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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Bull Market

In a move that has the bullfighting industry seeing red, a matador has agreed to advertising a beverage on his cape. According to industry experts, this is the first time such a promotion has appeared in the ring. Some say the cape is sacred part of the "ritual of bullfighting," while others say sponsorship has become the standard in other sports and bullfighting should be no different.

"All sports teams have advertising on their uniforms," matador Joselito Ortega told CNN. The next time he steps in the ring, he will be using pink capes embroidered with the words "Gay Up," the name of the energy drink, which targets the gay market.

"Our hope is that Joselito Ortega becomes a huge figure in bullfighting and an icon for the million of gays that love the sport inside and out of Spain," José María Terrón, the president of the company that produces the drink, told El Mundo.

Ortega, who is heterosexual, just wants to perform well.

"I am a bullfighter. That is not going to change," he told the press. "I am going to go out into the ring as I have done until now, to risk my life, and the seven goring wounds on my body prove that. If the gay community welcomes me as an image or a symbol, that is fine."


TRAVEL TOKEN: Which souvenir would you like me to bring home from Spain: a four-pack of "Gay Up," a pink bullfighting cape, or Joselito Ortega?

Bullfighter Joselito Ortega poses with the cape at his home in Benalmadena, southern Spain, on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2009. Ortega is breaking with a sacred tradition, agreeing to serve as an advertising billboard while slaying bulls and endorse a soft drink that caters to gays. (AP Photo/Sergio Torres)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Excess Baggage

You won't see these suitcases coming around the baggage carousel any time soon:

1. This meat bag was part of a print advertisement campaign launched by VLCC, a beauty and fitness company in India.

2.French designer and artist PinkWolf has created luggage that makes a bold statement in the security line. If the gun suitcase isn't quite your style, perhaps the knife or hatchet might be more suitable.

3. While this was a Amnesty International campaign designed to call attention to human trafficking, I would like to see a piece of luggage with a 360-degree photo-realistic image of someone stuffed in inside.

If you want to see more, check out some pre-filled suitcases, that make life's bigger pleasures more portable.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It wouldn't be so funny if it happened to you . . .

Travel is full of unexpected surprises (good or bad); that's one thing I like about it. But sometimes, things can go a little too far. In this case, it's far more enjoyable to read about travel mishaps than experience them first-hand.

"Monkey pushes woman off cliff" read the headline on Wednesday's "Weird News" feed. Naturally, I had to click the link. The woman, who was visiting the Chengdu Wildlife Park in China, fractured her hip and broke three ribs after plunging 20 feet off the side of a cliff when she was pushed by a primate in hot pursuit of goodies she had with her. A spokesman for the park told the press, "Her mistake was to show fear. If you show fear, a monkey will bully you." Yeah, but getting thrown off a cliff? The 60-year-old woman is suing her travel agent.

A woman got more than she gambled for on a Southwest flight to Las Vegas last month. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that a man exposed himself to his female seatmate, then punched her when she screamed. He proceeded to removes his clothes as flight attendants and passengers tried to subdued him. The woman was taken to the hospital for treatment, and Darius Chappille was carted off to jail.

Speaking of naked antics . . . last month, Reuters reported that an extremely drunk, nude man stumbled back to the wrong hotel room in Queenstown, New Zealand. He fell asleep in the room where another couple had been sleeping; the female occupant hid in the bathroom while her husband called the hotel staff. The drunk man could not remember with whom he had been, nor which room. No charges were filed in the incident.

If you want to check out more tales of travel gone wrong, visit, which nominates the best of the worst travel experiences. There is a particularly harrowing bus ride that scares me silly. See below or click here to view.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Heading out again

In a few weeks time, I will be going abroad once again. Chris will be attending a conference in Madrid, and then we will travel together to Portugal. After I got laid off in February, I extended my travels on either side of his conference, which means I'll be out and about for a total of 21 days.

This time around, two "guest travelers" will join me on different legs of the trip. Lauren, a fellow Lake Erie Living alum, is coming for excursions to the North African coast and the Canary Islands. Jen, who is on my rowing team, will meet me in Portugal on the day Chris flies home.

The itinerary will include . . .

. . . Gibraltar. Spain wants a piece of this rock, but it's still in the hands of the British. The territory on the southern tip of Spain is home to the only population of wild primates in Europe, known as the Barbary Apes.

. . . Ceuta. Spain has two territories on the African mainland: Ceuta and Melilla. Ceuta is only a 30-minute ferry ride from Algeciras, Spain, and local bargain hunters head there for duty-free shopping. From here, it's possible to enter Morocco.

. . . The Canary Islands. Before starting to plan this trip, I knew very little about the archipelago, which is considered the "Hawaii of Europe." We are extremely fortunate to have a contact on the island of Tenerife who has kindly offered his services as tour guide. We're looking forward to exploring Mount Teide National Park (according to a tourism brochure it's the most-visited park in Spain), and the black sand beaches on the northern shore.

. . . Sintra, Portugal. According to Frommers: "Since the Moorish occupation, Portuguese kings and nobles have recognized this town's irresistible charm. You'll find a denser concentration of beautiful villas and gardens here than you'll find anywhere else in Portugal. At least five major palaces and convents are tucked amid the lush vegetation."