Europe, It’s Just Nextdoor

Travel Between the Pages always has the greatest posts, so I had to share another one!

Travel Between The Pages


To promote its travel services, France’s rail company SNCF placed colorful, interactive doors around Paris that allow pedestrians to experience other European cities. When the doors are opened, screens display real-time happenings in cities around the continent.

TBWA Paris, the ad agency that created the campaign writes “These interactive fun experiences not only create multicultural links among Europeans, but also enable us all to realize at the end of the day, Europe, it’s just next door.”





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Free Coffee for Flyers

Thanks to Travel Between The Pages for initially posting this! Now, if only O’Hare would get one of these machines 🙂

Travel Between The Pages


Earlier this month we shared a story about Molson Brewery‘s free beer vending machine promotion in Europe. Well now the Dutch coffee company Douwe Egberts is getting on the free bandwagon with a campaign that places free coffee dispensing machines in airports, with a slight catch. The coffee machines are equipped with facial recognition software and only dispense a cup when the machine detects a yawn from the user. The “Bye Bye Red Eye” vendors have already been a big hit with travelers passing through Johannesburg‘s Tambo International Airport. Where will they show up next?




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On the road again….too soon…

I can hardly believe that I have been in Alaska for six weeks already and that it’s time for the Jazz and I to wing our way home tomorrow. I always have to psych myself up to come, anticipating the journey, the cold and the change of scene, and then once I’m here I acclimate quickly, revisit all my favorite haunts and then at the end I get sad thinking about leaving.

But I’ve enjoyed a few beers,


drunk way too much coffee,


got snowed on continuously (not really it just seems that way!),


enjoyed the beauty of Alaska,

eaten delectable food,


then tried to walk a lot to (unsuccessfully) keep the pounds off,IMG_0254

and as a result, tired the pokey little puppy out.

IMG_0092I think it’s time to go home!

Middle Seat Agnst

Flying to Alaska

Flying to Alaska

Last week was another flight and yet another middle seat. I’ve always avoided these in the past and sought out the aisle seat, but since I’ve been flying with the wonder dog, AKA Jasmine, I have done a 360 and actively been seeking them out instead!

I discovered the hard way that her soft-sided dog carrier does not fit under the aisle seat. Our first journey to Alaska had me sitting in the aisle, struggling to jam her and the carrier under the seat with the result being a squished Jasmine. I felt terrible. Luckily for me no one showed up to take the middle seat and so I placed her there and discovered the extra real estate the middle seat possesses. Since then the middle seat it is…

Jasmine under the aisle seat

Jasmine under the aisle seat

Jasmine hanging out in the middle

Jasmine hanging out in the middle

It’s a terrible seat to sit in for 6 plus hours, fighting for the arm rests from my fellow passengers, a dog between my feet, nowhere to go….and now that we’ve just completed our ninth one way flight I have to say it hasn’t gotten any easier! Every journey is different because my seat companions are always different. Most people are nice, but as anyone who’s flown knows, not everyone is pleasant and understanding, or even likes dogs for that matter!

There was the red-eye flight where the guy in the aisle seat shut his eyes at takeoff, placed his arm on “my” arm rest and never budged for the entire 6 hours, sleeping pill perhaps? or the impatient woman who got mad because she had to wait in the aisle for 20 seconds while I got Jasmine placed under the seat and then pouted the entire journey.

But the worst was the crabby old woman in the window seat next to me that screamed, “There’s a dog on the plane, there’s a dog on the plane!” and asked the stewardess to move me. Luckily for me the stewardess said I had paid for that seat and she would be glad to move her if she liked, which of course she didn’t, so unluckily for me I had her sitting next to me the entire flight. Even more unluckily for me she had her deaf, 80-year-old boyfriend moved to the empty aisle seat next to me, and throughout the trip she leaned across me with her arm patting him to get his attention, and passing him food from her voluminous carpet bag of a purse! Worse trip E-VER! The best part though…when we were deboarding and her very nice boyfriend (he was too nice for her!) said, “There was a doggie under the seat the whole flight?, what a sweet dog”. Oh brother!!

But the nice people make up for the bad, the stern looking businessman who turned to mush when he realized there was a pooch next to him on the flight, the people who spot Jasmine and get a wistful look in their eye when they tell me they wish their pup was along for the ride too, and the Alaska Airlines personnel (and some TSA agents too!) who always fawn over her and comment how she is so well behaved.

It always gives me a warm feeling when Jasmine and I are strolling through security and the airport concourse before a flight and I see how excited and happy people get when they see this peppy little doggy strutting amongst them. That part alone makes the whole thing worthwhile!


An Anchorage Trifecta

I’m back residing in my other abode for a few weeks, and yesterday I decided to go out and explore three places on my ‘Alaska to-do list’.

Title Wave Books is a 30,000 square foot bookstore, almost completely stocked with used books. It’s huge and extremely well organized by category with a great Alaska section featuring non-fiction books, as well as local authors, and novels featuring Alaska. Unfortunately it doesn’t have very many old books of the smelly variety that I love, and I do think their used book prices are pretty darn high, but that being said I still ended up walking out of there with two titles!
Thanks to Simon at Savidge Reads for the recommendations,

Attached to the store was a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try for quite some time. My reason for wanting to try it? It’s name~ Yak and Yeti. You see I’ve already eaten at another restaurant by that name in Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, which I really enjoyed, so seeing that name here in Anchorage intrigued me. I must say the Anchorage Yak and Yeti restaurant’s food was excellent.

I had the Pork Vindaloo because it was recommended to me by the clerk at the bookstore, and she didn’t steer me wrong. It was yummy, but I know I’m going to have to go back and try something else very soon, because just reading their menu online has me drooling!

My third stop of the afternoon was Modern Dwellers Chocolate Lounge. The name alone sounds delish doesn’t it? I’ve been on their email list for ages, but because of my M-O-B diet during my last few times in town, I avoided the temptation. But thankfully the kid is married now and I can indulge a little, ok a LOT, so to the chocolate lounge I went!

It’s a fairly small store, but painted in lovely brown chocolatey colors, with several small seating areas, and saleable artwork and jewelry around the perimeter. I wasn’t sure what to order, but I knew that they served drinking chocolate which is something that is often sipped by characters in some of my favorite Victorian novels. When I inquired about said chocolate I was offered a sample to try, either spicy or non-spicy. Hmm, decisions, decisions. I chose spicy!

It was so rich and thick that the sample handed to me was served in a small paper cup with a spoon~~creamy, rich with a kick…heavenly!  I ended up getting a mocha latte made with their spicy Mayan drinking chocolate and took my time enjoying it. Well, I had to take my time, because it was FIERY! I loved it, but it’s not for the faint of heart…or everyday consumption 🙂
Modern Dweller’s chocolate studio not only produces the drinking chocolate, but also truffles and candy bars.

I bought one truffle, Golden Goat, a mixture of goat cheese and dark chocolate ganache, but I have yet to let myself indulge, maybe tomorrow.

Anchorage is a great place to go exploring for unique shops, and restaurants. Yes, it has all the chain places you’d expect, but there are so many hidden gems. I can’t wait until my next adventure, and you know it’s going to have to include food!

Alaska (re)Bound

My faithful companion and I are heading back to the land of moose, mountains and musk ox this week. Up until today, when Jasmine had to go to the vet and get another health certificate (airline requirement), I’ve done little to prepare.  I think that’s because I know all the pitfalls that are heading our way and there is no sense in fretting about them until the morning of our journey.

The biggest bump in the road is that dog carriers fit the best under the middle seat or window seat. This is not good for me since I have booked an aisle seat. You may ask why I would do such a silly thing.

Very smushy aisle seat…poor pooch 😦

Well, here’s my answer….it’s a very long flight (7 hours) and I really, really, really want to sit on the aisle! Our first trip to Alaska I discovered the fact that the aisle seat is horrible for jamming (carefully placing) Jasmine under the seat. But, I was extremely fortunate that no one sat in the middle seat so I was able to put her under there and remain in my aisle seat!

Jasmine comfy cozy under the middle seat

I’m hoping this will happen again! (major denial)
But I am not holding out much hope since on our return flight last May, the plane was packed, I had to switch to a middle seat, and the two people on either side of me NEVER moved the entire journey! Can you believe that??  Granted the plane leaves at 11 PM at night so a lot of people sleep, but these two yahoos hardly twitched a muscle for 6 and a half hours! But they did manage to steal both of my arm rests early on. Horrible, horrible flight!

There are other non-fun things to think about as well….early flight, long drive to the airport, parking the car, shuttle to the airport, $100 pet fee, TSA….all this with a suitcase, pet carrier, large purse and only a small, black dog as a traveling companion.

Is it any wonder I’m in DENIAL!? ….because if you really think about it who wants to think about traveling 7 hours in a tin can, squished between two strangers with a dog between their feet!

Okay now I’m depressed… it too early for a glass of wine??

Writing in the margins (and on the walls), Medieval style

The other day I came across a great article on the website Brain Pickings. It’s all about the crazy things that monks have written in the margins of  illuminated manuscripts.

I love this article because it makes you realize that in the grand scheme of things people really haven’t changed that much from one century to the next. It makes these monks much more relatable to those of us living in the 21st century. How much more we learn about them from these long ago scribblings and doodles then we ever would from some dry, old text book.  Who knew they were just as bored, tired and human as we are!?

The first time I realized that human is human no matter when or where you’ve lived was when I visited the Tower of London back in the 70’s and saw the graffiti on the walls of the Beauchamp Tower.

This was the intricate, magnificent bit of graffiti I saw on that first visit. What made it so fascinating and exciting to me was the fact that it was placed there by a name in history that I had actually read about, John Dudley.  Imprisoned in 1554, Dudley was a member of the family that tried to place Lady Jane Grey on the throne in the place of Mary Tudor. Obviously that didn’t go so well for them and the Lady in question, thus his and his family’s imprisonment in the Tower. While the rest of the Dudley clan and Lady Jane Grey were executed, John, only in his mid 20’s, was unexpectedly released on the day of his execution but unfortunately died only a short time later.

What’s amazing to me is that this mark he left on those ancient walls has kept him alive to millions of people and many generations of visitors to the Tower in a way that no history book could have ever done. I’ve seen it four times now, and I have never gotten tired of standing in front of Dudley’s handy work and imagining what it must have been like for him and the others imprisoned in that tiny space. Of course being jostled and elbowed by a dozen smelly tourists on a hot summer day can give you a bit of an idea!

Dudley wasn’t the only one to leave his mark in Beauchamp Tower. This simple carving is pretty amazing too!

Did Lady Jane Grey carve her own name on the wall of her prison, or did one of her many imprisoned supporters? Most historians think the latter but I like to think Jane carved it herself!

If you do a search for ancient or historical graffiti on the internet dozens of images pop up. It becomes obvious pretty quickly that people have always had the urge to leave their mark places , whether it’s on a tree, in the tower of a prison, or on a cave wall. I guess no matter where or when people have lived we all just want to be remembered.

Capitol Hill Books

I love to visit used bookstores when I’m traveling, it’s usually always on my to-do list.  It is getting a bit hard to find them though and that’s a crying shame. My favorite used books stores are jam packed to the rafters, with precarious piles strewn hither and yon, and the owner manning the register knowing exactly where to lay his hands on any requests you may have.

I found all that at Capitol Hill Books in Washington, DC.

Located near Eastern Market, this bookstore was opened in 1991 but it seems like it’s been around a lot longer than that…just look at all these lovely books!

And what’s even more amazing is that they are actually shelved by subject and in alphabetical order to boot! Wowzeer, my kind of bookstore!

I didn’t find anything this trip, but it sure was fun looking and I can’t wait to go back!

Long time, no post!

For over a week I have been practically computerless, only in possession of an iPad, and thus unable to post anything on my blog. I feel very delinquent, like I’ve neglected my homework or something. Not only didn’t I write a single blog post, I only managed to read two books and cheated liberally on my diet! It’s almost like the lost weekend, except I was lost for a whole week! But like all good things this too must come to an end, so I stopped in the library today and picked up a book, I’m eating a salad and, obviously, I’m writing on my blog!

I spent the last 10 days luxuriating in the company of family and friends while spending time in the nation’s capitol, one of my favorite places. When I’m there I never fail to discover new places to visit and new restaurants to gain weight in. This trip was no exception!

The Bayou Bakery in Arlington, Virginia is not new to me, but since I’m currently salivating over a couple of pics I took while dining there I thought I would tell you a bit about it. This place is only a hop, skip and a jump from where I usually stay while in town, so my feet always manage to lead me to their doorstep. I really thought that this would be my only indulgence this past week, because I was in denial about my need to eat large quantities of delicious grub. Instead this was the beginning of my week-long food coma!


David Gaus, the chef and owner, is a native of Louisiana and an award-winning pastry chef who gave up being a corporate pastry chef in 2007 to open the bakery and write a cookbook. Bayou Bakery offers terrific southern sweets as well as savory dishes and delicious coffee.

My personal favorites are the made to order beignets~~three warm, powdered sugar, Louisiana doughnuts for 3 bucks! But they also do things like a weekly crawfish boil in June, red beans & rice and shrimp creole.

a perfect afternoon!

If you are ever visiting DC, it’s well worth it to take the metro’s orange line to Arlington, Virginia to either the Courthouse or Clarendon stops to find a variety of unique restaurants and shops, like Bayou Bakery!