March 29, 1998

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Vatican: Fashion Police Protect Dignity

John Owens Travel Holiday Magazine
 

While the Vatican’s dress code loosened up in 1960 (since then, women no longer have been required to cover their heads), don’t expect your shorts and T-shirt to pass muster - visitors are regularly turned away from the doors of St. Peter’s basilica.

Some determined sightseers who get stopped by these fashion police have been known to improvise, with some success (tying a long shirt around the waist, for example, to hide bare legs.)

Still, your best bet is to show up in the appropriate outfit: sleeved shirts (long enough to cover your stomach and high enough to reach your collar bone) and long pants or skirt.

Also avoid sheer fabrics or creative cutouts.

The greatest bridges in the world look breathtaking from a distance, but they’re even better up close. Here are a few giants you can explore by foot.

Brooklyn Bridge: You won’t find cars on the mile-long wooden walkway (traffic runs below), just plenty of locals and - through the bridge’s elaborate web of steel wires - an in-your-face view of the Manhattan skyline.

Golden Gate Bridge: With San Francisco on one side and Marin County on the other, you can cross this 1.7 mile granddaddy from a guard-railed path running parallel to traffic.

London Bridge: It’s taken five tries, but this version of the bridge - rising on three arches of pre-stressed concrete - seems to be here to stay. Take in views of the looming Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral during your quarter-mile walk.

If you’ve ever suffered from traveler’s diarrhea, acidopilus could be your new best friend.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association says supplements of this healthy bacteria - normally found in your intestines - may help restore balance in your gut during a bout of the trots (and may even prevent it.)

To fortify yourself, eat a cup of yogurt with live acidopilus supplement (found in most health-food stores).

Want to catch the panoramic view of Paris from the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur? Well, forget about taking the tour bus.

Following years of complaints from residents in the scenic hilltop Montmartre district, the traffic-clogging behemoths have been ordered to drop off visitors at the foot of the summit, which means a long hike.

But who needs tour buses? Three other ways to the top are a lot more fun. Hitch a ride on the Petit Train de Montmartre from Place Blanche (the commentary’s in English; fare: $5.25.) Take the funicular railway from Place Suzanne Valadon, which leaves you directly below Sacre-Coeur (fare: one Metro ticket, about $1.40.) Or get there the way many locals do: Hop on the Montmartrobus at the 19th arrondissement’s Place Pigalle (fare: one Metro ticket).

Should you run from a bear, or play dead?

Neither, depending on how your woodland visitor is behaving.

If a bear sees you, don’t bolt - bears hate to be startled. Stand in a non-threatening position, talk calmly, and wave your arms slowly. Then move away carefully, without turning your back.

If the bear follows, freeze. If it hits you, play dead, face down. Bears usually will leave once they no longer feel threatened.

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