“Gooooooalllllll!” – Andres Cantor

23 Jun

by Nancy Bestor

As I write this story, the world is smack dab in the middle of perhaps its biggest and greatest international sporting event ever, the 2014 World Cup. For all you non-soccer people out there (or non-football people if you’re really in the know), this is the worldwide soccer event that happens just once every four years, and this year is being hosted by Brazil. We’re big soccer fans in our house (“we’re”, ha-ha) so soccer is on at all times in the front room, on a computer in the kitchen, and sometimes even on a computer in the living room too. Yes, it is on at least two viewing machines at the same time, apparently in case you walk out of one room and into another, because you wouldn’t want to miss ONE MINUTE OF IT.

I’ve been watching soccer since Bob and I started dating. I spent many, many Sundays sitting in the cold watching him play games all over the Bay Area. I traveled most weekends with him to away games, and was often the only fan of his recreational team. (You’re wondering if I was crazy right? I could admit to many things here, but the truth of the matter is, I really liked watching the games.) I don’t watch Bob’s games anymore, one reason being that he most often plays at 6am, and the other being that I now have other things that rank higher on my list (like reading a good book). But I do pay attention to the World Cup when it comes around. I like to root for all the underdogs and the United States, who coincidentally is an underdog in this event.

Over the years we’ve rooted along with our French friends for the French national team to win the World Cup, for Croatia (my mom’s homeland), for Costa Rica (because we met a kind Costa Rican soccer fan and hotel owner in their country many years ago), and, of course, for our home team. Bob fondly remembers the World Cup of 2002, which took place in Japan and South Korea. He got together with his soccer buddies in the middle of the night on several occasions to watch the games live. I, on the other hand, remember getting up in the middle of the night in 1981 to watch Prince Charles marry Diana Spencer. And we ended up getting together anyway.

The World Cup makes me think about the differences between the United States and other countries when it comes to sports. Bob was introduced to soccer when he was 10 years old. A boy at his school, whose father was born in Portugal, taught him how to play this “new game.” (The Portuguese father coincidentally happened to be the doctor who delivered yours truly, a fact Bob and I would learn after we met and married. Apparently our love was destined to be.) He and his friends began playing it at every recess and lunchtime, and Bob still plays today. Although soccer is much more popular in the US now than it was when Bob was a kid, I’m pretty sure soccer comes well behind football, baseball, and basketball, in our nation’s interests. Maybe even ice hockey too.

It’s lots of fun to travel to other countries while their teams participate in a big soccer event like the World Cup or the European Championships. When the national team is playing, things pretty much shut down as fans gather around televisions in public places to see a big goal, or the final minutes of a key game. We’ve been lucky enough to witness celebrations in France, Italy and England, with cars driving around honking their horns and people proudly hanging out their windows and balconies waving the national flag. There’s a national feeling of community during these moments, unlike any I’ve really experienced here in the US. Maybe it happened when the US national hockey team won the gold medal in the 1980 Olympics, but I wasn’t paying attention way back then.

I’m certain the United States national soccer team will continue to improve, as more and more little kids start playing soccer at age 3 and 4. Maybe one day we’ll get our chance to drive our cars through the streets, honking, chanting USA, USA, and proudly waving the American flag after our team wins the World Cup. Until that time, I’ll be rooting for the home team, but I’ll save my horn honking for when I’m trying to get my daughter’s attention in the high school parking lot.

 

Sleeping With My Clothes On

19 Jun

by Nancy Bestor

IMG_1609People in my family always say that I can sleep anywhere. I seem to have a knack for nodding off in cars, on buses, on airplanes, in (ahem) movie theaters and concerts, and even, I am sad to report, at dance recitals. In my defense, my daughter only appeared in two out of 20 numbers (although it seemed like 200), and the theater was dark, and the recital was way too long.

I’ve never been too worried when I can’t get a full night of sleep either. Maybe that’s because I have raised two children and when my youngest was a newborn she woke me every two hours for what seemed like years but was really more like eight weeks. I learned that I could operate on less sleep and catch up on my shut-eye when I next got the opportunity.

So I’m never too concerned when I take a red-eye flight, because I figure I will a) sleep sitting up on the plane with my mouth hanging wide open and occasional snorts coming out of my nose, b) walk around tired the next day at my destination, c) sleep well the following night and d) be energized and ready to roll on day two.

On a recent return flight from the Caribbean, our family had a lousy layover in Los Angeles from midnight until 6am. (Note to self: trips booked with frequent flier miles may be free, but they aren’t always convenient. Perhaps airlines do that on purpose.) We weren’t willing to buy a hotel room for the “night”, because by the time we got to the hotel from the airport and then returned to the airport from the hotel, we would have paid for sleeping in a bed for three hours at the most.

Thus we decided to “rough it” at LAX. We searched out the darkest, quietest and most deserted location that also had chairs that we could lie out on. What we found wasn’t very dark, quiet or deserted but we each took a row, and off to lullaby land we went. I admit to sleeping somewhat fitfully. But I did sleep for at least a few hours. I woke up every now and then, because I’m fairly certainly the airport employee operating the floor-cleaning machine was torturing me by cleaning the linoleum near my row over and over. (Come on! Was the floor that dirty?) When I would sit up to glare at the floor cleaner, I’d check on the rest of my fam, only to find them still stretched out in their rows, covered by their MicroFiber towel/blankets, snoozing away.

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Spending the night and trying to sleep in an airport is not ideal. But beggars can’t be choosers and that night we were beggars. But when we got home the next day, our beds were so comfortable.

Notes:

Here are the items I never travel without to promote sleeping on airplanes, buses, and, when pressed, in airports.

  • Earplugs. A crucial item for any type of travel! You never know when the people in the hotel room next door will be traveling with a teething baby, or the engines of a tiny propeller airplane will be so loud they rattle your teeth. Earplugs will help with all of the above! A small price to invest for a less cranky Nancy.
  • A Microfiber towel. This item doubles as a beach towel/hotel room towel, and a blanket. I find myself using it frequently when sitting in airports and on airplanes. Free airplane blankets really are a thing of the past.
  • Warm socks. If my feet are cold, I’m not going to be able to sleep. I often travel in sandals, but always toss a pair of socks into my carry-on bag, so I can slip off my shoes on the airplane and still keep my feet warm. I never want my bare feet to touch the airplane floor. I’m sure I don’t want to know what kind of germs are on that carpet.
  • I have at times traveled with an inflatable pillow, but since I fall asleep so easily, I don’t seem to have a need for it. Same goes for a travel eye shade. Apparently my eyelids provide all the shading I need. Many customers who are not as fortunate as me swear by these two items though, and I believe them!
  • Money Belt. I wouldn’t want to fall asleep in a public place if I didn’t have my passport, credit cards and cash protected. Normally I am a light sleeper, but every now and then I stay asleep while all kinds of things are happening around me. It’s easier for me to relax knowing my essential items are in a money belt on my person, and won’t be gone when I wake up. Sweet dreams!

Keeping Your Money Safe

18 Jun

by Nancy Bestor

Customers often ask us to recommend the “most important item” that they should take on vacation. Because we feel that security is of utmost importance, our number one must have is a money belt. Bob and I always travel with our passports, credit cards, and cash in some kind of money belt or security wallet. This protects us against theft and our own forgetfulness and gives us peace of mind that our essential items are secure.

Once in Italy with my sister, a group of gypsy children approached me with a map that they stuck in front of my face while they tried to reach into my bag underneath. I swatted them away (literally), but even if they had gotten into my bag, they could have only stolen my lipstick and my water bottle, as my cash and passport were in my money belt. Another time, in Costa Rica, I was walking the streets of San Jose with a small backpack. I felt something like a fly on my arm, and when I went to swat it (again with the swatting!), I realized someone had actually unzipped my bag. There was nothing of interest in there this time either, just a sweater and a Lonely Planet guidebook.

There have been plenty of other vacations where I have felt a little bit uncomfortable with my surroundings—maybe because it was very crowded, or I felt like some sketchy looking folks were paying a little bit too much attention to me. I’ve always been confident with the fact that my important, costly, and difficult to replace items were tucked away in my security wallet, underneath my clothing. They can take my backpack or bag because there’s nothing in there that isn’t replaceable (except maybe for that perfect shade of Clinique lipstick that is no longer in production).

My favorite security pouch is Eagle Creek’s Undercover Deluxe Neck Wallet. I wear it a little differently than most customers expect though. I don’t hang it around my neck straight down in front. Instead I wear it cross body underneath my blouse. This gets the strap off the back of my neck and the pouch off my stomach (which doesn’t need any more pouch, believe me). I size the strap so the pouch is right at my hip and tucked into my pants or skirt. When I need to get into it, I simply pull it out from my bottoms, with it still strapped around me, and get what I need, then I tuck it back into my skirt. Bob’s favorite is the Eagle Creek Undercover Hidden Pocket. The Hidden Pocket has a loop that a regular belt runs through and then the wallet is tucked down inside his pants. It always stays attached to his belt, and when he needs to get into it he pulls it out, gets what he needs and then tucks it back in.

We always keep enough money for the day in our front pocket or day bag. That way we’re not getting into our money belts every single time I demand a gelato (and I demand lots of gelato). But the bulk of our cash, credit cards and passports are always in our money belts. If we’ve got a safe in our room, we do sometimes leave our passports behind, but really, we keep our cash and credit cards with us at all times. I’m not paranoid, I just like to be cautious.

There are all kinds of money belts for all kinds of people. There are even money belts that block RFID signals from being scanned by techno-savvy crooks. You can choose from styles that go around your waist, around your neck, that hook to your bra or strap to your leg. You can choose silk money belts, nylon ones, and more.   It doesn’t matter the type you choose, what matters is that you keep your important belongings safe. And then you can relax and enjoy your vacation.

Have Yourself a Scooby Snack

2 Jun

by Nancy Bestor

I fancied myself as something of a Nancy Drew when I was 10 years old. Perhaps this was because we shared the same first name, but more than likely, it was because I read, re-read and then read again every Nancy Drew book I could get my hands on. I was also a huge fan of Scooby Doo cartoons (I was always Velma). Thus, mysteries have always intrigued me. If you’ve got a Secret in Your Old Clock, I want to hear about it.

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On our recent trip to St. Martin, we heard about a luxury resort that had been abandoned 20 years ago, after Hurricane Luis brought much destruction to the island. The resort, La Belle Creole, was built on the shores of Nettle Bay, less than a mile from where we were staying. We could easily see its large, signature tower in the distance, and once we learned its fate, La Belle Creole beckoned to me. I got out my magnifying glass, put on my detective hat and off we went. We walked along the beachfront to get to there as we weren’t sure if we could get to the property from the main road. We discovered however, that one can walk to the resort from its main entrance, as there is just a simple chain across the driveway, keeping cars from entering.

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We trespassed on La Belle Creole (because that is the complete truth, we were trespassing) late one afternoon, and it was eerily quiet. As we approached the main courtyard, the resort just looked like a large hotel or condominium structure in disrepair. From the outside it did not look nor feel creepy at all. But once we started exploring the hallways, dining rooms and guest rooms the place took on a whole new dimension. It seemed as though the hurricane had hit just a few weeks prior. Outside of the fact that most of the furniture was gone, except for some large dressers and metal bed frames, the rooms looked…..well frankly, they looked haunted. Tattered curtains billowed in the breeze that whistled through broken windows, doors hung askew from their hinges, and the furniture that remained was mostly in pieces, and strewn about in odd positions.

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The story of La Belle Creole is a sad one. In 1964, Claude Philippe, the well known and respected maitre d’ of New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel, purchased about 300 acres of land on St. Martin, with the dream of building the Caribbean’s finest resort. Unfortunately that darn reality called money, or lack of it, got in his way. Philippe believed in extravagance in all areas, including apparently serving champagne to his construction workers. The project kept lurching forward and then shutting down again due to lack of funds. In 1988, La Belle Creole was finally completed, all 27 buildings and 156 rooms of it. Claude Philippe, however, had died in 1979. Unfortunately, just a few years after its grand opening, La Belle Creole was hit by Hurricane Luis, and would never open again.

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We explored as much of La Belle Creole as our nerves could take, then left via the main gate. As we walked away, I could have sworn I heard someone say, “and I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids.”

Running on Empty

29 May

IMG_1522by Nancy Bestor

When I’m vacationing, there are a few things I know I must do. They revolve around eating and drinking—actually they ARE eating and drinking. But every once in a while, I get a wild notion that I should also be exercising.

I know what you’re thinking…..this doesn’t sound like me at all. So I’ll come clean. The truth is there are times when I am vacationing that the people I am WITH feel like they have to exercise (Bob, I am talking to you), and because I am easily inclined to give in to peer pressure, I exercise right along with them. I’d like to think that since I usually do a lot of walking when on vacation, I am getting plenty of exercise. However, SOME people don’t agree with that sentiment, so I find myself running on treadmills, or riding stationary bikes, or lifting weights and doing sit-ups. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

Most American hotels these days have some kind of exercise room. It’s usually a small, often odiferous room, tucked away down a long, lonely corridor and filled with mirrors on the walls, and treadmills, stair-climbers and stationary bikes all crammed too close to each other. While I admit that this room is rarely appealing, a 20-minute run or bike ride in the late afternoon does usually gives me the energy boost I need to head back out for the evening for more eating and drinking.

On our recent trip to St. Martin/St. Maarten, Bob drove twice to a gym 20 minutes away, first thing in the morning. I’d like to report that in Bob’s absence I went for a run on the beach. But the truth of the matter is, I sat out on the deck, drinking coffee and watching the ocean in the distance. When he came back and told me the gym was “old school”, with a boxing ring right in the middle of it, I was sorely tempted to go with him on his next visit, but the call of the ocean (and coffee!) was too strong. And besides, neither Hilary Swank NOR Clink Eastwood were there, so I can’t say that I missed anything.

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My girlfriends and I exercise most days on our girls’ trips to Mexico, but we’re mostly exercising to rid our body of the toxins we put in the previous afternoon and evening. But hey, the REASON for exercise is not what matters, it’s the fact that I’m exercising at all. I’m burning calories no matter why I am at the gym. Like that vacation in the Bahamas when I “ran” on the beach several mornings in a row, because I was pretty sure I would see either Johnny Depp or Orlando Bloom. I didn’t see either of them, but I burned a few calories—I would have burned more if I ran the whole time, instead of just when I saw someone coming towards me on the beach. If it looked like a man, I ran harder. Once they got close, and I determined it wasn’t Mr. Depp or Mr. Bloom, I went back to walking.

Apparently, I also have bad eyesight to thank for exercising when on vacation.

Well Dark Clouds Are Rollin’ In

30 Apr

by Nancy Bestor

Last month, when returning from a week long vacation in the Caribbean, my family’s final flight home from San Francisco to Medford, Oregon was canceled. This was after we had already been traveling for nearly 24 hours. The weather in San Francisco was rainy, and there was a light fog outside of the airport, but I’ve seen much worse weather, so it came as quite a surprise to me when United first delayed and then canceled our 10am flight.
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Once we realized what had happened, Bob and I quickly went to the United customer service counter to see what could be done for us. The United agent informed us that due to the weather, our plane (one of the small jet-propelled types that flies in and out of Medford) could not land in San Francisco, which was the reason our flight was cancelled. There were two more flights for Medford scheduled that day, so she put us on the stand-by list. We were numbers 4-7 on the list however, and knowing that the small planes only seat 25ish, we figured our chances of getting on the flight were slim. The agent said those flights also had a high likelihood of being canceled, and she could not confirm seats out for us to Medford until Monday, two days later, on another airline. Finally, she told us since the delay was weather related, United would not offer us any hotel or meal compensation.

We really needed to get home on Saturday, as our oldest daughter had a ride scheduled from Medford back to college in Corvallis (go Beavers!) on Sunday morning. We could take a chance on getting four stand-by seats later in the day, on a plane that may or may not have been able to arrive in San Francisco, or we could cut our losses and rent a one-way car. We cut our losses.
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We booked the car from our iPad while we were walking to the car rental agency in the airport. I had learned this lesson after friends of ours were stuck in a similar situation in Seattle, and the people in line in front of them booked the last one-way rental car available at the airport. Ours wasn’t cheap. The one-way rental cost $225. And we had to drive five plus hours, AND return the rental car to the airport. But our options were pretty limited at that point. By the time we drove our rental car out of the airport parking lot, several other United passengers who had been milling about our gate were in line to pick up cars too.

I can’t fault United Airlines in this situation (I know, shocking, right?). United really was doing all it could to get us home, there just weren’t any planes to do it. I can’t even fault them for not offering us hotel or meal compensation. San Francisco is an iffy city for weather. If they offered compensation every time a plane was delayed or canceled due to weather, they would likely not be in business.

The bottom line is this was an unfortunate situation that was out of every human’s control. We spent an additional $225 on our trip, and five hours in the car, but we made it home on Saturday, only several hours later than we would have made it home had our 10:00 am flight left on time. Travel doesn’t always work out the way you plan it. But then again, neither does life.

Tahiti, 1959

30 Apr

by Nancy Bestor

Bob’s grandmother, Lois Bestor, passed away two weeks ago at the age of 95. GG, as she was known once she became a great grandmother, was full of joy and jokes right up until the end. Born on a farm with no electricity or running water in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, GG moved to Coos Bay, Oregon with her husband Bob (that’s Robert Harmon Bestor I, in case you’re keeping track) in 1947, where he worked for a Chevrolet dealership. Bob and Lois did a fair amount of traveling, including taking a Chevrolet sponsored trip to Tahiti in 1959. My Bob (Robert Harmon Bestor III), recently rediscovered some photos from that trip. Tahiti would have been a great place to visit in 1959, and Lois Bestor would have been a great traveling companion.

Here are a few of our favorite photos: GG 2 - Copy

GG 3

GG 4

GG 5

GG 6

GG 7

GG 8

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