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February 2012

Moon Over Dildo – a Visit to Newfoundland

In a province known for wacky monikers like Tickle Cove, Witless Bay and Come by Chance, one place still manages to stand out. Dildo. I had purposely avoided Dildo, not wanting to be another curious tourist stopping by simply because of the name. But as the sun sank lower in the sky, my husband Rick and I began to run out of options.

It’s our last full day in Newfoundland after a 10-day tour. We’re heading back to St. John’s from Bonavista, a 300-kilometre drive. The highways are empty, so we cruise at a leisurely pace, hoping to spend the night outside of the city. But travelling on the fly has its downside. We discover that much of the better accommodation is seasonal, and this is late October – the season is about to end.

Each successive town brings another disappointment, as Rick asks around for suggestions and I dial furiously on my cellphone. “Don’t drive at night,” we are warned. “You’ll hit a moose.”

Moose be damned, I am holding out for four-star lodgings. Unfortunately, the only promising stop on the map is Dildo. Our guide book shows several highly rated establishments that are open year-round, including a four-and-a-half star bed and breakfast overlooking Trinity Bay. My call nets only an answering machine, but we venture in anyway.

Dildo is a small community of about 1,200 people, some 15 kilometres off the Trans-Canada Highway. Fishing and whaling initially attracted settlers, though today the main industry is tourism and heritage preservation. The Dildo Interpretation Centre is well-known for its fine collection of Beothuk Indian and Dorset Inuit artifacts excavated from an island in the mouth of the harbour.

 Boat tours to see the archeological digs are also available. We catch an exhilarating whiff of fresh sea air as we enter town, and pull into our bed and breakfast at the same time as the owner.

The Inn By The Bay, built in 1888, is one of two establishments run by the same proprietor. It is right across the road from the ocean, while further up the hill sits George House Heritage B&B, with an art gallery and boutique. Close by is Dildo’s Kountry Kravins ‘n’ Krafts, a coffee shop that also offers local souvenirs.

The inn is welcoming, decorated in a palette of muted earth tones and furnished with tasteful antiques. There is also the odd curiosity thrown in, like a stuffed baby seal. Our room is stylishly elegant, with nary a doily in sight. An overstuffed club chair from the 1940s provides a comfortable spot to relax and the queen bed is dressed in a plush, down-filled duvet. Now assured of a fabulous place to sleep, we go to watch the sun set.

The harbour is sheltered and picturesque. Gentle waves lap against a pebbly beach. Clusters of frame houses perch on the dusky hillside. Half a dozen pricey fishing boats are moored at the docks and beside them, a couple of fishermen sit on a wooden bench, smoking. One of them reminds me of the Skipper from Gilligan’s Island. We stop and chat about real estate, the fishing industry, the weather… just about everything but the town’s name.

It’s not that anyone seems to be shy about using it; there is also South Dildo, Dildo Pond and Dildo Island. The name may have had its origins in the Spanish port of Bilbao, or it may come from the Portuguese, or the native Indians. But no one really knows and no one really cares. I’m sure the locals have heard it all. A while back, a proposal to change the town’s name was strongly voted down.

We meander along the shore, admiring the final pink and orange efforts of the setting sun. Later on, we’ll savour a home-cooked meal at a nearby diner. I’ll enjoy a delicious macaroni and cheese casserole while Rick tucks into a hot turkey sandwich. But right now, as the sun sets over Trinity Bay, the moon is rising over Dildo. And the next time we hear the word, we’ll think of this pretty fishing village instead of, well, the other thing.

This article and illustration was featured in the Globe and Mail.

© 2012, Heather Zorzini. All rights reserved.

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Travel Cheats for Make-up in Cabin Baggage

The Ultimate Insider Travel Guidebook!
Follow these packing tips for toiletry bags and cosmetic cases to comply with airport security rules for liquids, gels and aerosols in your hand luggage.

While most liquids of any amount can still be carried in checked luggage, enhanced restrictions for items packed in carry on bags have been in place since the summer of 2006. Until these stringent rules are relaxed or eliminated, follow these tips to safely pack beauty products for air travel.
Liquid Carry on Restrictions for Air Travel
Only items that are liquid, gel or aerosol are restricted for carry on in hand baggage. The list includes roll-on or aerosol deodorant, liquid makeup foundation, shampoo and conditioner, lip balms, liquid soaps, shave cream and mascara.
This means that any restricted item must be packed in a container no larger than 100 ml (3.4 oz) or smaller, which then must fit into a 1 litre, (1 quart) 15.24 cm by 22.86 cm (6 in. by 9 in.) or 20 cm by 17.5 cm (8 in. by 7 in.) clear, closed and resealable baggie.
Make-Up for Travel
If you use liquid make up foundation, transfer it to a small, leak proof travel bottle. Or try a powdered mineral makeup, which is exempt from liquid carry on rules. You will also need a foundation brush to apply the powder. Consider packing a tinted moisturizer, which does double duty for travel beauty.
Tips for Lips
Pack a tube of solid lipstick in your travel make bag, instead of lip balms and gels, which are restricted in hand baggage.
Travel Beauty Tips for Eye Makeup
Tube mascara is considered liquid and restricted but solid cake mascara is fine. A better option is to have your eyelashes professionally dyed before your trip.
Liquid, cream or gel eye shadows are subject to carry on rules. The same applies to liquid eyeliner. Pack powder or cake eyeshadow in your cosmetic case. Or, travel light and comply with airport security by packing make up pencils instead.
Travel Beauty for Nails
Nail polish and polish removers are restricted liquids and awkward to pack. Instead, invest in a salon French manicure or chose pastel shades that don’t show chips like dark polishes do.
How to Pack Perfume in Cabin Baggage
Perfume is liquid and thus restricted in carry on baggage. Pick up a free sample of your favourite scent or one you’d like to try. Each tiny vial holds enough for a few days plus they usually are leak proof. You might fall in love with a new fragrance that you can buy at the Duty Free shop on the way home. But if that’s not the case, rinse out the vial and add your own fragrance. Perfume goes further than eau de cologne or toilet water.
How to Test a Travel Toiletry Bottle
Pressurisation on board a plane can cause bottles to spill their contents everywhere. The best lids on travel toiletries have an extra ring inside, like some water bottles do. One way to tell if a bottle is secure is to fill it, squeeze out some air and put the lid on. Shake or tap it against your hand. If any liquid comes out or the bottle reverts to its original shape, it is not safe for air travel.
THE ULTIMATE INSIDER TRAVEL GUIDEBOOK
You might not want to be a flight attendant, battling non-stop jet-lag and coddling cranky passengers, but haven’t you secretly longed to travel like one?  My new eBook Travel Like a Flight Attendant includes tips like the ones you’ve just read and much more.
You can buy Travel Like a Flight Attendant for the introductory price of only .99c on Amazon.com, and get a free Kindle reader download for your PC along with your purchase. Happy travels!
More Items Restricted for Air Travel
Visit the US government website for more information on security rules for carry on luggage. The Canadian government and UK government websites also post current rules for cabin baggage.

© 2012 – 2013, Heather Zorzini. All rights reserved.

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Visiting Monet’s House & Garden in Giverny

Claude Monet once said “Apart from painting and gardening, I’m not good at anything.” While I readily acknowledge his artistic skills, a trip to his house and garden 70 kilometres outside Paris may satisfy my curiosity about his green thumb. 

Travelling to Giverny is easy even for someone who speaks limited French like I do.  I take an express train from Gare St.Lazare to the ancient Normandy city of Vernon and then hop on a bus for the final few kilometres.

I arrive early enough to enjoy lunch nearby before touring Monet’s house and gardens. I dine under the dappled shade of plane trees outside the Hotel Baudy, once a hangout for American and French artists in the late 1880s. I share my omelette, but not my glass of wine, with a marmalade cat that politely meows merci. It’s achingly picturesque. Even the walk to the bathrooms meanders past a rustic studio and along a path bordered with roses and daisies.

I enter the museum grounds through Monet’s old studio, now transformed into a first class shop. No photography is allowed inside so I’ll stock up on postcards and books on the way out.

I catch a glimpse of the verdant gardens but choose to start my visit with the house. Like Monet’s paintings, the interior is awash in vibrant hues. One hallway is covered in antique Japanese prints. The bedroom of his wife, Alice, has leaf green walls and sky blue trim. The living room is the colour of a robin’s egg and the curvy moulding around the wood panelling is outlined in peacock blue.

 I feel like I have stepped inside a ball of sunshine when I walk into the dining room. Everything, including tables, chairs and walls is painted in shades of brilliant yellow. Two enormous china cabinets, also yellow, look cartoonish with elaborate Rococo styling.  The room is accented with piles of blue and white pottery.  

The kitchen next door is plastered floor to ceiling with blue and white tiles and overflows with brass and copper pots and pans.  I could live here easily.

Outside I marvel at flowers blooming in harmonized colours. Masses of roses, dahlias, sunflowers and nasturtiums glow like brilliant jewels in the September sun. Monet’s secret was to plant with an artist’s eye for how the garden would be best reproduced on canvas.

The pond is dotted with lily pads and surrounded by stately weeping willows. It holds a perfect reflection of the cloudless afternoon sky. In the past, coal burning trains used to chug by here. I pause to envision a bizarre story – that Monet asked his gardeners to brush soot from the lilies before he painted them. 

I fall in love with one particular aspect of the exterior, a vivid green that appears everywhere; on the doors, shutters, benches, trellises and the Japanese bridge. It makes everything from the pink stucco on the house to the pots of red geraniums appear more vibrant.

I’m disheartened, thinking I’ll never remember this exact shade of green. But then I notice a small blister of paint peeling from the bottom of the front stairs.  I bend over to examine it more closely and voilá! The chip magically hops into my tote bag. Once home I discover it’s a near match to Benjamin Moore’s Cat’s Eye.

Two hours later, I’m almost cross-eyed from all the colours and sensory overload. I’m hoping my photographs will capture the sights my brain can no longer hold.

Back on the tour bus to the station, I have an argument with the driver who wants to see my return ticket.  It’s lost in the maze of paper and postcards in the bottom of my bag but he begrudgingly lets me ride. It’s unlikely that anyone would buy a one-way ticket anyhow.  The road to Giverny is narrow, hilly and without sidewalks.

In Vernon, I quaff a cold Kronenbourg beer while waiting for the train to Paris.  I examine my tiny sliver of paint and smile. I may never have Monet’s green thumb, but at least I’ll have his green paint.

© 2012 – 2013, Heather Zorzini. All rights reserved.

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