In celebration of turning 70, Larry is hitting all seven continents with the help of ThirdHome.

As Larry travels the globe with ThirdHome, he’ll be blogging about his experiences as he navigates the post-pandemic world. His planning began in 2019 with ThirdHome Director of Adventures, Liz Bates, who has assisted him in pivoting to satisfy his travel cravings when COVID-19 restrictions have not allowed him to visit a destination. Keep reading to learn more about Larry’s most recent travel experiences.

Next Stop: The Middle East

The year was 1977, and the hottest ticket in Chicago wasn’t to see the Cubs, Bears, or Bulls; it was the ticket to see “Treasures of Tutankhamun,” visiting our landmark Field Museum of Natural History just south of the Chicago Loop. King Tut was on tour, and he arrived in my city straight out of the year 1325 BC. My mom and over a million other Chicagoans had scored tickets to visit the most famous Egyptian of all time, and she shared the experience with me. It was an impactful event to see artifacts of the “Boy King of Egypt” on loan from Egyptian curators, and it piqued my lifetime curiosity about all things related to ancient Egypt. I would have to wait 56 years to visit Egypt myself and the iconic pyramids of Giza. With Steve Martin’s 1978 funky tune “King Tut” dancing in my head, our tour guide Sahar led 23 fellow adventurers and me toward the Giza Pyramids to begin our 14-day adventure.

My ThirdHome travel guru Liz Bates encouraged me to sign on to the Cultural Crossroads of Humanity adventure to visit Egypt, Jordan, and Israel. Once my daughter Morgan heard I was headed out to see not just the Egyptian pyramids but Jordan’s Petra and the Dead Sea, she asked me (no, she told me) that she was tagging along. This would be our third adventure to ancient places, and she assured me that Instagram would appreciate the influencer content coming their way.

Let’s get biblical:  

They say pictures don’t lie, and my hundreds of unforgettable images from the trip reinforced my belief that this adventure stood above all prior visits to historical, religious, and cultural sites. Christians, Jews, and Muslims claim certain parts of the sacred ground we explored during our 14-day adventure. We studied Old Testament, New Testament, and Islamic reference points each day, including:

Let’s get historical:

Let’s get fed:

The Middle East is an excellent part of the world for lovers and fans of garlic, olive oil, hummus, and eggplant. If you enjoy a big breakfast, this is the trip for you. Every morning we were greeted with a vast buffet featuring freshly squeezed juice, salmon, all manner of bread, fresh fruit, stuffed grape leaves, and olives galore. Yummm! 

 While dinners featured an inevitable combination of chicken and rice, we visited several family homes in Jordan and Israel. We got to chat and chew with the locals in their home environment, including a Palestinian cooking lesson. We visited one of the largest wineries in Israel that ships wine to several countries worldwide, including the U.S. This visit ended with a wild bus ride back to our hotel featuring our own “girls gone wild” dancing and singing on the bus.  

There were so many highlights on this trip that I had to tax my brain to pick my top 6, but here are some of my favorite experiences:

  1. I was a member of the self-proclaimed 3 Wisemen, featuring myself and my new BFFs Doug and Tim as the group’s senior members. Collectively we dispensed our own carefully curated version of wisdom based less on knowledge and more on the fact that we were older than the rest of the group.
  2. The emotional experience of touring the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, having an emotional meltdown, and running into one of my wonderful travel mates and new friend Lyn. Knowing exactly what was needed, she provided a pat on the back, a hug, and a chocolate candy to help me regroup.
  3. Visiting a local winery in Eilat, Israel, with Robert and Tammy Jo and having what should have been a 15-minute tasting turn into an enlightening and lively 2 ½ hour political discussion with the winery’s owner. And yes, he continued pouring while we continued talking and even drove us back to our hotel.
  4. We were hanging on while we explored the breathtaking Wadi Rum Desert in 4-wheel drive vehicles covering the same territory Lawrence of Arabia traversed during World War I while joining the Arabs in a guerilla war against the Turks.
  5. I met a young Muslim woman who explained that her passion was mentoring and encouraging her peers to become independent entrepreneurs and leaders in the Islamic community.  
  6. I was walking through the narrow streets of Old Jerusalem and people-watching the incredible multicultural crowd.

MEET LARRY

World Traveler, Philanthropist, Friend, & ThirdHome Member

In celebration of turning 70, Larry is hitting all seven continents with the help of ThirdHome.

As Larry travels the globe with ThirdHome, he’ll be blogging about his experiences as he navigates the post-pandemic world. His planning began in 2019 with ThirdHome Director of Adventures, Liz Bates, who has assisted him in pivoting to satisfy his travel cravings when COVID-19 restrictions have not allowed him to visit a destination. Keep reading to learn more about Larry’s most recent travel experiences.

Next Stop: Cozumel, Mexico

My travel buddies and I celebrated Día de los Muertos in Cozumel, Mexico! So colorful, with so many skeletons, so many masks and costumes, so much great food, and so much joyful confusion for us Gringos. To help future visitors who are lucky enough to find themselves south of the border during this glorious holiday, let me share some Dia de Muertos factoids:

Día de los Muertos is not:

  1. The Mexican version of our Halloween. No trick or treating; kids don’t get dressed up; the adults do! Excellent Mexican cuisine is everywhere, not Mars and Snickers bars. 
  2. A day to celebrate Freddy Krueger or Jason. Cancel the chainsaws, knives, and hockey masks.
  3. A remake of any of the Day of the Dead movies. No flesh-eating zombies or zombie costumes are to be seen anywhere.

Día de Muertos is:

  1. A celebration of life, not death. Families gather at homes and local cemeteries to remember and celebrate the lives of departed family members.
  2. A yearly chance for families to welcome back the souls of departed family members for a reunion with food, drink, dance, and memories.
  3. The building of temporary altars called “ofrendas” that feature photos of family members to be remembered, pan de muerto (bread of the dead), lots of marigold flowers, and water or tequila because when the souls visit and crossover, they are thirsty.
  4. An ancient tradition dating back 3,000 years to the Aztecs, who saw death as an integral part of life.
  5. According to many of my Mexican friends, a favorite holiday due to the chance to reconnect spiritually with beloved family members
  6. A day of dancing, parades, and festivals (watch the opening scene in the James Bond film Spectre shot in Mexico City).

If you want to understand the spirit behind this beautiful holiday, fire up the Disney Channel and watch the enchanting Pixar Studio movie Coco. It is a visually rich peek into the culture of Mexico that appeals to all ages.


Back to Cozumel and my week at one of my favorite ThirdHome properties of all time, Villa Yak Alil, a 6,500 square foot home located on a private palm tree-lined beach. This little slice of paradise was one of those homes you didn’t want to leave once you unpacked and toured the property. Private beach, check! Ocean kayaks, fit! Snorkeling off the coast, check! Fully equipped kitchen, check! Sunset over the Caribbean, check! Check out pelicans, egrets, and stingrays, all visible from our front-row seats at the beach!

But my six travel buddies, like me, want to visit new places, and Cozumel and the Riviera Maya provide ample opportunities for exploration. Our first order of business was to arrange transportation for the week, and we lucked out. Our two guides, Andres and Jesus, were former kings of the Cozumel Carnival, and they knew every nook and cranny of this beautiful island. We realized we were in the presence of Cozumel “royalty,” and our guides were not taxi drivers but celebrities in Cozumel. King Andres provided transportation, and he and his wife cooked a fabulous seafood dinner and the best flan I’ve ever tasted. Our tour included visiting the cemetery where families were preparing ofrendas for the Dia de los Muertos celebrations later that Day.

Downtown Cozumel was all decked out with statues and holiday decorations. So many skulls and so much color everywhere! Our visit to the 2-story Museo De La Isla Cozumel served two purposes:

1. An opportunity to learn about Cozumel’s history, culture, and geography

2. The chance to visit the 2nd-floor restaurant and enjoy guacamole and margaritas while viewing all the waterfront activities is just as important. Cozumel is a popular cruise ship port. But It is a very different experience to spend a week on the island versus a few hours touring off a cruise ship.   

Our big week adventure was taking the ferry with King Jesus to the mainland and an excursion to the Mexican theme park Xcaret, located 40 minutes south of Cancun. Xcaret is unlike any U.S. amusement park. Not a roller coaster anywhere, nor any waterslides or mechanical dinosaurs. But the collection of attractions made me wish we had two days instead of 1 to visit the park. Take advantage of this spot if you vacation in Cancun and the Riviera Maya. 

Highlights were many, including:

If Cozumel is not on your Mexico “I’ve got to get their list,” I strongly suggest you add it.  

MEET LARRY

World Traveler, Philanthropist, Friend, & ThirdHome Member

In celebration of turning 70, Larry is hitting all seven continents with the help of ThirdHome.

As Larry travels the globe with ThirdHome, he’ll be blogging about his experiences as he navigates the post-pandemic world. His planning began in 2019 with ThirdHome Director of Adventures, Liz Bates, who has assisted him in pivoting to satisfy his travel cravings when COVID-19 restrictions have not allowed him to visit a destination. Keep reading to learn more about Larry’s most recent travel experiences.

Next Stop: Azilal, Morocco

It was a balmy 112 degrees when I landed in Marrakech.  Who knew Africa could get hot in July?  Morocco was a detour from my European Invasion to sneak in a visit with my friend Abdou.  I met Abdou when he guided our Third Home “Colors of Morocco” tour last year and he and I morphed into “Whatsapp buddies” staying in touch ever since.  So, I took him up on his offer to return to Marrakech and travel with him to his hometown of Azilal located 3 hours away in the Atlas Mountains.  I welcomed his invitation to join him in his air-conditioned car and as we entered the scenic mountain range, the temperature cooled down to a slightly less awful 95 degrees.   Our adventure was underway. 

First stop on our “Abdou Azilal Tour” was the spectacular Ouzoud waterfalls located 15 miles from Azilal.  After a short walk from the crowded parking lot in the middle of this rocky and desolate landscape was the highest waterfall in North Africa surrounded by olive groves with cafes, vendors and a series of hiking trails leading down to the falls.  The resident monkeys joined us as we approached the falls and appeared to be pretty content and well fed as visitors were chatting them up and feeding them.  In the distance I saw hikers beat the heat by swimming in the small lake at the base of the Falls.  If I didn’t experience Ouzoud first-hand and take dozens of pics, I would have left convinced that what I saw was a mirage since the surrounding area as so dry and rocky.

Next up was hanging out with his family in their Azilal home.  I arrived in Azilal during the four-day celebration of Eid al-Adha, one of the 2 main holidays celebrated in Islam.  This “feast day” celebrates the willingness of Ibraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael to Allah as an act of obedience.  Spoiler alert: It didn’t happen, and a lamb provided by Allah was sacrificed in Ishmael’s place.  To celebrate the holiday, animals are ritually sacrificed, and meat provided to families, friends and the poor in each town.  Abdou’s brother slaughtered 3 sheep and a goat prior to my arrival so for the next 2 days we were seriously well-fed carnivores with large plates of meat, olives and fruits at each meal. 

Several mosques dotted Azilal so prayers were plentiful and residing at the top of the mosques, next to the speakers, were huge nesting storks.  The highlight of the town was the numerous cafes where the locals gathered to sip tea and talk.  Two days later I parted company with Abdou and his family and arrived in Marrakech at my Riad for my final night in Morocco and a welcome swimming pool.

As a final note, while in Amsterdam, I learned to love fresh herring, a local favorite fish served with pickles and onions.  My father would have been proud as he was a herring lover his entire life. 

Next Stop: Lisbon

TAP Air Portugal has become my favorite airline in the world for two reasons:  1. They hold an auction wherein flyers can bid on moving up to a first-class seat from coach.  For the record, I bid, and I lost.  2. They send out an email prior to any flight connecting through Lisbon offering to extend a layover from several hours to several days and rebook your flight allowing a traveler the opportunity to stay in Lisbon and experience the city.  When I received the email 3 days prior to flying home from Morocco I remembered my favorite Spanish saying “por que no?” (why not?) and decided to spend two nights in Lisbon prior to leaving the continent.

Great decision on my part because Lisbon is a city worth exploring and quite different from my prior European destinations.  Lisbon is a hilly city much like San Francisco, with picturesque vantage points to view the Tagus River, the plazas and the neighborhoods.  I decided that a tuk tuk tour was in order given my short stay and I chose Jose’s vehicle mainly because his tuk tuk was adorned with a really cool wooden parrot.  It was a great choice because we covered the entire city riding up and down streets so narrow that arms had to remain in the vehicle to avoid hitting fellow tuk tuk travelers.  During my tour I learned that the great earthquake of 1755 combined with a fire and tsunami pretty much leveled the entire city of Lisbon. 

My 5 Favorite Lisbon highlights:

  1. The Portuguese sardine!  Not disrespected and squeezed into a small can with a bunch of oil, but grilled and served on a plate to be consumed with French fries.  Delicious!
  2. Strolling through the city’s narrow streets and seeing how the locals live.  Even the graffiti tells a story.
  3. Dining al fresco and sipping sangria in the Alfama historic district while chatting with the restaurant owner.
  4. Riding a bicycle along the Tagus riverfront and stopping at Commerce Square to admire the large rectangular square and the iconic arch leading into the city center.  
  5. Gazing down at the city from up high at sunset and admiring the vibrant array of colors and shadows.  Lisbon is an incredibly colorful city.

MEET LARRY

World Traveler, Philanthropist, Friend, & ThirdHome Member

In celebration of turning 70, Larry is hitting all seven continents with the help of ThirdHome.

As Larry travels the globe with ThirdHome, he’ll be blogging about his experiences as he navigates the post-pandemic world. His planning began in 2019 with ThirdHome Director of Adventures, Liz Bates, who has assisted him in pivoting to satisfy his travel cravings when COVID-19 restrictions have not allowed him to visit a destination. Keep reading to learn more about Larry’s most recent travel experiences.

Next Stop: Amsterdam

What’s not to like about a country that birthed Vincent Van Gogh, Heineken beer, those cute wooden shoes and coffee shops that sell marijuana alongside their java?  And how about all those bikes in Amsterdam?  800,000 Amsterdammers (yes, that’s a real word) own 880,000 bikes and dominate the city streets.  Autos beware, this is a city bent on travel on 2 wheels, not four.  The Dutch go to work on bikes, take their kids to school on bikes, go on dates on bikes and stay incredibly fit on bikes.  This is an indicator of a very egalitarian society where young and old, men and women and rich and poor travel side by side across the city.  Noom and Weight Watchers are advised to stay clear of the Dutch market.  These folks don’t need you.

My three days exploring this glorious city led to more steps per day than the prior 3 weeks of my Virginia life.  Amsterdam continually ranks as one of the most walkable cities on the planet and the Amsterdam-Centrum or city center can be reached from all sides of the city on foot.   Tired of walking?   Rent a bike, or better yet, take a city tour by boat and explore the Amsterdam canals and bridges while learning about Amsterdam’s history.  

You want great museums and attractions? 

As a final note, while in Amsterdam, I learned to love fresh herring, a local favorite fish served with pickles and onions.  My father would have been proud as he was a herring lover his entire life. 

Next Stop: Bruges

Second stop, Bruges, Belgium for a stay in one of the coolest Third Homes on the website.  This amazing apartment in the heart of Bruges features a 16th century tower that provide a 360-degree vantage point of the city.  On a clear day one can see the towering windmills on the coast as well as dozens of church spires scattered throughout Bruges. 

Bruges is a city to fall in love with.  It is a medieval Unesco site and a living museum that leads one to believe they are walking through a modern-day fairy tale.  At the heart of the city are the Markt and Burg squares and a 13th century belfry with 366 winding and narrow steps made from stone, wood and marble that one can climb (and I did) to view the whole city and surrounding countryside.  Each Wednesday the square features a “don’t miss it” market with fresh fruits, vegetables and delicacies from across the region.  Warm weather features al fresco dining in dozens of outdoor cafes. 

What makes Bruges such a spectacular and memorable site?  How about this:

  1. There are more than 80 bridges in Bruges and canal tours operate all day to cruise the city.  At night the bridges and surrounding historic buildings are lit up and produce some of the most memorable reflection photo opportunities anywhere. 
  2. You have to love a city that features one museum dedicated to the French Fry and another museum dedicated to the history of chocolate and cocoa.  Only in Bruges can one witness singing and dancing taters.
  3. Speaking of chocolate, over 50 chocolatiers (chocolate shops) dot the streets of Bruges.  Each shop offers different versions of quality cocoa ranging from melt in your mouth white and dark chocolate truffles to caramel and marzipan infused cocoa treats.  For true chocoholics tours operate daily to visit several of the top stores.
  4. Once a week locals gather beneath the belfry for a concert of church bells from above.  Since I have a high level of ignorance identifying classical music hits, and I was clearly in over my head, I asked my fellow concert mate what was playing and was told it was a Bach fugue.
  5. The waffles in Bruges, especially at Chez Albert’s, are absolutely the most scrumptious delicacy in the whole city.  How about choosing between chocolate, fresh strawberries, whipped cream or caramel toppings.  Diet be gone!  These are simply too difficult to pass by. 
  6. A bicycle tour into the countryside is a must do.  Windmills and pastoral scenes along the river as well as the rare Belgian Blue cows await tourists who are so inclined to explore the nearby town of Damme.
  7. Belgian beer dates back to the Middle Ages and the Belgian Brewers guild was recognized in 1385.  The Belgian breweries bring over 2,000 original beers to market.  My favorite?  Brugse Zot Blonde.

MEET LARRY

World Traveler, Philanthropist, Friend, & ThirdHome Member

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