If Singapore were closer to Herb Hoppe’s house at the Normandy in Rocky River, the retired attorney just might consider a second home there.
It’s an exotic, clean and modern destination. “It’s a grand city,” he says. “And a whale of a long ride from here.”
But for Hoppe, the voyage is part of the adventure.
Hoppe first explored the Far East in 2009 with his wife, Joanne, during a 50-day cruise. He had been retired for three years by then.
“We enjoyed cruising,” he says. The ships they chose offered many formal nights when Hoppe would suit up in a tuxedo. “The whole nine yards,” he relates. “And that was part of the fun, as far as we were concerned.”
In 2010, they embarked from New York City to Hong Kong on a 40-day cruise. The next year, they traveled the rivers from Amsterdam to Switzerland and capped their adventures with a Caribbean excursion in 2012.
Hoppe delighted in the convenience of lodging on board, while experiencing a range of destinations during one trip.
“I enjoy the days at sea as much as anything else,” adds the 88-year-old, recalling his most recent cruise in 2015 with eight straight days at sea. “People look at me and say, ‘What did you do?’ Well, there was all sorts of things to do on board.”
That’s the way Hoppe views the Normandy. He moved there in May 2014 after his wife died. They had been married for 57 years.
Hoppe offers a tour of his two-bedroom apartment, with its sunny balcony and amenities that give him the freedom to leave for trips or stay and connect with other residents. He unfolds a calendar that’s filled with activities: outings, exercise classes, cocktail hours, a dining menu that he says is “really quite good,” he says, “more than good.”
Hoppe smiles and raises a brow. “See, it’s a lot like a cruise ship.”
Moving from his longtime home in Rocky River to the Normandy was what he had always planned. His parents lived there from 1979 to 1983, and the property is undergoing extensive renovations that Hoppe shows off. “Coming back to this, I’m very happy,” he says.
He’s still restless with his passport, however. Hoppe travels to get a taste of places that are nothing like home. He travels because, as an active octogenarian, he still can. (Hoppe is currently president of Westlake-Bay Village Rotary Club.) Travel keeps him sharp and engaged.
“I have had the opportunity to get a flavor of a lot of places,” he says. He points to Jakarta, Indonesia, and Bora Bora in French Polynesia as among his favorite stops.
Upon returning from trips, Hoppe enjoys sharing stories about his travels. The next trip on his bucket list is a cruise from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that will include a weeklong voyage along the Amazon River.
“I’ll put on a slideshow for people here,” he says, noting how he takes and edits photos of his times away.
All told, Hoppe has visited more than 20 countries in the 10 years since he retired from a 50-year law practice. “I just enjoy seeing snippets of places far away.”