Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Martun



The Martun (Toilet) Restaurant in Kaohsiung, Taiwan has given new meaning to the words, "comfort room". Glass-topped sinks serve as tables, diners eat from toilet bowl shaped platters, urinal sconces light up the room, knick knacks of and about toilets are displayed prominently, and the open toilet is next to your toilet seat.

Bon appetit!

For more info http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8417691/

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Head Turning Sculptures



The sculptures of Igor Mitoraj were no less breathtaking than the backdrop, the snow capped mountains surrounding the city of Granada. What a lucky break to have seen the exhition of selected ouevres by Mitoraj, a sculptor of Polish descent, schooled in Krakow and Paris and now divides his time between Italy and France. His works, not surprisingly as you can see from these images, turned a lot of heads.

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Images by Rosario Charie Albar

Monday, August 14, 2006

Ah, Yosemite

When I first laid eyes on Half Dome, I had a frog in my throat. I thought of the artist whose hand sculpted it, painted the landscape with towering trees, sketched waterfalls and streams where his pets could quench their thirst and drew expansive meadows where they could frolic under big, blue skies. Ah, but there’s more to feast your eyes on in this great museum of nature but you’ll have to go and pick the artwork you like best.

www.nps.gov/yose

Images by Rosario Charie Albar

Friday, August 11, 2006

Images of Portugal


For far too long Portugal has taken a backseat to its neighbors. This has proved to be a windfall for the visitor who happens by. There is so much to explore in the land from whence great explorers set forth on their voyages to the then unknown world. Now travelers are discovering the quiet simplicity and unspoiled charm of this unassuming country which has as much, if not more, to offer the discerning traveler.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Venice is a Visual Feast


To write about Venice is to tell only half the story. For Venice is a sensory feast. It is not easy to convey in words all that it offers. Rather it must be experienced. How do I explain what I felt on seeing it for the first time?

I heard the bora fiercely making its way across the islands drowning the alto voce of the gondolier. I hungrily followed the scent of freshly baked pastries in the early morning hours when the locals were still dreaming in bed. And I got hopelessly lost in the labyrinthine alleys only to find myself in a quiet piazza only a stone's throw from the hordes of visitors in Piazza San Marco.

Venice seeps through the bones leaving an indelible impression.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Foreign and Irresistible


Michaelangelo's David is quite a man! Thank goodness he's in a museum. There are enough hunks out there to add spice to travel. My friend Vero fell for the tour guide she met on a Nile cruise. The best part is that he liked her too. But there's more. He is at least 15 years younger! Sweeeeet!

My favorite romantic writer, Marlena de Blasi, met her husband while traveling in Venice. I love her story about their first meeting (he called her from a phone in the restaurant where she and her friends were eating), his trip to the U.S. to see her, how she gave up her successful career and moved to Venice, Italy and spent "A Thousand Days in Venice" followed by "A Thousand Days in Tuscany".

A solo woman traveler I met on a bus tour of Europe several years back was having an affair with the bus driver. She couldn't understand why he chose her among the other ladies in our tour group. But she was glad he did. She was having the best time discovering Europe with a European. How local can you get?

Recently a friend of a friend called me to apologize for not getting in touch with me while visiting in San Francisco. But she had a great excuse. She met a man in the short week she was in the City. They spent that time on his boat. She will be back soon to join him in Hawaii where he lives part of the time.

I have no such luck. While cruising in Southwestern Alaska, I had to run and hide from a widower who was drinking heavily. Ugh. Guess who found a seat right next to me on our way back to the airport?

As a young college student traveling alone, I did have a really flattering experience being followed by three young Italians while walking around Rome. Then in Michaelangelo's old turf, a cute Florentine invited me for gelato. But that was once upon a time.

Putting things in perspective, solo women travelers often have to fend off unwanted and sometimes threatening advances. We can never really let our guard down. But at the same time, we can't let this spoil our trip. We have a balancing act to master.