Who Is Passepartout?

Capitalized, the original Passepartout was Phileas Fogg’s valet and companion in Around the World in Eighty Days, both the 1873 Jules Verne novel and the 1956 David Niven movie. Lower-cased, passe-partout is French for a skeleton key, because it can get you in anywhere! Seemed like that would be a handy thing to have — and a good nom de plume — for a dedicated traveler. So I christened myself... Passepartout.

 ‘Now, voyager… sail you forth to seek and find.’

                                                                 — Walt Whitman


A bit about my travel history: When I was 22, I set off alone, Frommer in hand, to do ‘Europe on $5 a day’... 11 countries in 13 weeks. (I was horrified that I succumbed and spent the Brussels equivalent of $2.50 on one dinner, even though it included an aperitif, starter, entrée, dessert and, if I remember correctly, coffee!) Since then, I have been back to the U.K. and Europe 16 times — and the prices have gone up! Traveling with the Yale Alumni Chorus, I added Cuba in 2010 and Vietnam and Singapore in 2016. By then, I’d renewed my passport several times. Last year, I sprang for the jumbo size — 52 blank pages, many no longer blank!


I launched this blog in November 2017, five weeks before I embarked on my own inaugural cruise, and Viking’s five-month-long inaugural World Cruise on board the brand-new Viking Sun — 141 days, 5 continents, 35 countries, 66 ports of call. I wasn’t on board too long before I signed on for their second world cruise — 128 days, the same 5 continents, 21 countries, 44 ports of call — which I returned from in May, 2019. Some countries and ports were repeats, but there’s always something new to see!


One of the best parts of the first world cruise was writing about it and sharing what I saw and learned with you, my armchair-traveling band. Many of you told me that first thing in the morning, you got your first cup of coffee and looked to see ‘Where’s Passepartout today?’ Well, my friends, first thing every morning, I looked to see who’d been on board with me and who’d sent me a message! We were often many time zones apart — sometimes a whole day apart when we contended with the International Date Line.


Writing the blog has felt a bit like working on a magazine. My first real job, between college and graduate school, was at a local magazine near where I grew up. You may have heard of it? The Reader’s Digest. At the time, it was the world’s leading magazine in terms of circulation. My grad school major was magazine journalism so, even though I never worked again for a magazine, the blog felt comfortable. That is, once I’d hammered out the technical bits — in grad school, we’d set type by hand, from a California job case.


Though this is the third installment of my travel blog, it’s by necessity Part 4 (due to previous bandwidth issues not worth dwelling on). Since I don’t think I’ll do such long cruises again, this one is just ‘Passepartout Continued: Other Worldly Adventures,’ so it can encompass whatever comes next!

I’m glad you’re coming along. Welcome aboard!


‘Far Away Places’...

Leading a singalong off the coast

of Spain, in 2018 

‘Things’... My Viking Vocalist buddy Joshua picked me to join him on stage

in 2019, as we channelled

Dean Martin and Nancy Sinatra

Yes, I have sung at the Sydney Opera House...

on a dare from the backstage-tour guide!


With a friend, in Brisbane, 2018

Another friend, at Giza, 2018

Passe-partout  ...  Qu’est-ce que ça signifie?

From the French passer, to pass or go, and partout, everywhere. Besides being Phileas Fogg’s French valet sidekick in

Around the World in Eighty Days, le mot passe-partout means ‘skeleton key’ — because it will get you in anywhere!

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