We were in a restaurant in Punta Arenas, Chile, and I ordered a steak. Beef was still a big thing to order in this part of the world back then. It probably still is. The steak came and I thought, “I can eat this” because it seemed tiny atop the plate. I poked it with a fork. It didn’t move. I poked it again and it began to literally unfold. When it stopped cascading, this once tiny steak filled my plate. It had been folded over to appear smaller. I, of course, could not finish it.
Ruth & I both loved the walled city of Dubrovnik in Croatia. The wall had become a total tourist attraction that circled the city, and you could entirely walk around this city’s center. The sights from this high wall were of a very old neighborhood, harbor, sea, distant islands, and red rooftops by the score. We took our time to thoroughly explore it on a beautiful spring day right before Easter. It was an extremely memorable experience that we are unlikely to repeat.
I took Ruth to Athens for her December birthday. Luckily, I found an opened restaurant serving great Greek food across the street from The Acropolis to celebrate. Because the restaurant was on the top floor of a tall building, the floodlit hill with the Acropolis on its summit could be seen from the restaurant’s large window that we were seated near. It was a truly magical night. The next day we explored The Acropolis thoroughly and were surprised by the number of stray dogs lying about, but we were even more amazed by the attention they were being given by the many tourists. The urge to pet them was far more important than the venue for many of the locals, but I was there to learn about Greek culture, not stray dogs. The architect Phidias worked for 15 years to build the structures he designed on top of this urban mountain. His supervisor Pericles was involved in this project for 50 years. After 267 AD, Barbarian invaders rocked Athens, and the only monuments to survive were those on The Acropolis. I was especially impressed with the largely intact Temple of Athena, but the view of all of this was made far more memorable because of the experience in that restaurant the previous night.
My 2nd solo trip after I started travel writing was to Budapest, Hungary. I fell in love with this city immediately and spent a lot of time in Buda on the hill containing The Fisherman’s Bastion and many other historic sights. I was awed by the views of the Danube River and the Hungarian Parliament, the largest in the world, over in Pest. I was so impressed that as soon as I got home Ruth and I began planning another trip to this city so I could show her what I so loved. It was on this 2nd trip that I learned about the Hungarians’ love for lard, which was in most dishes from salad to dessert.
When we were in Buenos Aires, our daughter-in-law Jennifer, who was living there at the time, treated us to a late night tango show. It took some time to get used to the smoky atmosphere in the tango theater, but the show was fairly short. The dancing was a revelation that the participants took very seriously. Their gravity added to the fun of seeing them perform this ritual dance in a city that loves to tango. We went to the San Telmo neighborhood for this show and returned to the area later to learn more about tango. Buenos Aires loves its nightlife. There are about 300 theaters there and many fine restaurants.