Hi my name is Anthony Mendicino. I’m a junior journalism major at Point Park. I’m from Pittsburgh and have gone to school here all my life. After transferring to Point Park after my freshman year, I began to write for The Globe. In the summer, I work at a family butcher shop in Finleyville, Pa., named Cheplics Meat Packing. I enjoy music and have been playing guitar since the age of 11. I’ve played sports my entire life, focusing mainly on football. I decided not to continue playing in college and pursue writing. When I heard about the opportunity to go to Spain and Portugal this year, I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of it.
Day One Blog: A nice view for a king
What’s a king without a palace? Although the current king is presently nothing more than a figurehead similar to Britain’s royal family, and now the Palacio Real de Madrid is only used for special occasions or as a museum to Spain’s former monarchy. The sheer brilliance of each room is enough to make one queasy. But in all seriousness it is almost overwhelming. Rooms full of gold, priceless paintings, and an entire room made of porcelain outline the gigantic square palace. Signs of Spain’s former empire are carefully scattered in each room, from the chamber where the king has his breakfast to the 145-person table in the grand dining room.
Perhaps one of the most interesting, yet smaller details was concerning Spain’s current king Filipe VI. Filipe fell in love with TV journalist Letizia Ortiz and eventually made her Spain’s first commoner queen. As Mauricio said, the king must’ve been watching the news. Something I found interesting considering the situation and that I never thought a king would care to watch the news. But he did, and now Ortiz is the queen of Spain.
Priceless photos by legendary Spanish painter Francisco Goya line the walls of the king’s chambers and giant room-filling rugs show off the wealth of the monarchy. These Goya paintings could be in a museum, according to Mauricio, but they reside where they’ve always belonged. Goya’s work illuminates each room in the palace in a way that neither gold nor porcelain could do, they give the rooms a story and life. I particularly enjoyed the fresco depicting Hercules, because the kings of Spain were said to be direct descendants of the Greek hero.
All these reasons, and some others, are why I’ll never forget the palace – and I didn’t even get to see the throne room!
Day Two Blog: Ronaldooo!
After rolling out of bed and eating breakfast we jumped on the metro and headed to the Universidad de Navarra. We were there to meet Professor Gustavo Garcia – Mansilla a Señor Media Management Lecturer. The first building we entered with Professor Garcia – Mansilla was the University’s fashion business building. The building itself was beautiful was decorated by students in the fashion department; it featured very contemporary décor ranging from the clocks and painting on the walls, to the library and vertical garden. However, Professor Garcia – Mansilla informed us that the department would be moving out of the building in two years due to an increase in students. Nonetheless the building was spectacular. Once we walked the short distance to the second building we entered a classroom where Professor Garcia – Mansilla presented us a power point titled “Spanish Media Landscape: Present and Future.” The presentation outlined both the business and economic standing of Spanish media, as well as a bit of information about Professor Garcia – Mansilla. I especially enjoyed hearing about his love of music and playing the guitar.
After our meeting with Professor Garcia – Mansilla we walked along Madrid’s main roadway on our way to Condé Nast. Condé Nast Spain’s president Javier del Olmo greeted us. After he left to attend a meeting, Vice President of Corporate Development Natalia Gamero took over the presentation. Mrs. Gamero was extremely welcoming; as were all of the people we met there. When Inés Lorenzo, Editor at Vogue.es, finished her presentation she took us on a tour of the Vogue newsroom, including a detour to their extensive collection of clothes for their models. We returned to the conference room to hear three more equally as interesting presentations. I especially enjoyed the presentation from Marta del Riego, a journalist and Managing Editor at Vanity Fair Spain. As we left Condé Nast we were given bags full of all their magazines and a coffee mug with their logo. As I said, they were all very nice people, I can’t stress that enough!
We returned to the hotel via metro and changed to get ready for dinner. It was our first time venturing out into the city without our guide or professors so it was a bit of a challenge to get around. Myself and a few others decided to go “La Marketa de Santo Miguel.” After a few wrong turns we spotted the giant semi-outdoor market full of tapas stands. I ate a delicious assortment of olives stuffed with jamón, cheese, mussels and more jamón – I could live off of that stuff. I also had a dish with a mini hamburguesa consisting of mozzarella cheese, more jamón and lettuce stuffed between two small hamburger buns. After we ate we went searching for a bar to watch the Real Madrid versus Juventus fútbol game. Every bar was packed and after a purchased a Cristiano Ronaldo jersey we finally got lucky and found a table at a bar. We ordered cervesas (beers) and watched the two teams play to a 1-1 tie; the crowd in the bar went absolutely crazy when Ronaldo scored. After we returned to the hotel where I’m writing this blog. It was a great day and we had the pleasure of meeting a lot of great people.
Day Three Blog: No Bull
It’s easy to tell why it’s controversial, even easier to tell why it’s a storied tradition. Before even learning about this trip a bullfight was on my bucket list. When we had the chance to go, I gladly fought through the urge to return to the hotel and sleep. Sara, Emily and myself exited the cab to join the hundreds and thousands of people along the crowded pathways around the ring. Needless to say it was overwhelming and we hadn’t even seen a bull or fighter yet. Walking up to our seats gave us the first glimpse of the ring. A giant sand circle that was being watered by a man with a hose as another man outlined two white chalk circles. Mauricio later explained to me that at certain points in the fight the Picadores and Matadors will try to keep the bull within the inner most circle. This is seen as a representation of the Matador’s control of the beast. But as we saw later in the match, a bull can never be controlled.
We rented small seat cushions that temporary gave us some padding on top of the concrete seat. There were no “seats” in the ring per say, it was more of a concrete bench with numbers painted on the side signifying which seat you are to sit in. The initial welcoming procession began as the fighters entered into to the ring. The smell of tobacco in all its forms wafted through the air, adding to the old-time feel of the entire experience. People drank beer and liquor but were never out of control. There was very little security there. Even entering the ring only required the showing of your ticket. Making the fact that in the States you now have to go through a metal detector to get into a baseball game almost laughable. It seemed like the respect and reverence for the tradition of the event almost kept everyone in line. No security needed.
The fights began and the first bull was rather weak, falling after only the first stab. This was met with whistles from the crowd. Mauricio informed me that when the crowd doesn’t like what they’re seeing from either the bull or the fighter, they whistle. Similar to booing in the States. When they like what they’re seeing they clap. After the whistling calmed down I must admit I was a bit disappointed, but that feeling did not last very long. The second, fourth and fifth Bulls were all fantastic. The third fighter even earned himself an ear. When a bullfighter fights very well and is able to control the bull the president of bullfighting will single down from is box seat that the fighter deserves an ear (or two) as a trophy. In this case the fighter, Jimenez Fortes, earned himself one ear. And as the sixth and final fight came around it was Fortes’ next chance to get himself another ear.
Fortes positioned himself about 20 yards from the gate where the biggest bull of the day was to be released. He went down to his knees and draped the pink cape over them and prepared to receive the bull. The gate swung open and the giant bull emerged mid-stride straight at him. At the last possible second Fortes slid the cape off of his knees and to his side, the bull missed him completely. The crowd roared “olé!” Fortes fought the bull in the center of the ring until he was relieved by his Picadores. The Picadores prepared the bull and Fortes once again stepped into the ring to fight this time equipped with the traditional red cape. He began to fight the bull by himself and was seemingly doing very well as the crowd clapped screamed in approval. But things were about to take a turn for the worse. As Fortes was fighting the bull he positioned himself in the windiest part of the ring to impress the president. But as Fortes was about to olé the bull once again, the wind blew the red cape into his body. The bull reacted by ramming Fortes and left him up, with its horn between his legs, and bucking him off. Fortes flew through the air and land close to the bull. He immediately began rolling on the ground to try and avoid the bull long enough for his Picadores to get it away from him. Sadly, they couldn’t. The bull lunged his giant horns at Fortes, stabbing him in the neck. The crowd gasped. Some began crying, especially the little children sitting in front of us. Fortes somehow got himself to his feet, in an obvious state of shock, and began stumbling away from the bull holding his neck. One of his Picadores and a man in a suit ran into the ring and scooped him up and into the hospital located under the stands. It was the most brutal thing I have ever seen. We all thought it was over, but another fighter jumped into the ring and eventually killed the beast.
I couldn’t believe what happened, but I know I’ll never forget it. The brutality, beauty, passion and courage of the entire event was riveting to watch. Luckily, we found out the next morning that Fortes was okay, the bull’s horn narrowly missed a major artery in his neck. As Mauricio said, we got to see a little bit of everything. The courage of both the fighters and the bulls was on full display. In the States we sometimes refer to mixed martial arts fighters or boxers as “gladiators” or “warriors,” but to me they’ll forever be known as wimps. Fortes, the other fighters and the bulls put the real warrior spirit on full display. Fearless in the face of death.
Day Four Blog: Time Travel
The United States is a relatively new country. So, living there all your life almost makes you think history began in 1776. This is obviously not true. American history is a spectacular one, one full of horrible, tragic and valiant stories. But it simply does not compare to where we were today. In Segovia, there are park benches older than the States, much less the Roman Aqueduct from around 80 A.D. That was spectacular. To touch something that old, built only with perfectly carved stones and no mortar, was another experience I’ll never forget. It begs the question why we can’t build anything that will last.
Segovia itself was beautiful the town and castle gave way to views of lush green grass, farms and beautiful trees. The sky was clear and as we climbed to the top of a medieval watchtower you could see for miles. The colors were so crisp that a photograph just can’t do it justice. It’s hard to believe it was even real. The castle was another beautiful sight to behold. Although it wasn’t completely original the reproduction was spot on visually and completely embraced the original feel. The décor was extremely was done, the entire thing looked like it was the set of a Game of Thrones set, except more real. For all I know a dragon could’ve been flying above.
But perhaps my favorite part of the day came at dinner. It was finally time to have Suckling Pig. This was something I’d been excited for since we took off from Pittsburgh and it did not disappoint. After an appetizer of soup made from the broth the pig was cooked in, the waiter brought out a small table and placed it in the middle of all of us. He then brought the pig out; head, tail and feet included, and grabbed a small plate. He said that the meat of the pig was so tender that it could be cut with the dull edge of a plate. He wasn’t lying. With almost no effort he cut the pig into pieces with the plate then threw the plate on the ground and shattered it into pieces. This is a long held tradition and signaled the fact that the pig was so tender. I was given part of the ribs and it was served with fresh lettuce tossed in olive oil. Absolutely delicious.
Day Five Blog: Toledo
Before boarding our train to Barcelona we traveled outside of Madrid to the historic town of Toledo. Our first stop within the city was to a traditional blacksmith shop that still produced handcrafted swords and jewelry. We watched a short demonstration of how both the swords and jewelry was made then got back on the bus and headed into the heart of the city to visit Santa Iglesia Cathedral. The construction of the giant gothic structure began in 1227 and wasn’t finished until 1492. The enormous arches within the church relied on each other to focus the weight of the building equally onto each one. This is common of gothic architecture, something I never knew before.
After we left the Cathedral we got back on our bus and headed back into Madrid to board our train to Barcelona. The whole process was relatively simple; we got out bags off the bus and stopped to get food to bring on the train. Security was also simple as there was no removal of shoes or electronics. We got on our train and departed. The ride was very smooth and the views out of the windows were very picturesque. It was a three-hour ride into the city.
We scrambled off the train amid a mass of people and made our way out to our bus where another guide, Patrick, met us. Patrick took us a short tour of the city, past the Segrada Familia and the 1992 Olympic facilities. We then traveled to the top of a mountain overlooking the whole city and out to the Mediterranean. The views are amazing everywhere, so I’m not going to bore anyone one explaining it again. We then drove back down to our hotel, and checked in. From there we went to dinner as a group and ate fresh fish. Another delicious meal. Like the views, the meals have all been amazing. We then walked back to our hotel along the crowded La Rambla. From there a few of us went for a short walk then I went back to my room to try and catch up on some sleep.
Blog Day Six: Freedom
Our free day in Barcelona began without me, I was catching up on sleep. I eventually pulled myself out of bed at noon and walked around the corner to grab an expresso, well I wanted a coffee but the whole language barrier thing led me to an expresso. After I downed that, a few of us decided to go for a walk and take it easy. I was all for it because I was tired for a number of reasons. We walked along La Rambla and grabbed something to eat then continued our walk, buying a few small things here and there.
As we were walking we noticed an art show going on at a gallery along La Rambla. It turned out to be a free show from French artist Sophie Calle. Emily knew of her so we went in and walked around the show. It was a conceptual show based on her life’s journey and the struggles she faced. It played off of her various struggles in relationships and included intimate letters, photos and home videos about her life. I enjoyed the entire show and thought about the fact that she was so open with her life, even showing pictures of herself half naked. I don’t know if I could ever do that. In fact, the more I think about it the more I know I wouldn’t.
After the show we returned to the hotel to get some work done. That took a few hours and by the time we were done it was time for the big game. Of course, in Barcelona referring to the big game almost always means its and FC Barça game. But this game was even more important. With a win, the club would clinch the La Liga (the Spanish fútbol league) title. Still kind of tired and worn out, we went across the street to a bar named “Cheers.” It was an Irish themed bar but was covered in soccer memorabilia. It had the feel of a small neighborhood Steelers bar back home. But that is where the Steelers comparisons end. Fútbol here in Barcelona is about 1000x more important than football back home. So when Lionel Messi netted Barça’s winning goal the bar erupted. Things went to another level when the game ended and a huge crowd amassed to celebrate on La Rambla, right near where we were staying. The experience of watching a Barça game of importance in Barcelona among all the fans was something I’ll never forget.
Blog Day Seven: Más Barça
Today was a day I had been looking forward to since we were given our itineraries. It was the day we were to visit Camp Nou, FC Barçalona’s enormous 100,000 plus seat home stadium. But first we were off to visit TV3, Spain’s main TV channel, similar to ABC or NBC in the states. There are a few key differences however, first and foremost TV3 is sponsored and by the Spanish government more precisely, the Catalonian government. In Barcelona most citizens speak Catalan and Spanish. So, due to the large number of Catalan people in the area, the local government set up a Catalan speaking TV station to better cater to the local people. TV3 is the main channel but it also branches out into several other channels namely and sports channel, E3, a news channel and a children’s channel, Super 3. We toured their facilities and were even given access to view a live broadcast of a news program. We then departed for a quick lunch.
After finishing lunch we boarded the bus for Camp Nou (pronounced like “no”). As the bus came closer and closer to the stadium the sheer size of the facilities were plain to see. In addition to the soccer team, FC Barça has other pro clubs in other pro sports. On the property was a basketball court for the basketball team and an indoor dek hockey rink used a multitude of other sports. A museum dedicated to the history of the soccer club was another attraction connected to the stadium. From there Mauricio bought us tickets for our tour and our guide Roger met us inside. The tour began from the upper section of the stands and took us through the press area and visitors locker room. We then entered the tunnel to the field. The same tunnel players like Messi, Dani Alves, Neymar Jr. and Piqué walk through during home games. The walls of the tunnel were painted with pictures and murals depicting Barça’s storied history. There were also two rooms on either side of the tunnel. One was a TV set for E3 the same station we visited that morning. The other was a chapel. Roger informed us that catholic players from either team use the chapel before each game. It included a shrine to the black Mary on the altar and was even blessed by the pope. So yes, they take their fútbol pretty seriously.
From there we made our way to field level. The grass was expertly kept, not a blade higher than the next. Roger told us that when the players train the day before a game they tell the grounds crew exactly how they would like the grass. Barça is a team built on speed with players like Neymar Jr. and Messi so they normally cut the grass low, making it a faster surface. He also said that when Barça plays away games the opposing team usually lets the grass grow higher to attempt to slow down speedy Barça. This maneuver is usually futile considering the clubs success. It was an awesome experience to be on the same field as Lionel Messi, a player widely recognized as the greatest soccer player on the planet.
Blog Day Seven: To Lisboa
Our last day in Barcelona began at La Vanguardia, a leading Spanish newspaper. I was particularly interested in this visit because newspaper writing is a field I would like to be a part of in the future. Our contact at the paper was Ismael Nafria the paper’s digital innovation director. He took us up to the newsroom where we filed into a conference room and was met by Miguel Molina. The two answered all our questions about not only the broader newspaper business in Spain, but also their paper in particular. I felt they answered every question quite honestly. They also gave us a tour of their main newsroom, their sports paper and their small TV interview room. Everyone there was extremely kind and happy to show us around.
From there we scratched our original plans to visit Park Guéll due to rain, and instead visited La Sagrada Familia, Antoni Guadi’s masterpiece work. Guadi began construction of the cathedral in 1888 knowing he would never see its completion. The building itself is in the center of Barcelona and is visible from almost every angle of the city. The church is explatory meaning that since its initial construction it has been completely funded by donations. It is projected that tourism alone generates roughly 15 million euro a year for the project, not counting the endless number of donations. Construction was still going on as we entered the giant structure. Its easy to tell why it is so revered, even someone who isn’t catholic could admire the passion and unique quality to the building.
We then departed for the airport soaked in rain. We arrived to Barcelona International airport and checked our bags. If you thought security was ridiculous in the states, try doing the same thing in a different language. I know a little Spanish, usually enough to get by at a restaurant but it didn’t help me there. After shoving our way through we waited the two or so hours to boarding in a cafeteria in the airport. Once it was time to board we scrambled to our seats and awaited takeoff. I was dead tired at this point but I can’t sleep on planes. And I didn’t. Needless to say I crashed as soon as we got to the room in Lisbon.
Blog Day Eight: Watching You
Our first full day in Lisbon began with a bus tour of the city. The first stop was the Torre de Belem, a tower that protected the port of Lisbon where the river meets the Atlantic. The water was beautiful; the sky was a dark morning blue that contrasted perfectly with the grayish-white rock tower. It was easy to tell the tower was a tourist attraction. Busloads of people unloaded and reloaded trying to capture the view. Another way to tell a high tourist traffic area is the young and old men trying to sell you “selfie sticks” and sunglasses and other illicit substances. Of course, when I was offered some ‘grass’ I talked the man down to 20 euro from 60 but didn’t end up purchasing. We found something just as good instead. The Pastels de Nada at the nearby café were fantastic. Imagine a surrounding croissant a pond crème with cinnamon on top. Yum.
From there we were off to our first media visit of the Portuguese leg of the trip. We didn’t visit a media company though, a university instead. We heard more about the state media in Portugal from Professor Paolo. He then introduced an American, Laura, whose nonexistent accent was a breath of fresh air to listen to. Sometimes its hard to understand what people were saying because of their heavily Spanish/Portuguese accents. She told us about her career thus far and how she adjusted from living in Washington D.C. to living in Lisbon. I thought that was most interesting as she seemingly enjoyed living in the Portuguese capitol more than the American one. Then things shifted to Mr. João Palmeiro whose wealth of knowledge was evident by the length of time he spoke and what he spoke about. I could’ve listened to him riff for hours about the state of media worldwide and the impact of companies like Google and its lesser-known (in America, atleast) Chinese counterpart Baidu. He spoke about the dangers of giving free reign to these giant corporations, something I totally agreed with. He told a story of a meeting he had with Baidu and illustrated a room double the size of the 30-person classroom we were sitting in. Walls covered in screens with a control station in the middle. What was on the screens? The personal information of everyone who visited the site, including their likes and dislikes, recent online purchases, and even their address. Things we all voluntarily offer up to our giant corporate overlords every time we log on. He added that a young Chinese man who spoke perfect English informed him that all of the information in the room was available “at the drop of a hat” to the highest bidder. If that doesn’t scare you then nothing will. Sure shopping online is great – you don’t even have to wear pants – but his talk has made me rethink the American way of letting corporations run wild and unchecked, Although I’ve never trusted them, I’ll never look at Google or any other company with the same reverence so commonly seen by everyone in the States.
Blog Day Nine: Wine and Cod
The second full day in Lisbon was back-to-back media visits. Interesting sure, but no one was exactly looking forward to them. I think that feeling changed when we arrived at RTP, Portugal’s public broadcasting station. Think NPR on steroids. The facilities were big for a publically funded company, especially one that had to cut back on some 200 employees because of budget issues. One of the most interesting pieces of the RTP lecture was the fact that beginning in 2013 the company is now totally funded by the public. No government help whatsoever. Each Portuguese citizen who pays a water bill has a 2,50 euro tax built into the water tax that goes directly to RTP. And they’re fine with it. This keeps the pressure on RTP to provide quality and relevant content, which they seemingly do very well for both TV and Radio. The question of would that small tax even be considered in the States popped into my head. Probably not, we’re too greedy. And since any scent of another miniscule tax (even if it provides a public service) makes most Americans pee their pants, well I think you know the answer to the question.
From there we toured the RTP campus, which was very cool. I loved seeing all the radio broadcasts and even a few famous Portuguese musicians. We even met a man who worked on the plan to land a satellite on a comet; he was there to be interviewed. After RTP we moved on to our last media visit of the entire trip. Everyone welcomed this. Personally, I thought all the visits were worthwhile and provided us with some cutting-edge information, but at this point all the information gained was beginning to melt together in my head. With that in mind, we arrived to Global Media Group where Paolo met us and we met his friend who happened to be the CEO of the entire company. After a lecture and questions about turning the company around, the CEO was off to do CEO things and we were of back to the hotel.
A few others and myself elected to return to the hotel to relax a bit. I was feeling pretty run down at this point everything was catching up so some relaxation was a welcomed change from the constant travels. Emily, Ashley and I decided to head to the rooftop pool and grab some grown up drinks. I had two Caprihana’s at the suggestion of the bartender and they were fantastic. A few sips from the others drinks and I was felt the alcohol make the evening a little lighter. We decided to consult the front desk as to where we could go for some good seafood. I was ready to pay for a cab, I was starving, but the woman at the desk pointed us to a seafood place right around the corner. We walked in and immediately saw Helen and Jan enjoying their dinner, they did the same front desk routine we did. We sat down and had one of the best meals of the trip. Our waiter was vastly helpful and directed us to a bottle of wine that completely hit the mark. The food was off the chain. We all ordered fish, I had traditional Portuguese cod. Wow. The mixture of good wine and even better food sort of took the load off of the trip. We might’ve sat there talking for two hours. Our waiter even took time to have the chef show us how the cod was salted and prepared before cooking. It was great. We ate a hot crêpe stuffed with ice-cold vanilla gelato and began the trek back to the hotel totally stuffed and ready for sleep. That night was definitely a highlight of the trip for me.
Blog Day Ten: The Edge of the World
Our last day. The whole trip went so fast and so slow so simultaneously, but I guess that’s how it usually goes. Today there were no more media visits. It was a day to see Portugal and enjoy ourselves. We visited the beautiful town of Sintra just outside of the city, but before we drove up to Cabo da Roca. The view is literally indescribable. I’ll try but not even the best pictures can capture it. Cabo da Roca is the edge of a cliff overlooking the Atlantic. From the top, where we were, you could almost see Washington D.C. On a clear warm day the wind was whipping, instantly dropping the temps by at least ten degrees. Sometimes so hard it knocked people off. Odet told us that there were two people last year who were swept off the edge of the cliff and fell to their death. Pleasant. But they were also pushing their luck by climbing over the wooden fence. Some Norwegian biker dude hopped the fence but I don’t really think he cared/knew about what happened to the two others who did the same (FYI: he didn’t fall). Way back in the time of Portuguese explorers this point was considered to be the edge of the world. Of course, this was pre-United States and Ireland would beg to differ on the whole western most point of Europe part. But at any rate it was something I’ll never forget. The deep blue of the ocean and sky are unforgettable.
From there the bus drove back down the hill to the town on Sintra, another old town with history and a palace. I didn’t even try to get into the palace it was crawling with tourists and, honestly, I was kind of sick of seeing that kind of stuff. There’s a point when you visit places like that in such a short period of time when the shine wears off in your mind and everything looks like you’ve seen it before. So instead we went shopping for gifts for the family. I’m going to keep that on the down low. Don’t want to ruin any surprises.
Now it was time for the beach. I think every one was ready for that, I know I was. Something about being near the beach is refreshing. We had more free time to get lunch, shop or hit the beach. I was starving so Ashley, Emily and I went hunting for a place. Emily and I wanted oysters so we basically based the decision off of that and it worked out very well. We found a place called Casa Vehla and sat down to order. The Oysters were the biggest I’ve ever had, they were good too, you could taste the freshness. The food was great everywhere and my advice would be to only go out and eat when you’re really hungry. I would’ve been ashamed if I wasted any bit of the spaghetti with clams and shrimp I ordered. Words cannot describe it. After we ate we went to the beach and just relaxed. Took a walk on a small pier off to the side and looked over the edge to see an octopus swimming around about 50 feet from other swimmers. So yeah, even if I had my bathing suit I wasn’t about to go in the water. We hung out there and waited for the bus. Then it was back to the hotel for a couple hours off until we left again for the Fado show.
The Fado show was an experience. The food was great, something I came to expect everywhere we went. But the performance was better. The performers themselves were master musicians and singers. My brain could hardly keep up with the guitarist and I’ve played for 11 years. After the show it was back to the hotel to pack and get ready to go home. The weird thing about traveling is how you get so ready to leave but even more ready to get home.