Tag Archives: travel

A Perfectly Fine Man

1 Apr

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The sun pierced my eyes through the blinds of my bedroom. I squinted through them, catching the snow-capped Rockies in the distance. There is nothing like coming home to a place you love.

New York was fabulous, and it made me want to explore everything – Denver while I am broke. And the rest of the world when I have the means to travel (thanks to those readers who gave me those travel ideas and tips, by the way; it was quite helpful).

Since I had been at a work conference all weekend, I got to take the weekday off. I rolled over, excited to let the day and city take me where I let it, restricted by no one.

And then I remembered I had a date that night.

Ugh.

After networking all weekend in New York, my stores of social energy were depleted. All I wanted was to walk around aimlessly and daydream, without interference from a schedule.

I so wanted to cancel, but one of my mom’s friend’s daughters had set me up on this date; cancelling would have caused more turmoil for me later with my mother than the inconvenience of going now. With the date looming over my head, inhibiting my full enjoyment of the day because I could only wander so far and do so much, I still managed to walk to a neighborhood I’d never seen and find a used book store with a wide array of travel books. I returned to the apartment, procrastinated, then allowed myself just enough time to throw on some black pumps and red lipstick, grab a trench and head out the door.

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An IWOM Takes NYC

27 Mar

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My apologies for being away, darlings. The International Woman of Mystery has been busy. I wish I could say I was out exploring the pyramids of Egypt of skiing the Swiss Alps. Alas, it hasn’t been quite so exciting. However, I did recently take a business trip to New York City, which has left me feeling inspired.

The trip was unexpected. I got a call from one of my bosses late on a Thursday asking if I could be in the city to attend a weekend conference. At first I was a little annoyed by the last minute request, but then it occurred to me that I’ve never actually spent much time in New York. Nor had I ever traveled there alone. It seemed liked the perfect excuse to take Jenny G. on a little impromptu adventure.

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Where To Go in 2016

20 Mar

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In college, there was this girl on my floor who got to go to Paris for spring break. She returned with a scowl, complaining how “disgusting” Paris had been.

“It’s nothing like you see in the movies,” she described. “It’s filthy and gray and touristy. There are thieving gypsies, it smells like urine everywhere, and the men are creeps.”

At the time I wondered if it was just her. She seemed like one of those dull, entitled people who never had to explore the world because it was handed to her. She was constantly disappointed, except when she was drunk and dancing.

On the other hand, I was one of those people who imagined that the reason things weren’t going more perfectly in my life was because I wasn’t in Paris. Movies like Sabrina and Amelie enchanted me. They made me believe I would find love, and myself, in Paris. I took French throughout high school and college and imagined how different life could be when you started your morning at Café de Flore (Hemingway’s Parisian hangout) with a café and pain au chocolat. Paris was going to change my life in lovely ways.

And then I met Mr. Poison who said Paris was terrible. But he loved America so that’s where we traveled. To his credit, he enlightened me to the merits of our own vast and diverse country, taking me to places like Austin, where we danced to live music all night long and ate the spiciest food I’ve ever had. Once, we drove to the Badlands of South Dakota, where we listened to Radiohead as we drove into a thunderstorm. We went to Chicago, where we walked from Wrigley Field to Grant Park, eating and drinking our way five miles south to Lake Michigan.

Finally, when we were planning our wedding, we talked about going international, and he set his sights on Tokyo. I wanted to go there, but not for our Honeymoon. I wanted to go somewhere more relaxing and romantic, like Tahiti.

Without his influence, I am now realizing the total freedom I have to travel anywhere in the world that I want. I just need the money to get there. A year of saving and I think I can do it.

Instinctively, I return to my dreams of Paris. But then I think about how much I’ve changed and wonder if my first international experience should be to the place on which I’d hung all my dreams.

While Paris is arguably one of the world’s great cities – so I’ve heard – I can’t help but acknowledge how much the movies make us see things much better than they are in real life. I’ve built up that city so much in my mind that there is no way it will be as fabulous as I’ve imagined it. The last thing I want to do is set my expectations so high that I guarantee myself disappointment. Besides, I’m a new woman now. My dreams should reflect that.

Today it’s cold in Denver, having snowed all day yesterday. I’m curled up under a blanket, and I’ve decided that today is the day I will plan my first international trip.

Here’s what I’m reading and watching right now for inspiration. Feel free to join and leave me some comments on where you think I should go.

“52 Places to Go in 2016”

Every year, the New York Times publishes its list of 52 places to go. Engaging ambient video and grand photography entices you to dive right in and buy a ticket. I can’t say I’m inspired by every locale on this list – the Democratic Republic of Congo is an odd suggestion – but there are many that have captured my interest. Should I go to Coral Bay, St. John? Mozambique? Vinales, Cuba? Guadaloupe? Road of the Seven Lakes, Argentina? Uruguay? Tamil Nadu, India? St. Helena? Barcelona? Mosel wine country? Pyeongchang, South Korea? Kansia, Japan? The possibilities are seemingly endless.

Check out the list here.

Chef’s Table

Netflix created this TV-documentary series that follows one world-renowned chef per 45-minute episode. Each episode tells the origin story of a chef who has perfected his or her craft, by way of a cinematic escape into some of the most remote and beautiful places in the world. Wouldn’t that be a fun way to travel – chasing down the world’s best chefs? Should I go to Sweden, Australia, Italy, or Patagonia?

Check out the show here.

-Jennifer

Casino: Take Two

9 Feb

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I’m sitting at a buffet table wearing a chic cocktail gown, engrossed in a mound of crab legs, laughing like a madwoman in a room full of senior citizens wearing Hawaiian shirts, or fleece vests. (Dear reader, a few of them are even wearing Hawaiian shirts with fleece vests.) At some point in my travels I made a gross miscalculation.

Now it’s up to me to remedy it.

After washing my hands of greasy butter, and chocolate sauce from the frozen yogurt machine, I’m also ready to wash my hands of this entire mishap and just go home. But an International Woman of Mystery would never be so easily deterred. It’s a Saturday night. I’ve braved weekend traffic on 1-70 to get here. I’ve still got $25 and I’m wearing a fabulous dress. Ocean’s Eleven, it is not, but something good must come of this.

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Passport

1 Dec

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After leaving the salon the other day, with a new haircut glow that was seemingly rivaled only by the sun. It seemed such a shame to waste, in spite of my debacle with Steven Stephenson.

Most of the time, this new anonymity suits me well. That is until I actually want to be seen. I decided I would go for a walk and explore the neighborhood a little bit more.

I found myself rather aimlessly around Capitol Hill, admiring the mixture of historic architecture and modern hipster culture. Having previously exhausted most of the local coffee haunts, I wondered if I couldn’t find a bit more excitement to suit my mysterious wiles.

The answer came to me somewhere around the corner of Pennsylvania and 12th Avenue, when I happened across the Molly Brown House. Now an International Woman of Mystery must keep many secrets, but I don’t mind telling you that once upon a time, my younger self was completely enthralled with a certain major motion picture – Titanic.

It was reminiscence that compelled me to enter the gift shop and purchase a ticket for the next tour, but in the end it was kismet. I went in seeking nostalgia but walked out inspired for the future anew. Turns out? Molly Brown was an International Woman of Mystery to the Nth Degree.

Margaret Brown, as she preferred to be called, was an early Denver resident, a philanthropist, feminist, activist and world traveler. Despite humble beginnings and not even attending school past the age of 13, Ms. Brown strived to make something of herself, learning multiple languages and educating herself in the ways of the world. She ran various charities, hosted high society events and even attempted to run for Senate in the early 1900s. Her philanthropy took her on many foreign excursions. When her marriage went on the rocks, she didn’t let it deter her. She received a cash settlement and used it to travel the world. Booked a ticket on the Titanic, survived its subsequent crash and went on to become a legend.

A new wind in my trench coat propelled me home, as I contemplated Molly Brown’s story. If she could pull out all the stops to see the world, surely Jenny G. could do the same. I already have most of the tools I need, but it’s begun to feel like a case of being all dressed up and having nowhere to go. An International Woman of Mystery without a cause.

Back home at the Mystery Pad, I felt even more restless. I fixed myself a cup of tea. I lit some incense. A candle. I poured myself a glass of wine. I laid on the floor staring up at my travel posters on the walls. I knew just what I needed to do.

I retrieved my passport paperwork from where I’d stashed it weeks ago. I finished filling it out. I put on my best red lipstick and walked to the drugstore where I sweet-talked the woman at the photo counter into taking one last passport photo for the day.

The woman staring back at me from the photo looks different to me. And it isn’t just the new bangs. There’s a twinkle in those eyes that wasn’t there before. A knowing smirk. She’s hungry. Ready for adventure. For revolution.

I filed the papers the next day and started a new savings account where I can start building a travel fund. I have no idea when I’ll be able to make the trip or where I’ll go first, but I’m quite certain it will be amazing when I get there.

Ciao,
Jenny G.

Wedding Bell Blues: Take II

1 Oct

AKA: What I should have done:

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My plane touches down at SAN late Saturday morning. Arrival time was supposed to be 9:30 but there was a delay and it’s nearly noon. I might have booked it a little close, considering the wedding starts at 2:00. It was the best I could do. I’m a busy woman.

Weddings really aren’t my cup of tea, but a promise is a promise and I’m a woman of my word.

I make my way off the crowded plane. No time for baggage claim and anyway, I’ve packed light – the usual essentials in a small, black gym bag and a proper beaded clutch for the wedding, as a carryon.  I almost didn’t pack a dress, thinking I’d pick something up at a local boutique. Thankfully, The International Woman of Mystery is always prepared. I’ve brought a spare. I retrieve it from the bottom of the bag. The bag goes in an airport locker. I duck into a bathroom just long enough to reapply my lipstick.

I left my Batmobile at home, but I’ve arranged for something quite suitable. I follow the signs in the airport, practically sprinting and holding my breath. I phoned the car service, but I’m hoping they relayed the message that I’d be arriving late.

As I round the corner to ground transportation, I’m relieved to find that all is well. A stout, older gentleman in a fine suit holds a sign that simply reads my first and last name. My ride awaits. We exchange pleasantries. His name is Charles. I retrieve my largest, darkest sunglasses from my bag, while he opens the car door for me. It’s a simple Lincoln town car but the inside is plush and comfortable. I wanted to reserve a Jag but I was being discreet. I’m not the bride after all. No need to show off. Let’s just hope Charles can get me to the church on time.

I haven’t booked a hotel room, because I can’t be sure I’ll stay the night. The back of the car will have to serve as my dressing room. Charles politely averts his eyes, as I strip out of my trench coat and shift and into the slinky black number without even taking my heels off. He seems impressed by my stealth and speed, but then I’m sure he’s seen it all.

Charles is a good driver. We weave through the traffic of Saturday beachgoers and he drops me at the wedding venue with a half an hour to spare. I take his card, in case I require his services later. A few of the other wedding goers have also arrived and are staring at me. I leave my sunglasses on and let them wonder.

I find a seat near the back of the sanctuary. Recognize a few of our old classmates and friends, or at least I think I do from my recently deleted Facebook account. An International Woman of Mystery doesn’t do Facebook. But I recognize their babies from the barrage of photos, and it seems my old school mates recognize me too. They greet me voraciously and ask me dozens of invasive questions. How have I been? Am I married yet? What happened to he-who-shall-not-be-named? Where am I living? What do I do? Am I married yet? They want to know how it is that I came to arrive in the back of a town car. But I’ll never talk.

In the James Bond movie “Tomorrow Never Dies,” Q tells Bond two rules: No. 1 is never let them see you bleed. No. 2 is always have an escape plan. This is kind of like that.

I deflect their questions to the best of my ability. This is such a silly game we play.  I tell them I’ve been busy, because it isn’t a lie and then I ask them the same annoying questions in return. It seems to work. These types really only like talking about themselves anyway.

After Amber’s lovely ceremony, I’ve got a couple of hours to kill. I have no interest in mingling with the interrogators, so I slip out a side door. According to the location device on my phone, there’s a corner pub in walking distance called Todd’s Place. It’s generic. Very San Diego. And also practically empty. A perfect place to hide. I sidle up to the bar and order a Manhattan. A few of the local boys stare at me from across the room. One approaches and offers to buy my drink. I decline. I buy my own drinks. The dude asks me what I do for a living. I tell him I’m an International Woman of Mystery. He scoffs. I toss my Manhattan in his face and exit.

I meander the streets of San Diego until it’s time to appear at the reception. I arrive a few minutes fashionably late and just in time for aperitifs. Snag a glass of wine and manage to blend in behind a cluster of older relatives. While waiting for the tuna tar tare a waiter opens a door into me. I spill wine on my dress. It’s white wine, but on black silk it makes a big splotch. Undeterred I turn to one of the servers holding an ice bucket. I give him a wink and ask to borrow it. Never let them see you bleed.

I fashion a compress out of a napkin and some ice and slide into a seat at one of the tables before anyone can notice. It’s an easy enough fix, if I can just stay seated long enough. It’s not my assigned table, but no one needs to know that. I spill the rest of my wine on the name card. The ink blurs. A waiter snaps to attention. Whisks away the glass, the name card and any trace of the seat belonging to someone. I didn’t really feel like sitting with Drunk Uncle Robert anyhow.

The rest of the night is a blur of clinking glasses and bad party dances. The interrogators spot me again sometime after dinner has been cleared and cake service is about to start.They want to ask me more questions, but I’ll not get caught in this trap again. I spot a random, lonely looking man standing by the guest book.

“I’m so sorry ladies,” I tell them, “But I promised that gentleman over there a dance. Please excuse me.”

“It was so great to see you,” I call to them over my shoulder.

The DJ is queuing up a lively enough number. I approach the man. A complete stranger. Cute enough I guess.

“Hello,” I say to him. “You don’t know me, but I’m going to teach you how to tango now.”

To my surprise, he doesn’t argue. I grab his hand and secure us a spot in the middle of the crowd. I teach him a few moves. The song wraps. An announcement is made that the bouquet toss is about to begin. My new dance partner looks around bewildered as the stampede of single women descends upon the dance floor. I whisper in his ear that it’s time for me to go. He turns to ask for my number but I’m already gone.

Outside the reception hall, Charles has received my text and is already waiting for me with the town car. Door open. I slide inside.

“Back to the airport, Ms. G?” he asks. I nod in the affirmative. He closes the door behind me and drives off into the night.

Always have an escape plan.