New York City…this Thanksgiving eve saw the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Inflation on the upper west side!
Tomorrow they will come to life as they float their way downtown to Macy’s flagship!
Tokyo, Japan…we finished our visit to Japan with a real “score”!
Vintage Kimono shopping on the corner of Meiji-Dori in the bustling Harajuku district! This open air market had thousands of vintage kimonos and obi to choose from!
My friend Shelly got into it and walked away with some amazing finds…a summery kimono as a robe for the beach, an evening black kimono to dress up, and a rugged denim worker style kimono to make a fashion statement!
A little background on the kimono:
The kimono (着物) is a Japanese traditional garment worn by men, women and children. The word “kimono”, which literally means a “thing to wear” (ki “wear” and mono “thing”), has come to denote these full-length robes.
Kimono are T-shaped, straight-lined robes worn so that the hem falls to the ankle, with attached collars and long, wide sleeves. Kimono are wrapped around the body, always with the left side over the right (except when dressing the dead for burial.), and secured by a sash called an obi, which is tied at the back.
Tokyo, Japan…a short walk from the hotel in Shinjuku and a world away we found the Meiji Shrine.
Tucked away in a wooded and peaceful park, this sight is the spot for traditional Shinto weddings!
As we walked around, one wedding procession after another made their way through the grounds…a dull drum beat and the slow walk of the bridal party was shaded by traditional red Japanese umbrellas!
Each bride was resplendent in different kimonos and unique by wearing different styles of tsunokakushi (head piece).
Absolutely beautiful, this ancient tradition and ceremony was so cool to witness!
Tokyo, Japan…a Sunday walk in the park was one of the best moments of my visit to Tokyo!
Yoyogi Park was filled with parents bringing their adorable children dressed in their traditional Japanese costumes to Meiji Shrine! These children were so cute I could hardly stand it!
They were excited to have their pictures taken and I snapped away, one after another!
Crossing the Equator at Sea…early this morning we sailed right past the Equator’s line into the southern Hemisphere! Crossing this line is commemorated by an age old tradition known as the King Neptune Ceremony.
This initiation rite originally celebrated by the Dutch Merchant Navy was meant to boost morale on long ocean voyages and mark a sailors first crossing of the Equator. Pollywogs are the sailors new to the equator crossing and Shellbacks are the experienced ones. This is not a silly cruise ship gimmick, but a sailing tradition performed by even the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, as well as passenger cruise ships!
King Neptune presides over the festivities with pirates, mermaids, sea urchins, you name it! Historically these ships were all male vessels, so men were dressed up as women for the ceremony…nothing like a sailor in drag!
The idea is to embarrass the virgin sailors and put them through some form of public torture…kissing a smelly fish, being locked up in a cage, abused and soiled with spoiled food, and being dunked in water or left to bake in the hot sun.
Held under an extremely brutal equatorial sun on the open deck, it’s a lot of fun but also serious sea faring tradition for the normally superstitious officers and sailors! Luckily for me, I could participate as an onlooker escaping the messy torture…but I woulda gladly done a little drag for the cause if needed!
The oceans hold many age old myths and centuries old tales…what fun being initiated into this special club of those who have “crossed the line”!
Istanbul, Turkey…2 days in this amazing city to enjoy its exotic yet cosmopolitan vibe. Besides visiting all the mosques and bazaars, I wanted to experience a traditional Turkish Hamman… Cagaloglu Hamami, named in the best selling book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die”…this 300 year old bath has hosted sultans and kings and retains many of its original details.
I am stripped down to a tiny scarf sized wrap and wooden clogs, the service starts out with a relaxing 10 minutes in the marble encased steam room. Afterwards, the man performing the service shows up also in a towel…I guess we are going to become very well acquainted!
A rough massage smack in the middle of the Hamman on the marble has me squealing. We then proceed to the bathing ritual of skin loofah, foam bath, and a series of cold & warm rinses! By the time it’s done, I am exhausted but my skin is glowing!
It’s a little weird to get fully scrubbed in front of a Hamman of strangers but a cool experience, nevertheless. The interior itself is beautiful and this hour just spent here just adds to the mystique and allure of Istanbul.