Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


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Love Maps: 9 best places to visit in Seattle

I love maps. Maps are visual poetry, bringing together all the wonderful names of places: Genoa. Uganda. San Francisco. The smooth blue sea and the wrinkled topography for mountains. Maps stir the imagination. Maps tell you where the rivers are.

I love maps so much I made you a map of of my hang-out spots in Seattle.

The reviews are an attempt at humor, so you might like to read them even if you never plan to visit this fair city. I sincerely hope you do though!

Seattle travel tips

Best Restaurants and Attractions in Seattle


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You Can (And Should) Go Home Again

I am sitting on a plane; it’s my worst flight since the bumpy one to NYC and the one when I tried to get the TSA to strip search a guy in a Hawaiian tee-shirt.

The flight is full of clamouring teenage girls fresh from basketball camp. Loud doesn’t begin to describe it.  Most of them spend the first thirty minutes before take off discussing where they will sit, then bursting into unexplained fits of giggles.

The brunette doesn’t want to sit next to the stranger. The tall blonde is texting, (I suspect) about another girl on the same flight. We soar through the air, a sherbet sunset over Mt. Rainier. The chattering doesn’t subside.

“I can’t believe the lady didn’t let me carry-on my bag,” the girl behind me whines, for the fourth time as she kicks my seat. Another one plunges her seat all the way back, almost destroying a laptop.

“Sorry,” she turns around to the panicked passenger, a teenage boy traveling with his mom. “Sorry,” again. Well at least she apologized.

I am headed home to Chicago to watch my best friend from when we were their age (15? 16)  get married. Were we like this? Continue reading

not-so-amazing-race-travel-humor


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The Not-So Amazing Race

Years ago, when I saw a casting call for the Amazing Race, I thought about it. Travel the world? Win expensive travel packages? Race around the world for one million dollars?

Then I did something I’ve never done before:

The Math.

After the tax man has cometh, one-million dollars turns into $500,000. That $500,000 has to be sliced evenly between you and your partner. Even if you carried your partner in your arms like a baby the whole time and still miraculously ended up in the winners’ circle; you’d have to split it. Otherwise, you’d be the jerk who said, “I should get 70% because I won 70% of the challenges.”

The most you can bring home is $250,000. IF you win. And then, you’d have save for your kids’ college, buy a house, retire mom, give to all the third world countries you traipsed through during your ’round the world jaunt.

That’s if you win.

Winning seems much less exciting to me. But there’s still the glorious-magnificent-earth-shattering travel right? Here’s the thing about that…

5 Reasons I’d never try out for the Amazing Race

1. I like to SEE things when I travel
I fully plan on seeing the world and writing as I go, but at my own pace. I get that the show is spliced and edited into episodes, but it moves so fast, there’s no seeing anything. If I go to Bali, I want to swim and surf without this nagging voice that says, oh yeah, it’s time to get out of this bath-like water now or I’LL BE ELIMINATED IN FRONT OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE.

2. I’m bad at sports

If the challenges involved eating 100-plus Cheetos in a sitting, or sniffing out the most infested food cart, it would be game on. But they don’t. No, the race comprises terrifying challenges only those who endorse sports drinks should do, like base jumping and freefalling.

This would happen to me. Twice.


3. I have no Interesting Backstory

Amazing Race teams fall into two categories:

Couples with gleaming teeth and tight calves or partners with an interesting backstory that can be broken down into a one-word nickname: Doctors. Pirates. Debutantes. Divorcees.

I don’t have much of a backstory. I transpose lettesr a lot but can’t say I’m dyslexic. I grew out of my scoliosis. I compulsively stockpile Cadbury mini-eggs, but that’s not a backstory. Continue reading


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I Would Like to Thank…

This album is dedicated to all the people who told me I’d never amount to nothin’ –Notorious

The 2013 guide to Montreal and Quebec that I helped author for Fodor’s Travel comes out in March and is available for pre-sale right now.

Some write fake Oscar speeches; I fantasize about crafting clever book dedications. I plan to dedicate future novel to my enormous family for well…everything, the Husband for his patience and encouragement and the Dog who keeps my feet warm as I write. And to my Grandma, for her endless advice.

Unfortunately, I don’t get to *actually* dedicate or thank anyone in the travel book because that would be unfair to the other writers, editors, and photographers who worked on it. Besides, I am a writing phantom taking the form of Eugene Fodor, a fascinating Hungarian wayfarer.

Miss Misery

cloud-painting-art-institute-chicago

This is one of the first paintings I ever connected to. I always thought it was icebergs, but it’s clouds. -Art Institute, Chicago

Should I ever write a novel, I would be tempted to throw it into the faces of those who spurned me early on when I was just a kid. I probably wouldn’t do it, because bitter ain’t the right shade for me, but it’s fun to think about.

One of my favorite writer bloggers  recently wrote an eloquent piece about a teacher who helped influence his writing career. I have a few of those too – wonderful people, who pulled me aside and told me that despite my horrific spelling, I had a knack with words.

I’ve also had the opposite. Miss Bruner, my 7th grade art teacher deserves a failing grade. A teacher should encourage, not manage expectations. Let kids’ dreams bounce above their heads like big red balloons. When the time comes, they’ll clutch some and let others fly. Give them that choice.

Miss Bruner hobbled up and down classroom aisles with a cane. She’d pull your drawing out from your hands, exam it from behind little glasses that sat at the end of her nose and snicker. When we had to sketch George Washington (impossible!), I erased entirely through his eye. I am no Manet. Did Miss Bruner encourage me to learn from this mistake and be more careful next time? No.  She put my rendition of George Washington over her own face and peeped through the hole as if it were a mask.

Ok, so maybe I screwed up the portrait. Maybe she was joking, maybe the George Washington incident was part of her teacher schtick.

But later that semester, when I expressed an interest in going to Venice to view art, she barked:

“How are YOU going to go to Venice? It costs a lot of MONEY, Am-an-da.”  Continue reading


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A Valentine’s Day Love Letter to the USA

Seattle travel, Washington travel

Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about. ~ Mark Twain

I know as a wayfarer it’s not fashionable to like you, my home country, let alone love you. I am supposed to know better; I am supposed to snub domestic travel. I am supposed to like soccer and drink imported beer and refer to those “Americans” as if I am not American myself.

Why this happens: when travelers leave, often the first time, they see all your flaws from through an extra-long lens: the shootings, the rampant obesity, the vacant lots and strip malls and commercialism. The unbelievable pressure: whiten your teeth, go to the right school, chew the right brand of gum. I almost crumpled under your constant demands. I never felt like I was doing anything right. And I hate that you made me drive everywhere.

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I ventured beyond your borders, tested our sacred “love or leave it” bond – a contract I entered into without choice. I didn’t want anything to do with you. Like a petulant child, I refused to turn around. My post Post-America life started like any relationship – French Canada and I would have surely broken your heart. We shared poutine and frieds with mayo, we cross country skied, we strolled along cobblestone streets in the middle of the day.

Canada recycles, Canada doesn’t waste napkins and plastic forks. Canada felt nice, Canada felt different. Canada didn’t press weighty expectations upon me like you. You cluck a lot about liberty – but in Canada, I felt freedom – no one asked me what I did for a living; I felt no great urge to keep up; I never felt doomsday paranoia. Sure, the new country had its problems, but I wouldn’t see that until we lived together awhile.

Mt.Baker, Seattle travel blog

I came home to you after a year and three months defeated — through no fault of my own, Canada and I couldn’t make it work. Finding and holding jobs in the French-speaking province proved difficult and so we moved.

I had forgotten about all the things I loved about you. New York with its waves of people, rushing in from all angles, from all countries; hip-hop, rock n’ roll, blue grass; your vast prairies and deserts, Vegas – yes, Vegas – an homage to glittering capitalism. I had forgotten how much I love Chicago, the city responsible for the first version of me, before I knew anything else. And Seattle – a misty music town with new liberal policies that make Canada look conservative.

We have our fights, USA. There are times I am not proud of you. There are times you gravely disappoint me. But  wherever I go, I’ll always be part of this big dysfunctional family.

Yours Truly,

Anglo


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5 States Get New Slogans

I have driven across the country three times and been to 35 out of the 50 states. Some states are clearly superior to others. I’ll get to the signs you’re living in an inferior state later. Most of these are just jokes, I have fondness for all the states I visited.

With the exception of New Hampshire’s whose tagline is “Live Free or Die,” the rest of the states should revisit their slogans as they elect new governors. Most of these state slogans are either ripe with hyperbole, totally unfitting, or just dumb.

State Slogan Suggestions:

washington travel, seattle travel blogger

Can’t believe I live here.

Washington’s (where I currently live) state slogan is Say WA.

Say Wa! is how an uncool white guy answers the phone in an early 90′s sitcom. It captures zero of the beauty or coolness or …anything of Washington state. This is the land of Kurt Cobain and and jumping salmon and hundreds of islands blanketed with evergreens. And we get SAY WA?

Suggestions: WA you lookin’ at? Simply beautiful. Bet your state doesn’t have an archipelago.

Continue reading


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What I Want to See When I Grow Up

travel kids sod house

Icelandic sod house. From Wikipedia.

I really wished they asked me this more when I was a kid. My What Do You Want To Be answer always ended with “a veterinarian” and then some stiff, condescending adult would tell me I would have to go through a lot of school and be really good in math and science, thereby stomping out this dream as if it were a fire.

What Do I Want To Be? A good person. An honest person. Witty.

Always tell kids their dreams are possible. No, I probably wouldn’t make a good vet, but I didn’t need to know that at eleven. I would have figured it out eventually, the way I have figured out that I am not a good whistler nor a good volleyball player. Trial and error.

I am about to create a lesson plan for a travel/food writing workshop I am doing with kids at 826 Seattle – a writing tutoring center. I don’t have kids and am never around them, so I am really nervous they’ll think I am boring. I fear the wrath of spitballs and bad evaluations.

She sucked!
What was with that long explanation about chicken fingers and spaghetti? Does she think we actually eat that stuff? 

I suppose I should start thinking of age-appropriate jokes and stop swearing to prepare.

What I want(ed) to see:

The Pyramids (obviously)

The sod houses in Kansas (someone read a lot of Little House on the Prairie)

Belize.

Wild horses. In particular on Sable Island.

Venice, Italy.

South Africa.

Kenya. Mainly for safari purposes. Continue reading


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May I recommend

I hate bragging. I hate even talking about myself and I really, really mean that – I have no idea how anyone talks about their achievements without coming across as a complete a-holes. I can’t do it. When job interviewees ask about my biggest accomplishment I am likely to say, “training my dog to play dead when I shape my finger like a gun.” Or “walking two icy blocks in four-inch stilettos.”

Talking about yourself or “tootin’ your own horn,” as my grandma says was forbidden in my household. I feel a curse coming on the minute I mention anything remotely interesting about myself.

So I’ll be fast: I put a lot of effort into this thing. If you’re going to Montreal or Quebec, you’ll find it useful. I am grateful for the things I have everyday and cannot believe my incredible (hopefully incurable) good luck.

Merci!

quebec city guidebook

The busiest few weeks of my life but seriously, best job ever!

 


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New York – Fake fendis, pink cosmos & almost dying

I just got back from New York. It’s the first time I visited the city in ten years.

The energy astounds me. New York knows how to put me in my place and make me feel tiny. All of my flaws can be on display – like their garbage, on the street – and no one cares or even seems to notice. I spent half a day in Little Italy wearing these:

It was the best $6 ever spent.

No one said a thing, except one hustler, who called me Hollywood.

The search for fake fendis

Fendi_handbags.jpeg (280×280)

Fake fendi…or it is real?

Did I mention I have a crazy family? Because I do. I have a mom, sister, and male cousin who decided part of the New York experience was being led down a hidden corridor and into a room lined with counterfit handbags and filled with teenagers dressed in “I Love New York” tee-shirts.

“Purses, watches,” a squat, middle-aged Chinese man says. My cousin looks at him cooly, smoking a cigarette.

“Ok, where are they?” he asks.

The man shows a make-shift catalog and says if we buy one, he’ll pull up with the bags.

This won’t do for us. We’re native Chicagoans and not naive. Continue reading


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A vacation home

expat travel blog

I didn't do that to the statue. Swear.

So, you know how good I was getting at French? I don’t know if I became bored with the intense vocabulary or just tired of trying to get that put the word in your nose thing down or if my brain went into overdrive but my French is now tres, tres, tres mauvais.

Before you correct me on my lack of accents realize that a) I am using an American keyboard probably made in China and b) I could give a fuck right now. Oh and c) I am on a petite vacanes from Francais classe.

I am going to New York in two days. I can order a bagel and say, “Can I get a bagel?” It’s going to be magical. Continue reading