Author Archives: The Wife of Bath

Where to walk your wife in Chicago

I’m so tired from trying to learn to sleep without sleeping pills that my brain is in a deep freeze.  Talking and writing is like bobbing for apples must think of word stick head in tub of water and try to find the word grab the word with my mouth now what was I saying […]

I’m just here for the gift shops in the Aztec pyramid: a visit to Disney’s Epcot

A few nights ago I was in Norway, eavesdropping on a guy looking for a place to smoke.  The attendant told him “You can’t smoke here but there’s an approved area over by Italy.” I was at Disney’s Epcot Park, which costs $114 a day to visit.  But hey, that price includes the whole world […]

Money belt monoboob and other travel complaints

You’re lucky if you have the chance to travel, so going around complaining is pretty lame.  That said, nothing brings people together like shared whining.  So, in the spirit of solidarity, I give you my travel complaints: Glass coffee tables.  Being able to rent an apartment for a few nights is an affordable luxury.  The […]

We’re all still friends in Sarajevo

Originally posted on Picnic at the Cathedral:
In the foreground, a mosque.  In the background, the spire of a Catholic church. This is Sarajevo. Sarajevo is my favorite sort of town: buzzing with dynamic street life, culturally rich and simultaneously traditional and forward-thinking. Trams are gliding by, the traffic is not that crazy and the architecture ranges…

Big Goose Pagoda is just a backdrop for the sexy dancing seniors of Xi’an

When HOB and I got on a bus in Xi’an we were unclear about when we should get off.  “Just look for a big pagoda” I said—this seemed logical since we were on our way to see something called the Big Goose Pagoda. And that turned out to be a good idea—-we saw this out […]

The gods at Shuanglin temple are caged panthers

Before visiting someplace I’ve never been, I need to first project myself there in my imagination.  I do this by picturing one essential cultural experience.  It could be seeing an artwork, walking through a cathedral or listening to a particular sort of music.  Without this initial mind-travel, I can’t conceptualize doing something so strange as, […]

Pingyao: a dozen boring museums and one magical city

Pingyao, in the Shanxi province of Northern China, combines two of my favorite things: a walled city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Normally we don’t go walking around on city walls because HOB has a fear of heights.  However, Pingyao’s wall, which was built in 1370 during the Ming Dynasty, is low with a […]

The dance of calligraphy (and noodles) in Xi’an

It was in Xi’an that I finally realized that calligraphy is an art of motion. I’d been struggling with calligraphy, trying to recognize it as an art form.  Last year HOB and I intensely scrutinized the world’s most famous collection of calligraphy in the National Palace Museum of Taipei.  I certainly made progress, recognizing the […]

Not sure what happened at the Peking Opera but it involved stage combat, butterfly feelers and intrusive ushers

Any of you have a work spouse?  I’ve had one for 20 years; I call him the International Man of Mystery.  Now you’d think after 20 years I’d know a lot about IMOM, but he is one seriously cagey dude.  Try asking IMOM a question like “How was your weekend?” and you’re going to get […]

Bracket envy and an introduction to traditional Chinese wooden architecture at Pingyao’s Zhenguo Temple

1000 years ago, back when Europe was clawing its way out of the dark ages, China already had a well established system of building standards.  The Chinese consulted manuals to standardize the building process and did so with remarkable success considering the enormous size of the country.  The basis of their traditional architecture was modular:  […]