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Archive for the ‘Hazards’ Category

Even though this is my third post on alcoholic beverages, I’m not much of a drinker, particularly when I’m by myself. But I was in Paris at Thanksgiving (in Canada, this would be the second Monday in October), and I decided to treat myself to a meal in a restaurant a step up from the cafes I’d been haunting so far. I decided on the boeuf bourguignon and a lemon tarte, and was going to splurge on some wine to accompany it all. However, looking at the menu, I was baffled: 35 cl, 45 cl, etc. It wasn’t pricing, but I didn’t know what it meant. Embarrassed by my ignorance, I was too shy to ask and ordered sparkling water instead.

I never gave this another thought until I was in Rome, and again was confronted with a wine menu I could barely decipher. I saw a white house wine, 75 cl for something like 8 or 9 euros. I’d realized by that point that this was the volume in centilitres, but for some reason, I could not picture how much wine 75 cl would be. I was used to paying $8 or $9 for a glass of wine in a restaurant at home, so in perfect vacation logic, 8 euros for a glass just made sense.

I felt like an idiot moments later when the waiter brought a bottle of wine to my table for one (for those still as foggy as I was, 75 cl = 750 ml, or the equivalent of about 6 glasses of wine). In my defense:

  1. I was on vacation, newly arrived and jet-lagged
  2. The centilitre is not a common unit of volume in Canada; litres and millilitres are used almost exclusively
  3. Math is hard, yo!

My choices seemed to be either waste a perfectly good bottle of wine that I was already paying for by only drinking a glass or two, or get tanked on my first night in Rome and hope I stumbled back to my hotel in good shape. I chose option C instead: while I didn’t drink the whole bottle, I did put a very serious dent in it (I believe my final tally was about 4 glasses).

Approximately a half hour later, I rose from the table after my meal, feeling no pain. Though the world was spinning a bit, I still managed to walk away without tripping or running into anything. Luckily, my plan that night was to take a night walk around some of Rome’s more famous public spaces; though I was acutely aware of every step I took, the fresh night air (and the tartufo I stopped for in the Piazza Navona) restored my equilibrium and I no longer felt as lightheaded.

I’d been schooled, and I’m a better wine drinker for it.

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Everywhere in Las Vegas, you’ll see pamphlets and sandwich boards advertising day trips outside of the city, with the most popular being a bus tour to the Grand Canyon. Not wanting to spend all my time in Vegas, I had pre-booked a tour beforehand.

I chose a bus tour to the South Rim – approximately 4.5 hours away. The West Rim is closer and where the Skywalk is located, but the South Rim views are famous. There was an optional IMAX film for extra money, but I declined because I’d rather spend the time seeing the real thing.

Can you see the snow? This was taken in mid-April, but it was still fairly cold. The trails around the canyon are at a high altitude.

This tour was the most disappointing thing about my time in Vegas:

Unfamiliar with American school holidays, I booked my trip to Vegas during their Spring Break. It’s a very busy time for tour operators – they had three buses leaving that day for just the South Rim tour alone, and due to long line-ups from hundreds of people checking in, I ended up on the last bus, which left at least a half hour after the first one. I had left my hotel at 6:00 a.m., and was 8:30 before my bus really got rolling.

I found out at check-in that while viewing the IMAX movie was optional, I would be stopping regardless as the theatre was located where we would be having lunch and the bus would be waiting for those who purchased tickets. The centre was not located at the Canyon, but a 15-minute drive away. The movie ran once an hour, and we just missed the start of one showing when we arrived.

There was a scheduled photo op at the Hoover Dam and a pit stop at a gas station along the way. Every time we had a “10-minute” stop, it took the driver at least 30 minutes to get everyone back on the bus again. Rounding everyone up after lunch was equally as painful.

When we finally arrived at the Grand Canyon, the driver told us we could walk the trail to the next observation point, or come back to the bus and drive there – but the walk was only about 30 minutes, he said. So, everyone decided to walk the trail including two families with small kids and a couple where the husband had difficulty walking for long periods. The trail walk was beautiful, definitely the highlight of the day, but it would take an hour at least for most people to walk it. To sum up, we did not leave the Grand Canyon on time as we had to wait for others who were still out on the trail. It was past midnight before I was back at my hotel – I had been gone more than 18 hours.

Unfortunately, the late afternoon sun washed out a lot of my photos, and they lost any sense of height and depth.

In fairness, the tour did advertise about 3.5 hours at the park and 16 hours total trip time (I got slightly less time at the park, and considerably more trip time overall), but facts are one thing, experiencing them is another.

In the end, I’d advise planning an overnight trip there instead of a day trip. Or go to Death Valley instead – it’s much closer so you spend more time in the park, and less inside of a bus.

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