Category Archives: Food & Drink

Where the Day Takes You

I traveled to Germany for work in October. I was there for the Frankfurt Book Fair. I had something like 40 meetings scheduled, spread over three days. Do you know what that does to an introvert? In the weeks leading up to the trip I had been working 6-7 days a week, plus trying to keep up with stuff going on at home. I was stressed out and exhausted. I was also dealing with back issues that required physical therapy, medication, Icy Hot patches, and a tens unit. Walking helped, as did the hotel bed (I later realized that my bed at home was adding to the problem). Despite trying to learn some basics before the trip, I speak very little German. In fact, I speak so little German that I walked into the men’s room at a restaurant. Trying to navigate in a place where the spoken language is confusing is like trying to make sense of the world without your glasses. Everything looks sort of like you would expect, but it is all blurry. It is easy to confuse a jacket for a monstrous shadow and vice versa. This is all to give context…

I woke early on Friday morning. I needed to be at the Fair grounds by 9am. It was time to make a decision. I had waited all week to see how I felt physically and mentally. I decided to get up and head to the train station. If I could navigate the subway and buy my ticket, I would go. If I failed to do that, I would accept that maybe I wasn’t up for it.

When I booked my plane ticket, I listened to my boss and booked Sunday to Sunday. That meant that we would have time to adjust to the time difference once we got there and leave Saturday open for meetings, if needed. So far, all of my meetings were scheduled for Wednesday-Friday. Each day, I saw Saturday glimmering in the distance. The idea of a day off looked like a mirage. A dream.

That Friday morning I knew Saturday would be open. It was mine. And I was going to Zurich. Why Switzerland? Because I wanted to go to another country. Because it was only about $100US to get there and back. Because no one could find me there. Because I needed a day off. Because I needed to be alone for a while. Because going to Switzerland for the day sounded fucking ridiculous.

U-Bahn at 4:50am
U-Bahn at 4:50am

I woke at 4am and walked to the Merianplatz subway station. At 4:50am I watched a subway mouse hop into a hole by the escalator and marveled at German efficiency. I rode an empty car to the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof. That hour of the morning strips away the kids and parents, the office workers and convention attendees, leaving the shift switch between the night people and the day people.

Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof
Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof
fine chocolates, Capri Sun, paprika flavored chips, and condoms
fine chocolates, Capri Sun, paprika flavored chips, and condoms

The train station in Frankfurt is vast and there is fresh, aromatic gluten as far as the eye can see. Waiting on the platform the vending machines offered fine chocolates, Capri Sun, paprika flavored chips, and condoms.

Everything is meticulously planned, until it isn’t. Until the key to the train is lost (happened to my boss who happened to be on another track on an earlier train that wasn’t going anywhere) or the track changes at the last minute. Until the non-stop train you booked suddenly and without much warning stops and ejects you at the Swiss border.

I had been zipping along the dark countryside, reading zines and writing letters. An Indian journalist from Bahrain took the seat opposite me and we chatted on and off. Politics are bad all over. When the conductor announced something I didn’t understand he jumped up and came back a few minutes later telling me what track to transfer to. An American from California and I rushed to the other track and hoped for the best. Everything around me was happening in languages I didn’t understand. I wanted a bit of an adventure and I was getting it. I was glad I didn’t have any plans. The lack of anxiety was refreshing.

Train that smelled like burning rubber
Train that smelled like burning rubber

The other train felt more like a local commuter train. It wasn’t as sleek and new as the first train. And it smelled like burning rubber. The woman from California and I were the only two people in the train car. Nervous laughter as the train stopped in the middle of nowhere. We could hear the rain beating on the windows. Neither of us understood what the conductor said into his flip phone, but we understood the look of concern when he went outside to stare at the wheels. We shared his concern.

As day finally broke, I was surprised by the landscape. There were beautiful patches, but it was the same as any rail line back home, with blocky industrial buildings and graffiti.

Zurich train station
Zurich train station
Zurich train station
Zurich train station

The train ride was supposed to be a little over four hours. We arrived in Zurich a bit late, but in one piece. The station was overwhelming and I needed to pee. I searched for the restrooms and eventually spotted a sign that I understood. The woman from California was ahead of me, but stopped short of the entrance and left. I walked up and saw why. It cost 2€ or 2.50Francs to use the restroom. I left all of my Euro change in the hotel room as a tip for the cleaning staff. I didn’t expect to need Francs as soon as I got off the train. I went to an ATM and withdrew money so I could pee. The machine slowly dispensed a single 50 Franc note. There may have been a sad trombone playing.

Orell Füssli
Orell Füssli (I think it was the third floor that had English language books)

I gave up on the train station at that point. I opened my Hogwarts umbrella and started walking. The streets of Zurich were filled with adorable children and dogs. I found a bookstore, bought a book, and peed a glorious pee. If you are ever in Zurich, Orell Füssli has wonderful books and a free bathroom.

Hiltl kitchens
Hiltl kitchens
Hiltl, oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world
Hiltl, oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world

While I was all for a “where the day takes you” kind of day, I had one place I wanted to go in Zurich – Hiltl, the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world. They opened in 1898. They have a huge buffet or you can order from a menu. I grabbed a plate and loaded up on everything from German potato salad to Thai tofu to pakoras and a deconstructed pumpkin pie thing. There were probably 80 dishes to choose from. You can go full ”all you can eat” buffet or order by the pound. I went for the latter knowing I might otherwise never leave. It was crowded with people of every age, locals and travelers. Despite the free wifi and protection from the elements, I got up and started walking.

I crisscrossed bridges and wandered up and down cobblestone streets. I stopped and bought Pat and Earl Swiss Army knives because it seemed like the thing to do. The crowds were weird. I still wonder about the scene below. At once point, I thought a protest was gathering. I’m still not sure.

The rain let up and it turned into a beautiful day. I walked through part of the old town and down to the Opera House. From there I walked to Lake Zurich where I was gifted with the most amazing sight. A flock of about ten swans took off from the lake. I didn’t bother trying to photograph them because I was afraid I would miss watching them take flight. Along the lake I saw more swans, ducks, coots, and what I think may have been a raven. Those moments are why I travel.

My back started hurting, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I attached the tens unit, slapped on another Icy Hot patch, and kept walking. I happened across an open-air antique market. I grew up buying and selling at antique and flea markets. I love visiting them in other cities and countries because you can learn so much about a place by what has (or doesn’t have) value.

I'm pretty sure that painting eats souls
I’m pretty sure that painting eats souls

I walked past what I assumed was a sauna along the lake. I was intrigued by the idea but not enough to get naked in front of strangers in a foreign country or even figure out what to wear. I walked to a garden and then eventually to my other loose destination – the FIFA World Football Museum. I wanted to get Garnet a little something from my travels and this seemed a perfect spot. They also had free bathrooms and excellent wifi.

Outside the sauna
Outside the sauna (it was not a particularly warm day)

I kept walking and eventually made my way back to Hiltl. Via Happy Cow, I had found a ton of vegan restaurants in Zurich, but I wanted more of the pakoras for dinner. I packed a to-go box with fried foods and dessert. If I have one regret, it’s that I didn’t load an entire container with the mango mousse.

I walked back to the train station and bought weird flavors of Fisherman’s Friends and chocolates as gifts. The train ride back was far more crowded, but at least it was truly direct this time. There was a large family traveling in what appeared to be one of the first-class compartments. There weren’t enough seats in the compartment, so one of the men sat next to me. He kept leaving to talk with his family, but using an Evian bottle to save his seat. More than one person thought I was an asshole when I tried to pantomime someone was already sitting there, when clearly he wasn’t. Yay, language barriers! Eventually, when the guy came back, the older woman across the aisle quit glaring at me.

Back in Frankfurt I smoothly transferred to the U-Bahn and walked back to the hotel. I had walked nine miles and was ready to collapse, but I did it.

My day in Switzerland was as much about getting there as being there. I was uncomfortable at times and I think that is important. It is easy to avoid things that make you uncomfortable or that scare you, especially as you get older. Feeling vulnerable and unsure and still doing things that scare you is important. That considering “what’s the worst that will happen” and “what will I miss if I don’t do this” are opportunities. I also think that if more people put themselves in situations where they were surrounded by cultures other than their own, and simply listened, the world would be a better place.

Vegan Tips for Grand Cayman

*the trip was six months ago, but better late than never, right?

View from Sunset House

I wasn’t sure how vegan-friendly Grand Cayman would be and was pleasantly surprised. We tend to rent places with kitchenettes and this trip was no different. We stayed at Eldemire’s Tropical Island Inn, a lovely spot south of George Town. I’ve gotten adept at cooking with a couple of stove burners and a microwave. Plus, we got to repeatedly dine with the local chickens who lived right outside the room.

Our first night on the island, we had dinner at Sunset House,  a short walk from the inn. There was a large open-air bar/restaurant overlooking the water. After a day of travel, it was a lovely spot to drink cider and eat some curry. They had a bunch of vegetarian and vegan menu options clearly marked on the menu.

Our first stop the next morning was the local supermarket to stock up on staples and a few meals. We went to Kirk Market. A few paces inside the store we found vegan haggis flavored chips. A strange, but auspicious start. Their selection rivaled any grocery store at home. We found plenty and enjoyed many meals at the picnic table outside our room.

Bread and Chocolate is an all-vegan café in George Town. We went there after our first scuba lesson. The menu was almost overwhelming. It all sounded delicious. Patrick got the French toast. I ordered the tacos because I wanted to try the scotch bonnet aioli. They were quite good. Looking at the menu now, six months later, I am still second-guessing my choices and want to go back.

We arrived at Caymans Spirits before the doors opened. Thankfully, we were on vacation and doing a tasting and tour at 9am is thus magically acceptable. We enjoyed a variety of rum, vodka, and other spirits. Their Seven Fathoms Rum is aged just offshore, 42 feet below the surface. Travel tip – instead of always going out to drink, get a decent bottle of something local and enjoy it at your leisure.

Rackam’s is a great spot to sit by the water and drink (cider again) and eat homemade chips.  Diners can also snorkel right off their ladder and swim out to see the wreck of the Cali.

We only went out for dinner twice and the second time was at Southern Spice, an Indian restaurant in George Town. It was quietly elegant and the wait staff was knowledgeable about what dishes were vegan. I’m pretty sure I had a spicy channa masala. It sounds like something I’d do.

Overall, it was one of the most vegan-friendly spots we’ve found the Caribbean.

PS  – We still haven’t actually tried the haggis chips yet.

Best Meals: Seattle

While in Seattle, I had a few particularly good meals.


Capital Cider – I happened to Google “gluten-free Seattle” and found out about Capital Cider. Their menu was entirely gluten-free, they had what appeared to be vegan options, and best of all, they served cider flights. I asked my boss if he wanted to check it out and he said yes. Then another person joined us, and someone she was talking with and another two chimed in and soon a group of seven was seated in the lower level of the restaurant and bar. It was “Drink and Draw Night” which turned out to be rather enjoyable. I know I had hand cut fries and some Brussel sprouts, and maybe some broccoli, all of which were quite tasty, but the drinks are what really mattered. I had a flight of ciders, all of which were a bit dry for me, and a delightful mixed drink made with Scotch, Gran Classico Bitter, and BroVo Ginger. The outstanding part of the meal came when I realized they had flights of dessert ciders – like port made with apples. They were amazing.


El Borracho – I had lunch with a colleague at El Borracho, just outside Pikes Place Market. They have a vegan section on the menu, including nachos, soyrizo, and other delights. I ordered a taco de hongos (mushrooms) and a taco de papas y poblanos (potatoes and peppers). Both were great. I wanted more, but it worked out just as well that I left a little hungry, because…


Emmy’s Vege House – I took the ferry over to Bainbridge Island after lunch. I was walking around and decided there was no way in hell I was passing up an all-vegan Vietnamese fast food kiosk in the center of town. Emmy’s Vege House has a full-picture menu and outside seating. It was a perfect respite. I ordered summer rolls and a Thai iced tea.

SeattleApril2016-8348 SeattleApril2016-8351

Veggie Grill – There was a Veggie Grill around the corner from the hotel. We need more of these on the East Coast. Over the course of the days I was there, I had the tempeh tacos, gluten-free mac and cheese, asparagus soup, and bahn mi salad. The tacos and mac and cheese remain my favorites.


Oatmeal, Lake Union – My absolute favorite meals were eaten at Lake Union with my new duck friends. I was out for an early morning walk and ducked into a Whole Foods. They had a decent hot bar with oatmeal and toppings. I took mine to-go and walked up to Lake Union. It was a perfect morning to sit on a bench and look at the water. The first morning the ducks and geese came to see if I was sharing. The next morning I picked them up some peas and corn at the salad bar and we had breakfast together.

SeattleApril2016-8376 SeattleApril2016-0993

A Few Hours in Seattle

These blue skies are photographic a lie. It was a mostly overcast day.

Work conferences often mean making the most of the spartan free time. I finished up a meeting at El Borracho, a Mexican restaurant near Pikes Place Market, and found myself free for the rest of the day. It was about 2 p.m. I decided to see how far I could explore on foot. I made it fairly far. I took a look at Metsker Maps, a traveler’s dream, Left Bank Books, which seemed out of place being anti-authoritarian and pro-anarchist in the middle of a tourist Mecca, and a few other shops outside the market.

This place causes the travel version of mouthwatering.
Left Bank Books
Left Bank Books

I wandered inside Pikes Place Market. Nope, nope, nope. I’m 5’2” and pressing crowds make me claustrophobic. All I could see were armpits and there were a lot of other unpleasant smells. I left the busy sections of the market as quickly as possible and descended to the lower levels. I remembered a kind of cool store from a prior visit that I wanted to look for.

Pikes Place Market. What you can’t see are the pushing crowds to the left.

Inside Orange Dracula, “the dime store for those with unusual tastes,” I found an even larger selection of pop culture and horror kitsch than I remembered. I couldn’t afford the rare Lego Hogwarts set, but I found Italian Harry Potter stickers, swamp soap, vampire incense, and veterinarian warning stickers. I wandered the lower levels for a while, where few tourists seemed to stray. I found a junk shop and left with a $2 scarf. I continued winding my way down through the market and on outside. I walked amid the construction over to the shops and tourist stops down near the water.

Orange Dracula has all the random shit you never knew you needed.

I had hoped I would have the time to check out the ferry over to Bainbridge Island. The weather cooperated and I eventually found the ferry terminal. I bought a ticket, just $8.20 roundtrip, and waited for the next crossing. The terminal filled with daily commuters and sightseers. It was a cool, gray crossing, but rather pleasant.

Ferry terminal entrance.
Ferry ride across to Bainbridge Island.
Ferry ride across to Bainbridge Island.
I felt welcomed.

The commuters bolted off the ship and to their cars, bikes, and buses, some actually running down the gangway to the terminal. I wandered into town and along the main street. I found the Eagle Harbor Book Co., which had a decent local section and nature guides. From there I threw myself at Emmy’s Vege House, an all-vegan food kiosk in the center of town. I had a decent lunch but made room for some summer rolls and a Thai ice tea. Refreshed (meaning caffeinated and sugared), I continued exploring. Over the last few years, we’ve developed a custom of finding Garnet stuffed animals when we travel. I hadn’t found one yet, but Calico Toy Shoppe had a perfect stuffed gnome.

Eagle Harbor Book Co.
Emmy’s Vege House – all vegan
Second lunch.

At Millstream, I found a gift for one of Garnet’s teachers and about 20 things I wanted but couldn’t justify. Across the street, Backstreet Beat Books and Record offered a small but well-cultivated selection of books. I found Patrick a Graham Green paperback he didn’t have. From there I hit up the local grocery store for snacks. In their parking lot, I found artichokes growing. I saw a sign for a waterfront trail when I got off the ferry and decided to try and find it.

Backstreet Beat Books and Records
Random artichokes at the grocery store.

Instead, I found a couple out walking their goats. I asked them about the trail, which was really an excuse to meet the goats. They were young brothers who would butt heads occasionally. They were also working goats and helped clear brush and grass for paying customers. This was the type of commonplace, practical eccentricity that existed in Seattle proper until all the young programmers and online corporations took over. They pointed me toward the trail, where I found two chickens out enjoying a good hunt and peck.

Adorable goats!
Chickens having a pleasant evening on Bainbridge Island.
Waterfront trail, Bainbridge Island

I was thinking about waiting to take the ferry back over to Seattle until sunset, but my legs ached and I was getting tired. I also knew I had a few more uphill miles to walk to get back to the hotel. It was close enough to sunset that I got some good long light.

Sunset. Sort of. Almost.

I remembered that the Seattle Mystery Bookshop was close to where I got off the ferry and walked to the store. They had closed already, but I recommend their selection from a prior visit. I trudged up to the Veggie Grill around the block from the hotel and ordered take-out. I was beat. In what amounted to six hours, I had walked well over five miles, took a ferry, met two goats, and was able to sate my post-conference wanderlust. At least until the next morning.

Seagull having his moment in the sun.

The Outer Banks in the Off-Season

The reason our anniversary trip is in January is rooted in economics. When Patrick and I decided to take our first trip money and time off from work were major hurdles to travel. We decided to take advantage of MLK Day, as well as off-season lodging and airfare. In the intervening years we learned to go warm places in January, which were more expensive, but they were warm and that was all that mattered. Last year we blew our travel savings on a trip to Ireland, which while off-season was still expensive. We also moved, so between the two things we went back to our roots and looked for a cheap trip we could take over MLK Day weekend.


We opted for a simple road trip. Going north would be colder, so we decided to go south. We hadn’t been to the Outer Banks together in well over a decade. It would be cheap in the off-season, slightly warmer, and the ocean is there, so the decision was made.

There is something to be said for the hearty souls who pronounce “open all year.” For them we are grateful. I do think that traveling in the off-season gives you a chance to experience the place and the local culture in a way that those who arrive and depart the high season would never dream of.


Lodging: In an effort to keep the progeny entertained and fed, as well as ourselves, we looked for local lodgings that had an indoor pool, kitchen, and a view. We found a place that offered all that for a relatively modest sum in the Outer Banks Beach Club Resort. It was cold and blowing much of the time, but we enjoyed DVDs we brought, enjoyable meals, a view of sunrise over the ocean, and a hot tub.


Meals: We cooked most of our meals at the hotel (resort?), but we managed two very memorable meals at two local spots – The Thai Room and Outer Banks Taco Bar. After a long day adventuring in Ocracoke (post forthcoming), we drove straight to the The Thai Room. The service was superb, even after they realized we were not another similar family with the exact same eating habits. Garnet enjoyed the fried tofu so much that he got an order to go. They have many vegetarian options and understand that hot means hot.


On our final day, we waited around Kitty Hawk until The Outer Banks Taco Bar opened. This ranks up there with the best decisions I’ve made in life. We ordered a round of appetizers and the fried tostones were so good that I would have just sat and eaten those until the end of time. Patrick and I polished off the tostones, while Garnet finished the chips and salsa. The homemade corn tortillas were the best I have ever eaten. Seriously. If you can get rice and beans right, you are doing it right, but the tortillas put it over the edge. I sat there wondering of this is what a goldfish thinks as it eats itself to death? I just wish we had eaten there earlier in the trip so I could have had more tostones. TOSTONES!


Entertainment: Driving into Nags Head Woods, the temperature was well below freezing with a bit of a wind. That said, I mused as I looked at the swamps if the bugs would be worse than the cold. And I like bugs. I wanted the ponds to be full of frogs and turtles, but the frost and winter light were beautiful in their own right. If you can enjoy this kind of place in the dead of winter, there is no excuse from missing it in spring when the world is alive.




Jan2016-VA-NC-0621During the storm that blew in on our second day, we hit the local bookstore before returning to the room to hunker down. Island Books has three locations, but we hit up Kitty Hawk. Patrick found the new Derf Backderf, Garnet found a Star Wars book, and I found an ARC and gift for a friend. A good selection all the way around.

Elizabethan Gardens is a 10.5 acre public garden located within Fort Raleigh National Historic Site in Manteo, NC. The gardens are lovely by day, but at night in the winter they come alive with lights, music, and even movies. We wandered around in the dark and came across a campfire and old holiday cartoons being projected. The holiday lights were extended due to inclement weather, but that meant we were able to enjoy them into late January.



While June would offer endless shopping and all sorts of beach-going, there is something about traveling to a shore town in winter. You have to want to be there. There is an appreciation for place that isn’t there when it is an easy landscape. And the year-round shops and restaurants are locals who want you there. Consider some off-season travel and avoid the maddening crowds.

Things To Do in Denver When You are Not Dead (But at a Scholarly Conference and Restlessly Curious)

Downtown DenverI flew out to Denver for a work conference, assuming the short (just over 50 hour) trip would be too jammed packed to offer enough fodder for a post. I was wrong and found Denver quite enjoyable. After a long cab ride from Denver International Airport (more on that later), I dropped my bags at the hotel and went out in search of food. Denver is amazingly vegan-friendly and had my pick of places. I decided on Watercourse Foods and devoured a plate of homefries, pancakes, scrambled tofu, and tofu bacon. I wandered for a while and eventually found myself at the opulent Brown Palace Hotel and headed into the Ship Tavern. I sipped a pear cocktail, read a zine, and filled out a few postcards. I enjoy these quiet, anonymous moments of solitary travel.

Brown Palace Hotel
Brown Palace Hotel
Sparkling Pear Cocktail: St Germain Elderflower liquor, Grey Goose La Poire, lemon juice, champaign
Sparkling Pear Cocktail: St Germain Elderflower liquor, Grey Goose La Poire, lemon juice, champaign

I returned to the hotel for the reception and dinner and decided I would maturely go back to my room and retire for the night. Thankfully a co-worker convinced me that was not in my best interest and cajoled me to go with her to a conference-related gathering. What had I been thinking?!

Top of the clock tower (16th Street)
Staircase to the top
Clock tower (16th Street)
View of downtown Denver
Panorama of Denver after dark (click for larger image)

I’m glad she did, because I was not only treated to a view of Denver at night from the 22nd floor of a clock tower, I got to watch a thunderstorm breaking around the city from that height. One of my travel loves is seeing, hearing, and smelling thunderstorms in different places. We were even allowed to climb the spiral staircase to the very top of the bell tower. Giving people drinks and then sanctioning this activity seemed overly trusting.

City O'City
City O’City

Despite the semi-late night, I was up at 6am and exploring the city before a breakfast meeting with a friend who lives in Denver. We met at City O’ City, where I had scrambled tofu smothered in green chile, queso fresco, cilantro, homefries, corn tortillas, and some warm house-made gluten-free bread. Breakfast foods, especially at conference hotels, tend to be very gluten-y and not very vegan-friendly, so this was a huge treat and kept me going all day. So did such a pleasant meeting and good conversation so early in the day.

There are waffles out there...
There are waffles out there…

I was busy with work stuff the rest of the day, but the next morning awoke once again at the crack of dawn. City O’ City’s menu called to me on the 21st floor of my hotel room and I found myself wandering again, this time pondering the waffles I had seen on the menu. They make savory waffles. Waffles as food-food. This is perhaps the best idea ever. I ordered the “waffle of the week”, a tex-mex waffle topped with black beans, spicy peppers and onions, cilantro, a chipotle aioli, and avocado. It was one of the best meals I have ever had. Seriously.

Mouth paradise
Mouth paradise

I headed back to the hotel and got caught in the beginnings of the Pride festivities. Areas around the hotel were cordoned off with fences, but I made it back in time for the start of the sessions. I had a break and walked to Tattered Cover, a renowned local bookstore. Across the street is Rockmount, famous for their western wear shirts since 1946. They are well-made and very cool looking, but pricy and I ended up leaving empty- handed.

Tattered Cover mystery section
Tattered Cover mystery section
Rockmount Western Wear
Rockmount Western Wear

The airport is fairly far outside of the city, about 25 miles, and by Saturday afternoon we were all conferenced-out. I decided to leave a bit early with my boss and a colleague so I could explore the weird murals in what is a very weird airport. According to conspiracy experts, the airport is everything from a massive underground base providing safety to a new world order to a secret Nazi and/or Freemason site. It would appear there is an entire segment of the internet devoted to the DIA conspiracy (go ahead, Google it!). No matter what tin hat you are wearing, the airport is simply weird. Greeting you as you arrive at DIA is a giant blue horse sculpture with red glowing eyes dubbed Blucifer…that killed the sculptor. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.

I've killed a man.
I’ve killed a man.

Inside the baggage claim area are four wildly colorful murals by Chicano muralist Leo Tanguma that promote world peace and express fears of mass extinction, but first you have to get past a giant, threatening gas mask-wearing, sword wielding figure and a lot of dead and crying kids to get the message. The images show misery and death, a quote from a child who died at Auschwitz, a dead jaguar, and kids toppling the gas mask figure. I just can’t figure out how this got past a public art planning committee. I wonder what weary travelers make of these scenes? Here are the four murals and some close ups:

Children of the World Dream of Peace, by Leo Tanguma
Children of the World Dream of Peace, by Leo Tanguma
Children of the World Dream of Peace, by Leo Tanguma
Children of the World Dream of Peace, by Leo Tanguma

Plaque explaining the mural:Children of the World Dream of Peace is a powerful mural expressing the artist’s desire to abolish violence in society. One section of the piece speaks to the tragedy and devastation of war and its impact on humanity. The mural then moves on to images of smiling children, dressed in traditional folk costumes from around the world, celebrating peace prevailing over war.” Detail: Children of the World Dream of Peace, by Leo Tanguma Detail: Children of the World Dream of Peace, by Leo Tanguma Detail: Children of the World Dream of Peace, by Leo Tanguma Detail: Children of the World Dream of Peace, by Leo Tanguma Detail: Children of the World Dream of Peace, by Leo Tanguma Detail: Children of the World Dream of Peace, by Leo Tanguma

In Peace and Harmony with Nature, by Leo Tanguma
In Peace and Harmony with Nature, by Leo Tanguma
In Peace and Harmony with Nature, by Leo Tanguma
In Peace and Harmony with Nature, by Leo Tanguma

Plaque explaining the mural:In Peace and Harmony with Nature references the social realist murals of Mexico while addressing a modern theme: the destruction of the environment. The first half of the mural shows children displaying great sadness over the destruction and extinction of life, as the second half of the artwork depicts humanity coming together to rehabilitate and celebrate nature.” Detail: In Peace and Harmony with Nature, by Leo Tanguma Detail: In Peace and Harmony with Nature, by Leo Tanguma Detail: In Peace and Harmony with Nature, by Leo Tanguma Detail: In Peace and Harmony with Nature, by Leo Tanguma Detail: In Peace and Harmony with Nature, by Leo Tanguma Further reading: And then there is this part of the train system that looks inspired by ancient ruins.

Paging Indiana Jones!
Paging Indiana Jones!

The airport is HUGE. It takes up 53 square miles and you need to take a train to your gate. There are rumors of underground bunkers and speculation about who really built the airport. The runways are said to be in a deliberate swastika shape. I don’t know about any of that, but I do know they have a TCBY that has vegan soft-serve and that really helped the storm-related delays. Denver is a seemingly unassuming place with unexpected (and often peculiar) treasures.

A Pint of Plain

Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse

“When health is bad and your heart feels strange, And your face is pale and wan, When doctors say you need a change, A pint of plain is your only man.” – Flann O’Brien, “The Workman’s Friend”

I once knew an Irish girl who absolutely refused to drink Guinness this side of the pond.
“It doesn’t taste right here,” she said. “It tastes kind of funny. Sort of flat.”
Home of Arthur Guinness
Home of Arthur Guinness
Having never been to Ireland at that point in life, I could not mount a well-rounded defense of the black stuff’s American cousin. But it hardly mattered, as said lass regularly forsook her native brew in favor of the dollar draft du jour. To me, no perceived inferiority could be so great as to justify drinking Coors Light, the skim milk of beer, thusly self-negating her own testimony.
Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse
I’ve never been a beer man, per se, preferring rambunctious, high-octane spirits like whiskey, Scotch, and rum. But I’ve always had a fondness for the vaguely sweet, burnt-but-never-bitter flavor of the Emerald Isle’s most well-known export.
Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse
Diageo, the multinational corporate juggernaut that today owns, brews, and markets Guinness, says it annually sells more than 1.8 billion pints of it worldwide. Today, the stout is brewed in nearly 60 countries (including Ireland), and sold in twice that many, but it all began in 1759, at St. James’s Gate in Dublin.
Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse
The Guinness Storehouse leaves no stone in the company’s 256-year history unturned, starting with the four ingredients that comprise its famous stout – barley, hops, yeast, and water (sourced from nearby mountains and not the River Liffey, as urban legend holds). And that’s only the first floor; the six more that ascend tell nearly every angle of the Guinness story, from the brewers to the coopers to the suits upstairs in marketing.
Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse
Those of drinking age (18!) can enjoy a pint (included in the admission price) on the top-floor Gravity Bar, a glass-walled cylinder that affords visitors a 360-degree view of Dublin. Another bar on the floor below teaches visitors the protocol behind a perfect pour. (TIP: Every admission stub is good for a pint, including the one your non-drinking companion is holding.)
Pouring the perfect pint, Guinness Storehouse
Pouring the perfect pint, Guinness Storehouse
Pouring the perfect pint, Guinness Storehouse
Pouring the perfect pint, Guinness Storehouse
WPT at Guinness Storehouse
Proof that WPT crafted the perfect pint (and then drank it)
Also of note, the Guinness Storehouse is kid-friendly.
View from the top of the Guinness Storehouse
View from the top of the Guinness Storehouse
I spent an obscene amount of time and money in the gift shop (some on actual gifts), which features every manner of Guinness-branded clothing and paraphernalia. The whole deal is not inexpensive; tickets are 18 euros, or 16.20 if purchased online in advance. But for the Guinness-drinker it’s nirvana – the nexus of product and branding that defines the whole Guinness experience for people around the world.
Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse
Diageo insists that all Guinness is brewed to the same specifications, no matter where its made. But who knows? Maybe Ireland’s Guinness really is just a little more fresh, traveling through cleaner, better maintained lines to a tap that plays like a perfectly tuned instrument in the hands of a skilled barman. Or, just perhaps, a pint means that much more when enjoyed upon its native shore.
Or maybe not.
Either way, it sure as hell beats Coors Light.
Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse