six days post surgery  - munchkin me"G I Gill"It's official - six months after spine fusion and I am back to normal. Well maybe even better than what passed for normal  for me before recurrent lower back pain morphed into incapacitating sciatica  - cured hopefully forever by the application of cutting edge (ooh  bad pun) spinal surgery.

When your surgeon tells you that he does not want to see you again, that's a GOOD thing. Apparently bones are knitting together appropriately and the titanium hardware remains in the correct place so I am free to bend, rotate, extend and lift weights, and generally keep on leading the active kind of life I enjoy.

b1BOKA Restaurant and Bar.

1929 N. Halsted Street,


Ph: 312-337-6070 or Reserve Online

Day 3 in  Chicago- July 2009  was the only free evening I had to see a play. Fortunately we were able to get two tickets to Up at the Steppenwolf theatre. The show time was early - 7:30 - and my friend was driving in after work, so I would be dining alone. I decided to see if I could get a table at BOKA, across the street  and a little up (no pun intended) from the theatre. After an excellent dinner the night before at  Perennial, their sister restaurant  I had checked out the BOKA  web site and the menu of executive chef, Giuseppe Tentori, looked great.  

New modern wing of the Art InstituteMonday, July 20th - Day 2:  Visual Art, Culinary Art

We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast of  yogurt, homemade granola and berries, with coffee brewed in a very impressive looking Miele Coffee maker, and set off early on our explorations. First stop was McCormick Place, the largest convention centre in North America. This was the main site of the conference, although meetings and events were also scheduled in several of the downtown hotels. I had pre-registered but wanted to pick up my registration materials and programs to check out times and places of the events I planned to attend. 

This is probably my 5th time attending a meeting at McCormick  Place  and the third since 2001  and it seems larger and more impressive every time I come. Anyway I dashed in while my friend waited in the car. Luckily my last name starts with L because at that particular time, the G to L booth was the only one without a lineup. Within minutes the friendly people manning or perhaps one should say womanning the booth had got me my badge, conference bag and materials, and I was riding down the long steep escalators to the exit.

ChicagoSunday, July 19: Chicago, here I come.

Chicago is one of my favorite US cities to visit - a feast for the eyes, the heart and the mind.  Stunning architecture and man-made green spaces complement  the natural beauty that comes from its location on the south-west shore of Lake Michigan.  As I wrote on my last visit to the city in 2006, Chicago has a  theatre scene that rivals New York or London - (Why Chicago dominates American Theatre, Part I  and Part II) - and it is also a paradise for foodies. Reluctant as I was to leave Vancouver at this glorious time of year, I was anticipating my five day trip to Chicago with excitement. 

Vancouver's original and new convention centres
The Party's Over... it's time to call it a day

Saturday May 16, 2009.

Sadly it's time to call it a day and go back to the reality of every day life on land where  I can't dance for three hours every night. At least not unless I find an equally enthusiastic dance partner!

I was up very early to watch as the Sapphire Princess passed under the Lion's Gate bridge to enter the Cruise ship treminal at the port of Vancouver.  I had elected the disembarkation  option of walking off the ship carrying my luggage as that was listed as the first group of passengers to disembark. I was a little bt concerned that it would be awkward to drag my heavy suitcase off the ship and through the terminal but I figured if I could travel to  Europe,  Asia  and South Africa with it I should be able to handle a gangway.

approaching the portSo we had to assemble in the Santa Fe dining room with our luggage by 7:20. v2

SeaSahackSea Shack Seafood Restaurant and Lounge,
Oregon, USA
Ph: 1- 503-368-7897

It is always great when you can get a recommendation for great food from a local resident. One of the ports of call on my recent  West Coast Ballroom Dancing Cruise was Astoria, Oregon.
Rather than an organized tour, at this stop  I chose to take a drive with some new friends down the South Oregon coast to Tillamook.

SaeThe recommendation for a seafood restaurant for lunch, was the Sea Shack in the tiny village of Wheeler. So that is where we decided to go. When we arrived, a little early, there was no one else there so we had our pick of tables and were seated at the window with a great view of the river and bird life. Shortly after we placed our order several groups arrived and the tables started filling up.

I noticed there was an oyster chowder on the menu and decided to try it.  One of my lunch companions from Charleston commented that he made a fantastic oyster chowder but the friendly server said that she guaranteed that the Sea Shack's soup was out of this world. What a challenge. I couldn't resist and decided to try a plate. Well she was right. I think that this was the best oyster soup I have ever tasted.

CruiseshipFriday May 8 th, 2009

It is six am on a bright California morning. Tomorrow my family will drive me up to the cruise ship terminal at San Pedro where I will embark on the Sapphire Princess for a seven night cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver. With shore excursions for winery tasting and a gourmet food and wine tour in San Francisco, this cruise promises to provide most of my favorite activities - fine supping, great sipping and a different travel experience. But here is the number one reason I decided to try it - Ballroom dancing.

 As I previously described (see Dresses, Dances, Dreamy) when I planned my redeployment (also known as early retirement ) from medical academia into arts and entertainment  the most frequent question I was asked was "what are you going to do with your time?" High on my  top ten list of things to do, together with further developing theatre, food and travel writing, came ballroom dancing.  Two and a half years later I am totally addicted to dance for fun and fitness and as also indicated in Coming soon at Review From The House, I will soon be adding a Dance section to the web site. 

This will be the index of postings to the Travelblogue that documents my visit to London and Cape Town. The nature of blogging results in the latest posting appearing first on screen, so that later events appear first. This Travelblogue index will list the postings in chronological order from leaving Vancouver to the termination of the trip, as a guide to your reading. Until the index is complete note that the story commences with this post.

London & Cape Town: This time I'm starting early.
You can also read the blogue in the correct sequence by clicking the London & Cape Town button, scrolling down to the bottom of the screen and clicking on the link that says last. That will bring up the first 8 postings. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen to commence reading at the beginning.

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