Tag Archives: travel

Japanese toilets: so much to go on

This symbol is all over Japan: Yes, that is the international symbol for “spray your butt.” And for the ladies: Spray your ladyparts while wearing a bike helmet. This button is either the dry cycle or a close up of ramen noodles. Toilet shy?  No problem—your Japanese toilet also provides a soundtrack to cover embarrassing […]

Kyoto’s Moss Temple: nature’s social contract

In 48 hours: one flight from Chicago to Tokyo, one bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto, nine subway rides, one bus and one frantic taxi ride after a different bus didn’t show up as scheduled.  We arrived at the Moss Temple just in time for the admission slot which our hotel managed to reserve for […]

How to watch Noh theater in Tokyo

Show up at the last second and buy two tickets to something you don’t know the name of and receive a program you can’t read. Have 5 minutes to eat convenience store food while watching women in gorgeous kimono pour into the hall. Feel bad about wearing clothes you haven’t washed since you walked around […]

How to use the onsen in Japan

Hey, you’re in Japan—-want to get naked with 126.8 million new friends?  You got this! Do you have tattoos?  No onsen for you.  There are about 20 different signs saying “No tattoos in the onsen.”  Well, maybe if you just have that one lame butterfly tattoo from high school you could put and bandaid over […]

Bowing to the deer of Nara in a typhoon

Arriving in Nara last night, we went in search of udon,  While slurping up our noodles in a random noodle joint, I looked up at at the TV and said to HOB “look at that weather forecast—looks like there’s a typhoon over Japan.” Oops!  There was a typhoon bearing down on us, projected to be […]

How I research travel online

For years my best travel advice came from a retired doctor named Howard who I “met” on the now-defunct website VirtualTourist.  Howard—in his mid 80’s at the time–was exceptionally cranky, no doubt because he was no longer able to travel (for the record, this would make me cranky too.)  Howard put his pent-up traveling energy […]

How we ate cheap in Norway

When we got back from Norway several people asked me “How was the food?” and I answered “I don’t know.”  That’s because, instead of seeking out local specialties and eating in restaurants, we just bought basic groceries from supermarkets and prepared the food ourselves.  That’s not a romantic way to eat and it doesn’t make […]

Enough room to swing a hundred babies in Oslo’s Frogner Park

Norwegians seem to be constantly coming from, going to, or actively engaged in robust outdoor activities.  Oslo is a sea of bouncing ponytails (from the almost comical amount of joggers.)  The trains are full of cross-country ski shleppers.  Women in their seventies are hiking with backpacks and bedrolls.  There’s a national obsession with cabins (one […]

The chin-chin hairs on the rock drawings in Hell

Before we went to Norway I did a bit of research and then I emailed a tourist information office who forwarded me to someone at a museum… ….who scanned me a hand drawn map… …which directed us to a train station called Hell…. …and a short walk through a moss covered forest… …where we found […]

A slacker pilgrim’s guide to Nidaros cathedral in Trondheim

Did you know Norway has a pilgrimage?  Well, I didn’t until we stumbled on it. The pilgrimage is called St. Olav Ways—“ways” because you can choose one of several routes, as long as you end up at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. Here I am at Old Aker church in Olso next to kilometer marker 639 (that […]