Monday, December 29, 2014
Unless they are. My reasoning, which even with the benefit of hindsight still seems sound to me, was way off. I don't know who these people are or how they normally celebrate their holidays but there certainly were a lot of them. I don't think you could have fit one more person into either Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure. Not even a skinny one. Or a midget. Or a skinny midget.
Both parks were at peak capacity. There were lines for the rides. There were lines for the restaurants. There were lines for the bathrooms. There were lines to get into the lines. It was madness. Theme parks know no reason or logic and it was foolish of me to try to apply some.
Sunday, November 2, 2014
A: It depends. Literally speaking, it may be the least cool city that I have ever been to. And by this I mean, it is hot. Hot as balls. Hot, sticky, sweaty balls. I, a native Miamian with a strong aversion to air conditioning, can't recall the last time I sweat as much as I did during my recent four day visit to Manaus. And mind you, this was in late October!
But figuratively speaking, this is the coolest of the cool. It is a city that popped up squarely in the middle of the Amazon River Basin. Remember the story about the 2014 World Cup Stadium that was so remote that all the building supplies had to be brought in via boats? That was Manaus.
The Stadium is still there and occasionally put into use- we had a soccer team from Rio staying in our hotel to prove it- but that's just the tip of the sweaty iceberg. There are stores, bars, restaurants and all the other things you would expect in a city with a population of over 2 million people, but what I loved was the constant reminder that, no question about it, you are in the middle of the jungle. It is like this delicate dance between man and nature and at times, it is difficult to say who is leading.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
1. The hotel we stay at is a menagerie of death. They have every creature, big and small, all with one thing in common: they are dead and stuffed on the walls. I know this is what passes for decor in that part of the world but it is still disgusting and walking in that lobby pisses me off every time.
2. When I think of Alaska, I think of Anchorage, Ketchikan, Seward...places with beautiful expansive water views. Fairbanks is smack in the middle of the state and other than a river or two, has no water view to speak of. You will see no whales in Fairbanks.
3. Years back, a group of us rented a car at the Fairbanks airport. I asked the guy at the agency if there was a chance that we would see moose. His response: "You can't miss them. They are everywhere." Well, guess what. We did and they weren't. This cemented in my mind the fact that all the people of Fairbanks are big fat liars.
Monday, September 1, 2014
On odd numbered years, a scale design is created and calculations are made determining how many flowers and what colors will be needed to execute the plan. Then, in the month of August, on even numbered years, 120 volunteers have four hours to place close to a million begonias directly onto the cobblestones into a pattern that will soon be seen by hundreds of thousands of visitors.
Nope, that explanation is not capturing it either. So...you've got this baroque square that is impressive all on its own, only now you are adding a sweet smelling layer of awesomeness right in the middle of it all. One that, despite a year's worth of planning will only last for four days.
Saturday, August 2, 2014
That's the good news. The bad news is that it has been almost a year since I paid a three day visit to my 95th country so the details are not as clear as they could be. There is also the issue of what happens when you give a FOMO sufferer an all access museum pass. I was pretty much non-stop for 72 hours. I was checking off parks and museums like it was a competition and Alexander Skarsgard was the prize.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
The bad: One day was not enough. To compound matters, this one and only day started rather late due to a delayed arrival and was cut short by a very early departure. Also, that sun could have tried a little harder. Norway in mid-June is not exactly balmy.
The trying to find a silver lining in our shortened stay: Had I stayed any longer, I would have had to look into selling an organ to cover costs and I fear that the blue book value on my original parts is not as high as I would hope. Norway is the second most expensive country in the world to live in (after Switzerland). Just getting through the day requires lot of krone, krone bills, yo, and just getting a pizza and a beer, will set you back over $60.
Friday, June 20, 2014
My most recent visit was during the "summer". I use quotes around the word "summer" because the Icelandic average "summer" temperature is in the mid-fifties. This is remarkably similar to Miami's "winter". Mind you, this is way better than their usual climate, which is somewhere in the range of apocalyptic freeze and "Why can't I feel my toes?" But what Mother Nature takes away in beach days, she more than makes up for in other ways.
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Four days off in Martinique
Four days off in Martinique who?
Four days off in Martinique at the very same time that my good friend's husband, a born and bred Martinican?/ Martinese?/ Martini?/ On the rocks?/ Shaken not stirred? (Note: ask Sebastien what exactly his people are called) is there to celebrate his mother's 60th birthday.
That's not a joke. That's just you bragging about an incredible stroke of luck. And if you would just spend 2 seconds googling, you would know that Martiniquais is the preferred answer.
What's that, fictional construct that I created in my head? I can't hear you over this jamming soca music. And hey, since you are over there, could you pass me the sunscreen?
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
So…it was our second week in Dubrovnik. Our classes, during which heavily accented professors would read straight from a page, were opportunities to write out postcards, catch up on crosswords and look ever so studious while highlighting travel guides. Our party professor, a rather portly gentleman, had introduced us to Slivovich, shown us some of the best restaurants in town and provided an indelible memory to some classmates who had the misfortune of stumbling upon him at a clothing optional beach. Our per diem, which was something like $20 per day, had us eating and drinking like kings, with plenty of cash to spare. Our first weekend, we used our surplus to book a live-aboard sailboat and cruise around the nearby islands. The second weekend, our professor proposed a trip to Budapest. If I knew little about Yugoslavia prior to this summer, I knew even less about Hungary but he had not led us astray, so off we went.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Anyhoo, last time I checked in, I was in Munich for five days, drinking beer in quantities that led me to believe that buying a dirndl was a good idea. Fortunately, I did not have the space in my bag for the five underskirts and push-up bra the outfit requires, so a change of scenery was in order. As luck (and basic geography) would have it, there was also a country I had not been to a mere 2.5 hour drive away. Thus it was decided, we were going to Liechtenstein.
Situated in the Alps, somewhere between Austria and Switzerland, the world's sixth smallest country (it's only 62 square miles) promised, if nothing else, a really pretty drive.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
That day was as messy as it was fun. Falling asleep on the train and ending up in the wrong part of the country the next day...not so much. But we survived it and had a story to tell...but not a single non-ale related photo to show for our time in Munich. We were so focused on all things Oktoberfest that we completely neglected the rest of the city.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
First of all, I carry a camera, a Canon Powershot SX20is. This should seem fairly obvious but we now live in an era where Apple, Samsung et al have convinced people that phones= cameras. They don't. A phone will do when you absolutely positively have to get a photo of your Spaghetti Bolognese because, man oh man, that Olive Garden is off the chain but if you are in the middle of the Serengeti, trying to capture the majesty of a pride of lions with your iPhone5s, I am going to mock you two ways. Loudly and often.
Secondly, and this may be even more obvious, I go to really cool places. I can't really take credit for this one. My job and very flexible schedule allow to me to do this. But when I do get one of these opportunities, I photograph the shit out of it. I go at it as if I were being paid by the pixel. Case in point, the Neon Museum in Las Vegas.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Salt Lake City is a beautiful place but the heavy hand of the Mormon Church always manages to creep me out a bit. How heavy is the hand? The city itself is built around the well-maintained yet still slightly off-putting Temple Square (home to the largest concentration of loboto-sisters)... but like literally built around it. If someone gives you the address 31 E 400 S, you know that the place (in this case, the Green Pig Pub) is located 3 blocks east and 4 blocks south of the temple. Try to get a drink at the Pub and you will be met with all these byzantine liquor laws intent on keeping the flock from having to be exposed to the evils of alcohol (although to be fair, it does seem like this has changed a bit since my last visit, as I did not encounter the private club thing, where a member has to "vouch" for you in order for you to enter a bar).
Friday, February 14, 2014
An excellent day of whale watching, that's what. Or not. I am not making any promises since I am not sure that this formula can ever be precisely duplicated. Assuming you keep good company, getting the group together and rooting out the discounted deals is easy (just google Groupon or Living Social and whatever city you happen to be in and you will find lots of things to keep the tourist with time on her hands busy). Getting both Mother Nature and the elusive denizens of the Pacific Ocean to play along is another story altogether.
Friday, January 31, 2014
And not just any prison, I would be finding myself within the walls of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA. This is an institution that was the first of its kind; was one of the most expensive public works project in the US at the time of its construction; has been featured on practically every-Paranormal type program there is (ie. Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, Most Haunted Live- and who knew ghosts were such hams?)and has served as the setting for both the Dead Milkmen's "Punk Rock Girl" video and Brad Pitt's twitchy lunacy in Twelve Monkeys.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
But so far, this month has been a different story. I have gone to exactly two places. The first, Des Moines, Iowa managed to spectacularly destroy my "avoid the winter of 2013/14" plans. It was something-below-zero degrees. I don't remember the exact temperature but it doesn't matter. Anything below zero is uninhabitable and anyone that thinks otherwise is nuts. I chose to protest these inhumane conditions by following the path of activists and freedom fighters throughout history. That is, if their protest took the form of ordering room service and catching up on Netflix. This approach kept me warm but it didn't exactly make for a scintillating blog post.