that’s what my blog will do in turn.

Looking a year ahead, where would I want the blog to be? Here are some initial thoughts and goals:

  • I’d like to build the blog so that it can be used as a resource for like-minded people.
  • I’d like to attract a larger following giving TheCulturedTraveler more exposure.
  • I’d like to make the blog itself more attractive with, perhaps, more bells and whistles, so as to make it more interesting to the people who come to visit.
  • I’d also like to arrange for “guest-bloggers” to take over the space from time to time and share some of their experiences.

Finally, I’ve enjoyed posting so far and hope that I feel the same way as time goes by.

As always, thanks for reading stay tuned for more of our adventures.

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Today’s Blog Highlight – Attending the dress rehearsal of Lulu at the Met

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A Little Taste of Paris Down in Soho

Gentle Readers:

Who knew that I’d be blogging for a 2nd time in the past 12 hours, but I wanted to share our day with you and, also, pivot towards the other two prongs (“PRONGS”???) of this blog: food and art. I hope you won’t mind.

First of all, today presented a bit of a challenge, as it was the housekeeper’s day to be here and, although she doesn’t mind when we’re underfoot, AAC CPA doesn’t care for it at all. Please understand, we have a fabulous housekeeper – Nalini – and she’s been with us for more years that we can count. Nay, AAC just likes to have the place – the entire place, that is – to himself. So he’d rather clear out than share it. The fact that he shares it with me is a minor miracle, in fact.

NOTE: If opera isn’t your thing, please skip to below the CULTURE TIP below. 🙂

So, our first stop today was the Metropolitan Opera, where we’d been invited to a “working rehearsal” of Il Trovatore, with Anna Netrebko and Dimitri Hvorostovsky in the leading roles. We are very fortunate to be able to attend these rehearsals, as I very much enjoy the opera. AAC CPA is a bit more discerning. Yes, it’s true he’s attended something like 6 Ring Cycles over the years, but ask him to attend a mediocre performance of La Boheme and he’ll go right to sleep.

A working rehearsal, unlike a dress rehearsal or regular performance, means that there will be stops, things will be cleaned up, lights will be set and who knows what other mayhem may occur. Sure enough, there were some interesting repeats today. And you should have heard that Anvil Chorus!! And those men who worked the anvils – mamma mia!!!!

Anvil Chorus
See what I mean?

Madame Netrebko was in fabulous voice, even for a working rehearsal. And her core strength must be awesome, as she slowly lowered herself onto one knee as she sang a beautifully shaped phrase without any stress whatsoever on her beautiful voice. Talk about star quality!!

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Anna Nebtrebko in Il Trovatore at Salzburg

We were very fortunate to be able to hear Hvorostovsky. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor in June and canceled all summer performances so that he could begin immediate treatment. While his vocal cords were unimpaired, he was having severe balance issues, which kept him off the stage. While our sopranos faint, jump off parapets, and often portray the weaker sex, we like our baritones sturdy. As it turns out, he’s been able to appear in the 1st three performances of this run of Trovatore, after which he’ll return to London for further treatment. We send him our best and hope for a complete and permanent recovery.

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Dimitri Hvorostovsky in Il Trovatore at the Met

We will be at his 3rd performance, which is on Saturday afternoon, October 3rd and, if you have any interest at all, you can attend, too. Or, at least you be there as a part of the Met’s Live in HD series. Cinemas all over the world will have a live transmission of this performance, with lots of fun looks backstage during the breaks. Tickets are around $22.00 (whereas you’d probably pay between $230 – $340 for an orchestra seat at the Met). A good deal, I’d say.

CULTURE TIP: Live in HD

We stayed at the Met ’til the first break, in the middle of Act I, Scene iii (Azucena had just admitted that she’d thrown the wrong baby – her own son!!! – into the fire – don’t ask!), and decided it was time to head downtown for a little taste of Paris in Soho. By that, I mean we decided to have lunch on the patio at Laduree. Do you know it or have you, perhaps, eaten or shopped there when you were in Paris? It’s an institution and you really know that you’re in Paris when you enter its doors. Before you can get to the restaurant, though, you have to pass through the patisserie, which just made my mouth water as I typed that word.

The Laduree in Soho has a lovely shaded patio, where we sat and enjoyed a leisurely lunch of club sandwiches. All around us, people were chatting in French and, if you closed your eyes and took a bite of your sandwich, you would swear you were on the Rue de Rivoli or the Champs-Élysées. It was that good. And, in fact, here’s AAC CPA anticipating his lunch:

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Yes, it’s AAC CPA at Laduree

And here’s lunch:

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Laduree Club Sandwich

Let me just say that Laduree didn’t let us down. We had a very civilized meal on their beautiful patio between the Il Trovatore and the next Italian experience we were about to have.

CUISINE TIP: Laduree

After our delightful lunch, it was time to turn our attention to the world of Italian neorealism. Our new favorite movie house in New York, Film Forum, has just started a Vittorio De Sica retrospective, and this afternoon we went to see what is arguably his greatest film, Ladri di Biciclette (Bicycle Thieves). It is a film that we’ve known about for many years, but just saw for the first time today. Almost plotless, it shows the desperate circumstances in which the working class found itself in post-war Italy. A somber and tragic film and yet laced throughout with moments of humor. Check it out here:

CULTURE TIP: Bicycle Thieves at Film Form

And that was our day. When we got back to the apartment, the place was so clean that you could eat off of the floors. That’s no joke – Nalini is that good.

Now begins the task of packing for London and our crossing on Queen Mary 2. We leave for JFK in 36 hours. Tick, tock, everyone!!

The First Post – Sunday, September 13, 2015

(OK. Telling myself to take a deep breath and then exhale.)

Here goes:

For many years, friends and acquaintances have encouraged me to start a blog, to which I have always replied: “HUH?”

Their arguments are that I do cool and interesting things regarding cuisine, culture and travel, not always in that order, but they are the things that I do do (as Cole Porter might have sung). My friends always seem to take interest in my exploits and, they say, why shouldn’t I share these experiences with others? After all, someone else might just be interested or, even, benefit from these shenanigans. To which I have always replied: “SERIOUSLY?”

I’ve finally decided to stick a big toe in the blog water (ewww) and see what happens. To get started, I (of course) googled “How To Start a Blog”. (I had no clue.) I was directed to check out this thing called “Word Press”, which seems to be the go-to for idiots like me who have no idea what they’re doing, blog-wise. I signed up (for free, just in case my blog is a disaster), chose a design template, and OFF WE GO! (Thank you, Word Press??!!!)

The leading roles in this enterprise will be played by me and my husband, AAC, CPA. And, for his first closeup, here he is aboard Crystal Serenity last Spring (yes, that’s a full moon in the background):

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He is my muse, my best friend, my everything. He will be the face of The Cultured Traveler, as he’s the prettier one (and a pretty good sport in putting up with me nagging him about all these photos). On rare travel exploits, you may see the occasional photo of, for instance, my feet, but that’s about it. As Christopher Isherwood appropriately put it (at least, for me): “I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking.”

Well, maybe I’ll think while I blog, at least a little bit.

Rather than looking backwards and sharing past experiences, I’ll start with what’s on the food/arts/travel horizon.

First up:

We’re flying to London on Friday for a quick 36 hours and then motoring down to Southampton, where we will board QM2 for a crossing back to little old New York City. It’s a 7-day voyage across the pond, a trip we’ve made many times (12 or 13 times previously?), but not on QM2 since 2004. It will be interesting to see how the old girl is behaving and I’ll endeavor be your faithful reporter whilst we cross. Yes, new blog friends, to be precise and nautically correct, it’s a “crossing” or a “voyage” but NOT a “cruise”. I’m not even kidding about it. That’s the lingo.

So, I hope you enjoy The Cultured Traveler and I look forward to entertaining you.

Next Stop: London!

PS. Oh, and if you like what you’re reading (or even think there’s the remote chance that you will), please share with absolutely everyone you’ve ever met in your entire life. AAC, CPA and I thank you in advance.