Tag Archives: In the news

Peeping Tom Mexico Style

peeping tomIt seems that maintenance work at the all-inclusive Mexican resort – the  Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya resort near Playa del Carmen, involves more than painting and patching.  It also seems to have involved the creation of a peep  hole into the adjoining guest bathroom.   This was discovered recently by an Ontario couple as reported on Huffington Post.

“Traccitto discovered a maintenance room that shared a wall with the bathroom of the suite. A hole concealed behind the glazed glass shower console allowed a clear view of the bathroom.”  (Read the full article here Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/01/24/mexican-hotel-peep-hole_n_2541751.html

I wonder how many couples have been spied on and how many of the maintenance workers actually knew about this.  Makes you wonder if other maintenance people have thought of this at other hotels.  Usual concerns when picking the right hotel revolve around cleanliness, bed bugs, food quality and location.

So next time you check into a hotel it might be a good idea to ask that you don’t have the guest room right next door to the maintenance room otherwise you could have a complete stranger checking out your plumbing.


How to select your seat on KLM

KLM has come up with a doozie …. when you select your seat you can do it online with Facebook so that you can check out your fellow passengers and see who you might like to sit next to.  What?  Are you kidding me?  If I am travelling alone the only person I want to speak to is the flight attendant.  I don’t want to become BFF with the person sitting  next to me – yes that very same person who stole the arm rest and snored all night.  I also don’t want to exchange chit chat with someone who has been creeping through my facebook page and laughing at all those really really stupid moments of my tagged life.

But hang on – there is an upside to this too.  I guess it would help to know in advance who to avoid on a flight.  You could probably tell this by their facebook profile, the films they like, the books they read, the music they listen to, their friends, their political views, their “status”.  Actually this gets worse and worse the more you think about it.  Do we really want or need all this excess and often stupid information.  Facebook started off as a good idea and made Zuckerberg a lot of money  but I dunno.  It’s starting to give me the creeps.

Killing Fields

A visit to the Killing Fields of Cambodia and the infamous S21 detention centre is not a pleasant experience.  It is traumatic.  It is upsetting.  It is incredible how again and again these atrocities occur – despite the fact that we believe we learn from history and recite the mantra – Never Again. 
  The detention centre in Phnom Penh – S21 – used to be a high school.  Pol Pot’s regime turned it into a chamber of horrors and the evidence is still there – the shackles, the horrific photographs.  Only 7 people survived by the time the Vietnamese arrived and I had the honour to meet one of them.  Now in his 80’s  Chum Manh speaks little English but he does know a few words – like electric shock.  He explained to me by sign language and a few words how he was tortured by shock treatment in his ear.  He also showed me his knuckles and slid off his shoes to show me his feet where he had been tortured.  He has been a witness in the trials of the leaders of the Pol Pot regime.

His story and the stories of all the Cambodian people should be treasured and perhaps one day in the future we will be able to realise the dream of Never Again…   Slide show of our photos Genocide Cambodia

My Big Fat Greek Holiday

Food glorious food!  That’s what I think of when I think of Athens. 

Just another cute Plaka restaurant

We had calamari to die for, Greek salad naturally, the best coffee, lovely Ouzo and sin of all sins – a big slice of Baklava.  Well my rationale was that there could be no better place in the world to eat Baklava than in the Plaka in Athens.  It was worth it – so there Jenny Craig!

Don’t be put off by reports that the Plaka is too noisy, too dirty or too crowded.  Many of the streets have been turned into pedestrian walkways and great little restaurants abound.  Eating out is reasonably priced. If you want to splash out go to one of the rooftop restaurants with great views of the Acropolis which is lit up at night. 

A lovely way to spend an afternoon in Athens ... at the pool

Talking about the Acropolis – now there is a place that is always crowded – no matter what month you visit.  Get a good guide – a private one is very worthwhile – and get out there early in the morning while it is at least a bit cooler. 

Athens has tons of hotels – big and small.  We stayed at the Herodion, a small family run hotel which had a cute little roof garden with lovely views of the Acropolis.  Location is important in Athens because outside of the pedestrian streets of the Plaka the traffic is pretty heavy so you really don’t want to be on one of the main streets.  If you are visiting Athens at the end of your cruise be sure to arrange private transfers from the pier to your hotel.  The pier was a crush of shouting taxi drivers, piles of luggage and bewildered cruise passengers.  We were consequently very pleased to see my local rep there to meet us.  With no trouble at all we were ushered into our waiting air conditioned Mercedes Benz complete with bottles of iced-water.  Nice touch!  Pity the trunk was a bit small for our luggage but that didn’t worry the driver who piled it in nonetheless and lo and behold – when we got to the other end we hadn’t lost one piece.

Hey - hang on to my bag!

Athens has been in the news a lot these days.  The demonstrations were in full swing while we were there so we had to take a walk down to Constitution Square to see what it was all about.  It was actually fairly peaceful and a bit Woodstock in feel.  Lots of tents, hammocks and guitar strumming protesters just “hanging out”.  Things did turn a bit ugly for a while and I did notice quite a bit of graffiti but I truly hope that they are able to resolve matters there.  I would definitely love to return and try just one more slice of that gorgeous baklava.

Beautiful Athens.... I shall come back.

Manners maketh man

Back in the 1300’s in England William of Wykeham hit the nail on the head with this famous quote – such a good quote that it became the motto of Winchester College and New College Oxford.  Simple good manners are a basic requirement for civilised living so what happened?  Did we forget something somewhere in the sixties revolution?  Were we all so determined to kick the old guard in the ass that we permanently said goodbye to good manners? 

Canadians have been admired – or derided – for our polite ways.  Clearly this national characteristic was not in play in the Dominican Republic this week when a young man lost his life – beaten to death by drunken thugs.  To make matters worse this was no ordinary bar fight.  It actually took place right inside a 4 star all inclusive resort in Punta Cana.  Now the reason we all flock to this sort of gated paradise is so that we can experience a carefree summer vacation – basically behind bars.  Many visitors to these resorts never even see outside of the resort except for their airport transfer.  We want safe, cheap, sunny places with good beaches, generous buffets and unlimited liquor.  There’s the problem – unlimited liquor.  Clearly these men were drunk.  In fact many of the “incidents” we hear about in places like Mexico and the DR usually involve drinks and/or drugs.

This mannerly drought is not only evident in the punch up’s at all inclusives.  It is very much out there even on luxury cruise ships like the Seabourn Odyssey.  Many mornings I sat in the coffee bar at Seabourn Square and witnessed passengers arriving for their morning “fix” (coffee that is – no bar fights here).  The barista would go out of his way to greet each person by name and instead was treated to “I’ll have a latte”, “make it extra hot”.  No please.  Mmmm.  When the latte arrived you would swear the barista was invisible.  Not a  thank you in sight.  Goodness me.  If that had been my grandchild she would have got a slap.  OK I know you are not supposed to do that any more but that’s how we used to raise kids. 

There was one young man who had manners in the Dominican Republic and he was beaten to death.  He tried to protect a young woman from these thugs who had allegedly spat in her face.  Apparently at least one Canadian has been arrested and and may well be charged with homicide.  The important thing here is to make sure that there is a fair trial in the Domincan but he should be tried there.  I hope there won’t be a big rush to use up taxpayers money to try to bring him home to Canada to serve his sentence here – and if he is found guilty he will be getting to know the Dominican Republic very well indeed.  I have a mental picture of the Panamanian prison in the TV series Prison Break.  Not pleasant.  Maybe while he is there he can watch re-runs of the National Geographic documentaries Banged Up Abroad.