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Saturday, November 21, 2015

MY GLOBAL AROUND THE WORLD ADVENTURE (GAWA) 2015

It was a beautiful day as United  flight 300 left San Francisco 3 hours late:


Honolulu was overcast, but just to show what I missed, here is my first view of Hawaii when I returned from My Ultimate Global Adventure in 2013:


In many ways these views are indicative of the comparison between GAWA 2015 and MUGA 2013.  GAWA was planned to minimize stress (no visas, avoidance of dangerous countries, etc.).  Yet, there were disquieting moments:
  • Lost my wallet at my seat on Asiana Air from Tokyo to Seoul.  This was agony and ecstasy, for a miracle happened.  The euphoria over the next few days almost made up for the sudden realization that your wallet is missing in a foreign country when your trip has recently begun.
  • Faced severe air pollution, mostly in Singapore.  Man-made and uncontrolled forest fires in Indonesia were the cause.
  • Lost my left top incisor in Dubai.  I had a root canal on that tooth a quarter century ago, and it cleanly broke off at the gum line.  After an initial anguish, it occurred to me that the tooth was dead and there should be no pain and inflammation.  I'll need to do something when I return, but that loss was not a problem at all, save for making me look even uglier, when I smile.
  • Speaking of losses, both my knees ached a little, so I bought a cane in Bangkok for $3 and another in Germany for $21.  Lost the first in Dubai and second in Amsterdam.  But my knees are doing okay.
  • There was some stress...at train stations in Europe.  Milan was the worst. These stations are safe in Japan and all of the Orient.  But my training days in Europe are over.  Thankfully, nothing happened to me.  However, this was like walking through a possible minefield and getting through alive.
  • Turkish Air was a royal pain.  Their computer system does not synchronize well with Star Alliance, so I was kept waiting at check-in for interminable periods.  Both times they eventually found my ticket, but there was huge uncertainty through the process.  Plus, their planes board and unload in such a manner that you need to climb down steep stairs.
  • I caught food poisoning in Frankfurt.  It was horrible, but I'll skip the details.  Worse, I was scheduled to fly the next day to Budapest to catch the Tauck European River Cruise.  I did not want to get stopped from boarding the plane or boat.  I've had this before, so I knew my ailment was not contagious.  However, I've never had norovirus, so who really knows.  Anyway, my stomach was a bit sensitive for the few days on board the MS Espirit, and walking was a challenge.  I'm pretty sure it was something from that steakhouse in Frankfurt, but after a while I got back into steak, caesar salad and wine, so the after effect was minimal.
  • It was difficult for me to use photos in my daily blog, for downloading any shots turned out to be nearly impossible on the MS Espirit.
  • It was cold.  Well, into the 40's on the river cruise, and 20's in Chicago, including the wind chill factor.  
  • I left with a cough, and returned with a cough.  It must be post nasal drip from allergies.
In general, the above negatives were equal to the combination of all my previous around the world trips, so, all things concerned, I have been fortunate on these lengthy adventures, for this latest version was not all that bad.  The highlights of GAWA:
  • I made it home, alive and reasonably well.
  • Visiting my family in New Jersey and Las Vegas was rewarding.
  • One of the purposes of this trip was to further lay the groundwork for the future of the Blue Revolution.  I made a link with SOM, an architectural engineering firm responsible for the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa.  They were also responsible for the Willis Tower (Sear Tower) in Chicago, which was the highest for 25 years.  They have 10,000 projects in more than 50 countries.  Best as I could tell, though, nothing in the open ocean, which, hopefully will be able to provide an intriguing challenge to their imagination.  I also will have my 9 year old grand nephew, Mateo, conceptualizing a floating city utilizing Mine-Craft.  Perhaps my rainbow butterfly, Sophia Pearl, will also find a way to contribute.
  • TRUFFLES.  I happened to dine at a variety of high Italian restaurants.  My ultimate one dish prior to this trip was a very simple white truffles risotto in Rome five years ago.  Well, I just about lost count of how many times I had truffles on this journey.  Here are just a few:
    • Four course white truffle lunch at Quadri in Venice
    • Black truffles risotto  dinner at the St. Regis in Venice
    • MS Espirit final night truffle risotto dinner
  • Lunches on the MS Espirit were fabulous.  Imagine floating down the Danube dining on fine cuisine with red and white wines while observing the changing Fall colors on the shore.  Flocks of swans fly by and you end lunch with a cognac or port and blue cheese.
  • I would say I had at least 15 dinners in my hotel room, something I particularly enjoy.  I spend the afternoon seeking the ingredients and drinks, and in total comfort usually dine on a subway type sandwich or bento or soup and salad, watching TV with no worries about being mugged on my way back to my room.
  • My best GAWA days
    • #4  MIYAZAKI:  the best steak in the world
    • #3  AMSTERDAM:  Rijksmuseum, lunch on a canal boat and truffles risotto dinner on the MS Espirit
    • #2  MILAN World Expo:  the architecture, the colors...an example of how much greater the world can be if we work together.
    • #1  VENICE:  Four course truffles lunch (even the dessert was topped with a generous amount of shaved white truffles), a Vivaldi Four Seasons Concert, and my first encounter with the Blue Bar Pigeon that followed me all the way to Amsterdam.

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Typhoon In-fa at 125 MPH is projected to miss Japan:



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