Travel Dummy

Food feeds the belly, travel feeds the soul, friends feed your heart

You give love a bad name March 22, 2010

Filed under: Ramblin' (wo)Man,Travel Dummy — Angela @ 7:48 am

It’s hard not to notice your singleness on Valentines Day.

“But wait!” you say, “You’re a newlywed! Isn’t it against the rules to complain of loneliness on the Day of all Hallmark Days?!”

Well…yes. And no.

My dear and lovely husband is a traveller. He doesn’t get sick days, vacation days, personal holidays or nights and weekends free to spend with his attention hungry wife. For better or worse, he is on the road working hard for the money.

This year, like many years in the past, I jumped on board the Valentines Day is Evil (with a capital E!) bandwagon with just as much vigor as my single counterparts.

Then, one pre V-Day night while watching the Discovery channel late into the evening with my bottle of wine and feeling-sorry-for-myself pajammys, a stunning moment of clarity occurred.

The show as on Stonehenge. Tradition, rituals, community, sacrifices and Pagans. All fascinating mostly because of how strange, backward and foreign these things seem to our ‘civilized’ culture.

This particular show really stressed how important rituals were to the Pagan community. Sure, they really did believe that warriors wearing a skinned wild boar would be far better protected than if they should wear armor. And, of course, we have all heard about the sacrificing of numerous animals on every major holiday.

Then…something clicked in my fuzzy, wine drenched brain.

I could go into detail about how every holiday we celebrate today has roots in old Pagan rituals, but I wont bore you with ancient customs and religious conspiracy theories (that’s for another blog). What I am intrigued by is the underlying reason for these rituals, beyond the desire for bountiful crops, health and vitality. I’m sure the vast majority of ancient peoples really did believe these holidays were incredibly meaningful in the literal sense, but the leaders, the intellects, the groundbreakers, the people who created these rituals in the first place, why did they do it?


I can only imagine how utterly mandatory it was to have a closely bonded group of people. Your life, quite literally, depended on that trust and support. United we stand, divided we fall.

These rituals brought people together with one unified goal. They spent weeks, sometimes months, preparing for the event and every man, woman and child would participate with gusto. It brought them together, made them strong, created a universal understanding that spanned ages and gender. Whether or not bathing in ox blood would do little more than stain your clothes wasn’t the point, it was the bond that forms by everyone working together for the same cause.

So how does this translate to our contemporary, squeaky clean and relatively young American culture? Alright, I’m not telling you to string up your local feral kitty and do a little jig around a bonfire…well, the jig is ok, but please leave the animals out of it. The point is we have been brainwashed by corporate America, by Hallmark and high-end restaurants, by flower shops and Russell Stover, and we are completely missing the point!

Valentines Day isn’t a day to recklessly scramble for a last-minute date with someone you will never speak to again just for the sake of not being ‘alone on Valentines Day’ (oy, if I had heard that statement from one more person you would have had to peel me off the ceiling).

It’s about love. Plain old, simple, hippy dippy love for everyone.

The universal meaning is absolutely beautiful! Ring up your Grandma Esther that you typically only call on her birthday and just say, “I love you Grammy!!”. Send your sister that box of chocolates instead of The Gap, where that girl you like is working, she’ll probably just think its creepy anyway. Your sister will undoubtedly appreciate it much more, and afterall, do you really love Gap girl? Probably not, but I bet you love your sister.

I’m all for romantic gestures and believe me, I would have swooned if my husband showed up with roses and whisked me away to Spago. Valentines Day (albeit its origins are highly controversial) does have roots in significance to lovers, but don’t have tunnel vision.

My hope is that enough people will see holidays as a way to bring them closer to their community. Unification and a sense of belonging. Its simple and can be pretty silly, but in a world of text messaging, emails, Facebook and Twitter, we are all increasingly isolated. This is a fun, healthy and easy way to give us all a little common ground and a little joy. Not to mention high involvement and belonging in a community is said to lead to a much longer and healthier life.

So my proposition to you is embrace holidays! Slap on your bunny ears and shower candy on everyone you meet! Raise a Guinness and toast your Irish friends! Paint the American flag across your forehead and actually learn the words to the National Anthem! And for goodness sake send your mom a big box of chocolates with a note that says, “I love you!”. If enough people are able to shed their jaded, lackadaisical attitude, imagine what fun and happiness could occur!

Afterall, how can anyone not smile in a world full of people with bunny ears and chocolate?


Following following the White Rabbit down down February 8, 2010

Filed under: Travel Dummy — Angela @ 7:02 am

Several years ago I dated a boy affectionately nicknamed The Comedian. He was a nice guy, though stereotypically east coast pessimistic. We had a lot in common.

He took me to a place hidden away in Beverly Hills called Greystone Mansion. We arrived there just a few minutes before closing, but visions of Alice in Wonderland danced in my head as we quickly strolled the grounds before getting shoo’ed out by security guards anxious for their off-the-clock beer.

Having grown up a restless and rebellious teen in Los Angeles, I thought I had been to every remotely interesting place in the entire city (and many more embarrassingly outside of town…Im pointing at you Riverside), so this magical ‘public park’ and its elusiveness sparked keen interest in me and I vowed to return soon to give it a proper look-see.

Cut to five years later when I finally got off my lazy arse and made it back up the not-so-long-but-very-windy-road, with the always lovely photographic genius Amy Teegan Schubert for company.

I have said it once and I will say it again, why doesn’t anyone know that this place exists?! It is this beautiful little gem of a public park, reminiscent of Tuscan villas and romantic fairy-tale Medieval castles, located at the tippy top of Doheny Road in Beverly Hills (proper).

The view = to die for. On a clear day, you can easily see the ocean. On a smoggy day, you can easily see the sky scrapers of downtown…though they will probably be a bit brown and blurry.

A wee bit o’ history on the Mansion:

Built in the late 20’s by a wildly successful oil baron named Ned (no joke), who died in the mansion just four months later along with his secretary Hugh (again, not a joke) as part of a mysterious murder-suicide (ooooooooo! Scandalous!). I don’t know about you, but I am dying to know more. Dont get your hopes up though, I wasnt able to retrieve any more information on the matter. I smell a cover up.

The grounds are fairly large, 12 acres and some change, and have seen many a film crew in its day…which really shouldnt be a surprise. The Big Lebowski, X-Men, Spiderman (I,III), Rush Hour, Stripes, ect, pretty impressive resume. From what I hear, tons of weddings are held here as well.

We arrived at the Mansion a bit late, so my photos aren’t too great and we didn’t get to see inside the Mansion its self (maybe thats for another day, any takers?), but touring the gardens was unbelievable!

Brick walls with small doorways that lead to great big grassy and perfectly landscaped areas. The little girl in me squealed incessantly as ‘secret’ little openings gave way to tiny enchanting gardens, mysteriously mossy stairways and narrow walled-in pathways lined with the sculptured faces of surprised angels spewing cold, clear water.

Positively picturesque. I am dying for someone to have a wedding here (and if its you, I had better be invited! No, seriously, you are obligated to invite me).

Visit this place. It’s free, close by and amazing.

You’ll thank me later.


Don’t worry baby February 4, 2010

Filed under: Ramblin' (wo)Man,Travel Dummy — Angela @ 2:05 pm

Riddle me this batman, I break my husbands beloved laptop and he buys ME a new one? Is that how this marriage thing works? He didn’t get a new one for himself…oh no no…he got ME one!!

I really kinda like my husband a lot, don’t tell anyone.

Today I have spent moving all of the info I (smartly) backed up on to an external hard drive, on to my very cute new little white MacBook, and watching a Rick Steves marathon. I think I will spotlight Sorrento next Tuesday in excitement of the upcoming Spring.

I feel desperately guilty for my lack of consistency with my blogging, especially since I set up such clear rules for myself and promptly broke them all. I will get the it down eventually, I’m just not feeling the rhythm yet.

I blame the computer, or maybe the TV for being so seductive…

Here is a photo to keep you happy. A square in Rome just outside of Santa Maria in Trastevere.


Sick. and. tired. January 5, 2010

Filed under: Ramblin' (wo)Man,Travel Dummy — Angela @ 7:30 am
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I am sick as a dog, which is such an odd turn of phrase. (curious about this idiom? I was…go here.)

In lieu of putting the launch of my blog off for a week, I chose to suck it up and turn it out.

Tuesdays are dedicated to spotlight travel to a particular point of interest. I had a place near and dear to my heart all picked out, and this darned computer screen just wont stop spinning.

Or is it my head?

To keep my husband’s beloved laptop free of any liquids that may be oozing from my nose as I type, I will have to leave you with a photo and a promise.

Next Tuesday’s post will be lovely. I promise.

*note – A small problem with my layout that will be fixed shortly. For now, you will need to click on the photo to see it in its entirety.

The Isle of Capri