TU S1.2; TS 4: Sip & Cycle (Part 1) – Paris

Join me as we learn about & drink different wines. We will cycle thru Paris on a picnic-style bike with Cyclo Cafe and Tanisha Townsend of Girl Meets Glass! Part 2 will be up next week! Get your wine glass and come on ūüôā

Girl Meets Glass:
Bloghttp://www.girlmeetsglass.com
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/GirlMeetsGlass/
Twitter — @girlmeetsglass
Tumblrhttp://girlmeetsglass.tumblr.com

Cyclo-Cafe:
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/OntheCycloCafe/
Websitehttp://www.cyclo-cafe.fr

En Vrac (includes location & hours of operation):
Websitehttp://www.vinenvrac.fr/en/

S1.2, TS3: Arab Adventures Pt. 2 “Sunset Desert Safari” (UAE)

Welcome to the 3rd travelsode of Travel Unplugged. In this episode, we trek thru the desert of the United Arab Emirates on a desert safari. So. Freakin’. Fun!

This 5 hour 4×4 Desert Safari tour takes you from the cities of either Dubai or Abu Dhabi into the desert where you go sand-duning, sand boarding, 4×4 quad biking, or get a henna tattoo, try falconry and smoke some shisha after a bbq dinner and belly dancing display. This tour has it all!

Ice Ice Baby – Season 1, Travelsode 1 (XtraCold Ice Bar, Amsterdam)

Welcome to the season premiere of Travel Unplugged!!! ¬†In today’s travelsode, we will explore Amsterdam’s XtraCold Ice Bar¬†located at¬†Amstel 194-196,¬†1017 AG Amsterdam, Netherlands.

You can purchase your tickets online at the XtraCold Ice Bar’s website, Tours & Tickets, or on Viator. ¬†Going to Amsterdam to celebrate King’s Day? ¬†Check out my blog post about Queen’s Day (as it was known before King Willem was inaugurated). ¬†It is a blast!

Thanks for watching!

Trouble Finding Your Passion? Start a Bucket List!

What are you passionate about? ¬†Not sure? ¬†Create a “Bucket List” that includes things you’ve always wanted to try or do. ¬†You never know‚Ķone of those items may be what you are destined to do with your life!

Too many people wait until a certain time in their lives before they start pursuing their dreams. ¬†Why do they wait? ¬†There are various reasons: ¬†“I want to wait until I get married”; “I want to wait until my kids are grown”; “I will do it when I retire”, etc. ¬†Sometimes these “reasons” are really excuses. ¬†START LIVING NOW! ¬†Don’t wait until a certain event or milestone happens. ¬†We never know when our last day on Earth will be. ¬†Why not make the most of the time you have?

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. ¬†Learn as if you were to live forever.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Single? ¬†Do not wait until you find that special someone. ¬†Fill your life up with things YOU want to do in the meantime. ¬†That means you’ll bring some fabulous stories to your next relationship.

Have children? ¬†Don’t wait until your kids are grown. ¬†Inspire them to want to live a fulfilling life as they observe you pursuing your dreams and taking chances.

Don’t wait until you retire! ¬†In this economy, who knows when that will be! ¬†Start your bucket list now so you can have an awesome retirement filled with things you love to do and places you want to visit.

The great thing about a bucket list is that it helps you to visualize what you want to do and take action when opportunities arise.  Groupon and Living Social have deals everyday!  This is how I fulfilled my dreams of skydiving, race car driving…and in January, a trip to Iceland!  Best part?  I am able to achieve my goals on a shoestring budget!

I am a long ways off from retirement and still waiting to meet Mr. Right. ¬†But, you know what? ¬†I’m happy! ¬†Everything isn’t perfect. ¬†There are times when I feel like I’ve failed at life‚Ķespecially when others make insensitive comments. ¬†However, instead of punching them in the throat taking it personal, I force myself to remember all of the things I’ve accomplished from my bucket list. ¬†I didn’t get here overnight. ¬†In fact, it wasn’t until my recent trip to Bali (another bucket list item) where I learned how to meditate properly and use yoga to control my mood. ¬†And you know what? ¬†My imperfect life is pretty fulfilling as I’m living, learning, dreaming and exploring!

So‚Ķjoin me in making an awesome bucket list! ¬†I promise that you will love the feeling of trying new things. ¬†Some you may enjoy‚Ķothers you may not. ¬†That’s the beauty of bucket lists. ¬†It’s like shopping for dreams ūüôā

Need inspiration? ¬†I’m addicted to the free iPad app “iWish” which provides inspiration in the form of photos, quotes & maps as well as allowing you to create your bucket list electronically. ¬†I also recommend Bucket List Living Magazine. ¬†Follow the directions below and use the coupon code “3free” for a free 3 month subscription. ¬†Let’s start living the dream!

What’s been on my bucket list?

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How to Use the Bucket List Living Magazine Coupon

  1. Go to ‚ÄúApp Store Downloads on iTunes‚ÄĚ.¬† Search for Bucket List Living Magazine.
  2. Download the free app by tapping the FREE button.
  3. Tap the INSTALL APP button.  You will then enter your Apple ID Password and click OK.
  4. When the magazine app is finished installing tap the OPEN button.
  5. Permission to send new issues and push notifications from Bucket List Living Magazine is requested.  Choose OK.
  6. Tap the SUBSCRIBE button and then the CURRENT SUBSCRIBERS button.
  7. Enter the coupon code into the account number box and tap the CONTINUE button.  After you enter the code you will receive a notification that you have subscribed successfully.  Tap CLOSE. (The current issue should begin downloading in the background.)
  8. A VIEW button will appear below the current issue, tap it to begin enjoying the magazine.
  9. You will have access to any issue published during the trial subscription period.  At the end of the trial period you will retain access to any issue downloaded during the trial period but will be required to pay for any subsequent issues.

Wicked Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey…the Dubbs Abbs. ¬†I don’t know why I keep trying to give places nicknames…that’s not working is it? ¬†I know you read “Dubbs Abbs” and thought, “WTF is she talking about?” ¬†I’m sleepy, y’all. ¬†Don’t judge me ūüôā

Westminster Abbey is so cool! ¬†Kings (i.e. Henry VIII with his crazy self) & Queens are crowned & buried there. ¬†The most interesting thing for me was finding out that Queen Elizabeth I is buried ON TOP of her sister, Queen Mary (or, as she was known, “Bloody Mary”…which actually makes me a bit thirsty for a cool beverage). For those of you who aren’t up on your Tudor history, Mary was the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon and Elizabeth I is the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

So, Liz’s mama stole her daddy (Henry) from his 1st wife (Catherine) but later found out he was crazy when he had her decapitated for allegedly being a traitor and having an incestuous relationship with her brother. Which I mean, with the royals marrying 1st cousins and such back then, that is sort of like the pot calling the kettle black. It also explains the whole “Deliverance” vibe some of them had…you just don’t mix the blood lines like that.

Anyway, Mary was a strict Roman Catholic like her mama. Her father had changed the official religion of England from Catholicism to Protestant in an effort to divorce Catherine when the Pope refused to grant him an annulment so he could marry his new boo, Anne Boleyn. Of course, if Lil Annie knew that Henry would turn his craziness on her and get all Betty Broderick (the quintessential Lifetime movie for love gone crazy), I’m sure she would’ve reserved her charms for someone else. But, power is a heady drug that distorts your common sense. All she could see is the finery and being able to tell her haters to kiss her ass once she was Queen of England. I can relate…in fact, I’m looking for Harry now ūüôā

So, as I was saying before I digressed, Mary changed the official religion of England from Protestant back to Catholicism and rounded up people who refused to convert and had them burned alive at the stake. I’m pretty sure that Jesus wasn’t co-signing that. I mean, she prayed all day every day so you think she would know better. I imagine something like this happened during her prayer sessions:

Crazy Mary: Lord, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.
Jesus: Uh, Mary? My will ain’t being done right now. What are you thinking burning folks on a stake? Don’t you remember that I died on that sucker? You think this is how I want folks to come to me?
CM: But, Jesus, I can’t let these people continue in the religion of that heinous Anne Boleyn and her trollop daughter, Lizzie.
JC: Get a grip. You have to move on from that. Are you taking your meds?

I think Mary had a touch of the crazy like her daddy and after being locked away from her mama for years due to her father’s out of control libido, it couldn’t have been too much of a surprise. Mary continued the tradition & locked here sister, Elizabeth (Liz 1), in the Tower of London for a while because she thought Liz was in on a plot to kill her. Which…she probably was. That’s just how they rolled back then. After Mary died at the age of 42 from cancer, Elizabeth inherited the throne (after a lot of drama). ¬†Being locked away in the Tower and being labeled a traitor did nothing to get Mary in Liz’s good graces. Which is why she now and for all eternity will reside beneath Liz in the Abbey. I’m sure Liz was like, “How you like me now?”

The Tudor history is fascinating. I would recommend reading a series of books by Phillipa Gregory to gain a thorough overview (The Other Boleyn Girl, The Virgin Queen, etc). Being royalty back in the day was a death sentence!

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Decadent Paris: Cooking Class

20130203-143315.jpgIt has become a sort of tradition to take a cooking class when¬†I travel abroad.¬† Part of it is because I like to eat…the other part is a way for me to bring a little of that culture back home with me.¬†¬†During a¬†previous¬†trip to Paris, I took¬† a baking class (which focused on croissants, pain au chocolat, pain au raisin, foccaccia, etc.).¬† This time, I decided to take a desserts class.¬† My absolute favorite choice for cooking classes in Paris is Cook’n with Class.¬† The¬†chefs are nice & knowledgable and the hands on instruction is so fun!¬† You can book either directly thru their website or via Viator.¬† They also have a Facebook page which features delicious season recipes from time to time!

During the Paris Desserts & Pastry class, we learned how to make creme br√Ľl√©e, chocolate molten lava cake, golden bars, lemon tartes¬†and Grand Marnier¬†souffle. Delish!!!

The chefs!

The chefs!

The ingredients

The ingredients

Crust for the lemon tartes.

Crust for the lemon tartes.

Lemon tarte filling...and yes, I did order the mold :)

Lemon tarte filling…and yes, I did order the mold ūüôā

Making molten chocolate lava cake!

Making molten chocolate lava cake!

Mold & ingredients for Golden Bars

Mold & ingredients for Golden Bars

Carmelizing the sugar on the creme brulee.

Carmelizing the sugar on the creme brulee.

Prepping oranges for the Grand Marnier souflee.

Prepping oranges for the Grand Marnier souflee.

Fresh out of the oven...lemon tartes with red currants on top!

Fresh out of the oven…lemon tartes with red currants on top!

Camping Out in the Magnificent Sahara Desert

Fes, Sahara 256

How can I adequately describe the Sahara Desert?¬† Awe-inspiring.¬† Magnificent.¬† Beautiful.¬† Serene.¬† All of those adjectives and more.¬† During our 8 day trip thru Morocco, we decided to camp out overnight in the Sahara.¬† Upon arriving to the outskirts of the desert, we switch vehicles from a van to a 4×4 and visit the village of visit¬†Khamlia, a village founded by freed slaves known as the Gnawi brotherhoods who play spiritual music.¬† As we entered the tent, we were given mint tea then treated to a performance which was really nice!¬†During the performance, they asked us to form a circle and dance…it sort of turned into the Soul Train line.¬† It was LOADS of fun!!!

dancing!

dancing!

Gnawi brotherhood

Gnawi brotherhood

After the performance, we take a¬†4×4¬†into the Erg¬†Chebbi dunes of the Sahara Desert to watch the sunset and spend the night in a deluxe Bedouin-style tent (because, um we¬†aren’t really “roughing it” kind of girls).¬† The tent had 2 twin beds (complete with mattresses on frames), bathroom (which included a shower) and sitting room.

Fes, Sahara 172

dining tent

After we get settled, we head over to the “dining tent” which was gorgeous.¬† We were the only people in camp that night so it was kind of quiet but we ended up having a lot of fun.¬† After a delicious dinner and great conversation with our guide, Tata, and driver, Haji, we walk over to an area set up with pillows, rugs, a small table, lanterns and music equipment (mostly various types of percussion instruments).¬† Tata and the other guys working at the camp performed traditional songs and invited us to play instruments with them (and I am not ashamed to say that I channeled my inner Sheila E on the bongos…until they asked if I’d just like to clap instead…maybe it was too much, too soon and they weren’t ready for the funk I was bringing?).

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entertaining under the stars

I suggest EVERYBODY visit the Sahara.¬† At night,¬†it was so quiet you can hear a pin drop.¬† There were NO CRICKETS!!!¬† I’m so¬†used to hearing them that it was a jolt to my system to be immersed in quiet and complete darkness.¬† Once the lanterns are extinguished,¬†you only have the¬†moon & stars.¬† Tata and I took a late night¬†hike thru the¬†sand dunes so I could take it all in.¬† It’s hard to describe the experience…like you truly disconnected from the world (because you also can’t get cellular service).¬† I don’t remember the last time I felt so relaxed and stress-free!

tents

tents

Once I got back to the tent, my Mom was ready to turn in.¬† But she was having reservations about the tent because she had expected there would be a door.¬†¬†Yeah, it’s a deluxe tent…but¬†it is still a tent‚Ķin the Sahara.¬† I don‚Äôt know if she thought we were¬†staying at the¬†Ritz Carlton ‚Äď Sahara or what.¬† Now,¬†I had¬†prepared myself for the fact that I would encounter a bug or 2.¬† I already had my Avon Skin So Soft and Off (courtesy of my Mom).¬† She was okay until she thought she saw a bat.¬† I didn’t actually see it but she claims she did and after that, it was a wrap.¬† She came up with the game plan that we’d just keep the lights on in the tent to keep the bats away…but then the camp operators had the nerve to shut the power off at night (they said it is to conserve energy).¬† So my Mom couldn‚Äôt keep the lights and now feared that bats would swoop in, turn into Dracula, and bite us.¬† What would happen if we turned into vampires?¬† We didn‚Äôt have any True Blood in our emergency preparedness kit (there wasn‚Äôt¬†enough space with all the toilet paper).

Around 1am, I startled awake¬†by my Mom screaming about scorpions.¬† She‚Äôs got her flashlight on and pointed towards her face like it‚Äôs the Moroccan Blair Witch Project.¬† I‚Äôm trying to figure out what is going on.¬† I mean, I know she isn‚Äôt serious.¬† I must be dreaming this.¬† Did my mint tea have another type of herb in it?¬† I‚Äôm confused.¬† At this point, she has moved into my twin bed and made the proclamation that she will NEVER sleep in that bed again because there is a scorpion the size of a ‚Äúcow‚ÄĚ in it.¬† But, before I could find Bessie the Scorpion and lead her out of the tent, my Mom wanted me to see if her arm was swelling.¬† Sigh.¬† After confirming that there was no swelling, I check the bed and can‚Äôt find the Velociraptor-sized scorpion.¬† I did see a big cockroach though.¬† Lest you think we are going to sleep peacefully together in a small twin bed, I‚Äôve got news for you‚Ķwe are not.¬† Labor Layaway¬†requires counseling sessions as well (wait, you don’t know what Labor Layaway is?¬† well, you need to read my post Travelin’ Mr./Mrs. Daisy¬†to find out).¬† And, my Mom had to question why there was no actual¬†door on the tent.¬† You read that right.¬† And, I‚Äôm sure that will go into the survey feedback she is working on right now.¬† See, as you get older, things don‚Äôt have to make sense.¬† A tent in the Sahara to young people means just that.¬† But to older people?¬† It means a cottage with a fireplace, butler and an exterminator on speed dial.

I'm pretty sure it was the Scorpion King who came into the tent.

I’m pretty sure it was the Scorpion King who came into the tent.

After we survive the night, we wake up around 5:30am to hike the sand dunes and watch the sunrise…and it is AMAZING!¬† We see various vegetation and end up meeting 3 girls from a nomadic Berber tribe.¬† I cover our time spent them and a nomadic family in my previous blog post, Life of a Nomad.

I MADE IT!!!

I MADE IT!!!

Once we complete our morning hike, we take showers, get dressed and head off to breakfast before going on our camel ride thru the desert.¬† And I have to say that the camel ride was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.¬† Unlike the camels in Egypt, ours didn’t stink (so yay for that!), they weren’t temperamental and it was a very smooth journey.¬† The nomad that owns the camels was very nice, spoke limited English and provided us with the experience of a lifetime!

AWESOME!!!

AWESOME!!!

After our camel ride was complete, we went 4-wheeling thru the sand dunes.¬† THIS WAS AWESOME!!!¬† I felt like a little kid!¬† Speeding up and down hills, making crazy turns, trying not to get stuck in sand…what more can you ask for?¬† But, all good things must come to an end.¬† Once we finished playing in the sand, we headed back to the city, said good-bye to our camp operators and guide, then headed to Ouarzazate.

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Captivating Copenhagen

Copenhagen 084Ah, K√łbenhaven‚Ķwhat a fabulous city!¬† I spent 5 days experiencing as much as I could.¬† In my opinion, Copenhagen has a bit more ‚Äúcolor‚ÄĚ than some of the other Scandinavian cities I‚Äôve visited (Oslo and Helsinki).¬† It reminds me a lot of Amsterdam with the vibrantly colored buildings & canals.

I stayed at the Radisson Blu Scandinavia hotel (which I reviewed here).  This hotel was perfectly located…not only because it was within walking distance to my company’s office, but also in walking distance to most attractions.

If you are on the fence about visiting the Nordics (or just never thought about it), I highly recommend you try visiting Copenhagen for the following reasons:

Big Mike and I during his wonderful bike tour!

Big Mike and I during his wonderful bike tour!

Big Mike Bike Adventures.  By far, this was THE BEST thing I did in Copenhagen.  It was COLD (as you can see from my huge coat).  But it was so fun!  Mike is THE.BEST.EVER!  I promise that you will have a fabulous time.  We started off meeting up with him and a few others at his bike shop.  Once outfitted with our bikes, we started pedaling thru the city (which is super easy to navigate because of the bike lanes and motorists being used to navigating bicyclists).  We were able to see most of the city by bike, stop for hot chocolate and meet a lot of cool people.  Big Mike has a huge personality that is so fun & light.  He was a superb tour guide…I learned more about the Danish culture from him than my trusty guidebook!  I was also inspired by him as he is a cancer survivor and left his job in the corporate world to pursue his passion.  He truly is following his bliss.  I need to do that!

Copenhagen 056The Green Light District (aka “Christiania”).¬† Um‚Ķthis is the ‚Äúalternative-living‚ÄĚ section of Copenhagen which is home to idealists, hippies, potheads, non-materialists and lots of kids & animals.¬†¬† It was founded in 1971 when 700 Christianians established squatters‚Äô rights at some abandoned military barracks.¬† This place is fascinating!¬† Locals build their own homes but don‚Äôt own the land (as it‚Äôs still owned by Denmark‚Äôs Military of Defense) and most use wood or gas heat (not oil unless you are a ‚Äúluxury hippie‚ÄĚ).¬† Since they don‚Äôt own land, they are unable to buy or sell property.¬† When someone decides to move out, the community decides who can move in to replace them.¬† This community has 9 rules‚Ķamong them:¬† no hard drugs (but they do sell & use pot); no guns or explosives (I assume they don‚Äôt want you high and shooting stuff up‚Ķwhich if you are high, aren‚Äôt you pretty chill?); etc.

Copenhagen 058

I was only able to get a few pictures as photographing is strictly prohibited once you get into the community‚Ķand should you miss the big sign (like I did); someone is there to promptly remind you.¬† As Renee & I walked down ‚ÄúPusher Street‚ÄĚ (named for the sale of soft drugs), we found ramshackle homes, cozy cafes, and lots of stalls with people selling different types of pot.¬† Then there were the outdoor areas with picnic tables where you could go and smoke to your heart‚Äôs delight.¬† It is clear that this is a place of freedom, free love, no taboos and no judgment.¬† And, it‚Äôs very popular‚Ķit‚Äôs the 3rd most visited place in Copenhagen!

bicycles, bicycles, bicycles

bicycles, bicycles, bicycles

Fitness.¬† If you are a runner or bicyclist, this is the place for you!¬† It seems that everyone works out. ¬†With so many beautiful lakes, canals and trails, it‚Äôs hard to find a reason not to be outside taking it all in.¬† You will find a large number of people bicycling all day and night (the city is set up perfectly with bike lanes).¬† I was able to download 5 running routes (with distances between 3 ‚Äď 7 miles) around the city.

apropos

apropos

Food.¬† It‚Äôs no secret that I love to eat.¬† And those that know me well are aware of the fact that I have to eat at Wagamamas¬†if there is one in the city.¬† I fell in love with the Pan-Asian restaurant in Glasgow and make it a point to eat there whenever¬†I see one since we don‚Äôt have one in Atlanta.¬† The one in Copenhagen was okay‚Ķnot as good as the ones in London, Dublin or Glasgow.¬† To sample a bit of the local cuisine, I highly recommend brunch at a delicious restaurant called ‚Äúapropos‚ÄĚ.¬† They served a wide selection¬†of culinary treats (French toast, eggs, bacon, pastries, mimosas, fruits‚Ķyou name it).¬† There are 2 traditional Danish foods that you should try for lunch‚ĶSm√łrrebr√łd (which is an open-face sandwich) and p√łlse (basically a big hot dog).¬† Both are delicious!!!¬† If you are ever in Copenhagen, you must check it out!

Copenhagen 085Canals & Colorful Buildings.¬† We spent hours walking around the different sections of Copenhagen‚Ķtaking in the colorful buildings, lingering on bridges over canals and marveling at the beauty of it all.¬† Some big cities are so congested and vanilla but others have such character that you can‚Äôt help but stop to take it all in.¬† I suggest taking a stroll thru Nyhavn (‚ÄúNew Harbor‚ÄĚ) which is new gentrified harbor with beautiful canals filled with glamorous sailboats of all sizes.¬† It has trendy cafes, tattoo shops and jazz clubs to hang out while enjoying a cup of java or juice (which is really big in this city).

Sights.¬† There are so many things to see and do while visiting.¬† Check out Copenhagen‚Äôs amusement park, Tivoli Gardens.¬† Or the Rosenborg¬†Castle & Treasury, Christiansborg¬†Palace, Danish Jewish Museum‚Ķor plenty of others.¬† As per my usual routine, I brought along my Rick Steves ‚ÄúScandinavia‚ÄĚ guidebook which was very helpful in organizing which sights were ‚Äúmust sees‚ÄĚ vs. ‚Äúif you have time, check it out‚ÄĚ.¬† It seems like I am forever visiting places of worship on every trip I take (Shout out to Jesus!¬† See?¬† Just because I don‚Äôt always go to church in the states doesn‚Äôt mean I‚Äôm not thinking about you :)).¬† We ended up at a very cool church called, ‚ÄúOur Savior‚Äôs Church‚ÄĚ which has a Baroque design to it.

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Have you been to Copenhagen?  If so, what were your favorite sights/things to do?

Travelin’ Mr./Mrs. Daisy

This post is intended to help you learn how¬†to travel with your parents.¬† Once your parents are eligible for social security, something happens.¬† I don’t know what it is.¬† But trust me.¬† Here are some handy dandy tips to make your family travel experience smoother.

1.  Guidebook Dilemma

Most of us use guidebooks to prepare and use for travel.¬† It makes sense to follow the advice of someone who has been there, done that.¬† Unless you are my Dad.¬† I swear by Rick Steves.¬† His guidebooks have always provided me with helpful tips.¬† However, a map (usually hand drawn in the books) was off/unclear during our trip to Rome.¬† Which meant that Rick can’t be trusted to tell you the time of day.¬† Sorry, Rick.¬† You had your chance.¬† No second chances with Mr. Daisy.¬† My Dad acts like he suffers from Rick Steves PTSD.¬† When I suggest some international¬†destination to visit, his response is, “Did Steve Bob’s recommend that?”¬† Because he is not going to get Rick’s name right.¬† That’s what happens when you have 2 first names & you mess up directions.

My Mom, however, has to find every book related to the country we plan to visit.¬† I usually stick with the big 3:¬† Rick Steves, Lonely Planet or Eyewitness Travels.¬† She found The Cadogan Guide to Morocco by Barnaby Rogerson on Amazon.¬† This guide has a bit more color than usual guides. For instance, Mr. Rogerson says the following about sexual attitudes in Morocco, “”Moroccans also tend to think of themselves as immeasurably more virile & potent than Western men. However chaste your intentions, why not pack some condoms beside the sun cream and romantic fiction?” Really, Barnaby? Now I have to put an “elderly lock” on my Mom’s laptop.

Do yourself a favor and just handle all the travel and prep.¬† Monitor their internet & tv usage because this can lead to trouble.¬† Retired people find time to explore & become scholars based on the latest gossip from “Spacebook”.¬† My Dad has become an international travel expert based solely on 60 Minutes reports from Mike Wallace that aired 15 years ago.¬† It doesn’t matter if you have been there and he hasn’t.¬† You don’t know the real deal.¬† Don’t become a victim.¬† You will only get confused trying to wade thru their attempt¬†at using hip jargon.¬† My Dad can’t grasp the concept of BFFs.¬† He keeps saying BSFF…like it’s Best Super Friends Forever.¬† I don’t know.¬† See how I just got sucked into that?

Only 8 kilometers?  Whatchu talkin' bout, Willis?  That should say 12!

The look they give you when you suggest something “exotic”.

2.¬† You’re Taking Me Where?

Not all elderly parents (and by elderly, I mean anybody older than you) can handle “exotic” trips to Miami.¬† I blame Mike Wallace.¬† My Dad isn’t into traveling to Africa and Italy was full of too many basilicas.¬† When I suggested London, I was met with “I don’t want to look at butter teeth.”¬† I tried to explain that their dental care has improved since the 1800’s but Mike can’t verify that since he passed away.¬†¬†I then attempted¬†to talk my Dad into going on a safari.¬† His response?¬† “I haven’t lost anything in Africa.”¬† See a pattern?¬† Don’t try to force it, kids.¬† Let your parents go on a jazz cruise where they can fall asleep on the Lido Deck after slurping down a 189 ounce daiquiri while listening to the sleepy time music of Brian Culbertson.

Now, if you happen to have an adventurous parent, keep it in perspective.¬† Your type of adventure isn’t theirs.¬† There will be no backpacking or taking public transportation.¬† Understand that now.¬† You can’t make your mother walk 3 blocks after she spent 202 hours in labor with you 40 years ago.¬† You are still paying on that.¬† It’s like labor layaway.¬† Ease them into the adventure.¬† Morgan Freeman didn’t¬†tell Miss Daisy¬†to take¬†MARTA.¬† He made sure she was comfortable and that her needs were attended to.

3.  Once, Twice, Three Times Too Much

Some parents like to overpack.¬† You know how you grew up hearing, “You can’t ever be too prepared”?¬† That is a lie.¬† You can be too prepared.¬† Don’t fall for that.¬† And, the older they get, the more “prepared” they get.¬† During one trip, the guidebook said we should plan to bring toilet tissue as some bathrooms may not have any.¬† I bought a 24 pack of Tush Wipes and told my Mom not to worry about that.¬† So why did she show up with 3 rolls of toilet paper?¬† I don’t know.¬† Apparently, 24 wipes + 3 rolls of Quilted Northern seemed like the right amount for a 12 day trip for 2 people.¬† Don’t let your parents take a Sam’s Club approach to packing.¬† You’ll be the one hauling it around.¬† Remember, labor layaway.¬† Some things you can’t get around.¬† Do you remember Titanic when Rose came on the ship at the beginning of the movie and had 44 trunks and 132 picture frames?¬† That is what you are battling against.¬† Don’t let your Mom bring every item from Magellans…or your Dad bring his tool belt because you never know when something will need to be fixed.¬† Have an intervention if you need to.¬† Because if you don’t, Delta will.

4.  Picture Time

I took a travel photography class to learn how to capture creative images that don’t look like Honey Boo Boo took them.¬† This requires setting up your shot…which means you must have patience.¬† Especially for someone new at it.¬† I’ve got some news for you.¬† Elderly parents aren’t patient.¬† They don’t have time to wait on you to set up a shot.¬† Take the picture as you are walking.¬† Who cares if it is blurry.¬† That’s your fault.¬† Practice walking and clicking.

The deluxe “ghetto”

5.  25 Star Hotels

Elderly parents have a¬†Kanye¬†West¬†mindset to travel.¬† Which means that 5 star hotels may not be enough.¬† Ask yourself this question…Would Oprah stay there?¬† If you are not 100% certain, then find someplace else.¬† Yeah, you might have to sell yourself on the streets but that’s what happens.¬† Labor Layaway.¬† That’s the Big Joker to any argument you may have.¬† Parents will always win.¬† You can’t make your Mom stay someplace that is 4 stars after you ripped her open and then refused to sleep thru the night for weeks.

For example, my Mom and I did the 5 star hotel option for our recent trip to Morocco.¬† Which included an upgrade to a deluxe tent in the Sahara Desert.¬† The tent had 2 twin beds (complete with mattresses on frames), bathroom (which included a shower) and sitting room.¬† But, it is a tent…in the Sahara.¬† My Mom was like, “What is this?”¬† I don’t know if she thought there was a Ritz Carlton – Sahara or what.¬† Now, in my mind, I had already prepared myself for the fact that I would encounter a bug or 2.¬† I already had my Avon Skin So Soft and Off (courtesy of my Mom).¬† The operators had the nerve to shut the power off at night so my Mom couldn’t keep the lights on for fear that bats would swoop in, turn into Dracula, and bite us.¬† What would happen if we turned into vampires?¬† We didn’t have any True Blood in our emergency preparedness kit (there wasn’t¬†enough space with all the toilet paper).¬† Around 1am, I awake to my Mom screaming about scorpions.¬† She’s got her flashlight on and pointed towards her face like it’s the Moroccan Blair Witch Project.¬† I’m trying to figure out what is going on.¬† I mean, I know she isn’t serious.¬† I must be dreaming this.¬† Did my mint tea have another type of herb in it?¬† I’m confused.¬† At this point, she has moved into my twin bed and made the proclamation that she will NEVER sleep in that bed again because there is a scorpion the size of a “cow” in it.¬† But, before I could find Bessie the Scorpion and lead her out of the tent, my Mom wanted me to see if her arm was swelling.¬† Sigh.¬† After confirming that there was no swelling, I check the bed and can’t find the Velociraptor-sized scorpion.¬† I did see a big cockroach though.¬† Lest you think we are going to sleep peacefully together in a small twin bed, I’ve got news for you…we are not.¬† Labor layaway requires counseling sessions as well.¬† And, my Mom had to question why there was no actual door on the tent.¬† You read that right.¬† And, I’m sure that will go into the survey feedback she is working on right now.¬† See, as you get older, things don’t have to make sense.¬† A tent in the Sahara to young people means just that.¬† But to older people?¬† It means a cottage with a fireplace, butler and an exterminator on speed dial.

I’m pretty sure it was the Scorpion King who came into the tent.

6.  Hustled

Hustlers target older people because it’s easy.¬† Older people don’t like to be hassled and would prefer to pay you 110% more than you deserve just to get you to leave them alone.¬† Younger people?¬† We will protest on basic principle.¬† If the guidebook says that you should tip $2 to a porter for getting your bags out of the car, you can best believe that that is what you are going to get if there is nothing exceptional about the service.¬† Are they pushing the luggage up a hill?¬† Okay, they get extra.¬† But to take my luggage that I lugged all the way thru the airport and just move it from my hand to the trunk?¬† TWO DOLLARS, buddy.¬† But, this philosophy can only work when you aren’t traveling with older parents.¬† Just pay the man.¬† I don’t care that you had to ask your guide to go to Lowes –¬†Marrakesh to find a storm door for the tent.¬† Make it rain.

7.  Trying Something New

Not all parents will try something new.  My Mom is really good about being open to certain things.  But, my Dad?  Forget it.  Here are some examples of new things I tried to expose him to:

Me:  Hi Dad, I brought you some boisenberry jam back from London!  Try it.

Dad: *puts the jam on a biscuit…then spits it out*¬† This is the nastiest stuff I’ve ever tasted in my life.¬† Do me a favor and don’t ever bring me back anything to eat.¬† This must be why they have yellow teeth that look like they’ve been chewing on rocks.

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Me:  I went to a public hammam in Morocco.  It was a surreal experience.  You should try it!

Dad:¬† I don’t need my booty scrubbed.

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Mom:  I learned how to make chocolate molten lava cake at a Pastry & Desserts class in Paris.  What do you think?

Dad:¬† This doesn’t have anything on Chili’s chocolate lava cake.¬† Where is the chocolate sauce?¬† Why isn’t caramel drizzled over it?¬† You don’t have any Breyer’s ice cream to go with this?¬† Paris seems awful plain to me.

I’m sure that my Dad is finding a cooking class at the local Chili’s right now.¬† That will be his Christmas gift for my mother.¬† Bottom line, if you are traveling with elderly parents (or just folks that are older and like to go on Robin Leach-style vacations), do yourself a favor and take my advice above.¬† Need further convincing, read my post from Las Vegas.¬† Last tip for you?¬† Pack a flask and your favorite spirits.¬† You’ll need their guidance ūüôā