I’d like to make a toast to a post

Book cover Travelers' TalesAs always, when you attend a conference and fill out various forms, you eventually end up on several e-mail and newsletter lists. I went to a travel writing conference in August 2014, so when I opened an e-mail this past October and first scanned it, I thought it was a solicitation to pre-order The Best Travel Writing vol. 10 published by Travelers’ Tales. But then I read the message again and again. 

Dear Stephanie,

We are interested in including your story in our forthcoming book, The Best Travel Writing Volume 10, edited by James O’Reilly, Larry Habegger and Sean O’Reilly, to be published in January of 2015.

Enclosed is a copy of a release. If you agree with the terms, please print two copies, then sign and return both copies to me (via email or snail mail). A countersigned copy will be returned to you with your check upon publication.,,,,,

The published book finally came in the mail this month, and I just held it in my hands for several minutes, looking at the front and back covers before I even cracked it open to find my story. I have to say that I had submitted “I Have a Problem with the Blood of a Woman” to a few different publications both print and online a few years ago. And it was rejected each time. So I posted it on Travel Oops back in April, 2013. The response was positive, and it motivated me to submit the story to Travelers’ Tales.

My story

I’m ecstatic to have the story included in the Best Travel Writing anthology. In fact, I thought I might jinx things by talking about it much before I actually saw my story in print. It’s now in print and I’d like to raise a glass to the Word Press Community, travel and my original post. Thank you!

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“I Have a Problem with the Blood of a Woman…”

women's restroom
Barcelona, Spain. 1995

Stationing myself next to Ba-Ba-Reeba’s restroom, I stopped every woman who entered and asked, “Perdon, tiene usted un tampon? TamPONE? Tampax? Playtex? Kotex?”

Just moments earlier while enjoying a beer and tapas at the Barcelona bar with some Americans I had met on a train from Madrid, I discovered the added company of my period.  Yikes — my supplies were a few miles away back at a pension off Las Ramblas. I asked my new friend Allie if she had a tampon. Nope.

Back in the bathroom, there was no dispenser in sight, and no one who came in seemed to have any spare tampons or pads. Didn’t anyone carry backups?  It was time to act since I didn’t want my only pair of jeans to be ruined. Leaving Ba-Ba-Reeba, I searched the streets near Plaça de Catalunya. Surely, Wal-Mart had invaded Catalunya.

It was siesta time, and the nearby shops and stores were closed while shopkeepers observed the afternoon break. It seemed inevitable. I would have to approach the intimidating women of Iberia on the streets.

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The Travel Ahh…Alleyways and Side Streets

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

Side streets and alleyways often exude mystery. What’s around the corner or what will I find? Danger? Intrigue? Side streets and alleys often have a negative, managing connotation and are associated with dodgy activities. Perhaps, that’s the appeal. The photo collection of alleyways and side streets here is not particularly threatening — especially since the photos were taken in the daytime. However, each alleyway and street offered something interesting.

The shot above and the following two pictures I took in Melbourne, Australia. I was lucky to be traveling with Amy, a dear friend of mine who is an excellent photographer, and she inspired me to appreciate beauty in even the smallest detail.

© Stephanie Glaser

© Stephanie Glaser

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

© Stephanie Glaser 2010

I really like this shot above because you can see Federation Square — perhaps the opposite of an alleyway — A cheery meeting place with heaps of activity.

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The Travel Ahh…Meeting locals

© Stephanie Glaser 2003

© Stephanie Glaser 2003

Isn’t one of the reasons we travel to meet people from other cultures? It’s the best way to gain new perspectives and an appreciation of the world. Kurt and I met the woman above on a bus traveling to Marigot in St. Maarten. Friendly and helpful, she told us about a local market to visit and enlightened us on some Caribbean customs.

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The Travel Ahh…Rooftops

© Stephanie Glaser

Rooftops have always captured my attention like these in Florence, Italy (above). Maybe it’s the expression “a roof over your head.” Perhaps it’s that you know underneath is a home or business. A rooftop represents not only shelter, but people to me.

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The Travel Oops Interview: Playing baseball “The Midway Globtrotters” style in Spain

photo courtesy of Ray Glaser

The average civilian might think that while being stationed in the Navy on the Midway, the largest air craft carrier in the US fleet during the 1950’s, playing sports would be next to impossible. Not so for Ray Glaser, my father-in-law, who is an athlete at heart. In fact, sports were an integral part of his military career and contributed to some of his fondest memories.

© Ray Glaser

© Midway yearbook

Ray played baseball on a soccer field in Spain, ran the 220 meter dash in Athens’s Olympic stadium, and learned to ski in Switzerland.

A Quarter Master who plotted visual communication and navigation, Ray served four tours in the Mediterranean on the Midway aircraft carrier from 1949-1953. During that time, he played for the Midway basketball, baseball and track teams.

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The Travel Ahh….Seeing Soccer in a Fútbol Nation

© Stephanie Glaser

Seeing a soccer game in Spain in 1995 was definitely the most cultural event I think I’ve experienced. And this was no ordinary game — it was Real Madrid vs. Barcelona (at Nou Camp Stadium in Barcelona.) We’re talking a MASSIVE game.

I’m the one who definitely scored. Maria, a Spanish friend of mine from college, hooked me up with a ticket to this game. It just so happens her father was the head cardiac surgeon at one of the main hospitals in Barcelona. He had just recently performed surgery on a big time soccer official. I guess a soccer ticket for an American fan was a small favor.

My special ticket

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Gimme Shelter — In a Gaudí, Please

© Stephanie Glaser 1995

Dr. Suess. That was my first thought when I saw Antoni Gaudí’s buildings in Barcelona for the first time — especially Casa Batlló (above). After seeing Gaudí’s creations, I started paying more attention to architecture. These marvelous structures capture imagination. I love them. They also capture memories — especially the special cathedral, La Sagrada Família, which reminds me a drip castle that you can make at the beach by letting wet sand dribble from your hands into a pile. 

All three buildings featured in these photos are part of Gaudí’s works listed as World UNESCO Heritage Sites.

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The Travel Ahh…Going to the Market

La Boqueria Market in Barcelona, Spain. Visiting markets is a big part of absorbing culture. One of the oldest markets in Spain, La Boqueria, offers full on sensory details. I loved hearing the buzz of everyone talking, ordering, as well as the shuffling and unloading of goods. And, of course, the mix of smells from fish to bread to fresh produce is a trademark of any market. The colors, even the variations of the whites, grays and pinks of the seafood, feed your eyes, indeed. However, the best is the reward of buying something fresh like a warm churro and enjoying it while taking a stroll down La Rambla.

© Stephanie Glaser

In Spain: Asking for Directions in Dutchlish

Sevilla and its winding streets.
© Stephanie Glaser

Asking for directions in a large city in a foreign country is stressful. Usually, you are lost in the first place, and if the country’s citizens, understandably, don’t speak English, much effort is involved in the inquiry. Additionally, the streets of many older cities in the world were not developed with the grid system in mind.

This is the case, certainly, in Sevilla, Spain. The streets wind around and often, it seems, their names change randomly.

My mom, Judy, and I visited Sevilla during Semana Santa, Holy Week — the biggest religious celebration of the year. It was challenging to navigate since the city was so crowded. Also, impressive religious processions with large wooden floats, containing religious relics, would flood many of the streets. Consequently, you’d have to go down another street, which may have another procession coming through.

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