Saturday, June 29, 2013

Stalking the Mazurka

"I recognize the tune, but It doesn't sound like a mazurka." This devastating comment, emailed last spring by a friend in Belgium, sharply focused the purpose of this cruise. By the end of summer I hope to be able to play a recognizable mazurka and dance the same, to tunes by Naragonia, a duo who play exquisite diatonic accordion. All this in Ghent, Belgium.

Anita's on-board meal was different than mine.
This is our first cruise aboard a dirt yacht rather than Sweet Pea. As a result, our Atlantic crossing involved only a single overnight watch -- I suppose that I can claim watching movies aboard Delta is a watch and I did stay awake for the entire night. For various reasons -- mainly due to a shortage of SkyMiles, leading to only one "free" ticket -- Anita snoozed two rows ahead of me in decadent luxury while I suffered in Coach with a bag of peanuts.

We landed in Brussels, dizzy with time warp, and navigated trains to our flat in Ghent. The summer's cruise has started.

Now, having stowed our bags in Ghent, we're streaking east across France on the Eurostar, headed for London. This is to be Anita's treat: a museum crawl to satiate a textile itch. We'll start with Kaffe Fassett's exhibition of quilt and color in the Fashion and Textile Museum and then tube over to the Victoria and Albert Museum for a couple of days. Lotta tangled threads in my future.

Next week I hope to meet with my musical coaches -- why hire only one mazurka consultat when three are available? -- hear Naragonia in concert and play tunes with Anja, the Ghent friend who has been incredibly helpful in understanding how to do this cruise.

As the cruise guides always say, the prudent mariner seeks local knowledge. A year ago on I posed the question of where to study diato. That opened the door to a flood of advice, including a tip from Chris Ryall that a university town like Ghent would be ideal. Anja, a Ghent based melnetter chimed in with where to stay, how to get around the town and the country, which festivals to attend, and who might give music lessons.

We took a flat in Patersol, Ghent's charming old section, full of restaurants and bars on cobblestone streets that are mostly empty of cars, with a tram stop at the end of our street. I have lined up diato lessons with Guss, a recent graduate with a degree in music who wants to start giving accordion lessons and is an accomplished dancer. And, the biggest of the Belgium music festivals is held in Ghent. Without such good advice I would have already hit the shoals. Instead we're well underway and already having fun.

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