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The Last Year For Astroland And Coney Island Will Never Be The Same

This morning I heard some disturbing news on the radio. The Coney Island amusement park (AKA the Astroland Amusment park) has been sold to a real estate developer, at least according to the NPR story I woke up to. Everything save the cyclone, an official landmark, will be torn down and made into…What exactly? That is the question.

When I first heard the news I was blurry with sleep but this got my blood pumping. It’s sacrilege to tear down Coney Island! After all, I have yet to go on all the rides! I’m thinking what – more luxury rentals by the sea? Is there no one else who wants to see some things remain the same? Ugh, I feel old. It’s an ugly thought this early in the morning. But what about preservation of an icon?

Beware Gaperophobia

I grew up in a place no one visits. To be fair to the people who never go there, there’s not a lot of draw in Fargo, North Dakota. While a growing number of quality of life studies underscore plenty of things about Fargo that lure folks to live there, there’s not much average tourists (excluding Roger Maris fans) would go out of their way to see, as they might for, say, the Great Wall of China, or Machu Picchu. (Although, have you seen the Hjemkomst Center? Okay, so maybe it’s technically in Minnesota – but you can see it from Fargo if you stand in the right spot…I know, I’m grasping.)

Meals Made of Italy

My worst international dining experience can be summarized in a frozen moment: I’m sitting in an Andean restaurant jaw dropped as a waiter walks to the next table over with a guinea pig on a plate, spindly rodent feet and all. Probably not the most appetizing way for me to begin a posting on food, but I bring this anecdote up only to contrast against the total glory that is being a cheese-loving vegetarian in Italy.

Venice: Bride or Bridezilla of the Sea?

Getting across St. Mark’s Square, the tourist focal point of Venice, is ordinarily like playing the video game Frogger, but with pigeons. Add in a flood, and the “Bride of the Sea” becomes Bridezilla–delicate to negotiate, ready to teeter over the edge at a moment’s notice, and squeezing out the waterworks for dramatic effect.

This is why, when I told friends and family I wanted to go to Venice in December, I was met with a number of skeptical looks. It is, after all, the rainy season in a city that is sinking, and the time of year most prone to floods. It is also the time of year with the least crowds and lines. Which seemed great reasons to me to pack my wading boots and umbrella.

The Passport Sitch

So, I had to get a new passport this year, which I had known for a while, as I recall noting it when I went to the U.K. last year. But then I forgot. And then I was dreading it. You know the hassle: the paperwork, living without it for weeks, and I don’t know. But just getting it renewed seemed like a mighty burden. Then again, if I didn’t get it done soon, I might not be able to get out of the country for fear that I wouldn’t be able to get back INTO the country. To complicate matters, I had not one, but two international trips to navigate, which all meant that I had better get my passport renewed and fast.

The passport rules actually state that some countries won’t accept your passport unless it is valid for over six months from the date you arrive. I pushed it in Tanzania and Rwanda, but fortunately I squeaked out of both with my imminent expiration undetected. I returned stateside in late June. I was tired. July came and I downloaded the form for renewal and that was, by the way, a really expedient way to get this process started!