Posts Tagged With: europe

Country no. 51 on my World Karaoke Tour: a Bohemian rhapsody in Prague

A view of Prague’s Old Town Square (Staroměstské náměstí).

I’ve fallen a little behind — okay, a lot behind — in updating this blog to keep pace with my international karaoke appearances. Prior to this post, my last blog entry chronicled my karaokeing in Dubai that occurred all the way back in January — which, at the time, brought the tally of countries on my World Karaoke Tour to 46. Since then, the Earth has completed a large portion of a revolution around the sun, and my country count has increased to 51.

Part of the reason for my recent quietness on the writing front is that I’ve been travelling much more often on weekends. Most of those weekend excursions have taken me to various parts of my home country, the United States, as I pursue the accomplishment of karaokeing in all 50 U.S. states. That’s an accomplishment to which I’m well on the way; as of this writing, I’ve been to 40 of those 50 states, and karaoked in all 40 of them. (I’ll recount all of my 2017 domestic travels in a post to be published in December.) But since weekends have traditionally been my most productive part of the week for writing, my “50 states of karaoke” project has contributed to the slackening off of the pace of new posts appearing here at H-Bomb’s Worldwide Karaoke.

With my excuses out of the way, it’s way past time to catch up on telling the story of my 2017 karaoke travels. Although my last post discussed the 46th country, I’m now going to jump ahead to the 51st country, Czechia. Then, in the coming weeks, I’ll circle back to cover the 47th through 50th countries in which I performed. (Incidentally, when I speak of “Czechia,” I’m referring to the country that until 2016 was known to English speakers as the Czech Republic, but which then re-branded itself. Technically, the official name of the country remains “Czech Republic,” but “Czechia” is its intended name for everyday usage — in much the same way as, for example, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is commonly called “Luxembourg.”) Continue reading

Categories: Europe, travel, World Karaoke Tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Country no. 5 on my World Karaoke Tour: Greece

As previously discussed in this blog, through August 1993, I’d sung karaoke in four countries. As the calendar flipped to August 2004, I’d still sung karaoke in a total of . . . four countries. The biggest reason for this stagnation in my World Karaoke Tour was that for much of the intervening period I’d been trapped in a horrible job in which I was severely underpaid relative to my qualifications as an attorney and the work I was doing, and which therefore did not enable me to afford vacations to foreign lands (That job also sucked for additional reasons beyond the paltry compensation, but those reasons are beyond the scope of this blog). In the summer of 2004 I was still languishing in that dismal job, although I was only a few months away from finally quitting it. But I’d accumulated enough American Express Membership Rewards miles to qualify for a free round-trip flight to Europe; and by staying in cheap hotels I was able to cobble together my first overseas trip since 1996.

The itinerary for my new voyage included the Greek island of Crete; Rome; Pompeii; Venice; Amsterdam; and Brussels. The focus in the present article will be on the initial stop of Crete; the next installment of this series continues the narrative of my late-summer 2004 romp through Europe, during which the concept of my World Karaoke Tour finally began to reach critical mass.

Prologue: Terror on the high seas in 1996

I’d been to Greece once before — during the aforementioned 1996 journey that had marked my most recent foray outside the United States. On that trip, taken at the end of the summer, my law school friend Dave and I visited Athens and Delphi on the Greek mainland, as well as the Aegean islands of Ios and Santorini. Although Greece boasts a musical tradition dating back to ancient times, I didn’t find any karaoke during my 1996 visit. To be honest, I didn’t really seek it out; while I’d been singing karaoke Stateside for nearly five years at that point, karaoke had not yet become one of the defining activities of my life.

Despite the lack of any H-Bomb performances, my 1996 Greek holiday was memorable for a certain boat ride that occurred towards the end. Dave and I were on a ferry, returning from Santorini to Athens before flying back to New York. The ferry made an unscheduled stop at some random island. An announcement came over the public address system in Greek, and about two-thirds of the people on the boat immediately disembarked. Dave and I wondered why. Continue reading

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Countries no. 2, 3, and 4 on my World Karaoke Tour: United Kingdom, Austria, and Iceland

As of June 1993, I’d been singing karaoke sporadically for about two years. That month, having just completed my first year as a student at Georgetown University Law Center, I flew to London to commence a summer law study program. My summer was to divide into three segments, each three weeks long: First, in London, I was taking a course on “Comparative Litigation.” Next, in Salzburg, Austria, I was taking a course on “Fundamental Rights in Europe and the U.S.,” which was co-taught by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Both the London and Salzburg sessions were under the auspices of a program that was operated not by Georgetown but by the McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific in Sacramento, California. Following my six weeks of academics, I would spend the final three weeks on a sort of abbreviated version of the Grand Tour, passing through various Western European cities. By this time I had come to regret not having spent a semester abroad during my undergraduate years at Johns Hopkins; and I viewed my summer excursion as a way of partially compensating for what I’d missed out on. (This was at a time when study abroad programs were far more likely than today to take place in Western Europe; naturally, I assumed that if I had gone abroad for my junior year, my destination would have been somewhere in that region.)

The entries on my law school transcript from the summer of ’93 are not particularly important to this blog (although it was pretty cool hanging out in an Austrian beer garden with a Supreme Court justice, and asking him about a case that I had just seen one of my professors argue before him and his fellow jurists a few months earlier). But that summer in Europe had another, unexpected impact on my life. It saw the genesis of my World Karaoke Tour.

London, United Kingdom
I’d been in London for no more than a few days when I decided that I needed to find a British pub in which to sing. So one afternoon after my classes let out, I walked around from bar to bar, asking the bartenders if they knew of any pubs that offered karaoke. In one response that was seared into my brain, a bartender not only stated that he knew of no such pubs, but gratuitously added that “karaoke is old hat.” He said this all the way back in 1993! Talk about being on the wrong side of history. 🙂 Of course, in 2012, karaoke is ubiquitous almost everywhere on the planet — an outcome that would not have surprised the 23-year-old me in ’93. So anyway, when that bloke made his smug comment, I wanted to respond, “Hey man, your whole country is old hat!” But I held my tongue. (Note: I’m a huge Anglophile; so when I call England “old hat,” I say that term with nothing but affection. But there was something ironic about a denizen of such an ancient land deriding as antiquated an invention of the 1970s.)

Naturally, I did find a place to sing in London. Continue reading

Categories: Europe, Europe, travel, World Karaoke Tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What I did in Lisbon after I put down the mic

Lisbon is a beautiful city. Its combination of vintage buildings and sweeping hills, together with its location on a major port, supply its aesthetic charm. When you factor in the cable cars (known locally as trams) that traverse the hilly streets of its downtown, Lisbon bears more than a superficial resemblance to San Francisco, a city to which it is often compared (The two cities also share a delightful Mediterranean climate. A further point of similarity: while San Francisco is much more famous for its seismic hazards, Lisbon suffered a catastrophic earthquake in 1755, with a magnitude estimated to have been as high as 9.0, that helped inspire Voltaire’s Candide. If you visit either city, you risk being in the wrong place at the wrong time when the next Big One strikes).

And like San Francisco, Lisbon has now been a stop on my World Karaoke Tour. I sang on my very first night in Lisbon, a Friday night. I was staying in town through the following Monday morning. How did I occupy the rest of my long weekend? Continue reading

Categories: Europe, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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