Day 72+8: the Opera Norma


Above is the interior of the Opera House, and an interior shot of the lobby. You can read an excerpt of the opera I attended tonite below.


Gaul, 50 BCE, during the Roman occupation.

In a forest at night, the priest Oroveso leads the Druids in a prayer for revenge against the conquering Romans. After they have left, the Roman proconsul Pollione admits to his friend Flavio that he no longer loves the high priestess Norma, Oroveso’s daughter, with whom he has two children. He has fallen in love with a young novice priestess, Adalgisa, who returns his love. Flavio warns him against Norma’s anger. The Druids assemble and Norma prays to the moon goddess for peace. She tells her people that as soon as the moment for their uprising against the conquerors arrives, she herself will lead the revolt. At the same time, she realizes that she could never harm Pollione. When the grove is deserted, Adalgisa appears and asks for strength to resist Pollione. He finds her crying and urges her to flee with him to Rome. She agrees to renounce her vows.

Norma tells her confidante Clotilde that Pollione has been recalled to Rome. She is afraid that he will desert her and their children. Adalgisa confesses to Norma that she has a lover. Recalling the beginning of her own love affair, Norma is about to release Adalgisa from her vows and asks for the name of her lover. As Pollione appears, Adalgisa answers truthfully. Norma’s kindness turns to fury. She tells Adalgisa about her own betrayal by the Roman soldier. Pollione confesses his love for Adalgisa and asks her again to come away with him, but she refuses and vows she would rather die than steal him from Norma.


Norma, dagger in hand, tries to bring herself to murder her children in their sleep to protect them from living disgracefully without a father. She changes her mind and summons Adalgisa, advising her to marry Pollione and take the children to Rome. Adalgisa refuses: she will go to Pollione, but only to persuade him to return to Norma. Overcome by emotion, Norma embraces her, and the women reaffirm their friendship.

The Druids assemble at their altar to hear Oroveso’s announcement that a new commander will replace Pollione. Oroveso rages against the Roman oppression, but tells the Druids that they must be patient to ensure the success of the eventual revolt.

Norma is stunned to hear from Clotilde that Adalgisa’s pleas have not persuaded Pollione, and in a rage she urges her people to attack the conquerors. Oroveso demands a sacrificial victim, and just then Pollione is brought in, having profaned the sanctuary. Alone with him, Norma promises him his freedom if he will leave Adalgisa and return to her. When he refuses, Norma threatens to kill him and their children, and to punish Adalgisa. She calls in the Druids and tells them that a guilty priestess must die, then confesses that she is referring to herself. Moved by her nobility, Pollione asks to share her fate. Norma begs Oroveso to watch over her children, then leads her lover to the pyre.

And the introduction by David Gockley, General Manager:

And an excerpt if you are interested:

Day 71+9: Makin’ Whoopee


Returning home creates a yearning to reproduce some of the delicious dishes I ate on the trip. This reminds me of the appetizer I had in Samarkand, with beets, carrots, cilantro, meaty peas, and a light dusting of diced pickles. I noticed in these cold starters that making tiny morsels seemed to make each bite more meaningful, more delicious. And thus more attention to detail makes the journey of eating more exciting.


1. Home made version, with celery and carrots instead of peas and pickles
2. Restaurant version, with a few wiry cabbage strips, peas, beets and pickles

Day 69+11 of 80 Days Around the World


In my initial plan I overlooked the possibility of capitalizing on the theme of 80 days around the world. I also thought that many of my friends outside the US would like to see what “home” here in San Francisco is like. So, let’s make it an even 80. I am attaching the next 12 days back in San Francisco as an addendum to my blog for my German, Chinese and friends of other nationalities so they can appreciate what home here in the US is to me.

Day 69: San Francisco Sunset District Steps: see the following for a project in our neighborhood:

Gee Kin was part of the planning and implementation of two beautifully designed tiled steps in the Sunset District where we live.

On my first day back, we decided to keep the Asian influence alive so we had lunch at King of Noodle.

to be continued…

Day 68 Bonus: People Who Need People

Society Page Outtakes, top to bottom, left to right:

1. Kids at Tashkent Airport, waiting for flight to Urumqi

2. Bamboo stripper stripping bamboo for pickling, top of Emei Shan

3. blog Author, Turpan Ruins, trying to keep cool

4. author’s husband, slurping noodles in Dunhuang noodle shop

5. author and husband, at Turpan ruins taking selfies for entertainment while waiting to be rescued by Desert Storm trooper

6. Paper maker making paper from Mulberry bark

7. live Kewpie Doll washing Kewpie Doll, grape resort in Turpan

Day 68: There are Places I Remember….


If I had had audio capability to enhance my blog, I would have inserted the Beatles song “In My Life” as the leader to this post. Its melancholy tone would have been apropos to my sentiment at the moment.

With this last official post to my blog, I wanted to share my thoughts on how fun, challenging, and rewarding it has been during my travels for 68 days around the world with myself and others. It has raced past and seldom felt lonely, particularly with the focus on sharing at least one event each day.

Having the blog felt the same as when you flick the TV on at home after a long day at the office. It’s comforting to hear the background noise as if others are in the room with you. Only at rare moments did I feel that I was communicating with outer space (anybody there? Any body??)

In any event, we are at the end of my adventure. It has been nothing less than a thrill. I’ve met some terrific people–Vladimir, Karen, and Meilina from my German class; the driver and guides in Uzbekistan; Morten in Emei Shan; and old friends Peter, Cordelia, and George from Hong Kong.

I tried my best to keep the pace on this travel magazine moving, not too heavy or intellectual, and fill the posts with timely information as I became more experienced in formatting more visuals.

My apologies again for any technical difficulties born in part by Google’s agreement with China and other conditions beyond my control. And pardon the caps being cumbersome and captions not aligning with pictures. I will have a word with the graphics department about its performance.

Since I am traveling back to San Francisco today, I’m recapping my trip through the panorama shots (not in any particular order) in case you missed them in the headers.

Photos, top to bottom:
1. Dresden Altstadt
2. Samarkand, Uzbekistan
3. Konigstein, Germany
4. Chengdu, China
5.Gaocheng, Turpan, China
6.Urumqi, China
7. Hong Kong MTR
8.Guangzhou Civic Center
9. Chengdu Railway Station
10. Top of Emei Shan, Szechuan

Call or email me if we have been out of touch during this time. I have lots of time and would love to hear from you.

Auf Wiedersehen, Zai Jian, and can’t wait to see Gee Kin, Melissa, and Julianne! Time to get back to the Real World!

With love,

Vickie Victoria

Day 67(b): How to Have Good Taste

Classic Cantonese Dishes are the freshest possible, understated, lightly flavored, never heavy nor salty, and arguably the best if not the oldest gourmet cuisine in the world!

Photos, top to bottom, left to right:

1. Classic Menu based on original restaurant menu at Jade Garden, Causeway Bay
2. Medley of Succulent Barbequed Pork, Market Fresh Gai Lan Greens, and Side Dish of Soup Base Ingredients (whole Duck Legs and Pork with Fragrant Star Anise)

3. Steamed Tofu Pillows Stuffed with Prawns

4. Steamed “White Cut” Chicken

1. Roasted goose
2. Deep fried donut wrapped in rice noodle
3. Lightly seasoned snap pea, cauliflower and broccoli florettes with deep fried garlic

Elements of my last meal in Hong Kong with Cordelia and CF before takeoff. (Not shown: baked almond paste buns for dessert)!

Day 67 (a): More Food for Thought: Next to the Last Word

Gourmet buffet at the East Hotel in Taikoo Shing was one of the best buffets I have ever had. Each dish was thoughtfully flavored, distinctive and delicious. Lunch consisted of cold salad and dessert bar.

Photos, top to bottom, left to right:

1. My friend George at the buffet table

2. Selection of cold salads

3. Melon and cold chicken salad

4.  Voila! My plate including top quality prosciutto and lox

5.  Dessert Table

6. My plate of chocolate, polenta cake and cupcakes

7. Inside Restaurant “Feast”, a very lovely outpost and well designed restaurant away from the madding crowds of Central

I thought Food for the next to the last post would be a fitting tribute to Honkers. It dominates the intellect and the drive for all citizens of this great city, and HK has the best dining variety and options bar none.