Archive | November, 2009

You probably know what I’m about to tell you already. It’s painfully obvious. But it’s so damn important, I figure it needs to be said.

Take lots of photos.

I know, I know – this isn’t news, you’re thinking. She must be really hard up for something to write about, you’re thinking (and okay, you wouldn’t exactly be wrong about that. I’ve been home for the last three weeks, and my cup isn’t exactly runneth-ing over). But as I’m going through my numerous Flickr sets, I’m beginning to realize something.

Travel is all about the memories. And the memories are all in the photos.

Ugh. Sorry. That was a bit of a Hallmark moment there. I try and stay away from those. The thing is, no one returns from a trip thinking, I should have taken fewer pictures. Souvenirs are well and good, but photos … well, photos are kind of everything. And so many people I know take far too few of them. (more…)

The other day, my friend Kim and I were defending our tendency to wash out and re-use Zip-loc plastic bags. Apparently our hoighty-toighty significant others find it “gouache”.

WHICH IT SO IS NOT. Those things are expensive (besides, we’re saving the planet). In middle school, we only had the fold-over closure plastic sandwich bags in my house, and oh, how I envied the popular girls with their Zip-loc bags, which seemed the height of opulence to me. The would walk into the cafeteria in their crisp Esprit outfits, their pristine-white Keds squeaking against the floor, and pull the pricey plastic baggies out of their lunch sacks, filled with treats like Pringles or strawberries. Now that I’m finally able to afford such luxuries, there’s no way I’d just throw them in the trash.

It’s just that – well, I love saving money. Don’t get me wrong – I love spending it, too. But it’s just sooo much fun to get things on sale, to peel back the sale stickers on something and see what it would have originally cost someone crazy enough to pay full price. When I was a kid, bargain shopping came out of necessity – and I learned to be really, really creative while on a budget. Personally, I think I did well even if, in retrospect, I looked insane at times …

Notice Im rocking a kids Power Rangers t-shirt.

The Everywhereist in band class, circa 1993. Notice I'm rocking a kid's Power Rangers t-shirt.

Basically, I ended up dressing like Alicia Silverstone‘s character in Clueless. Which, depending on how you look at it, is either really cool or really tragic. (more…)

Recently, I saw a photo of an Alaska Airlines plane with an image of Apolo Ohno emblazoned on the side. Alaska is Apolo’s official sponsor. Since their hub is in Seattle, Apolo has been popping up everywhere. The folks at Alaska are very enthusiastic about him:

I just know Im going to fly in one of these on my next flight. Fate likes to mess with me like that.

I just know I'm going to fly in one of these on my next flight. Fate likes to mess with me like that.

Personally, I find the whole thing bemusing as hell. Because, as crazy as it sounds, in our house, Apolo is the one that got away.

Sort of. Maybe. (more…)

Touristy spots, as annoying and overcrowded as they may be, are touristy for a reason. They’re part of what makes a city unique and interesting, and more often than not, they’re worth seeing. Imagine going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower, or going to Lake Como and not trying to sneak into George Clooney‘s villa, restraining order be damned. It would just be … weird.

That being said, touristy restaurants are another matter. They are popular solely due to geographic location. Since there’s rarely ever any repeat business (just a lot of hungry travelers, looking for a bite now) there’s no reason to provide food or service that would have you dying to come back. They’re going to make money, regardless of quality, as long as no one sues. Cuisine needs to be “just above litigiously bad.” (more…)

I’m going to be in San Diego, California for ten days starting on Monday.

What could possibly tear me away from the perpetual rain and cold that is Seattle in November, you ask? My dear beloved Auntie P. needs me.

She always looks this put together. Always.

She always looks this put together. It's pretty humbling, actually.

(more…)

Branding is everything.

Whenever anyone disputes this point, my husband brings up Altria. They saw a jump in investors when they stopped calling themselves Philip Morris. Altria sounds new and youthful. Philip Morris sounds like a hacking cough.

So while I was impressed with some of the copywriting I saw in the U.K., as well as the food, their cuisine needs a bit of rebrand. Let’s take a look a few examples from our lovely day in Brighton

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Pickled Eggs

Ewwww .... and also, ewwwww.

Ewwww .... and also, ewwwww.

This might be the one instance in the history of time where “devil” is a preferable word to “pickle”. Even “brined eggs” might have been preferred here. But “pickled eggs”? No no no. Combining two things you find in most people’s refrigerators, and then NOT REFRIGERATING THEM is a very bad idea. With a better name they might be … ah, hell. Who am I kidding? The name doesn’t matter at this point. Just don’t eat these unless you want Botulism. (more…)

This isn’t just about an item that I was convinced I needed – it’s about one that I actually bought. And holy cow, have they changed my life.

No, really.

Okay, fine – but they’ve changed the way I pack, and that’s a big part of my life. So there.

I first became aware of packing cubes when I went to Italy with the lovely Pinguina in 2008. I had seen them before at luggage stores, but the price kept me away. I figured they fell into the vast category of entirely unnecessary and potentially satanic products: like peep-toe Ugg boots (designed for getting pedicures in cold weather), a yodeling pickle, and anything from the Paris Hilton “clothing” line.  These things were just invented to make you spend your money and question the existence of god, right? (more…)

Cat-calling, I’ve found, is somewhat universal. At least, from my experiences it is (whether or not the Amhara of Djibouti experience this phenomenon is unknown to me). It varies a bit across countries, like sit-coms: the Italian ones are cheesy, the Americans are a bit vulgar, the English ones are kinda lame, and the German ones are non-existent.

At home, I kind of don’t have a problem with it. Or, rather, if I have a problem with cat-calling, I know how to deal. Once, while walking through Westlake Center (a mall and courtyard in downtown Seattle), a huge, imposing man (he must have been at least 6’2″ and pushing 300 pounds) leaned in and said, well …

Let’s just say he complimented my reproductive organs.

And I might have freaked out. While I can’t precisely remember what I said (or I can, but don’t want to repeat it), it was something about how he should be fruitful and multiply (with himself), and that I doubted his opinion on female reproductive organs, because he probably hadn’t seen any but his own mother’s. (more…)