Why Your Camera Needs a Showercap

Why Your Camera Needs a Showercap

I’m in beautiful, soggy Alaska for a much needed vacation. I wanted to share my totally free, ultra-lightweight tip for photography while traveling, or any other time, in a rainy environment.

Here it is: swipe those shower-caps from the hotel! Throw them over your camera while you walk about, to cover the lens. When shooting, move the cap so it covers the body and the opening encircle the lens opening. This will keep your lens and camera body dry.

Most cameras can endure a few sprinkles – but it’s really the lens you don’t want to get too wet.

Fold up your happy cap when it’s dry, stick it in a teensy ziploc, and throw it back in your camera bag.  Takes up no room, weighs nothing, and it might save your noodle one day. 

Best. Thing. Ever.

Happy travels!

Anjani

Laptop at the Teahouse

Laptop at the Teahouse

20140408-004309.jpg
Laptop at the Teahouse. Copyright 2014 Anjani Millet

One of the things I love the very most about Seattle is happening in this photograph.

A long time ago, when I moved away from Seattle to New York City, I met for coffee with my childhood friend Jennifer, with whom I my grew up in Washington state. She had long since become a New Yorker.

I put my bag down in a chair for 2/8th of a second while I retrieved my coffee from the clutches of the bitter barista. Jennifer grabbed my arm faster than a New York minute (loosely defined as, when driving in NYC, the span of time between the light turning green and the car behind you honking).

She said to me,  “We’re not in Seattle anymore! You cannot EVER do that again you in New York, ok? You must not ever leave your things laying about in New York – even your purse on the floor inside the stall of a public bathroom while you’re inside it. Someone can reach under the stall door, nab your purse, and leave with it. And what are you going to do about it? They will run off with your stuff, and be on the b-train before you can even get your pants up. You follow?”

I did. But today I was in Seattle. In fact I was working in my very favorite teahouse, and this is what I discovered in the sunny corner next to me: Little Louis Laptop, alone. Owner was in the bathroom, dropping drawers right at that moment while her laptop waited, unscathed, for her to wipe and wander back.

I love that in Seattle, she could go to the bathroom and leave her shiny Mac, just begging to be stolen. As is often typical, she didn’t even ask anyone if they would watch it for a moment until she returned. She didn’t need to, and I love that.

Anjani

Related Images:

Sunset Beach Storm

Sunset Beach Storm

Sunset Rainstorm, Washington Coast

Sunset Rainstorm, Washington Coast

 

 

Deeply Orange Evening

Deeply Orange Evening

Looming SunsetThis evening brought a beautiful, dramatic storm which rocked my little cottage and brought a stunning sunset. Dark, heavy clouds were pierced by the most elegant, orange clouds over the sea, and seagulls seemed to be thrilled to play in the wild winds. All evening the wind has continued, and the untamed rains, and even a little snow. All this while I look out over the sea. I live in the tiniest little beach cottage, and when the wind blows hard, I wonder just how long before the floor gives way.  My little street floods and the dog won’t even go out.  I love my little seaside cottage, though it’s a temporary arrangement. A friend had this little cabin available just for a few months until tourist season, so I jumped on it. Every morning we walk on the shore, and once in awhile we get the treat of another wild storm on the sea. I just love it.

 

All material ©Copyright 2014 Anjani Millet.

Related Images:

Hostal Spa Empuries, Spain

On a beautiful Spanish Tuesday afternoon, I landed at the Hostal
Empuries, near the sleepy Spanish town of L’Escala, in the Costa Brava
region, near Girona. Don’t let the name of this wonderful hotel confuse
you: ‘hostal’ does not mean ‘hostel’: far from it. It simply means
‘hotel’. Nestled between pine trees and sand, the hotel rests on
Portitxol Beach with its “dainty” cliffs.

This seaside resort
is a quiet and beautiful hotel and spa, established more than 100 years
ago. It is the first hotel in Europe to be awarded Gold LEED
certification — the highest environmental achievement, and aside from
being gorgeous and environmentally responsible, boasts a beautiful
restaurant as well.  Serving sumptuous eco-mediterranean cuisine, the
Villa Teresita provides formal dining under the excellent care of Chef
Rafa Peña, as well as the more casual Bistró del Mar.

In a
pleasant afternoon interview with Susana Bosols, Director of Marketing,
we shared black coffee and she described for me their main objectives:
social and ecological responsibility, rejecting waste culture, and the
notion of “following the ant’s trail.”  Along with LEED certification,
the hotel espouses the concept of “cradle to cradle.” From their
website, they describe their principles:

“One of the
principles of Hostal Empuries, according to our social and ecological
responsibilities, had been to think globally and act locally, in order
to create awareness of the Earth as an organism which must be cared for.
Based on the idea that the population of ants on the planet is 3 times
greater than that of humans, understanding that they are beneficial to
this biological organism, the Earth, we want to follow the ant’s trail.

The
building type we have used, therefore, has green roofs which increase
plant life and biodiversity. We have chosen plants typical of the local
area, which are drought tolerant and are only watered from rainfall
collected from the roofs or recycled from the bathrooms and kitchen. For
fertilizer we use nothing more than organic matter left over from the
kitchen.

At Hostal Empuries we care
about humanity and the inheritance to which we are connected. We aim to
provide the best experience possible for our guests and leave a lasting
legacy for future generations…In truth, human beings are the only ones
capable of carrying the responsibility for their harmful behavior and
actions which instigate the destruction of our habitat and the habitats
of all other life forms on the planet.

We
must therefore commit, in a personal way, to take preventative action
and plan for a better future.In order to best plan and develop the
greater part of our initiatives we take advantage of the finest
standards available in order to guarantee sustainability.”

The LEED certification and Cradle to Cradle principles are:
* The Certificate of Sustainable Architecture “LEED,” whose aim is to
ensure that a building becomes a regenerative agent in its environment,
preventing erosion, improving water quality and increasing biodiversity
to benefit the whole community.
* The “Cradle to Cradle” Principle
or “C2C” which promotes the use of materials which are not only
sustainable but whose useful life might continue beyond that for which
it was originally intended, to be re-used in other ways and finally
being converted back into new base material.

Aside from
outstanding environmental stewardship, the hotel has a beautiful
restaurant, including on-site organic gardens which supply the kitchen.
The spa too adheres to the strictest environmental standards, using
natural oils and other products for the body, and natural products for
cleaning. This is true throughout the hotel.

Chef
Rafa Peña generously spoke with me after a beautiful evening meal, and
even shared his recipe for Cod Brandada. He offered a great tip for
finding the perfect restaurant while traveling:

“When
you travel, go to the best restaurant you can find and afford –
Michelin starred, for instance – and have a meal there.  Lunchtime is
often a bit less expensive. Then, ask the chef him or herself where to
eat in that city. Go where they tell you.  The good chefs always know
where to go!”

What a great idea. Thank you, Chef!

I
loved the Hostal Empuries, its philosophy, the lovely rooms, the
gorgeous beach environment… and the food was outstanding. I’d go back
tomorrow if I could. Maybe I will!

-Anjani

Hostal Empúries – Platja de Portitxol s/n Ap. Correos 174.17130 l’Escala, Girona, Spain

Tel: 972.77.02.07 | Fax: 972.98.29.36, info@hostalempuries.com, GPS: 42.13182400, 3.12234900

Related Images:

Hotel Review: Silken Park Hotel, San Jorge, Platja D’Aro, Spain

On a sultry afternoon in September, I finally found the Silken Park Hotel in the town of San Jorge, Platja D’Aro, in the Costa Brava region of Spain. I had been invited, as a Travel Blogger’s Expo guest in Girona, Spain, to stay at, review, and write a piece on the resort. I was excited about the seaside resort, which was said to be top notch. I arrived two days early due to a scheduling error but the hotel kindly found a room.

Unfortunately that room was not facing the blue sea at all.  It was a dark brown prison-like room facing the parking garage, which faced a busy highway. The room was depressing and lightless, with one tiny window, and smelled of mold and fuel. Unfortunately, I had another night to spend there two days later, with a brief interlude at another hotel the following night. I was glad to leave but would have to return in two days, much to my chagrin. I couldnt’ wait to leave and didn’t want to return.

The day I did, I was given a room with a view – of a tree. I asked nicely if they might have a room in which I could actually see the ocean, since I had been invited there to report to their potential clients about how great the oceanview hotel was. I was begrudgingly given one. A room with a gorgeous view was made available and it made more sense why the hotel was well-considered. The room, though, was nothing special and retained a distinctly mildewy smell, as had the two before, but the view was spectacular. Just beneath my lanai was a sandy veranda, and below that, the beach and its lazy sea, dotted with one tiny island. Its crest was adorned with a few enthusiastic trees stretching their happy limbs out over the water. The island could be reached on a brief walk from the hotel.

That evening a wedding was taking place in the main gathering area of the hotel and as I relaxed over a book and a glass of wine, I was asked by a waiter to leave. “No hotel guests are allowed here right now, because of the wedding.” Guests had to clear out of the bar, restaurant, cafe, foyer, and patio, and had to either leave the hotel entirely or head to the beach for several hours – or go back to their rooms. In those rooms, incidentally, wifi was iffy. But why would you spend time on the net with that view?  Dinner that night was surprisingly delicious, though expensive, and service was curt.

Once the pretty bride left with her retinue, the veranda was clotted with 14 drunken Irish retirees, who were so amusing I laughed Coke out my nose. As they left I asked one of them how long they’d all known each other. “Over 40 years!” he answered, “They are the best men you’ll ever know, that’s certain.”

The next night, despite my shyness, I crashed their party and they took me in for a long night’s silliness. They boasted one beefy young man in the group, a handsome firefighter who never once took his sunglasses off in the dark night. He couldn’t remember our waitress’s name, so she gave him her badge so he’d remember – “StePHANIE,” he repeated over and over. Eventually he got so drunk, StePHANIE had to stop him from falling off a balcony trying come back down to the party from his room – three stories below it, in fact. He’d forgotten he could take the stairs.  Eventually the gentlemen insisted I join them in town for dinner, where they competed over who in the restaurant would sing me the loudest song, or give me the biggest bouquet of flowers (borrowed momentarily from the busker), or buy me the next round of huge, head-sized drinks I couldn’t possibly finish. At 2:30 a.m., when when I couldn’t keep up anymore, one of them walked me by the hand to a taxi. I told him I needed to get to bed, which he noted was ‘pathetically pathetic’. He was easily 20 years older than me. Evidently the swoozy crew, all pushing 70, stayed out until 4:30 a.m., or so said StePHANIE at breakfast; they all appeared at 8:30 sharp, chipper and Irish, for breakfast. Except the fireman, who couldn’t bear morning just yet.

That final oceany day, so sunny and blue, was eclipsed only by that evening’s lusty full moon floating over her watery view. I lingered in my room for hours in the dark, listening to the tide and watching the world disappear into the azure evening.

The moonlight was worth the bride, the mildew, the closet, and the curt staff. All of it was worth the drunken golfers with their crazy loud songs and brazen disregard for noise regulations and good punchlines.

I wish I could promise you the Irishmen or the moonlight. Barring those, my advice on this hotel is to skip the stay and visit the hotel and beach during the day, or if you do stay there, be very sure you’re getting an oceanview room. Without that room, I’d skip this hotel.

-Anjani Millet

happypersons

Silken Park Hotel San Jorge Platja D’Aro – Costa Brava

Avenida Andorra 28, 17251, Spain

T. +34 972 652 311

F. +34 972 652 576

View Larger Map

Related Images:

(Gently) Opening Our Hidden Rooms

(Gently) Opening Our Hidden Rooms

Putting things we’ll be sure to find them is the magic formula for ensuring we’ll never, ever see them again.  It’s the fault of the earth’s gravitational field, I’m sure of it, because those things get sucked into some far away universe, or under the couch, or in some weird terrifying blend of the two.

But we do it with our thoughts, hopes, and dreams too, as well as the beliefs we want to run from; for instance, we squirrel away our fears that we are failing ourselves, or wasting our time on this job/relationship/mortgage/book.  It’s too hard to look at, the possible badness or wrongness or hopelessness.  This is hiding the truth of ourselves from ourselves in order to avoid sensations of shame, guilt, hopelessness and sorrow. There’s one more useful reason though: avoidance of the truth of why we do things allows us to simply do what we really intend to do anyway without directly confronting head-on why we feel we shouldn’t.

This sort of self-deception is how most of us put on so much weight over time, avoid unpleasant phone calls, put off paying bills – but worse yet, it’s also how we put our dreams on ice. This is where we avoid our own avoidance but also, so much worse, we avoid our own successes.

This is not surprising, this avoidance. Aside from a basic sense of self-criticism lurking barely beneath the skin for most people, honesty has come to have a brutal connotation in the last 30 years, especially when it comes to the relationship with ourselves.  Thanks to the self-help movement of the 70’s and up to today, self-disclosure has taken on a sense of beating oneself into a bloody, honest pulp.  “Ego” came to be seen as a bad word, and the idea that we should be more forthright with ourselves did, sometimes, involve painful disclosure to a highly critical listener.  Baked in here is so often a real lack of compassion for the reasons we hide things from ourselves, and what to do about it. I’d suggest we often don’t understand why we do things because we wait to understand them before we’ll allow compassion – but perhaps assuming a better stance might be compassion first, knowledge second.

Besides, if it’s true that we grew up on the African Savanna, hiding from things is in our DNA.  Perhaps we need it.  Perhaps if we don’t have enough stealth in order to survive, we just make up danger and we ourselves become both the lion in the tall grass and the gazelle innocently drinking.

I recall attending a required “growth” seminar for work once in which a woman was dissolved into tears in front of 600 attendees as she was “confronted” with her own sense of failure by a teacher who did not know her and did not love her.  He certainly was not going to be around to pick up the pieces when this thing was over with and she hated herself more than when she woke up that morning, her secrets and fears now smeared into the invisible social marketplace with a brutal public flogging.  I do not think this sort of pain and self-disclosure make for happy bedfellows, not long term. In other words, it’s not a sustainable sort of honesty – nor a sustainable happiness.

In the spirit of a gentle and encouraging movement toward happiness, it’s worth considering that a more frank discussion with ourselves about our little avoidances could actually be helpful.

Consider writing down everything you are lying to yourself about.  Every little deception.  The avoidances.  The things you’d rather not know. Put this somewhere that no one else will see it, and promise yourself you will be so soft and gentle and just “talk it over” with yourself, like you might with a kind friend.

Try having a moment’s meditation with yourself; imagine yourself seated in a beautiful meadow, full of flowers.  Invite yourself to drop in; picture yourself strolling into the field, happy and content, and sit down across from yourself.  Feel yourself there to be a great friend to yourself; you can be if you aren’t already.  Explain to your newly arrived self that you would like to understand a few things, no pressure, and ask yourself to assist you to understand what matters you may be keeping from yourself, or avoiding; things you are a little afraid to be totally honest with yourself about. At this juncture it’s not a bad idea to promise that this conversation is “confidential” between you and you, although at a later date you might find there are things you need to discuss with others, although maybe not – remember, this exercise is not to encourage more running from what’s true.

Talk it over, ask for clarification without justification, and chat about whether it’s possible that anything of things could see the light of day – within yourself.  When you’re done, make that list of everything you are deceiving yourself about.  Everything, small and large; every major and minor infraction toward yourself or others. This can include the good stuff!  It’s not always easy to be honest about the things we’re good at or have done well.

When you have your list written down, do nothing with it – not yet. Thank yourself for your bravery and candor, put the paper in a very safe place, or burn it. Know that you understand yourself more now, and this can never be a bad thing.  Discuss this with no one unless you have an agreement with yourself to do so.

Try this again once a month for 3 months and see what you feel in your life now that your self-relationship is building more honest trust – always a good thing.

Softly, softly, as they say in Australia.  It’s the only way to climb a thorny mountain.

Related Images:

Monastery, Followed by Khatmandu.  Whose idea was this?!?

Monastery, Followed by Khatmandu. Whose idea was this?!?

Anjani in Kathmandu, Nepal

Anjani in Kathmandu, Nepal

Yesterday, trekked down from snowy mountain monastery cabin to tea with a smiling holy dude. Today, Nepal. In what land of dubious comprehension did I gather that Kathmandu was charming, cozy Ski-Town-lite? OH.MY.GOD. Sorry, no city of 10 million (seriously?!?) can be cozy. Coming straight from Bhutan (entire population not yet 700,000), where Visa cards have yet to arrive, this is a SHOCK. New York can’t rival this. I am hiding in my hotel for a second until I catch my breath. Staying at the (evidently lovely by Kathmandu standards) Nirvana Garden, which is, in fact, gardeny, in the Thimel area. Can’t vouch for Nirvana yet.

Amusement at immigration at Kathmandu airport, to obtain visitor visa, told by officer, “That will be $25 please. Sorry, we do not take Nepalese money.”

I am confused already.

Related Images: