I wrote earlier about my trials finding an appropriate swimsuit. It has become increasingly obvious I’m in the minority when it comes to appropriate beachwear. Some of the disasters we saw on Ka’anapali Beach made our eyes bleed. For those of you anticipating a visit to a beach destination somewhere, here are 10 easy rules we came up with on our last trip. I apologize in advance for the gruesome visuals, but since we HAD to see them, it’s only fair to give you a sample of the experience.

  1. A string bikini top is not meant to tie around your waist. If that is where your breasts are, you shouldn’t be wearing a two piece suit of any species.
  2. Speedos. Just Say No, gentlemen. People have a hard time taking you seriously when you’re wearing a banana-hammock.  Not to mention keeping a straight face…
  3. If your bikini bottom needs extender-strings, then perhaps it’s a bit too small, or you shouldn’t be wearing it at all. Just sayin’….
  4. Anything you stuff into your suit or pocket of your trunks may come dislodged while you’re in the water, and then you’ll have to dive to them to the intense amusement of everyone around you.
  5. White suits and surfshirts leave little to the imagination when wet and looks like you’re wearing milky Saran Wrap.
  6. Get to know your razor. Please. They have them at the front desk if you forgot it.
  7. If you’re tanning and have your bikini top untied, please remember that fact before you sit up or roll over.  There are children all around, and the looks you’re getting may not be as complimentary as you think.
  8. Wearing a wet swimsuit doesn’t mean you will catch a cold. Changing suits under a towel in public is rarely done well, and usually shows more than you think. However, it’s great entertainment for those of us watching you try to do it.
  9. If your teenage daughter is wearing a bikini, that doesn’t mean you can. In fact, it usually means that you shouldn’t.  Really shouldn’t…
  10. Guys –  your suit is loose at the waist, please don’t dive into the pool before you check the strings. Although watching you try to disentangle it from your ankles while under water is amusing, you could drown. Don’t count on anyone jumping in to help you. We’re all laughing way too hard…

So, here’s to all the people who gave us a laugh with their Good, Bad and Ugly swimsuit choices. Cheers and thanks for the chuckles – especially if that wasn’t your intention!

Lovely North Ka'anapali Beach.

Few things can throw women into a tailspin more than shopping for a swimsuit. 100 years ago it was simple. A nice little cami and some poofy knickers with stockings were the going thing. You could hide a lot in one of those little numbers. Top it off with a fetching cap with a bow, and you were ready for the beach.

Now, fashion has decreed that it’s all out there to be seen. No mystery, no hiding little imperfections – hey, no hiding ANYTHING. Anyone who’s been to a beach lately knows just how bad people can look in the Wrong Suit.

Hence my stress.

Going through my options prior to my Maui trip, I stopped to ponder this bit of life’s unfairness. What will work with my middle-aged body? Being in the middle of a bad case of menopause, seeing myself in one of this year’s swimsuits is a whole new experience in angst. I kept thinking “when did THIS happen?”. Not that I ever got an answer, mind you…..

Swimsuit manufacturers make their suits for teens and twenty-somethings that anyone over 30 looks terrible wearing. Then they make some suits for people who are over 80, with industrial-strength underwires and unflattering flower prints in chartreuse and electric blue. There is nothing in between. Women of ‘a certain age’ are a large segment of the discretionary income market, and I would think designers would fall all over themselves to tap into a group of people who have money to spend. I was ready to drop some serious cash per suit, if it fit and looked good.  Silly me.

I’m not asking for much. An age-appropriate suit needs to cover much of the bust in a flattering and supportive way. Nice colors that can be found in nature, with a little fun embellishment would be good too. Add a little tummy control to cover that small bump caused by childbearing that only goes away with surgery, and women will flock to your racks in the store. A short, flirty skirt is not only flattering, but for those of us over 50, it’s a public service.   Why does this combination not exist in this year’s collection?   The designers must be men.

After all the angst, I’ve decided to stick with 2 suits I already have, done by designers who really understand the lucrative boomer target market. They were expensive, but worth every $$$$, and I hope they’ll live for a few more years.

I’ve reallocated my swimsuit budget this year to spa treatments. After all this stress, I need some pampering. And yes, I’m going to ROCK those suits at the beach.

I wrote this blog entry on the long train ride from Riomaggiore to Rome. It was pouring rain again, and there was really nothing to see. I found myself pondering all the tourists I’ve seen over the past week and how they could be classified.

Cruisers are the most fun. They tend to be happy-go-lucky social animals who will strike up a conversation with anyone they see. On land for only 1 day, they are focused on seeing as much as they can before they have to head back to the boat. We met two that were a real hoot. Waiting for the bus to Corniglia, a couple with very identifiable Brooklyn accents asked us a question – I don’t remember what, but we started talking. The gentleman, a retiree of New York’s Finest, told us they came on this cruise because he wanted to see Naples, where his grandfather was from. They spent one day in Naples and were so disgusted he told us he’s going to figure out someplace better to be from. You have to love that kind of attitude, and I’m not sure he didn’t have the right idea.

Kiddie Tours are great fun to watch. There are usually 30 or 40 youngsters in something matching with lots of giggles and enthusiasm.  Here they use matching baseball caps – very useful when it comes time to count heads. They’re herded around by usually 2 or 3 very harassed-looking teachers who are obviously NOT paid enough for what they do. These kids tend to be pretty well-mannered, and they’re just so cute you can’t help but smile when you see them.

Scouting groups are a great example of organized chaos. We had a whole pack on the train back from our hospital experience in La Spezia, and every one of them was soaked to the skin and had a big grin as a result. Yeah – I forget that at that age nothing’s better than to be wet and squelching when you walk.    It’s also fun to see what they’re carrying on their backpacks.  One young man had a collander strapped to his pack. I guess in Italy, it’s all a part of  the “Be Prepared” motto. You never know when you’re going to need to cook some pasta.

Pack Animals are tourists who spread out to take up whatever space there happens to be so no one can dare to pass them or break up the Perfection of The Pack. Teenagers traveling together tend to Pack, and they’re the rudest tourists in the world – bar none. Blocking entrances, tunnels and train carriages are part of their stock-in-trade. The ones  here have been more out of control than we’ve seen in other countries, with loud voices, inappropriate PDA, making fun of other tourists, and generally behaving like cigarette-throwing thugs.  They’re lucky they weren’t my kids – they’d have grounded for the next 7 or 8 years.

Teen Tours are a variant of the Pack Animals, but with chaperones. As a result, they have to at least give the appearance of being decent. They don’t spread out in Pack Formation, but they really do have the bored-to-death body expressions perfected. Slouching, eye rolling, and whining are brought to a fine art form.  In Florence at the Pitti Palace we saw the best example of the Teen Tour. It was spring break and it was obvious that these teens were all put on this tour because their parents didn’t want them at home getting into trouble.  So they dejectedly followed the guide and tried to ditch her at every corner. It didn’t work, I’m happy to say.  That woman was amazing. She knew where these kids were at all times and called them to order on a regular basis.  It was a relief to all when she realized that she either had to get them out of the museum fast, or something was going to break.

Unruly Tour Group is an older variant of the Teen Tour, including a tour guide who can be depended on to speak in the loudest voice possible and go into a lengthy explanation of every exhibit she sees. The Tour Groupies tend to spread out and jostle anyone out of the way in Pack Formation, and then take one glance at the exhibit and walk away. Seeing the angry and disgusted looks sent their way by the other tourists unfortunate enough to get in their way is most amusing.

Blending Tourists are the reason I like to travel. They’re the ones who quietly go about their business, politely waiting to see something popular, and talking in hushed voices amongst themselves. Oh, and the obligatory wink or smile at others in the know when a Pack or a Tour approach and act like total idiots makes putting up with it all such fun.

God bless them all!

I’m used to having people come up to me in the street in France and Spain and ask me for directions – .  Being Black Irish in coloring, I could pass for either depending on the light and state of jet lag.  But never before have I been mistaken for Italian.  What gives?

Here’s what got me thinking:

In the Uffizi, I was taken under the wing of a very nice docent who explained to me in great detail all about the ancient Roman statuary. All in Italian without even asking me which language I spoke. Thank heavens for my French and Spanish teachers.  Between the two languages, I was able to follow 90% of the conversation and respond in such a way as to make this lovely lady happy.   Mission accomplished.  I figured it was a fluke.

Florence Duomo

Next, I was happily prowling the streets of Florence mapping out all the places Vlad wanted to see the next day.  I was asked directions several times in halting Italian.  One very nice French family approached me in excreable Italian and the look of surprise when I responded in French was priceless. I then got into a long discussion of how I learned French at University, along with the obligatory smirks on the other side.   Always flattering, but I am convinced they only said it because they were embarrassed at mistaking a dreaded Californian for an Italian.   Not sure why.   I think we Californians are pretty nice people, and the more I travel, the more I’m sure of it. Don’t look at my passport. I came to California as a mere infant, and consider myself pretty much a native.

Piazza in Florence

The following day at the Pitti Palace, in one of the galleries, I was taken under the wing of a very nice, extremely elderly gentleman docent who explained in detail about the subjects of the paintings in the Ducal wing, as well as a good deal of history surrounding Botticelli, Rafaello, Fra Bartolomeo and other assorted artists that executed the masterpieces. He was a dapper gentleman who reminded me of my grandfather, so I let him chatter away. The strange part was I understood him perfectly (which is making me a bit suspicious) and was able to respond in a mixture of pseudo-Italian and French that made him happy.  When Vlad caught up to me, he gave a very gallant bow and went off to find other newbies to educate. What a dear man.

Florence Street Scene

There has to be something here.  There were just way too many coincidences to make it a random occurrence.  Hey Dad – are you sure you’re not part Italian?? Really sure??

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