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About the journey, Cruising the Atlantic, STUNTS, United States

Good Morning, Brooklyn!

Memynoseandgreta_80day
Me, my nose, and Greta

Here is my first thought after stepping off the Queen Mary 2 and reuniting, after two long and lonely months, with my family: It is amazing how much weight the human female can gain in a mere 60 days. Especially so if the female in your arms was 5 months old the last time your saw her, and has since aged to the ripe old mark of seven months. Back in Hong Kong, when I bid Greta and her mummy a tearful goodbye, she weighed 14 pounds; she now tips the scales at 18. In the interim, she has mastered several impressive new skills: She can sit on the floor without toppling randomly over; she can stick her tongue out, and at three a.m. she is able to make a compelling and rhetorically sound argument--without uttering a single intelligible phoneme--that a crib is a cruel and unusual place for a baby and that where she truly belongs is in bed between mummy and daddy.

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Cruising the Atlantic, STUNTS, United States

And On the 80th Day He Slept

In_front_of_ship_80days Editor's Note:  The Queen Mary 2 slipped under the Verrazano bridge at five a.m. this morning depositing Mark in the same location from which he departed 80 days ago.  Awaiting him were his wife, Laura, and daughter, Greta, and a couple staffers from Conde Nast Traveler who came under the false impression that doing so would excuse them from going to the office.

For a man who has spent 80 days on the road writing blog posts, foraging for food, and pestering people with questions, he looked remarkably fresh.  We credit the algae wrap (and the handsome budget).

Initially Mark promised to send a post today highlighting his last night on the QM2, but we insisted that he reserve his writing for tomorrow.   An unlikely request, but we've been as blown away by the blog as anyone.  After time with the family and some shut-eye, Mark will be back online tomorrow (no doubt trying to find out if he can resurrect the budget for a visit to Peter Luger Steakhouse). 

Cruising the Atlantic, STUNTS

Farewell My Budget

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Cruise art.  Bong and blacklight sold separately

On March 5th, my budget was a strong, vigorous and ready to tackle the world. It had known only good times in its short life, (see here, here, and here; ed.) and in those sweet, carefree days my budget's might was exceeded only by its innocence. Seventy-eight days later, my budget was drawn and gaunt, emaciated, starving, dehydrated and on the verge of expiration. It hadn't had sustenance since Mongolia, when my hotel reimbursed me $10 for an inadvertent overcharge. Since then, nothing. Three days ago, its teeth started falling out. My budget had come down with scurvy.

Yesterday afternoon, I did the humane thing and put my budget out of its misery. With New York little more than a day away, it had begun to lose its sense of purpose. It was confused, frightened even. I stroked its neck, whispering over and over again that everything was going to be okay, and as my budget drifted into sleep, I blew the rest of it on a massage.

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Cruising the Atlantic, Food and Drink, STUNTS

What Cruise Buffets Can Learn from a Pack of Wolves

Waiter_80days Day 78: A shout out to my man Francis, that rare breed of waiter who knows how to call a spade a spade. Francis demonstrated this exceptional ability last night at dinner. I was flummoxed, unable to decide what to choose as an appetizer, and so I put the following question to Francis: "How about the Atlantic seafood tian? Is it any good?"

His answer: "Not really."

Boom. An honest answer from an honest man.

What good is a waiter if he or she can't give you plainspoken advice about the food? The waiter works at the restaurant, after all. Is it so unreasonable to expect him to know what the food is like? And yet too often--way, way too often--waiters deliver the limpest, most half-hearted recommendations. Ask for guidance between the lamb and the steak and you might hear, "They're both good," or "I guess it depends what you're in the mood for," or, my favorite "I don't know. I'm a vegetarian."

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Cruising the Atlantic, STUNTS

Back to the Surreal (Cruise) Life

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Anyone for a game?

Day 77: Over the course of the past 75 days, I have slept on a communal bed in rural China, witnessed the slaughter and butchering of a sheep in Mongolia--a sheep whose liver, kidney, stomach and lungs I helped eat one hour later--and danced with a 76-year-old grandmother in the hills of Cilento, Italy, while her husband serenaded us with bawdy songs on his accordion. These are events we would consider far from the mainstream, and yet, at the time, they didn't feel strange or out of the ordinary. In each case, I was struck by the fact that I had never done any of these things before.

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