On day two of his trip around the world, Matt Lauer welcomed the “Today” show audience live in front of the spectacular Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. It’s one of the hottest new destinations in all of Europe, and yes, it’s quite a long way from Hawaii, where Matt and his team were Monday. They flew half way around the world, for more than 15 hours — all day and all night. And made it to Bilbao just over three hours before the show Tuesday morning. After the show, Matt took some time to answer some of your questions about his trip. Read some of his thoughts below, and don’t forget to send more questions tomorrow morning about Matt’s third destination.
Steve Spear from West Palm Beach: Which place will you return to when you have more time?
That is a great question. There have been a couple of locations in the past three years that I would like to return to. One is the Taj Mahal — believe it or not, my trip there (year one of this series) was so quick, that I never even made it inside the Taj Mahal! I am lucky to be returning to Sydney, Australia for a few weeks this fall for the Olympics — the “Today” show will be broadcast live from Sydney for the games, and Katie and I will be reporting from there, so I will have a real chance to learn more about Australia on that trip. And Hawaii was so beautiful, I would love to go back to see more of the islands and perhaps even play a round or two of golf!
Terese from Rochester: Are you and your wife able to enjoy the trip at all?
I am really thrilled to be travelling with my wife for the third year. I have to say, we don’t get a lot of time to sightsee on these trips — as you have probably heard me say on the air, we are in and out of so many of the locations, with barely time to sleep or have a meal. For Annette and I, though, it is great to be able to share the trips together because there are so many things we will remember and stories we will want to share in the years to come... And it is so nice that we are able to share them together. We find ourselves looking back on our many different stops a lot — remembering where we were, and sharing the stories of our adventures with our friends.
Eric from Manheim, PA: How are the destinations selected?
The process to select the cities begins months before the trip actually takes place. While I do have a say in where I am sent — well, at least for four of the locations this year (our audience got to chose my final location by voting on our Web site this year) — there is a group of us that takes part in the decision making. There are a lot of things to consider, so there are all kinds of people on the team. There are producers, technical people, researchers and engineers, all offering their insights as to what is feasible and what will make the most interesting material for the show. In truth, there are certain limits to the choices we make. Geography makes some locations impossible, depending on where we are coming from or where we need to get to. Legal restrictions can sometimes be tricky as well. And sheer physical limitations can make certain locations impossible to broadcast from. In fact, given all the potentials for problems, it is truly amazing that we have been able to pull off some of the awesome technical feats of the “Where in the World” series. Just yesterday, I think the pictures from the volcano proved that. It was a breathtaking vantage point!
Ted from Miami: How did it feel to be halfway around the world in one leg?
Well Ted, it felt totally exhausting! I have to say, this 16 hour flight we took to get to Bilbao was a tough one. We left Helo, Hawaii almost immediately after the show — that is, after our hike and 4-wheel drive adventure to get off the volcano — and headed west. We made a stop in Minneapolis, St. Paul to re-fuel, but our stop on “home turf” was short lived. We were off to Bilboa shortly thereafter, and arrived at about 10:30 a.m. local time — just a little more than two hours before “Today” show airtime. With time for no more than a quick shower, I was on the set and ready to go. Also remember — I really started this trip almost a week ago when I left New York for Vietnam. So while it is only Day Two of “Where in the World,” I have been on the road for a while, and I’ve already covered a lot of ground.
Bobby Terry from Sumter, South Carolina: What did you have for breakfast this morning in Bilbao?
Honestly Bobby, if you saw the cooking segment on the show, then you watched me eat my breakfast. The baby eel was not quite the eggs and toast I am used to! Given that we only arrived in Bilbao a couple hours before air, I wasn’t able to eat a thing prior to the show. However, the Basque food was a real treat! I had never before tried Basque cuisine, which is heavy on seafood, as you may imagine. In fact, after the show went off the air, the crew and I were really able to enjoy all that was cooked for us — perhaps not a traditional American breakfast, but delicious!
Gray from Dallas, Texas: How long will you stay in Spain after the broadcast?
Right now, I am getting ready to head on to my next location. It is about 8 p.m. in Bilbao, and I finished the show about five hours ago. I was able to catch up on a bit of sleep right after the show, and now we are gearing up for the next flight. We leave in about an hour.
Jed from Enfield: How about a brief video tour of your jet? I’m sure it’s not your standard run of the mill commercial airliner.
We are very fortunate to be traveling in a Gulfstream 5. This practically new plane had only 175 hours of travel on it prior to our use. The plane seats 10 people and also has a couch, and six of the seats open up into beds. Definitely the three years of this trip have seen an upgrade in our plane accommodations.
Jon Edwards from Melbourne, Florida: A technical question: Normally there is a noticeable delay in conversation between people in distant locations due to a satellite delay. In your conversations with Katie this is not apparent. How have you accomplished this?
As you’ve noted, the delay in long distance conversations on televsion is due to a satellite tramission. It takes time for the signal to get from one satellite to the next and thus causing the delay in conversation. However, Katie and I have worked under these conditions together for a long time and we know that the potential for problems exists. We compensate for that delay in our conversation. Technically we are cutting eachother off. And if we did it in the studio it would look and sound very strange, but when you factor in the dealy it works out well. So I guess the answer is we’ve had a lot of practice.
Stephen Foulk from Wilmington, Delaware: Why did the Guggenheims pick Bilbao?
Well Stephen, actually Bilbao approached the Guggenheims when word was out that the Guggenheims were looking for a place to have there museum. Bilbao made them a very attractive offer. As I said this morning, the city put together a $1.5 billion package and presented it to the Guggenheims. And clearly it resulted in the perfect setting for the amazing structure known as the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. This is a real example of a win win situation.
Suzi Wyckoff from Bahrain: How do you balance your travel time with sleep, eating,etc.?
Well Suzi, I sleep as much as I can, but when I’m awake I try to grab any material available to prepare for the next day’s show. So when I’m on the plane there is really a mixture of sleep, time to study and (hopefully) a chance to relax as well.