Category Archives: Travel

Roman Holiday

Pantheon&Fountain

Coliseum. Pantheon. Piazza Navona. Campo de Fiori. Spanish Steps. Roman Forum. Bocca della Verità. Ruins. Fountains. Cobblestones. Umbrella pines. Oleander. Tiber River. Scooters. Food. Wine. Prosecco. Pasta. Gelato.

Those are just a handful of the words that spring to mind when I think about my recent visit to the magnificent city of Rome. That Rome has always been at the top of my “must visit” list is no surprise. The only surprise is that it’s taken me this long to book a plane ticket.

Any attempt to write an informative or original post about a city so rich in history, culture, and personality after only five short days, would be an exercise in futility. I haven’t a clue how to go about picking the top 10 things you should do on your Roman holiday. There’s no way to know which fountain you will be mesmerized by; which piazza you will fall in love with; or which set of ruins will capture your imagination.

Pantheon

Indeed there is plenty to do and see in Rome. But, vacations are about more than ticking off a guidebook must-see-list. There are few things as decadent as a mid-day nap on crisp white sheets; more refreshing than a cool shower after a morning of exploring in the summer heat; or as satisfying as sex in the middle of the afternoon with the sun’s rays filtering through the half closed hotel room shutters. And, if at the end of each day you find yourself in a charming restaurant perusing the menu with a chilled glass of prosecco in your hand, I would call your holiday a success.

Here are a handful of suggestions for ending up in that blissful state. Read more…

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Head Over Heels for a Cliché

Paris

City of Light. City of romance. Men with no sense of boundaries. Amazing food. Overrated food. Rude waiters. Museum queues for blocks. Fabulous shopping. Snobby Parisians. I’d heard the raves as well as the complaints. Honestly, the first time I visited Paris in 2006, I was prepared to hate everything about it but instead I fell completely in love – and not just the “I like spending time with you” kind of feeling. This was the, “I can’t stop fantasizing about you” kind of attraction. Read more…

Island Inspired French Toast

French Toast:Ingredients

You know it’s going to be a good vacation when the taxi driver from the airport inquires about your tropical drink of choice, then promptly calls your hotel to place an order. Seven minutes later a friendly staff member greets us in an airy lobby with two pink Bahama Mama’s in frosty tumblers. Thick slices of juicy pineapple hang from the rims waiting to be dunked into the rum cocktail.

Every now and then even the most die-hard workaholic appreciates a few days of doing absolutely nothing. And absolutely nothing is exactly what I did over the July 4th weekend on the dreamy island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas where the water is the definition of turquoise blue and the sand is as soft as sifted flour, warm and white from the sun. Read more…

Turning Fantasy Into Reality

We all have fantasies. It’s that dream you have of owning a vineyard and sipping wine all day in the south of France. It’s the far-fetched scenario you’ve conjured up of taking two ridiculously hot lesbians home from the bar who are, for some unexplainable reason, totally game for a ménage à trois with a man. It’s the former lover, current crush, or celebrity you think about on when you need just a little something to… how to put this delicately?… “help you cross the finish line.”

A reoccurring fantasy of mine involves a shack on the beach, white tank pulled over a wet bikini, hot sand enveloping my feet, beads of condensation forming on the chilled bottle of rosé, sweet-salty juices mixed with oil and lemon running down my forearms… Minds out of the gutters folks, obviously I’m talking about food. Were you seriously expecting a “Letters to Penthouse”-esque confession? Read more…

Stealing Pigs…

It’s 9 a.m. in Mallorca, day four of our vacation. We pull up to the curb outside a large apartment complex and our friend Sacha jumps into our tiny white rental Fiat. Excitedly, he unfurls a thin white plastic bag, “for pigs”, he explains. “Last time I drove up to Cala Torta I found some fantastic ones by the side of the road.” It takes me a couple minutes to figure out exactly what is being discussed here. Pigs = Figs, and apparently fruit-baring trees can be found dotting the arid landscape along the road to the northeastern coast of the island.

A quick disclaimer: we will not be stealing per se… it could be more accurately considered a case of graciously relieving trees, of dubious ownership, of their summer bounty. Regardless, I don’t need to be convinced to participate. This is exactly the kind of activity I wish all my summer days were filled with. Read more…

Visit the Tsukiji Fish Market… But Not in Late December

Even though I spent many years living in Japan every time I visit I still find random, fascinating aspects of the culture and country that I hadn’t noticed before. Instead of creating one long blog post I’ve decided to turn it into a series where each week I share one or two observations from my most recent trip. 

If you love seafood and/or food markets you really can’t leave Tokyo without spending one of your mornings gawking at the dizzying display of colors, smells and sounds at Tsukiji fish market. It is one of the most famous fish markets in the world, and where most of the really good sushi restaurants—all over the globe—buy their fish. I visited Tsukiji on December 30th, the last business day of the year for this popular market. Do not follow my example.

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Unfortunately It Is Possible to Get a Bad Meal in Japan

Even though I spent many years living in Japan every time I visit I still find random, fascinating aspects of the culture and country that I hadn’t noticed before. Instead of creating one long blog post I’ve decided to turn it into a series where each week I share one or two observations from my most recent trip. 

It pains me to admit that but it’s true. I’ve been guilty of hubristically proclaiming that it’s nearly impossible to get a bad meal in Japan. And while I will say that your chances of finding good food are higher than many other countries, it doesn’t hurt to do a little research beforehand. Here are a few things I’ve learned.

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It’s Possible to Order at a Restaurant in Japan Without Speaking or Reading a Lick of the Language

Even though I spent many years living in Japan every time I visit I still find random, fascinating aspects of the culture and country that I hadn’t noticed before. Instead of creating one long blog post I’ve decided to turn it into a series where each week I share one or two observations from my most recent trip. 

I attribute this to three factors. First, many restaurants have plastic replicas of menu items outside their establishment, making it easy to see what they serve just by browsing the window displays. Once you spot a plastic model of something that looks good walk in, get a table and order it. Think of it as buying an outfit right off the mannequin.

Second, food photography in Japan is ridiculously good, prevalent on menus, and the food comes out looking pretty damn close to how it did in the photo. This goes for fast food joints as well. The lettuce is just as green and frilly. The beef patty is just as shiny. Everything is assembled with such exactitude you would think all the employees carried rulers.

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Technologically Advanced Toilets But Sinks Dispense Water The Temperature of Melted Ice

Even though I spent many years living in Japan every time I visit I still find random, fascinating aspects of the culture and country that I hadn’t noticed before. Instead of creating one long blog post I’ve decided to turn it into a series where each week I share one or two observations from my most recent trip. 

Japanese toilets are notoriously difficult to use with intricate, complex instructions (written solely in Japanese of course) attached to the wall of each stall. Frankly, in a country where you have about a 50/50 shot of hitting the button for “bidet” instead of “flush” I’m surprised we don’t hear about more foreigners bursting out of toilet stalls, arms flailing wildly, their half soaked pants wrapped unceremoniously around their ankles. In Japan you would be hard pressed to find a toilet seat that isn’t electronically warmed. Not hot, just a comfortable temperature that spares your butt cheeks that initial shock of a stone cold throne. Hotels, restaurants, dive bars, even public restrooms on the street—all warm. However, once you exit your technologically advanced toilet stall your hands will be greeted by water so cold you may be tempted to rush back to the toilet push the “warm pulsating wash” or “blow dry” button just to bring back the blood to your fingers. I couldn’t help but think that instead of spending all that scientific manpower on figuring out the ideal distance between vulva and anus jets or the preferred temperature for the pulsating butt wash, they could look into adding a hot water faucet to the bathroom sinks.

But then again, maybe my priorities are just different.

Looks simple enough…

But open the panel and tad da… don’t read Japanese? Good luck!

A very uncommon sight, I found this extensive English user manual in a department store bathroom in Kyoto. Could a past unfortunate experience with a foreigner have prompted the posting of these detailed English instructions?

Pillow Girlfriends Really Do Exist: Random Observations about Japan

Japan is a country that caters to the fantasy and even the fetish. Hostesses pour drinks and entertain businessmen in bars. Young waitresses wearing French maid outfits or dressed up like popular manga characters serve food and play games with customers at Maid Cafes. There are even bars where the female hosts wear suits and act like men; their patrons are not gay, but mainly straight women. In light of all that, perhaps the fact that some men enter into relationships with body pillows adorned with the image of their favorite anime, video game, or manga character isn’t too surprising.

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