Sunday, January 15, 2012


I'm not sure how I spent a week in Paris and two weeks in Yemen and never ran into one, but I finally got up close and personal with a bidet in, of all places, exotic Toronto.

I recently stayed one night at Le Meridien King Edward hotel and in addition to early 20th century decor, my bathroom had a bidet. I've always been bidet-curious but never got to act on my curiosity.

My bathroom also had this strange alcove of emptiness:

I didn't know what to do with it, so I took a picture and eventually put a chair there.

Back to the bidet!

Like the empty spot, the bidet did not come with an instruction manual. Maybe I should have called the concierge for help. Maybe I should have gone online and read "How To Use a Bidet," but I'm an independent woman, how hard could it be?

So I did what I had to do on the toilet and with my pants down, waddled over to the bidet. There were quite a few knobs and levers. One said "stream/rim," another two had the standard "H" and "C." I opted for "stream" and turned on the hot tap. Water came bubbling up pretty high, so it took a bit of dialing up and down before I got what I thought would be the perfect height, all while growing a little chilly and having to reach around the stream to get to the taps. I added some cold water and stuck my hand in the stream to check the temperature - not too hot, not too cold.....or so I thought.

It seems that in the time it took me to turn around and squat over the bidet, the hot water came on full steam ahead (no pun intended), upping both the pressure and the temperature. Long story short, I burned my ass and jumped five feet in the air. No, I do not have a picture of the moment.

The Butt-Burning Bidet

All I can say is, if you get to play with a bidet, make 100% sure you use more cold tap than hot tap because it's probably better to have a cold butt than a burnt butt. I don't have any scars or anything, but it's such a sensitive area, that, you know, it's best not to take chances. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Vagabundo Travel Magazine Review

When I'm not traveling, I'm daydreaming about, planning or saving up for another trip. So aside from scouring travel sites, I have quite the Lonely Planet guide book collection:

No offense to Lonely Planet, but it's nice to have something a bit different to read now and then, so I jumped at the chance when offered a free copy of Vagabundo Travel Magazine.

I flipped through it in two ways: I downloaded the .pdf and viewed it on my Kindle and on my computer. There is a Kindle version offered, but only for certain countries and Canada isn't one of them. I wanted to see how versatile the layout was, since I figured it was geared for people on the go.

On my Kindle, I changed my view mode to landscape and I found the pictures stunning, even in black and white. They are, of course, even more amazing in colour on a computer screen. That's probably what stands out for me most at first - the photography is high-quality and it's just a beautiful magazine to look at.

The articles are a good mix of down-to-earth interviews and great story-telling, without being pretentious. A lot of travel writers start sounding a little holier-than-thou with the exclusive places they've been, but this mag is a refreshing change of real people telling real stories and all the awe and angst that go along with travel.

This is their very first issue, so it can only get more amazing from here, but I would offer a few suggestions. The text sometimes gets a little lost (and in one case, even eclipsed) by the excellent photography, so it's just a layout issue that needs to be sorted. What can I say though, stop including such great photography? That's hardly a fault!

My other recommendation is charge more, because at $1.49 USD it's an absolute steal! Seriously, they could charge more for it, so get it now before they come to their senses!

Note: In case anyone is interested and if you can actually read this small print, I received no compensation for this review, nor will I in the future and my issue was provided for free. I am writing this out of the kindness of my heart :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Where Are They Now?

The great thing about solo travel is it's easy to meet a lot of different people on similar journeys. The plus side is if you don't get along, you never have to see that person ever again. I guess the downside is losing touch with a person you made a great connection with, as is what happened to me.

In November 2008, I was stressed out with life. I had recovered from my third miscarriage and was told I only had a one in four chance of having a child. I was caring for my father, who was then dying from Parkinson's disease. I also recently left a stressful job I hated. I didn't know what else to do but run away from it all and get a different perspective, so I booked myself a solo trip to London and Morocco.

At 4am, I was the first to arrive at the departure lounge at Luton airport for a Ryanair flight to Marrakesh. I was on my mobile phone chatting with my husband when an older gentleman walked in, put his bag down at the front of the line and sat down on seats somewhere else. I found this odd and I found him odd. Everyone else lined up, though I didn't bother because I already knew how Ryanair boarding works and there's really no point; I don't care what seat I get. The Odd Man walked up to his bag on the floor and into the front of the line. I thought nothing else of it at that point.

Our flight got diverted to Agadir because of fog and we all got stuck on to buses back to Marrakesh. I checked into my hostel that night and went to sleep. When I got up for breakfast that morning, who else was at the table but the Odd Man! He was loudly talking about his travel plans - he wanted to head to the desert - so did I, but I wasn't about to share a car with a loud, obnoxious American. That was my first impression of him and I ignored him. I decided I wasn't going to head to the desert then and instead boarded a bus for Essaouira that afternoon.

On the bus back from Essaouira to Marrakesh, I texted my hubby to help find me some accommodation ahead of time because I was arriving at night and hadn't booked anything. From Canada, he booked me into a lovely riad deep in the souq of Djemaa el-Fnaa. I finally found it late that night and went straight to bed. The next day I was sick - something I ate, I suppose - and didn't leave my room until late afternoon. The night after that, upon returning from supper, I walked into the riad and was met by a familiar face - the Odd Man. I made a joke and accused him of following me. He said, "no, you must be following me!" and we started talking.

We talked late into the wee hours of the morning. I was freezing (we were in the court yard of the riad), but he was captivating. I told him of my father and my stresses and he helped me put things into perspective. If I hadn't had to pack and get ready for my early flight that morning, I'm sure we'd still be there talking! I left him my card with my info, but he never contacted me and I never saw him again.

They say people come into your life for "a reason, a season or a lifetime," and I presume he just came into mine for a reason, but I'd like to tell him I'm alright now. My dad has since passed on and I've had the child I've always wanted. Everything is less stressful now and for some reason I feel compelled to tell him he has made a difference to me.

That's where you come in! All I know is he is a retired architecture professor named Christopher Pardee. He is American, but lives in England. He's divorced, he has grown children and he spends his free time travelling. If you see him, please tell him he helped me a lot. Or maybe share this blog post with him. I don't expect to hear from him, but if you let me know you spoke to him, I will be happy. He probably won't even remember me, but that's ok. It's the thought that counts :)

And if you ever meet a really cool person, make sure you also get their contact info.