"" Writer's Wanderings

Monday, August 31, 2015

A Counterfeit Museum?

Catching up on some of the newsletters I receive by email, I clicked on an article by the Independent Traveler.com that sounded interesting, 12 Great Museums You've Never Heard Of. I always like to see if I've been there, done that when I see these lists. I can safely say I'd never been to any of the twelve listed but as I was scrolling through, I came across one that caught my interest--Le Musée de la Contrefaçon or the Museum of Counterfeiting.


Now I was hooked. I had to find out more information than the little paragraph they gave so I went to the website which didn't offer a whole lot more. Basically they said it was a museum showcasing knock offs and counterfeits of art and fashion, etc.

Well, I thought, is it worth visiting? I went to my go-to site for recommendations, TripAdvisor. It was ranked 155 of 177 museums in Paris. At least it wasn't on the bottom but it was based on 25 reviews seven of which rated it poor or terrible and nine rated it good or excellent. The rest, nine, rated it average. One reviewer actually took the time to give a lot of information on the museum while rating it. My kind of reviewer. Here's what I found out:

The museum was actually inaugurated in 1951 by UNIFAB (a union of manufacturers) which was created in 1872 to protect commercial creations and intellectual property. It was done during the presidency of Gaston-Lois Vitton (yup, that one). The museum was originally just for the manufacturers but eventually opened to the public in 1972.

There are the usual things you would expect counterfeiters to try to copy from fashion designers especially but then according to the reviewer (MiaGlobetrotter who says she's from Paris) there are some surprising things like BIC pens. Apparently there are some self tests to see if you can tell the difference between original and fake and, in some cases, it is very difficult.

So will we put it on the list if we return to Paris? Hmmm.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Flashback Friday - Meet The Man


My boys (all grown now) have a knack for finding the most unusual places to eat. Here's a look back at one we went to in the Seattle area in 2008. I'm assuming it is still open. The most recent review I could find on it was from April of this year.

So where would you take your parents for lunch when they come to visit? How about an old automotive garage under a freeway?

When we recently visited our son and his family out in the Seattle area, he took us to the place where all the Microsoft geeks get together, Dixies Barbeque. It's actually a very popular tourist attraction and known for it's very, very. . .did I say VERY hot barbeque sauce.


When we pulled into the place, I figured he was just turning around because he'd missed the restaurant. But no, he parked the car and we all got out and ambled past the back porch--or maybe it was the front porch--that stretched across the facade of an old automotive garage. The porch had a couple of long tables covered in vinyl cloths with an eclectic collection of chairs including a rocker, some computer chairs, and various wooden kitchen chairs. Could this be where they put together the idea for VISTA?

We entered a tiny room brimming with smells of barbeque sauce. The limited menu included pulled pork, pulled pork over sausage, BBQ chicken, and side dishes of beans, beans and rice, and corn bread. You could purchase plain or sweetened tea or go to the vending machine near the exit door to buy your soda.

The lady I assumed was Dixie sat at the end of the serving counter pouring tea and taking money and all the while kibitzing with the customers. But the big question of the day was "Do you want to meet the man?" The man is how they refer to their hottest BBQ sauce. My acid indigestion was churning up just smelling it but my son said he couldn't go back to his office without "meeting the man."

Only a few drops on a small section of his sandwich was enough to redden his face, cause his neck to sweat, and send his father back in to get a second glass of tea hoping that would cure him. Once he could talk again, we sat back and enjoyed our sanwiches which, by the way, could have fed an army of computer techs, and wondered how in the world anyone would think to come here to eat. It just proves the power of word of mouth advertising and finding the right mouths to spread the word--that is if they can still talk after meeting the man.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

My Top Ten Places For The City Lover

A large city is not the number one place on my favorites list of travel destinations but there are some cities that have been fun to explore because of their history or their beauty or their people or all three. Here is a list of the top ten favorite places I've visited.

Sydney, Australia. If you peruse my blog it won't take long to know that Australia is one of our favorite places to visit and if we must be in a big city, Sydney is a great place to be. It's a pretty city with it's harbor area being the jewel. Easy to get around and the iconic opera house and bridge are must sees. Lots of great restaurants with every kind of ethnic food imaginable and plenty of entertainment venues as well.

Paris, France. We've visited Paris several times and always find it the romantic city it is advertised to be. Lots of history, art, shopping, eating. Parks and places to stroll arm in arm. And it definitely lives up to its nickname, the city of lights.

London, England. London was the first place that we ever ventured to out of the country (Canada not included). It's where we got infected with the travel bug. We've been back several times and always find it a delight. Easy to navigate the "tube" and find yourself in a variety of neighborhoods from the formal areas surrounding the palace to the eclectic theater district around Piccadilly Circle and the exciting area across from the Parliament buildings and Big Ben. Fun, food and fabulous people watching.

Cape Town, South Africa. While we didn't get to explore a great deal of Capetown since we were on a cruise, we did get a good taste of it and it was enough to make us want to go back. It is set on the coast of South Africa with a spectacular backdrop of mountains, the most famous, the Tabletop Mountain that actually looks like it has a tablecloth covering it when the clouds sit on top of it and spill over.

New York, New York. Frank Sinatra sang of this city for good reason. It is quite a place. We've been there for the Macy Thanksgiving Parade and again for the tree lighting at Rockefeller Plaza and several times in between. It's fun to take in a Broadway show and stroll Times Square now that its been cleaned up. A tour of the harbor and a peek at the Statue of Liberty is a must and of course a trip to the 9/11 memorial. We need to go back and take in the museum that opened a little while ago. And don't forget to stop into a neighborhood deli and grab one of those great sandwiches!

Tokyo, Japan. We have been to Tokyo twice and now that our son and his family are living there we will return again. Tokyo is a little like London in that there are different areas to explore and each has something unique to offer. While I wouldn't want to eat anything but Japanese food there (there are so many varieties), there are lots of other ethnic restaurants available as well because it is such an international city. The history extends back so far that it boggles the mind but walking through the temples you get a sense of ancient tradition that has carried on through the years. Contrasted with the amazing technology of today that is exhibited as well, it is quite an interesting city to explore.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates. While this is probably a one time visit for me, it is still a fascinating city to see. It sits in the middle of desert and on the shore of the Persian Gulf. The biggest, largest, widest, tallest everything seems to be there. A ski resort inside a mall, the world's largest piece of plexiglas that forms one side of a huge aquarium in another mall, and of course the world's tallest building,Burg Kalifa. I'm guessing that the tea we went to at the tallest hotel, Burg al Arab, was probably the most expensive as well.

Barcelona, Spain. Again a city with lots of history and one huge cathedral that has been years in the building and is not done yet. Bob always jokes that we're not going back until they finish the la Segrada Familia. The hop-on hop-off bus is a fun way to see the city but be sure to spend time walking the main street, Las Ramblas, and seeing the performers there and enjoying some tapas. Oh, and don't miss the churros with hot chocolate!

Venice, Italy. When we first arrived in Venice it was raining and it looked dirty and dull and I wondered why we were there. Then the sun came out and the buildings came alive. The architecture surrounding St. Mark's Square is amazing. History abounds and romance ignites with a gondola ride and or a stroll through the little piazzas that surround the main part of the city. Enjoy a cappuccino on the square but be sure to order enough that you don't get charged a cover fee if you are sitting in one of the little outdoor cafes that has musicians playing.


Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland? Yes. There will be lots of people discovering Cleveland as a destination in about 11 months as they descend on the area for the Republican National Convention. There is much to see if time allows. We have quite a history as well. Wonderful architectural examples of years past. A beautiful lake front by the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. Museums. A fantastic ballpark. Aquarium. Lots of restaurants with many ethnic choices and new modern cuisine. And a premium theater district, Playhouse Square, that is the second largest complex in the country.

So that's it for now. While I favor little towns and open country, there are some amazing things the big cities have to offer so to be a well rounded traveler put a little of both into your itinerary.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My Top Ten Favorite Places for the Nature Lover



Everyone always asks what is my favorite place of all I've visited. That's an impossible question to answer. I like different places for different reasons. So with that in mind and while there are still lots of places left to visit in this world of all the places I've been these would be my favorites for the nature lover in  me.

New Zealand. Almost any place in New Zealand you go there are trails to explore and beautiful scenes to take in as well as lots of animals. One of the things I like best is that there are no snakes. So, as I walk the trails, I can hold my head up and not worry about anything slithering across the path. But for a great mix of things to explore, the Dunedin area is probably my favorite. Albatross, penguins, seals, and lots of sheep in the green fields that make NZ such a pastoral landscape.

The Great Barrier Reef, Australia. For easy access to the reef, stay in Cairns or on one of the outer islands in the area. A day's trip on one of the tour boats will get you out on the reef and most have snorkel gear, offer introductory scuba diving, glass bottom boats and even a "submarine" with viewing windows that give you eyeball to eyeball encounters with the marine life.

Norway's Fjords. We have been to the fjords of Norway several times and are always amazed at the beauty and awesomeness of the landscape. Cruising is the only way we've seen them but I wonder what it would be like to do a land tour and see them that way? Hey, Hon! Add that to the bucket list!

The Grand Canyon. I struggle with choosing this over Bryce or Zion but if you only get to see one canyon this would be the one to do. It's easy for anyone to navigate the upper level trails and if you want a real challenge, you can go down and cross the canyon floor. Early in the morning on the trails before they get too crowded from tour buses, you can enjoy the clean air, beauty of the landscape, animals who haven't scattered to their hideaways yet, and collect breathtaking pictures of more colors of earth and rock than you ever imagined. And don't forget the star-filled night skies. Amazing.

Antarctica. We braved the Drake Passage and were rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Antarctica. Penguins, seals, and lots of icebergs as well as the whitest snow I have ever seen. It is beauty beyond words.

Galapagos Islands. You really have to love iguanas because you will see thousands of them here as well as seals (sometimes close up and personal), albatross, flamingos, turtles, tortoises, and all sorts of birds including the blue footed boobie.

Kruger National Park, South Africa. Our first safari will definitely not be our last. The country of South Africa is beautiful--landscape like nothing I've seen anywhere else. And getting close up to the big five out in the wild was, well, wild!

Australia's Outback. I've mentioned the marine life already but there's much more to see on land as well. We've taken a few tours into the outback and enjoyed seeing kangaroos in the wilds as well as koalas and even the kookaburra. There are snakes though so I don't do much hiking here. Yes, I have a thing about snakes.

Papua New Guinea. While I would not recommend travel there right now, it was the best place we have ever been diving. Wonderful green landscapes were viewed from the dive boat and we did venture in to see some hot springs on one trip but mostly we enjoyed the marine life, large and small, from the giant manta rays to the tiniest seahorse smaller than my little finger's fingernail.

My own backyard. Now obviously I don't do tours for people through my backyard but I want to point out to you that sometimes you really don't have to travel far to see the beauty of nature. While all of you may not have deer, coyotes (on occasion), gophers, chipmunks, even a red fox and quite a variety of birds, most of you do have at least a park or zoo nearby that offers an opportunity to walk or sit and enjoy some of the beautiful things God has created in nature.

Well, that's my top ten for now. I still have many miles to go. ..

Monday, August 24, 2015

Books For The Road - Ruby, A Novel

Like a historical romance with a little modern twist? You'll want to tuck Ruby into your suitcase or download to your device before your next trip or even if you're doing a staycation with reading time at home. The story line involves a girl growing up in the 30s and 40s in Cleveland and falling in love. But it's wartime and her love must sail away. Will he return?

The modern twist is that Ruby's daughter is discovering her mother's first love as her mother lays seriously ill in a senior center. What secrets will she find among her mother's things and will they help her to understand her mother better?

Food for thought as you read: Our circumstances don't define us but what we do with our circumstances does.

I hope you'll enjoy this read. It may be the only historical I ever write. I'm back to working on my more humorous side of writing. The second in the Annie Pickel series.

Oh, by the way, if you're a Goodreads member, check out the free giveaway that starts on August 28. And if you are in the Cleveland area, click on the Launch Party tab above and stop in and celebrate with us.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Flashback Friday - The International Beach Project


Looking back to a post from the summer of 2008 I realized that it is just as relevant today as it was when I first wrote it. Our children are our greatest hope for a better tomorrow.

Yesterday we visited a beach on a lake near where our grandchildren live in Washington. The weather was sunny but a little chill was in the air. It didn't stop several kids who were in bathing suits from wading waist deep into the cold water. I shivered to watch.

What was truly fascinating however was the international beach project that took shape in a matter of minutes. I say international because there were Asian, Hispanic, Caucasian, and Indian children involved in the rather spontaneous construction of a river that began at the edge of the grass and ran through the sand about 50 feet to the lake. Several children started the dig and curiosity drew others. As the project escalated, some became dredgers, some supplied water (they owned buckets), and still others banked the sides to keep the water from flooding over.

One enterprising young lady formed a square with her fingers and proceded to interview the others on the project. Questions such as "What is the importance of this river?" were tossed at the workers who answered with surprisingly intelligent responses like, "It will help the lake."

One young boy must have been the ecologist of the group as he shooed the ducks away to keep the project from injuring them. The ducks obviously thought it was a feeding trough.

As the dozen or so children worked for a good hour on keeping the river running, I saw what gives us hope for our future--young people who can come together and work so well to "improve" the beach will certainly grow into adults with the same capabilities to improve our world. I pray no one spoils their enthusiasm.
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