The Itinerary

In September 2017, my wife and I sold our house in Houston, our cars, and all our earthly possessions except what could be stored in a 12'x8'x8' pod and just started traveling:

Sep 2017

  • Houston, TX: Goodbye good friends, former colleagues, 100° temperatures, 99% humidity, and our home

  • Washington, DC: It was nice to layover in our old hometown and visit with old friends

  • Keflavik, Iceland: A 45-minute stopover. Welcome to the EU. 

  • Paris, France: When people ask what my favorite city was, I tell them Paris (and Tokyo).  

  • Aix-en-Provence: Walking in the footsteps of Cézanne

  • Paris, France: While the Louvre and the Musée Picasso were stunning, the best part was people watching from an outdoor café.  

  • Normandy, France: Ever wondered why so many men died at Omaha Beach vs, Utah, Sword, Gold, or Juno?   

  • Brussels, Belgium: Everyone asked us why? It actually was quite nice.

  • Budapest, Hungary: Paris on the Danube, only cheaper. Plus we visited with a friend (it's nice to have someone on the inside). 

  • Bucharest, Romania: The best haircut I ever received at Mr. Blade (that and a shot of Jameson's).  

  • Ruse, Bulgaria (Pyce, България): You know you've reached Bulgaria when you don't recognize the letters

  • Sofia, Bulgaria (София, България): Pronounced SOH-fee-uh. Admired Che Guevera's beret at the Museum of Socialist Art

  • Tel Aviv, Israel: Miami on the Med. A lot of young people who speak perfect English and eat $28 pizza!!!

  • Jerusalem, Israel: Met a group of Palestinian women on the Dome of the Rock who shared with us their lunch of hummus, radishes, dolmas (Arabic: mahshi), cherry tomatoes, and conversation (via a Christian Arab interpreter Birsharar, who later scammed us at lunch). Next day journeyed to the Walling Wall to insert a prayer re: my Mother's aching back. Texted my brother telling him her pain should be gone shortly. He replied, "Then I'll cancel the doctor's appointment?". "You may want to hold off on that" I replied. Mount of Olive's DIY Walking Tour & Dead Sea and Masada DIY Tour

  • Petra, Jordan: Met our guide Muhammad and our driver Muhammad, who guided us through Jerash, one of the largest and most well-preserved sites of Roman architecture in the world outside Italy and arranged for us to meet the mother in law of Mrs. AAR's friend's granddaughter. 

  • Rum Wadi, Jordan: Stayed at a semi-authentic Bedouin camp. Toured Valley of the Moon where The Martian, Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and numerous other movies were filmed. Beautiful red desolation. The Jordanian version of Monument Valley.       

  • Tel Aviv, Isreal: Late overnight arrival with next day departure to . . . 

  2018

  • Barcelona, Spain: Attended a concert by the violin virtuoso Ara Malikian, who does an impressive cover of "Kasmir de Led Zeppelin"

  • Lisbon, Portugal: We had a better time than Barcelona (and cheaper). Partook in Ginga (sour cherry liqueur), G&Ts, and pastel de nata.

  • Porto, Portugal: Never mind the Port, more Duero Valley wine please!!! Took the #500 bus to Salto o Muro for Caldeirada (fish stew). 

  • Marrakesh, Morocco: More couscous please!! Yves Saint Laurent Museum, it was a lot of tourists but still worth it, especially the art of Jardin Majorelle.  

  • Aït Benhaddou, Morocco: The set of Game of Thrones (I literally went around the world, and this is the only place my niece and nephews cared about). The starting point of our Morrocan Road Trip, which took us through . . .

  • Tondra Gorge/Tinghir, Morocco: Stayed at Riad Dar Bab Todra, which is run by a bunch of teenagers (The Kid's Place), then onto the Morrocan Grand Canyon (Tondra Gorge). 

  • Merzouga, Morocco: A semi-authentic Berber camp in the middle of the Sahara, a half an hour camel trip from civilization. It's cold out here and I sleep with all my clothes on. 

  • Midelt, Morocco: Stayed with Mustafa (his wife and two sons) at his Hostel Kasbah Izoran. Cold, but delightful.

  • Meknes, Morroco: Inbound viewed the Barbary Macaques sitting in a tree. 

  • Chefchaouen, Morocco: Received a speeding ticket from the Royal Gendarmerie (الدرك الملكي المغربي). The Royal Moroccan Gendarmerie takes speeding very seriously, but does not take American Express. Attended a local wedding in a mountain village (bride on donkey, husband in a tight western suite, hashish anyone?) - A true Tony Bourdain moment. 

  • Fez: Morocco: Like all medinas, it is a maze of narrow alleys and souks, so I constantly noted where I was, so I could ensure I knew how to get home. Famous for its tannery, but as I already smelled the one in Marakkesh, decided to give it the go-by. 

  • Rabat, Morocco: Took the train from Fez. Everyone told us that the port cities in Morocco to be avoided, but we quite enjoyed Rabat. Dinner at Le Dhow, which is located in a dhow (excellent), watch the World Cup in the hold cum nightclub.  

  • London, UK: Stayed in Battersea, which due to lack of Tube access, may have been a bad place to stay. Saw the play Mary Stuart in the West End (excellent). The Imperial War Museum: they don't make military museums any better than this.  

  • Reykjavík, Iceland: The land of $12 beer, budget accordingly. Took a dip in the Blue Lagoon and toured the Golden Circle

  • Belfast, UK: Saw the Cupar Way Peace Wall which separates the Catholics (Falls Road) from the Protestants (The Shankill) - sometimes a wall can do what religion can't. Took The Troubles Tour An AAR Must See. 

  • Liverpool, UK: Had a drink at the Philharmonic Dining Rooms. A friendly conversation with a local who was kind enough to buy me a pint. The most beautiful loo I ever took a leak in. 

  • Stonehenge, UK: Prior to '78, you could trod amongst the stones, but all those tourists ruined it for me. Now I could only see it all from 10m away. 

  • London, UK: Spent a night at Gatwick Airport before flying to . . . 

  • Prague, Czech Republic: The beer is cheaper than water . . .  oh yeah, that and the Charles Bridge. Michael "Prague" was our host. 

  • Bratislava, Slovakia: Had a drink (or two) at the Skybar with bartender Miro and discussed the finer points of cocktails and was rewarded . . . free cocktails. Visited the UFO Bridge for beer o'clock.   

  • Vienna, Austria: Caught up on my Wienerschnitzel and Walked in the Footsteps of History. (Hitler's that is, at the Heldenplatz).  

  • Salzburg, Austria: Took a Sound of Music tour (what else could one do?). Stayed at Vier Jahreszeiten Hotel, which translates into Four Season Hotel. Prior to our stay, Mrs. AAR called the hotel on the phone, and they must have known she was an American as they answered the phone "Four Seasons", my wife then figured she had dialed the wrong number, as I would never book a room at THE Four Seasons. When we arrived we realized that while it was not THE Four Seasons, it was a very nice hotel. Visited the "oldest staircase in the world" at the Salzwelten Hallstatt (it's a salt mine). 

  • Munich, Germany: Walking in the footsteps of Hitler. Downtown Munich was completely destroyed during WWII. Though it was not very industrial it was heavily bombed by the Allies as it was the birthplace of Nazism ("it was personal"). It has been completely rebuilt to look like it was prior to the war.    

  • Berlin, Germany: I stood at the spot where Hitler committed suicide and wondered "Am I the only one that thinks this is really cool?!". Met up with The Goddaughter and toured The Reichstag. Walked in the Footsteps of History at the Brandenburg Gate

  • Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Created a DIY canal tour by renting my own canal boat which allowed us to enter "the forbidden zone". Note: If you want a cup of coffee go to a café, if you want cannabis, go to a coffee house. The Escher Museum in The Hague was quite nice.    

  • Zagreb, Croatia: Croatian Museum of Naive Art (who needs school) with its art on glass. 

  • Rovinj, Croatia: A quaint city on the Adriatic with Italian influences. 

  • Prijebul, Croatia: Visited the nearby Plitvice Lakes National Park. 

  • Zadar, Croatia: Along the waterfront is a sea organ where the waves interact with the organ in order to create somewhat random but harmonic sounds. 

  • Šibenik, Croatia: Croatia has some of the best roads in the world, perfect for a road trip.  

  • Split, Croatia: Visited The Ivan Meštrović Gallery ("Meštrović was the greatest phenomena among the sculptors of today" - Auguste Rodin). Note the ć is pronounced ch. 

  • Podgora, Croatia: A quaint village directly on the Adriatic, which allowed me a very pleasant swim.  

  • Dubrovnik, Croatia: A very beautiful walled old city filled with too many tourists. 

  • Glasgow, UK: Visited with good friends over an Aperol Spritz and met the Connacht Rugby team (does it get any better than that!). Attended a confirmation at St. Aloysius Church which contains the only Last Supper painting that has Jesus and his Apostles gathered 'round a U-shaped table (like they were at a business conference). 

  • Warsaw, Poland: Visited the Warsaw Rising Museum and took a class to learn how to make pierogi and drink wódka. 

  • Krakow, Poland: Visited Auschwitz and then received our malaria shots for visiting . . .

  • Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Due to fog at Addis Ababa, our Ethiopian Airlines flight to Maputo delayed overnight here.  

  • Maputo, Mozambique: Landed at Maputo International Airport with Yellow fever vaccine card (Carte Jaune) in hand (do you want some stranger in Mozambique sticking a needle in your arm?). Walked to the train station built in 1903, and looked around, I was the only tourist. Ate the giant prawns and drank the 2M beer ("dosh-M).    

  • Zongoene, Mozambique: Stayed at Zongoene Lodge. a mere 10m from the Limpopo River. I asked the general manager Rab what I should drink, and he recommended a Rum and Rasberry (Tipo Tinto rum and Sparletta Rasberry soda in a 1:1 ratio). He asked how I liked it and I replied "it's not that good". "I know, I don't like it either" he replied. 

  • Tofo, Mozambique: Enjoyed a Sagres on a beautiful beach.

  • Xai Xai, Mozambique: Outstanding beach. Imagine staying on one of the better beaches in the Caribbean . . .  only 40 years ago. 

  • Kruger National Park, South Africa: Saw the Big Five. Also saw so many impala that it became a banality.

  • Ponta do Ouro, Mozambique: A very nice beach.  

  • Maputo, MozambiqueThee Longest Suspension Bridge in Africa. Why was it built? I have no idea. 

  • Ibo Island, Mozambique: Ibo Island used to be the center of Portuguese Mozambique, now it is a ghost town with a five-star accommodation (Ibo Lodge). Lunched on a sand bar.

  • Maputo, Mozambique: Pronounce it "ma poo too" like the locals (so you can blend).

  • Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe: The Falls are quite impressive, but the best part was a $4 steak at the Invuvu Bar, we were the only tourists. 

  • Cape Town, South Africa: Robin Island, Table Mountain, and excellent red wine

  • Somewhere between Cape Town and Johannesburg,  South Africa: The Shosholoza Meyl long-distance passenger train broke down four hours out. Sat on the tracks overnight, then an 18-hour bus ride to Johannesburg. 

  • Johannesburg, South Africa: Not as bad as I was told, though I never walked anywhere (uber, even if only a few blocks). The Apartheid Museum was one of the best museums I ever visited.   

  • Hong Kong: It was hot, like Africa hot. It reminded me of Chinatown, NYC, except that people were nicer and spoke better English. 

  • Seoul, Republic of Korea: The best part was the food. If you want to visit the DMZ, plan ahead so you can visit the JSA.  

  • Tokyo, Japan: No tattoos or litter. The way Western Civilization should operate. Not only do the trains run on time, all the time, so does the subway.    

  • Hiroshima, Japan: Stood alone, 580 m beneath where the atomic bomb detonated (after leaving 1000s of tourists at the A-Bomb Dome and the Peace Museum) and thought to myself "Am I the only one that thinks this is really cool?!" 

  • Kyoto, Japan: Crashed a private party on the roof of an apartment building to better observe the Oban festival bonfires on the surrounding hills.

  • Tokyo, Japan: Took the subway to the airport but overshot the airport stop. A subway attendant personally led me to the correct subway connection to go back to the airport and did not charge for the additional portion of the travel.   

  • San Francisco, California: Back in the USA. Read that walking across the Golden Gate Bridge was overrated. Did it anyhow, and was quite glad I did.   

  • Orange, New Jersey: It was nice to see my Mommy! 

  • Magnolia, DE: Visited with some old friends. Toured the nearby Air Mobility Museum (free and not bad).  

  • Washington, DC: It was nice to be back. 

  • Herndon, VA: Visited with family and played some APBA

  • San Juan, PR: Stayed in the Isle Verde neighborhood, which could be a more economical option than Candado. Met "El Hombre". 

  • Luquillo, PR: An hour east of San Juan. Less touristy and filled with a lot of local joints. Dove "The Avenue" out of Roosevelt Roads. Ferry to Culebra (Flamenco Beach).  

  • Boyton Beach, FL: Thanksgiving with family. 

  • Cincinnati, OH: Visited the Cincinatti Art Museum and inspected a painting by Cincinatti's own Frank Duvaneck, titled The Whistling Boy (which happens to resemble by nephew). 

  • Colombus, OH: The capital of Ohio, not that many people know that. 

  • Cleveland, OH: Cleveland Art Museum for an organ recital via the McMyler Memorial Organ (it's quite large) and a Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit. 

  • Detroit, MI: Had coffee at the Urban Bean Co. with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charlie LeDuff and discussed his appearance on the Detroit episode of Parts Unknown.  

  • NYC: Drove to NTC straight through, which may not have been the safest road trip I've ever piloted. 

  • Denville, NJ: Visited Grover Cleveland's birthplace in nearby Caldwell, NJ. 

  • Oakwood Village, OH: En-route Holland, MI. 

  • Holland, MI: For a Dutch Christmas. Home of The Largest Pickle Factory in the World (you can see it and smell it) and Mrs. AAR (she used to work there!). 

  • Valparaiso, IN:Home to the Chapel of the Resurrection, described as the largest collegiate chapel in the United States.

  • Chicago, IL: Stayed at an aribnb located in Aqua, an 82 story mixed use skyscraper, which was awarded the Emporis Skyscraper Award as 2009 skyscraper of the year. Second City for a laugh and Old Towne House for a quaff (and converstion with owner Bruce Elliot).

  2019

  • Denville, NJ: Visited the Montclair Art Museum. Not bad, but 15 bucks seems excessive.  

  • NYC (Upper West Side): Walked the GW Bridge and the length of Manhattan (via Broadway). Found that nobody may be buried in Grant's Tomb. Visited the Nicholas Roerich Museum, City Island (via the 6 train and the Bx29 bus), and Theodore Roosevelt's birthplace

  • Providence, RI: The RI School of Design Museum and The Red Fez (now permanently closed) for a Flackhattan. 

  • Quincy, MA: Pronounced "Quin-zee". It was St. Patrick's Day, so that's all I remember. 

  • Grenada: It's the place in the West Indies, so it's pronounced "Gren aid a". Stayed at an apartment in L'anse Aux Epines, a great beach, nearby with minimal damn tourists. Saw the Prince of Whales and drank the "under the counter" rum at La Plywood Beach Bar Cafe. 

  • Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn: The Missus reserved these lodgings and didn't inform me the exact location, but when we exited the Kingston–Throop Avenues subway station (at 10:00 pm) I knew something was up and asked. When she innocently mentioned we were staying in Bedford-Stuyvesant, we picked up the pace and quickly made it to our accommodations three blocks away, where I calmly informed her that thirty years ago, this was grounds zero in the NYPD's war against crime - 100% pure injun country. She replied it couldn't be that bad as Jay-Z's Mom lived here, which didn't make me feel any better. It actually turned out quite well (and safe), as it appears gentrification has caused many of the former residents to move to the suburbs.

  • NYC (Lower East Side): Visited the Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum for free via a Veteran's discount (and so should you, if you can get a Veteran's discount) and McSorley's Old Ale House (unchanged since  . . . ) for a beer (x12) with two good friends. 

  • Grand Rapids, MI: Inspected the Calder (La Grande Vitesse) in the middle of Calder Plaza and the Calder on the roof of the County Clerk - County Administration Building.

  • Holland, MI: Visited the only authentic Dutch windmill in the United States and the largest snowmelt system in the United States. 

  • Montague, MI: Visited nearby Muskegon and one of two surviving vessels that participated in D-Day.  Drank some mead. 

  • Ann Arbor, MI: Had an Andy's High Fryer (#216) sandwich at Zingerman's Delicatessen (the best and most expensive chicken sandwich I've ever noshed on). Had an exquisite Flackhattan at The Last Word while listening to The Pherotones. 

  • Detroit, MI: Saw a ballgame, had three slices (Detroit, NY, Windsor), three Coneys, and the best meal since Chicago (Girl and the Goat). 

  • Cincinnati: OH: Nothing says Queen City eats like a Skyline coney and a LaRossa pizza.

  • Canton, OH: The Pro Football Hall of Fame and turtle soup (check it off the list) at Bender's Tavern. 

  • Pittsburg, OH: Took the Duquense Incline to Beer O'clock at the Le Mont. Visited the Andy Warhol Museum and ate a Primanti Brothers sandwich. The Millvale Murals of Max Vanka are not to be missed. 

  • Altoona, PA: Ever since I read about Nazi spies landing on Long Island in 1942 on a mission that, among other things, targeted Horseshoe Bend (Operation Pastorius), I've wanted to visit this place. It was and still is a vital link between the east coast and the rest of the US, today transited by over 40 trains a day. If you are a train nerd, then this is a must-visit.  

  • Harrisburg, PA: The most beautiful capitol building I've ever inspected (and I used to live in Washington, DC). The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chamber artwork by Violet Oakley was particularly noteworthy.  

  • Tarrytown, NY: Visited Sleepy Hollow Cemetary, where Leona Helmsley rests in a rather sumptuous mausoleum with a stain-glassed window of the NYC skyline. Also reviewed the Captor's Monument where the British spy John André was captured during the Revolutionary War.  

  • Morris Plains, NJ: Visited my 98-year-old Mom in nearby Denville and Geo. Washington's Winter Headquarters during the Winter of 1779-80 in Morristown, NJ (the Garden State Valley Forge).  

  • Horsham, PA: The Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, PA contains an extensive collection of Pennslyvania Impressionism and a recreation of Michener's office. They let me and the Missus in for free, because I asked and I'm a Veteran (which was very nice of them).   

  • Philadelphia, PA: A shot of Jim Beam and a can of PBR. It's the Citywide Special and it will only run you $4. 

  • Lewes, DE: Bought some new shoes at the outlets. 

  • Washington, DC: Visited the National Portrait Gallery and caught up with old friends.

  • Columbus, OH: Visited the Franklin Park Conservatory and the Chihuly exhibit.  

  • Indianapolis, IN: Just passing through . . .

  • St. Louis, MO: What else but seeing the Arch up close, going up in the Arch, beer O'clock overlooking the Arch, and viewing the Arch from the other side of the Mississippi.     

  • Kansas City, MO: Sat in the same booth at The Savoy, where Harry Truman sat and visited the National World War I Museum (I've never seen so many rifles, knives, and docents). The Nelson-Atkins is a very economical Louvre-like museum. 

  • Salina, KS: Pronounced with a long i. Had take out Italian from a highly recommended place called Martinelli's. It wasn't that good and when my wife told me the owner's name was Mr. Hong, I knew why. 

  • Colby, KS: Why? Eight words "The Biggest Ball of Twine in the World" (in nearby Cawker, KS). 

  • Limon, KS: Just passing through . . .

  • Boulder, CO: A city of rich white people. 

​2020

  • Boulder, CO: Viewed Mork and Mindy's House, visited a deli run by a cult, and drank some Pappy 23 Year Old - does it get any better than that! 

  • Denver, CO: Saw more homeless people in a day than I've seen in a lifetime. All that and no humidity.  

  • New Orleans, LA: I was lookin' fo'r'd  to spendin' St. Patties Day in the Big Easy with me brother-in-law! But then came Covid-19. I was able to partake in some great live music (on Frenchmen Street), ate a Po'boy (at Domilise's Po-Boy & Bar) and visited the Battle of New Orleans battlefield in Chalmette.  

  • Denver, CO: Covid lockdown at Grandpa's House (Airbnb), Stay Alfred (Californa St, now defunct), and Sonder (The Essex). Literally Ridin' the Storm Out

  • Colorado Springs, CO: Visited Garden of the Gods and nearby Manitou Springs. 

  • Dodge, KS: I got three words for you, partner, Cattle Feedstock Overlook. Never saw (and smelt) so many cows in my life. 

  • Wichita, KS: Nothin' to do but eat a steak.

  • Kansas City, KS (Part Deaux): Last Supper at the Country Club Christian Church.

  • Louisville, KY: The Louisville Flood Wall and the worst sculpture of Abraham Lincoln I ever saw (btw: he was a Republican, not that many people know that).  Oh yeah and the bourbon. 

  • Cincinnati, OH: Did you know that Cincinnati is known for its chili? Not that many people know that. To read more about this delightful three-way, click here

  • Parkersburg, WV: You know you're in West Virginia when you see a sticker on a pickup truck that says "Guns don't kill people . . . crazy ass motherf@$&%ers do".

  • Morganstown, WV: There was a nice Applebee's next to our hotel (and the 10% coupon the adjacent hotel gave us didn't hurt either). We were tired. 

  • Herndon, VA:  Drank Dave's Gibson.  

  • Washington, DC: Reviewed some statues, a most undeserving memorial, and drank a Flackhattan (or two). 

  • Morris Plains, NJ: There is an interesting statue of the second most famous Marine in nearby Raritan.

  • Voorhees, NJ: just passing through. Terrible check-in at the Vorhees.  

  • Whitemarsh, MD: Stayed at the Hampton Inn and slept in a nice room or the most redacted crime scene ever

  • Herndon, VA: Played some APBA with my brother-in-law. 

  • Stafford, VA: Boating in Chesapeake Bay with a good friend and his dog. 

  • Waves, NC: Stayed in the best house on all of the Outer Banks. Wrote haikus, swam, and visited Wright Bros. Memorial. 

  • Hatteras, NC: The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum (an antitardis).

  • Ocracoke, NC: The ferry to Ocracoke (the island where Blackbeard was killed). 

  • Wilmington, DC: Stopped off at Fort Fisher on the way out, then took the ferry to Southold. 

  • Myrtle, Beach, SC: My now favorite cousin put us up for a few nights at the Ocean Enclave using her points. 

  • Bluffton, SC: My now favorite cousin, put us up in her home, so we all could all explore nearby Beaufort 

  • Savannah, GA: My now favorite cousin used some points for us to spend an overnight here. 

  • Bluffton, SC: We loved Savannah so much we decided to go return for a week . . . 

  • Savannah, GA:  The Hostess City of the South is aptly named. The city of squares is also the most beautiful city in the United States.  

  • Asheville, NC: Beer City U.S.A.

  • Townsend, TN: Stayed at a motel that would not be mistaken for the Ritz. 

  • Cleveland, TN: Dined with relatives at Aubrey's. 

  • Franklin, TN: Note to self: Learn to play the Alto Sax. 

  • Memphis, TN: Cila and I saw the ducks at the Peabody Hotel. Thank you, thank you veeeery muuuch. 2 : ) 

  • Little Rock, AR: The William J. Clinton Big Alien Spaceship and WitFSoH at Little Rock Central High.  

  • Texarkana, AR: A city in two states.

  • Paris, TX: Why you ask? What else but visit the Eiffel Tower. 

  • Wichita, Falls, TX: Back in the ol' hometown to vote, eat steak, and drink Shiner Bock.  

  • Oklahoma, OK: Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.

  • Kansas City, MO: Monarch City, BBQ Capital of the World, City of Fountains, Cowtown, Jazz Capital of the World, K.C. (inspiring the nickname of Casey Stengel, among others), KCMO, and the Paris of the Plains. Home to the Kansas City Massacre. Rented an airbnb long term, settled in for Christmas, maybe our new hometown, we'll see. 

​2021

  • Kansas City, MO: ongoing