"TO: by train. AROUND: by bicycle." Nemorino's Profile

Fontainebleau, France

Hello, my name's Don. I'm an American living in Frankfurt am Main, Land Hessen, Germany, where I teach, ride a bicycle and go to the opera.

My newest page here on VirtualTourist is about the château, gardens, forest and town of Fontainebleau, France, some 55 km south of Paris.

My favorite thing about Fontainebleau is the music it inspires at the beginning of the five-act versions of the opera Don Carlos (in French) or Don Carlo (in Italian), by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901).

My least favorite thing is that this is where Louis XIV promulgated his infamous “Edict of Fontainebleau” on October 22, 1685, ordering relentless and brutal persecution of the Protestant minority in France.

My second newest page is about a French town called Maintenon, which hardly anyone ever seems to visit, even though it is not far from Paris and has a picturesque château that belonged – for twenty-four years – to one of the most fascinating women of 17th century France, Françoise d’Aubigné.

Maintenon was also the site of the 17th century’s greatest boondoggle, a gigantic aqueduct that was never completed and never transported a drop of water. The huge ruined arches of the aqueduct still dominate the town and the château.

In 2013 a brand-new but totally authentic formal French garden was created between the château and the aqueduct in Maintenon, based on original 17th century plans by Louis XIV’s master garden designer, André Le Nôtre.

There are only two Maintenon pages here on VirtualTourist. Mine was the second one to be posted, but it is the only one with any content, since the first Maintenon page consists of only one blurry photo with no text.

Other recent pages: Besançon, Avignon, Villeneuve lez Avignon and Versailles, France.

In the winter of 2014/2015 I made substantial updates to seven of my older Paris reviews – ‘substantial’ meaning that I have added or replaced at least two photos and added several paragraphs of text.
These re-launched reviews are:
Passy: The House of Balzac (16th)
Bourse de Commerce (1st)
Colbert at Saint-Eustache Church (1st)
Père Lachaise Cemetery (20th)
Gare de l’Est = East Station (10th)
Gare de Lyon (12th)
The other Hôtel du Nord (10th)

(The ordinal numbers in parenthesis refer to the district = arrondissement of Paris where the subject of the review is located.)

In 2014 I added forty-nine new tips/reviews to my Paris page. I have divided these into three loops, by the month of posting, so if you just want to look at one loop at a time you can easily do so by clicking on the link at the bottom of each review.

Thirteen Paris reviews from September 2014. All of these reviews are about the 2nd district (2ème arrondissement), the smallest of the twenty Paris districts and the only one that has a Green mayor. At the end of this loop I have added a link to an older review about my favorite place in the 2nd district, the Opéra Comique.

Sixteen Paris reviews from August 2014, including the Trocadéro, two museums in the Palais de Chaillot, a play at the Lucernaire, graves in the Montparnasse Cemetery and a guided walking tour of the Saint-Germain-des-Près neighborhood.

Twenty Paris reviews from March 2014, including the Vauban memorial, the Arsenal Pavilion, the Museum of the Sewers, the Chinese New Year and some street art by Jana & JS.

Thanks to the VirtualTourist staff for including me (with the old lead photo of my Paris page) in the VT Member Spotlight for October 2013.

And of course I was very pleased when my Paris page was chosen as the "Best City Travel Page" of 2012. Thanks, everybody!

Although most of my VirtualTourist pages are about cities in Europe, I have also written some pages about Vietnam, where I served as an American soldier (not voluntarily) in 1964/65. Thirty years later I returned with one of my sons for another look.

My Biên Hòa page is actually about a beautiful village called Tân Ba, where I spent several months in the 1960s and received a surprisingly warm welcome when I returned in 1995.

My Tinh Binh Duong page is about our zone headquarters at Phước Vĩnh, where I spent several months working as a radio operator.

My Ho Chi Minh City page is about my fifteen visits to the city that used to be called Saigon.

My small Xuân Lộc page is about the place where I spent my last five weeks as an American soldier in Vietnam.

Finally, my Vietnam page is about some places in Vietnam that I was unable to visit in the 1960s but saw for the first time in 1995, such as Da Lat, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hanoi, Hue, the Cu Chi tunnels and the Mekong Delta.

In 2013 I went through my Vietnam pages (except Xuan Loc, which only has two tips) and linked the tips on each page, so they can easily be read in chronological order.

I have recently added some new reviews to my Frankfurt am Main page:
Frankfurt OperaTalk
The Fairy Tale Fountain from North Korea
Colours of Resilience by herakut
Street art by herakut
Don’t pick the wrong Frankfurt from the list!

Also I have added nine new tips to my Bad Vilbel page, mainly about street art by herakut and colleagues. And I have updated one of my Karlsruhe reviews, the one about the Margrave’s Tulip Girls.

Eleven visiting VirtualTourist members have come with me to the opera here in Frankfurt am Main:

gildapaolina (Gil) from Italy, was here on business and came with me to a performance of Fidelio by Ludwig van Beethoven.

• American opera buff yooperprof (Chet) has been here twice so far, for the operas Macbeth -- but the one by Ernest Bloch, not Verdi -- and later Verdi's Don Carlos.

• Australian VT member iandsmith (Ian Smith) came along to a performance of Elektra by Richard Strauss, as staged by the German playwright Falk Richter.

• German members tini58de (Christine) and Madschick (Heinz) from Karlsruhe were here for a performance of Mozart's Magic Flute. Christine has posted a nice travelogue about this called 2007: Magic at the Opera.

• Greek VT member sinequanon (Gala) from Athens came with me to see Puccini's Tosca.

Natrix (Natascha), who lives just up the road in Friedberg, came along to a performance of Verdi's La Traviata.

Gypsystravels (Janet) from New York came with us -- me and some of the people from my English language opera appreciation course Frankfurt OperaTalk -- to the opera La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini.

alza (Lou) from North America joined me at the Frankfurt Opera for a performance of The Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach. This nineteenth century French opera features a life-size mechanical doll that can sing, dance, bow, roll her eyes and even speak ("oui"), so it was appropriate that a week before attending the opera we went to the German Mechanical Instrument Museum in Bruchsal and saw hundreds of ingenious self-playing clockwork musical devices, many of them made in Jacques Offenbach's own lifetime (1819-1880).

Lacristina (Cristina) from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, came with me in 2014 to see the opera Tiefland by Eugen d’Albert. Cristina was the winner of my "Quiz #1" (see below) that I posted when I first joined VirtualTourist in 2004.

Emily2410 from Vietnam has come with me to performances of Rusalka by Antonín Dvořák and La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini, both with Karen Vuong in the lead roles.

Who's next?

Quiz results

Congratulations to the winners of the two quizzes that I conducted when I first joined VirtualTourist to celebrate the Grand Opening of my New Homepage.

As a PRIZE, each winner has received a free ticket to the Frankfurt Opera (third balcony) for a performance within twenty years from the posting of the quizzes.


Quiz #1
The QUESTION for Quiz #1 was:
What is the origin of my member name "Nemorino"?

The winner was lacristina of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, who wrote: Guten tag, buon giorno, and I'm sure it has been a beautiful day in Chicago. Are you fond of Donizetti? And elixers? Do they sing Italian opera in Italian or German in Frankfurt? Have I found you out?

Which indeed she had, since Nemorino is a character in Gaetano Donizetti's comic opera L'elisir d'amore, which I have seen numerous times in Frankfurt am Main, Prague, Darmstadt, Heidelberg, Gießen, Halle, Paris and Vienna over the past few years.

Nemorino in this opera is a guy who does everything wrong but gets the girl anyway, which is more or less the story of my life up to now, so I decided that might make an appropriate member name.

A mere ten years later -- well within the twenty-year time limit! -- Cristina came to Frankfurt and joined me at the Frankfurt Opera for a performance of the opera Tiefland by Eugen d’Albert. We also went to the herakut exhibition Colours of Resilience and had coffee in the courtyard of the Liebieghaus – Museum of Ancient Sculpture.

Quiz #2
The QUESTION this time was:
What is the origin of my motto?
My motto at that time was: It’s a beautiful day in Chicago!

This one took a bit longer, so I eventually dropped a hint on my Chicago page: "It comes from the most popular program in the history of American radio."

Shortly after that I got some answers, and the winner was tini58de of Karlsruhe, Germany.

Two and a half years later she came to Frankfurt with her husband Heinz (Madschick) and we went to Mozart's opera The Magic Flute. Christine has posted a travelogue about this called 2007: Magic at the Opera.

Back in 2004 she won the prize by writing: I used your pages and hints, google and especially American friends' help from another forum. And this is what we found out: Everett Mitchell, who more than sixty years ago began a radio broadcast with these famous words: "It's a beautiful day in Chicago!"

Yes, indeed. Everett Mitchell was the host of the nationally broadcast NBC radio program called (deep breath here) THE NATIONAL FARM AND HOME HOUR. It came on every Saturday at 12 noon and was broadcast live from WMAQ's legendary Studio A on the twentieth floor of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, with a live band and a studio audience.

The ritual was that after the band had finished playing their opening march music -- The Stars and Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa (1854-1932), a march better known to us grade-school twerps as Be kind to your web-footed friends for that duck may be somebody's mother -- Everett Mitchell would step up to the microphone and say:


"It's a beautiful day in Chicago!"

Of course he would usually have to qualify that in some way, for instance:

"Well, it is a bit on the cloudy side, and there's some rain and thunder and sleet and hailstorms and gale-force winds and slush piling up on the streets" or whatever the weather was like in Chicago on that particular day. Then he always said:


"But it's a great day to be alive, and we hope it's even more beautiful wherever you are."

At which point I usually turned off the big Zenith radio in the living room and went outside to play, since I was a suburban child with absolutely no interest in the week's agricultural news, I just wanted to hear the opening ritual.

When I was six or seven years old I pestered my mother for weeks about it, and she finally took me down to the Merchandise Mart on the El (we lived in Evanston) so I could be in the studio audience and see a live performance of the show. Everett Mitchell was rather more corpulent that I had imagined, but otherwise I was very impressed. From that day on I was determined to be a radio announcer when I grew up, and in fact I later did spend several years working as the news director of a California radio station.

For more information on Everett Mitchell and the National Farm and Home Hour, have a look at my Chicago page.

  • Intro Updated Feb 22, 2015
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Real Name
Don
Location
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Member Since
Apr 16, 2004
Website
www.completestreets.org/

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