Virtuoso Traveler - February/March 2018 - 38
Why I Travel
Opera and action-packed itineraries lure Mary Jo Gartner around the world.
Interviewed by David Hochman
Nancy got us into the kitchen of
Mathias Dahlgren's two-star Matsalen,
and we watched him tweeze tiny
leaves onto the plate. As far as truly
jaw-dropping experiences, that would
be Ikarus in Salzburg - white-glove
service in a private airplane hangar
surrounded by Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz's art collection.
ARY JO GARTNER'S FAther worked for Pan Am, so
she grew up flying standby,
taking whichever seat was
empty. She's still hopping on planes at
56, but her travel standards are slightly higher: Now it's first class, Michelin
stars, and lavish corner suites. Dallasbased Virtuoso travel agency owner
Nancy Strong does the advance work
for Mary Jo, a retired technology and
business consultant, and her husband,
Jay, a retired physician.
The best trips are like time travel.
I love when a tour guide brings the
events of a particular epoch to life
in a personalized way. That's why
we always request private guides.
38 V I R T U O S O T R A V E L E R
In Florence, we didn't just see the
David at Galleria dell'Accademia - our
guide showed us the city through the
worlds of the powerful Medicis, as
well as young Michelangelo and his
conflicts with Leonardo da Vinci.
I like a complete itinerary, and by
complete, I mean something scheduled every minute of the day: museums in Europe, canoe adventures
on the Amazon, climbing a glacier in
Alaska. I want to be exhausted coming back to the hotel.
My hobby is "restaurant-touring,"
especially Michelin-starred restaurants. We just came back from Pujol in
Mexico City - fantastic! In Stockholm,
A trip isn't a trip unless I've seen
an opera. The most memorable was
The Magic Flute at La Scala. It's quite
bizarre - Mozart must have been on
something. We were right there in
the first row, and it was one of those
"Wow, we're in Italy!" moments. That's
what Nancy does for us.
Once during the Grand Prix in Monte
Carlo, we had dinner in the magical
town of Èze, at La Chèvre d'Or. Tiny
restaurant, handful of romantic tables.
One was all distinguished men in
suits. Afterward our driver said, "What
did you think about having dinner
with King Gustaf of Sweden?" I had
no idea. He wasn't wearing a crown!
MARY JO GARTNER
Mary Jo and Jay Gartner
in Québec City and (inset)
with their children in Peru.