The Trevi Fountain in Rome

Years ago, I embarked on an adventure as the culmination of study and hard work in completing my degree in Fine Arts in University; and I decided it was time to go to Europe and visit all these museums and cities that held the paintings and sculptures, etc. that I had been studying in books for the past three years – so I went – backpacking through Europe beginning in London and ending in Amsterdam after three months.  It was terrifying and exhilarating – sometimes both at the same time.

One of my goals was to see the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy as I was a big fan of “Roman Holiday” and Audrey Hepburn and had seen “La Dolce Vita” and “Three Coins in a Fountain” as well.

It is hard sometimes to fathom that although my country just finished celebrating it’s 150th year of being there is this Baroque masterpiece which took three decades to complete from 1732-62 that was built more than a century before we even existed.  So when people say the history is in Europe, they are not kidding.

The Trevi fountain is 85 feet tall and 65 feet wide.  Legend holds a coin thrown into the fountain will ensure a return trip to Rome.  You are to stand with your back to the fountain and throw it either with your left hand over your right shoulder or vice versa.  You are not to look behind you.   Throw in a second coin if you’re seeking love – even a third for wedding bells.  Coins are collected nightly and given to an Italian charity called Caritas which uses them to buy rechargeable grocery cards for the needy.

Trevi fountain map

Though there is some controversy here – The central figure in the Trevi Fountain is either the Greek Titan Lord of the Seas, often referred to as Father of the Waters –  Oceanus or it is the Roman god of the sea, Neptune… and since the fountain is in Italy I’m tempted to go with Neptune.   The triton (half man, half merman) on the left having trouble with a restless horse represents rough seas while the one on the left leading a calm steed is depicting tranquil waters.  On the left facing Oceanus/Neptune is a statue representing the abundance of water holding the horn of plenty with her toppled vase at her feet and the one on the right symbolizes health and water as nourishment.  All the statues are made from carrara marble while the facade and reef are made of travertine.

Did it live up to my expectations?  Surprisingly, after seeing the Coliseum and the Forum as well as St. Peter’s Square it was kind of disappointing but the romance of the fountain is appealing.  When in Rome!

Dinah Shore sounds a lot like Dinosaur, doesn’t it?

On a recent trip to Palm Springs (my first, and may I say the airport there is quite delightful) we visited the Dinah Shore Golf course.  Now no one under forty will likely know who she was but she was a very talented lady who could sing and act and had her own TV show beginning in the 50’s and ending in the 70’s though it changed names throughout.  Founded in 1972 by Dinah Shore, the first major tournament of the year on the LPGA Tour is played on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club.  Only the PGA Tour’s Masters at Augusta National has had a longer continuous run of any major tournament at a single venue on either the men’s or women’s professional golf tours.

Palm Springs has roads named after the first celebrities that had their winter homes there –  Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Gene Autry, Dinah Shore, Bing Crosby, Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen, among others – google them if you’d like to find out their contributions to TV, the theatre and show business at large.  All these people have crossed to the great beyond but have left a legacy of film and TV credits behind along with the odd Emmy and Oscar thrown in.

Though now considered dinosaurs of the industry when Palm Springs first sprang from the desert, they were the elite or creme de creme of “Hollywood Stars” at the pinnacle of their success. Their homes were made to accommodate an indoor-outdoor lifestyle and there’s a seamlessness in the way one moves from inside the house to a large backyard and pool.

The two things that struck me most on my visit – it has the retro mad men look to it with a lot of the homes built with a space age feel to them  – and the fact that a lot of the golfers had golf carts which reflected their status in the community or the type of car they drove as shown below

Golf carts at Palm Springs Indian Wells golf course

I just found this so extravagant and flagrant one-up-manship!  It reminded me of the gold chains a lot of the sports superstars wear around their neck – it’s just such a cock on the walk kind of thing.  My brother told me they probably cost about $14,000 each.  For a golf cart for heaven’s sake!

The other thing that surprised me was that Bob Hope (whom I’ve always considered a kind of conservative guy for his day) had the most stunning home imaginable.  Very modern and futuristic and one I would never have associated with the down to earth love-able persona I’d seen on screen.

Bob Hope's Palm Springs abode

Looking more like a bandshell in a park somewhere or a flying saucer that just landed it could be viewed more as cold and impersonal because of all the cement but I found it quite fascinating as I could not match the man to the house.  I think perhaps his wife had more of the design influence than he but I don’t know for sure.  The architect was John Lautner who also designed the Elrod House prominently featured in the James Bond film “Diamonds are Forever” among several other modernistic structures in Palm Springs.

All in all we quite enjoyed our stay in Palm Springs as the weather was gorgeous every day; the food was delicious, and the drinks by the pool most life-affirming!  If you should find yourself in Palm Springs be sure to take a tour on Dinah Shore Drive or Bob Hope Drive and if there on a Thursday night check out the Villagefest street fair from 6-10 pm.  Park at the one end, stroll through the vendors and have a margarita (or dinner) at the Blue Coyote at the other end.  You’ll be able to walk off any calories going back to the car.


Nobody walks in LA

Like the lyrics to the Missing Persons song…..

I don’t know could’ve been a lame jogger maybe
Or someone just about to do the freeway strangler baby
Shopping cart pusher or maybe someone groovy
One thing’s for sure, he isn’t starring in the movies

cuz he’s walkin in LA – nobody walks in LA, etc

The one time I flew to LA with a friend of mine it rained pretty much the whole time.  Once, when we were sitting in the rental car watching the  wipers flip side to side in the fog enclosed front seat where we were playing tic tac toe on the windshield, I suggested water-skiing behind the car but no one took me up on it.

The Golden State they call it, land of sunshine, blah, blah, blah.  I began to think that it was a tourist scam in order to get suckers to come visit, that it was make believe like all the movies they produced there.  Or perhaps the sun decided to take a vacation of its own and moved off to China or Mexico.  Suffice to say that my first adventure in CALIFORN-I-A did not come close to living up to the hype.

It used to be unheard of to walk around LA but with the refurbishment of the downtown core, it has become a place to be and be seen much like South Beach in Miami.  Millions have been spent revitalizing the derelict hotels, old department stores and office buildings into a hip and happening scene.  Witness the re-development of the Ace Hotel and now the Garfield and Merritt Buildings.

That first time I visited however; I crossed the street to go to a gas station/everything store and everyone was honking at me, people stared from the other stores, etc.  I felt like an alien; once I got back to the motel we were staying in, my friend told me there had been a shooting in the parking lot just a few hours ago and I shouldn’t have been out walking by myself.  Go figure!

The second time I was in LA things were much better as the sun was shining and we had driven down the coast from Seattle stopping to camp one night, hotel the next and visiting sea lions, the Queen Mary, and Hearst Castle along the way.  We took in a ball game in San Diego and visited the zoo to say hello to the Panda bear as well.  Walked from Venice Beach to the San Monica Pier and delighted in all the characters we came across in our journey.  It was a much nicer visit.

Shortly we will be going to Palm Springs to stay with relatives with a short trip into LA for an art deco walking tour of downtown, a visit to the Hollywood sign and the Griffith Observatory and partake in some retro cocktails and good grub.  Will be sure to give you an update when we get back.  As we will be Walkin in LA!!!


How I became a member of the IBBA

Map of Costa del Sol

After graduating from the fine arts program in 1986, I decided to take a three month trip to Europe to visit all the museums that held all the paintings I had to study to attain my degree.  It was a trip I would relish (more on that later) but this only explains how I arrived at the Costa del Sol in Spain, not how I became a member of distinction in the International Bum-Biters Association – no small feat I assure you!

This dubious honour was bestowed upon me by a publican who owned a bar in Torremolinos.  From England, Bill and his wife June operated a fun establishment that we called home for three weeks.  I had hooked up with two American girls at the train station in Portugal and as we were going to the same place decided that we would rent a villa with a pool and a gardener while we were there.  As luck would have it there was another English publican who offered us his condo for free as he was going back home to England and all we’d have to pay for was the hydro.  We gave up the villa and pool for a highrise condo on the beach… an easy trade really!

Since the pub was on the way to the beach, we would stop in for a jug of sangria which we took with us whilst we were suntanning and we would return the empty jug at the end of the day.  The hosts were a lot of fun so we often ate there as well and continued our drinking.  One night, Bill bit me in the bum and told me I was now indoctrinated into the exclusive realm of the International Bum Biter’s Association; however, I would not be granted full membership until I had bitten the bum of a complete stranger of the opposite sex who came into the bar.  Being somewhat shy in nature, I didn’t know whether I would be able to do this but coming out of the bathroom one time, there was a gentleman standing at the bar and I just went for it.  Even Bill and June were surprised by this but I hurriedly explained everything to the astonished patron and he good naturedly took it in his stride.  Thank Goodness!

As a member in good standing of the Spanish chapter of the IBBA, I often considered establishing a Canadian division but then I got married and well, had to grow up really!

Just kidding, I’m not sure I will ever do that!



Ladies Powder Room at Radio City Music Hall

The essence of travel

You may think that travelling is an adventure, a journey to a destination where you can uncover cultures, art and nature that you have never seen before….and it is; however, when you get older there are certain requirements needed when one travels.  For instance, I need to know that the plane trip is under 8 hours as my legs cannot handle the cramping one has to endure for that time period and I do not possess the kind of wealth that would allow me to travel first class.  Secondly, the place I am staying can’t be more than an hour from the airport especially if I am travelling by bus.  And last but most importantly, I need access to a bathroom on a fairly frequent basis.

This is why I don’t like to go to the theatre that much either as I can stream or rent a movie, make my own popcorn, enjoy a glass of wine AND pause the movie anytime I feel the urge to go so why leave the house.  Plus there is nobody behind me to give away the plot or kick the back of my seat not to mention the tall guy in front blocking my view.

When I was in my youth I didn’t worry about finding a bathroom so much as I had greater restraint and we could always pull over to the side of the road and go in the ditch if we needed.  Nowadays, I’m not sure I’d be able to recover from the crouching position.  Below is the toilet for visitors to Napier, New Zealand.  Top of page is one of many powder rooms in the Radio City Music Hall in New York City.  So, you can go to the lavatory in style in certain environments.Napier2012 117