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How NOT to design a bathroom!

Look at the photo below. What’s wrong with this picture? We ate lunch yesterday at a café in Gent. Afterwards, I went inside to use the toilet, followed the signs upstairs, came around a corner, and saw this. Except it wasn’t quite this; there was a man standing at the urinal, making some very contented…

The Battle of the Sexes?

We ate dinner last night at a restaurant in the middle of Gent, on the Plein tegen zinloos geweld, which means “Plaza against random violence.” It was a very hot day, a rare occurrence in this corner of the world, and the sun was going down, so it was still warm in the evening. We…

On losing things

One day, in a strange city, my husband took out his wallet in a telephone booth to find a number he had scrawled on a bit of paper and stuck inside. Or maybe he was looking for small change in his wallet. I don’t know. What I do know is that he put his wallet…

Carpe diem … with a disclaimer

Seize the day. Live in the moment. Live each day as if it’s your last. This is the kind of advice you see all over the internet, and especially among travel tweeters, bloggers, etc. Don’t put off whatever it is you most want to do; do it while you can. Quit your job, take that…

Flying Ryanair … again

Years ago, I wrote an admiring post about Ryanair. Please read it before continuing with this post. I’ll wait… Finished? Okay. Last week I flew Ryanair again, and it struck me that the fine line I mentioned in the last paragraph – the line between passengers who put up with it and passengers who won’t…

Hot enough for you?

I’ve spent the last week in Marseille, a big city in the south of France. I came here for two reasons: In the hopes that it would help me focus on finishing up revising my book. It did. For the heat. Yep, it’s hot. I love hot weather, which, as you can imagine if you’ve…

Bones of the dead

Yesterday my friend, Kim, and I visited Marseille’s medieval church of Saint Victor, parts of which date back to “paleo-Christianity”; in other words, the fifth century or so. I love visiting medieval buildings; it doesn’t matter whether it’s a church, a castle, or just a humble house, as long as its original details are still…

Jetlag is like being on drugs

Jetlag is like being on drugs. Or maybe a better comparison is that it’s like floating in lukewarm water. Or walking around with a big transparent cushion around my body. Or living on a parallel world that looks the same, but where gravity is higher. I don’t know how to describe it, but I’ve been…

Zuanich Point Park

Bellingham is far more interesting than I ever expected it to be. When I looked it up on-line before coming here, it sounded like a rather sleepy, rather hippy-ish place, with its once-a-week organic market and its encouragement of biking. And, to be honest, that’s what it is: a sleepy, hippy-ish place. The residents even…