Virtuoso Life - January/February 2018 - 110
So I arrive in Rome to begin a weeklong Mediterranean cruise having spent the previous week driving
across Indiana, photographing regional food, Minor League Baseball games, and smiling locals. It put
me in an appropriate frame of mind to keep moving (this time on water) and to continue connecting the
dots of culture and place, transitioning from stops such as Jeffersonville and New Albany to places like
Cassis and Palamós.
My home for the journey, the Seabourn Encore, will carry me from Rome to Barcelona, calling on Corsica and Mallorca, in Provence and Liguria, and more. Thanks to sleek, smart design, the ship's public
spaces never feel crowded; it's difficult to imagine there are nearly 600 other passengers along for the
ride. After drinks one evening, a few of us catch the sunset with an entire viewing deck - and what seems
like all of the Mediterranean as well - to ourselves.
The food is a highlight. On board, there are treats at The Grill by Thomas Keller (maybe the best crab
cake I've ever had) and sushi by a traditionally trained chef in a terrific, intimate Japanese restaurant.
On a shore excursion to markets in Livorno, Encore executive chef Kurt Timmermans leads a behindthe-scenes adventure. He balances procurement (later we'll enjoy the Ibérico ham and Spanish sausages
he purchased) with education (local fishermen take Sundays off, he explains, so we won't buy any fish on
this Monday). As we sample cheeses, meats, and produce from vendors, a local policeman offers to serve
as an impromptu translator for our group.
Small moments from the week stay with me: finding a postcard for my collection in a Corsican flea
market, sipping a café con leche in the shadow of a thirteenth-century Mallorcan church, the ship rotating
on its anchor off Bandol to provide a slow-motion panorama of the French coastline. We share a pot of
spaghetti alla marinara at lunch in the Cinque Terre, buy bars of local soap for gifts in a Cassis market
during a shore excursion from Bandol, and taste wine alfresco at Mas Oller winery in Torrent, Spain.
As I disembark the Encore in Barcelona, I recall a conversation with Ted, a Seabourn devotee who'd regaled me with tales of an 80-day Pacific cruise. A trip of that scope has too many dots for me to connect
anytime soon, but I file the idea away for the future. With an itinerary that expansive, I'd even allow time
for beaches and books.
V I RT U O S O L I F E
I've never been a "beach and a book" traveler, content
to sit peacefully in one place. I prefer to keep moving,
to see what lies around the next corner.