Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tuxedo Park, Calgary, Alberta

This is one of the funniest toilet photos I have.  This was the boys' first home when we lived on 32nd Ave NE in Calgary.  If a photo can capture pure joy, then these do it nicely.  A banner day for Tate and a unexpected discovery for Ty at the park across the street.  

The sweet rewards of success.
Ty found a softball at the park across the street

Sunday, August 26, 2012

St. Peter's Cathedral, Vatican City

This is not exactly what you expect for public toilets at St Peter's Cathedral in Vatican City. They were clean. Vatican City (and Rome) was awesome. We even managed to squeeze in a Papal visit and blessing.

We got a lot of laughs out of the American Lunch Special for 10 euro.  Technically they delivered on everything they promised.  Each lunch consisted of a can of soda (hard to mess this up), a pizza (microwave pizza), and plate of pasta (microwavable TV pasta dinner).  We were hungry and at every bit.  We ate with the locals thereafter.

The Pieta, Michelangelo

Heading down from the doom

Pope John Paul II - Christmas Message 2004
American Lunch Special

Thursday, August 16, 2012

the last vespasienne in Paris

This is the Holy Grail of urinals--the last old-school Parisian pissoir on Boulevard Arago, 14th Arrondissement.  It is called a vespasienne, named after Emperor Vespasian who levied a tax on urine collection. Urine was a highly valued commodity anciently, it was collected and used by fullers in the laundry business. Never missing an opportunity to increase tax revenues, he imposed the tax and said: 'pecunia non olet' (money does not smell).

watch your step . . . that's not moss
Apparently the French created the vespasienne (sounds more Parisian than pissoir, but both are acceptable usage) to try and control the problems of public urination back in the early 20th century. By the 1930's there were over 1200 in use and they continued until the 1990's. Michael Bell told me that these were very common when he was a missionary in France (they called them 'the iron man'). They are now being replaced by high-tech Sanisettes (worthy of a posting unto themselves--here).  I would hasten to add that the public urination problem is still pretty prevalent in the Metro and on the streets.

All the fascinating history aside, I have to admit that this was a foul and nasty place.  It's no wonder that it is the only one left. I'm thinking Bill Gates may have visited this place and been impressed enough to fund his Reinventing the Toilet campaign.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Latin Quarter, Paris

You can't visit Paris without having crepes. I usually think of nutella, speculoos and fruit . . . first we had crepes made with the stuff you normally associate with an omelette: cheese, eggs, mushrooms and ham. They were awesome (Tiffany is inspired to expand her repetoir and replicate them). It's hard to beat sugar & butter on a crepe, but the apple crepes were also superb. Who knew you could get so full on a crepe? Below the creperie was a tiny toilette with a curved ceiling and walls made from porous yellow Parisian stone. Very cool.

The Latin Quarter is in the 6th arrondissement and it never slows down for a minute.  As with all of Paris, it's blighted with graffiti--very sad to me. I have to admit that whoever does it has some talent. I can think of better ways to showcase it though. The bubble guy also had some skills.

PS: that's cherry and blood orange sorbet, and yes it was very very good!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lopburi, Thailand

This is one of my favorite photos from Thailand. A monkey chillin' in the crook of the Buddha's arm.  Pretty awesome.  The Khmer temple in Lopburi has been pretty much taken over by hundreds of  macaques. They aren't afraid of people and are protected therefore can pretty much do as they please all around town. The moms had just delivered their babies . . . precious.

Before visiting the Khmer Temple (Phra Prang Sam Yot) we had a great lunch at the Lopburi Hotel Cafe.  We filled our pockets with mini bananas from the dessert table--they were a real hit with the macaques. The macaques are a huge hit all over town, as celebrated by the giant golden monkey out front which Rick had to pose by. Even more interesting is the unique parallel parking style of the urinals.  In a country with too many people crammed into a small space, it is brilliant. It got a thumbs up from the boys.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Irish Doors

You can't go to Ireland and not be blown away by the doors.  This is the door to the men's room in The Arbutus Hotel in Killarney.  The rest are from Dublin to Dingle and all points in between.

Dublin door with bike frame gate

Christ Church Cathedral - Dublin


Dublin Pub

Dublin - pink door with extra paint for the bike 

Newgrange entrance: 2900 BC stone age tomb that is 500 years older than the Great Pyramid in Egypt.
The burial chamber of the tomb is illuminated by rising sun for 15 minutes on the Winter Solstice

10 minutes in Dingle . . . 

10 minutes in Limerick . . .