15 – Best bars around the world & Some funny happenings along the way

BEST BARS AROUND THE WORLD

I made it a mission years ago to seek out the best bars around the world. Now that I am a grand mother and a little bit older and wiser maybe, this was not the most honourable of chosen hobbies.

But I had a bet with my son Adam that I could find more bars than he could when travelling around the world, and although Adam frequents watering holes more than me, I reckon I have got the best bars title ‘in the bag’.

RED DOG SALLOON BAR JUNEAU ALASKA sawdust floor
RED DOG SALLOON BAR JUNEAU ALASKA sawdust floor

ALASKA – JUNEAU – IT’S A RIPPER  Downtown Juneau has the famous dock-side ‘Red Dog Saloon’ complete with sawdust floor and tons of atmosphere, boasting the biggest hamburgers in Alaska, and one sits in there anticipating that any minute John Wayne will just come bursting through the swinging saloon doors with six guns blazing. RED DOG SALOON MENU READS Alaskan beers on Tap….Guinness Draught….LIQUOR – Cheap Shit (pretty good stuff), Expensive shit, Really expensive shit….. SALOON FAVOURITES Duck Fart, Glacier Margarita, Draft Rootbeer, O’Douls Amber

PARIS – Aux troi Mallaiz – 56 rue Galande (the three mallets roughly translated) on the left bonk in Paris, yes bonk it is left, right and centre.  Our Globus top sellers group who had 5 days in Paris just happened upon this quaint and memorable night club.

Aux trois mailletz on the Paris Left Bank, a fantastic jazz club operates till 5.00am daily
Aux trois mailletz on the Paris Left Bank, a fantastic jazz club operates till 5.00am daily

We only stumbled upon it because sitting outside on rusty uncomfortable chairs we could not work out where people were disappearing to inside, till we followed the stairs downwards and the jazz music and there it was like a cave.  It was so good we went there a second night.

Getting back to our hotel was something else as taxi’s do not just pick up passengers on the street, so it was a 10km walk through the darkened streets of Paris, and many blisters later.

PARIS RITZ – We had dinner there as guests of Globus top sellers, now this was a very swanky place to sip French Champagne at the RITZIEST bar in town and feel important.

Paris Ritz dinner for Globus top 10 from each state in 2000
Paris Ritz dinner for Globus top 10 from each state in 2000

PARIS – MAXIM’S – Frog legs washed down with French champagne and good company at this well know Paris restaurant.

GREECEMYKONOS – Platyis Gialos beach, lots of bars and tavernas along the beachfront, loaded with atmosphere, and ouzo.

Geros Tou Moria traditional Greek dancing
Geros Tou Moria traditional Greek dancing

GREECE – ATHENS – THE PLAKA – what a wonderful place this is to while the evenings away, you could go to a different bar, or taverna, or bouzouki bar every night of the week and still not see half of the night life abundant here.  Good safe fun.  I do like the Geros Tou Moria for traditional Greek music and dancing, and they even let you break plates if you ask nicely.  First time I asked on first visit if I could break plates Stefano the owner nodded his head,  little did I know that in Greece a nod of the head means NO! Too late she cried.  I said to him you wait till I bring a group back to break plates to which he grinned, little knowing that I am always true to my word, and one year later took 35 people back (to break plates).

Geros Tou Moria Taverna in the Plaka Athens
Geros Tou Moria Taverna in the Plaka Athens

GREECE – ATHENS – PLAKA – SISSIFOS TAVERNA – a fun place for Greek dancing and dining late into the night.  We did have a fine time there with Christa a friend from Florida we met on our Athens day tours also staying at the Grand Bretagne.

Taverna Sissifos in Plaka area
Taverna Sissifos in Plaka area

ITALY FLORENCE – HARRY’S BAR  John and I found Harry’s bar quite by accident walking along the bank of the Arno river in Florence, we heard the jazz coming out of a place, and John lifted me up to look through the window, looked great so we went in and stayed till early morning. Apart from us, many famous people have been there like Paloma Picasso, Burt Lancaster, Margot Hemingway and Paul Newman, Robin Williams. Many other celebrities ate at Harry’s Bar, Zeffirelli, and Elizabeth Taylor. Harry’s Bar has been on Lungarno Vespucci for 50 years, and the characteristics that make it so special are still the same: being very attentive its guests and taking special care to the cuisine.

CHINABEIJING – Sheraton Wall, downstairs, great place for local girls to meet with visitors from the west.

CARIBBEAN – Mexico – Cozumel – When we disembarked at Cozumel we were told to visit a funny bar called Carlos’n Charlies which we discovered was a gay bar, where most of the off duty ship people went.

Carlos 'n Charlies bar in Cozumel Mexico
Carlos ‘n Charlies bar in Cozumel Mexico

Slushy Margaritas were the order of the day served on brown paper table cloths by whistle blowing waiters.  The band was loud and people danced on tables.  How we got back to the ship later was anyone’s guess.

 

SINGAPORERAFFLES HOTEL – The Long Bar here a must famous for its singapore slings and great fun peeling peanuts and dropping the shells on the floor.

John at Raffles Hotel Singapore
John at Raffles Hotel Singapore
John in the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel, lining up for a Gin sling and peanuts
John in the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel, lining up for a Gin sling and peanuts

 

 

 

 

 

HONOLULU – HAWAII          Moose McGillycuddy’s in Lewers Road Honolulu.  I can recall forming a human pyramid on the dance floor with some American sailors.  My friend Jackie got in a fierce argument with an American guy who asked her “what we were doing about looking after our aboriginals in Australia” to which she replied “well fuck you, what are you lot bloody well doing about your native Indians”?

Moose McGillycuddy's bar in Honolulu
Moose McGillycuddy’s bar in Honolulu

HONG KONG – Joe Bananas.  Oh what a steamy joint with its dark louvred windows looking out over sleazy streets in downtown Wanchai (Suzie Wong territory).  Discreet little corners, upstairs/downstairs, groovy music, don’t worry about going home before daylight!

The original Joe Bananas at Wanchai Hongkong
The original Joe Bananas at Wanchai Hongkong

ZIMBABWE – ‘Harpers‘ Harare nightclub, Thursday night  is “boys night out on the town”.  And what an atmosphere there, with half-lit rooms and annexes surrounding a sunken dance floor, where a five piece jazz/rock/regae band beats out a rhythm, that only an African band can.  Here, well dressed coloured gentlemen, mingle with whites, and openly court the courtesans. Sometimes it appears, just one is not enough as one very happy reveller had a woman draped on each arm, and it was clearly evident that the local girls of the night were “going to sleep on the job”.

YEPPOON – CLUB 28 – ‘Aint half bad. Is a great venue when at the Little Theatre shed. Great band, lots of dancing on tables and stage, we had prime position with elegant seating in the middle of the dance floor. Good wholesome comraderie of all ages, mainly over 40’s though, some over 70!!!!

More later……….still sampling and compiling!

***********************************

SOME FUNNY HAPPENINGS ALONG THE WAY

ALASKA- KETCHIKAN – We all went downtown Ketchikan for 49’ers at a local Pub, late in the evening on announcing that we were heading back to our hotel, one burly local  was heard to utter “we ain’t done dancin’, and we ain’t done drinkin’ ” which saw all of us bolt for the front door and up Creek Street and the funicular to the Westmark as fast as our legs would carry us.

ALASKA – FLIGHT FROM KETCHIKAN  Our next flight, which was nearly a ‘Claytons’, as two of our team were at the end of the queue  to check in, told to board immediately, one being me, and as the plane started to taxi out of Ketchikan, the two of us were still standing at the rear of the aircraft without a seat, with very worried looks on our faces hanging on to the seat-backs either side of the aisle for stability. Fortunately just before take-off a father nursed his daughter availing one seat, and a flight attendant on holiday, relinquished her seat for the jump seat. We made it, even though the pilot told a story about how a fish landed in the cockpit on one of their flights!  Not quite as bad as it sounded, as evidently a bald eagle.

ALASKA, ALYESKA SKI RESORT –   I thought it strange as I was browsing in the Resort shop that the floor rattled beneath me like  an underground metro/train station, and I thought no way, there are no trainst underneath the Hotel right out in the wilderness, and didn’t think anymore about it till I heard on the radio and read in the newspaper next day there had been a 5.2 on the Richter scale, earthquake that had shook the floor of the hotel shop!

ALASKA – DAWSON Most memorable there was the pub with the miner’s toe in a glass where tourists had to show their courage by throwing down an alcoholic drink with the toe in it and it had to touch your lips. Yuk, (no wonder it is called the YUK ON!) imagine how many lips that dirty toe had touched (not this little black ducks’)

NEW ZEALAND – On my first group trip to NZ an educational with a Horizon Tours we did a day cruise of Milford Sound where  I came face to face with this very familiar gorgeous looking guy.  I could’nt think of his name but bowled up to him and said “I went to school with you didn’t I, but I can’t remember your name”.

Actor Peter Strauss on Milford Sound cruise
Actor Peter Strauss on Milford Sound cruise

To which he replied in a very American accent “I don’t think so ma’am”. It was in fact Peter Strauss from the TV series “Rich man, poor man” who kindly allowed me to photograph him with a gorgeous quizzical look on his face! He was in NZ making a new mini series called “Brotherhood of the Rose” a spy story about two brothers Romulus and Remus

NEW ZEALAND: On John’s group tour where he and Don Smith were standing talking at an outdoor bar having a beer, when someone let a sheep dog off the chain, and to Don’s dismay, he saw his trouser leg change colour, the dog had used his leg for a tree to pee on.

NEW ZEALAND: We were in Christchurch for a Harvey World Travel conference and when on a property for a barbecue tea, were shown a sheep shearing exhibition by a farmer with stud sheep, he jokingly asked if any of the travel agents present could shear a sheep and have a go, never dreaming that someone in the travel trade could, but John took up the challenge (little did the guy know our John used to shear 100 a day back in our farm days) John duly removed the whole fleece in a few minutes and pushed the shorn sheep out through a trapdoor, with the startled farmer chasing his pet sheep down the hill!.

ALSO NEW ZEALAND AT ROTORUA where the air stinks the whole time of sulphur, the chairman of HWT in his opening address said that husbands had better be careful because here at Rotorua their wives jewellery could turn black from all the sulphur in the air revealing they hadn’t bought pure gold or silver for their spouses.  He also added this was the only place in the world you could pass wind and make a contribution.

FIJI – we arrived at Nadi airport Fiji to meet our transfer driver Moses.  We said “Hi, Moses, this is Adam who will sit in front with you”!  So we had Moses and Adam up front, a very biblical start to proceedings. When half way to our destination  “The Shangri-la Fijian Resort”  Moses suddenly pulled over to his side of the road  exclaiming “puncture”. He very adroitly changed the tyre in the dark in about ten minutes flat.  John had just pointed out to me with raised eye-brows in the half light the lack of tread on the tyre to be changed, when I remarked “Moses that is the fastest tyre change I have ever seen”  he retorted proudly “fifth one today ma’am”!

FIJI -On departure from Fiji, you have to laugh at the inadequacy of the Customs people at the airport, as they only have one stamp between three out-going clerks, so one has to pass the stamp from one to other to the other. And while there were still about 200 passengers in the queue for the scheduled flight waiting to have their passports stamped, a call came over the PA system “flight FJ910 is now departing for Sydney”!    Fiji time.

GREECE- MYKONOS – Platys Gialos beach – After downing a couple of fast complimentary ouzo’s to compliment a great meal,and a few Greek red wines, we headed for the water’s edge.  All dressed up in the Shirley Valentine dress, the idea to emulate that great love scene in ‘From Here to Eternity’ with Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster sprang to mind.  The suggestion to my Stavros was not received favourably, and he declined and reclined in his deck chair.  Meanwhile my deck chair folded up sending me to the sand, and lying helpless, I was engulfed, no not by my Stavros but by a huge wave from nowhere.  King Neptune had got me, or was it the God Poseidon? Johnno said all he could see was my nose sticking up out of the foam!

 

Platyis Gialos beach Mykonos - my Shirley Valentine beach
Platyis Gialos beach Mykonos – my Shirley Valentine beach

 

GREECE – SANTORINI – We had a funny experience when I was escorting some of my “oldies”,in Santorini they happened to see John in a gold vendors, jewellery shop and pointed me in, saying he was probably buying me a present.

Santorini gold shop where John bought the bracelet
Santorini gold shop where John bought the bracelet

I said that is nice dear.  However it turned out he was purchasing a bracelet with Greek meander pattern for the young female jockey who rides his horses at home, but asked me to try it on to see what it looked like.  I got called out of the shop and started counting everyone back down the cable cars, when I nearly had them all down, and started to tell one of the remaining ones about the bracelet, when I just happened to notice it was still resplendent on my arm, with price tag, unpaid for!  I had no idea it was still there. So, a mad dash, down to the shop again to confess the sin, to a completely disdainful merchant who could not have cared less, and did not even offer a thankyou when I dropped it on the counter.  I could have had a lovely bracelet, as well as “the girl friend” but did not fancy the likelihood of a Greek prison term, and a group of Aussie tourists on “the loose” without their leader. 

USA NEW YORK – Just like in NZ, this intrepid traveller thought she saw some people she knew and boldly fronted them. But on exiting the foyer of the Empire State Building with John, I said hey isn’t that Greg from our Bank at Cowra who lives in our street strolling past?  John said “Don’t be so bloody silly Colleen, they all look a bit like Groucho Marx here in America”!  So for once I did not front him and say Hi.  But on getting back to Cowra and enquiring where Greg was at the Bank, I was told “Oh he is in New York at the moment”! And sure enough it was him.

PALM SPRINGS  where little Deb and I had a ‘herbal wrap’ that cost an arm and a leg – almost literally, as the purveyor (a lady I think from some German military camp) of steaming hot towels seemed to forget we were cooking in swaddling steam towels and as we had been told on being “wrapped up” with cucumba slices on the eyes and lips, not to speak for a half an hour, imagine me not speaking for a half hour, this imposition was almost too much to handle. I now deem, ‘herbal wraps’  in the realm of masochism along with the other alternatives offered “Loofah Scrub”, “Full body Algae Mask”. All little Deb and I got out of it was a massive headache.  Never again!

 USAHAWII ith our first group to the USA, we had bachelor Tom with us, but this was fraught with a farcical beginning where on our first night out from Australia, Ernie who was sharing a room with Tom at the Princess Kauilani Hotel in Waikiki, came down for dinner declaring “I think Tom is dead! I said “Oh no, not a “stiff ” on our first group tour to America) Ernie said “ I have tried waking him by banging everything in sight, door, toilet seat etc, not even a blink from Tom”. So I psyched myself up to see a ‘dead man’ took the keys to open Tom’s door, but got a bit scared, so I phoned his room on the in house phone, and a chirpy Tom answered the phone, to which I said “Oh Tom, you’re still alive!” to which he replied “of course what time’s dinner”?

Tom who turned 80 at our day in Disneyland where we gave him a donut with a candle in it and a Mickey Mouse shirt and he said it was the best birthday he had ever had.Tom actually lived to be 98, and we took him on many more trips after this one, all around the world in fact.

SAN FRANCISCO this same group of about 35 people, our Coach driver Richard had thought us a lovely bunch of Aussie visitors and impromptu decided to ask us all back to his house for afternoon tea!  So he phoned his wife up on his cell phone and said “Dear I  am bringing 35 people for afternoon tea because remember when we went to Europe, specifically Switzerland,  we would have loved to have visited a private home there”. We thought his wife would kill him, but no she had cakes laid out, glasses of cool drinks, cups of tea and coffee and really spoilt us with Californian hospitality.  Their delightful unobtrusive bungalow was very comfortable and the rear of it faced one of the water canals we did not know existed in San Francisco.

NIAGARA FALLS TOUR Our next little expedition, was a TPRO coach tour this was with a coach load of Spanish tourists and we were the only two English speaking on the tour, so was a funny trip up through the Catskill mountains and Finger Lakes district to the “other New York”, delightful countryside, to “shuffle off to Buffalo”.  We got on well with the Spaniards understanding their body language and gesticulations, and toward the end of the tour it was funny because they would say “sing  Woodwards” so John and I would sing “Start spreading the news, we’re leaving today, New York, New York”.

NEW YORK: We just had to go to a Broadway Show, the one chosen “Five Guys Named Mo” as we were with our friend Mo and his wife Marilyn, where one even had a chance to dance on Broadway when the cast invited a conga-line from the audience up and over the stage, but regrettably I missed my chance to dance on Broadway as we were seated in the middle of a long rowe of people to crawl over. Damn it all.

NEW YORK: After the show a stroll down Times Square where Broadway meets 42nd Street, and supper at Michael’s Pub (closed in the late 90’s) where Woody Allen played clarinet on Monday nights. Funny thing happened here, we arrived in time for the second sitting to be at the end of a very long cue.  And I hate cues, so on skirting around it and asking at the entrance how long till Woody’s next show, and being told 10 minutes, I yelled out  “Woodies not coming back  tonight” (ha ha, guess what…. he didn’t front, serves me right).

RODEO DRIVE, LA Two mini bus loads stopping for a toilet break at the Beverley Wiltshire to the surprise of its guests seeing a troop of Aussies storm through the hotel to the toilets with John videoing them.  They may have thought it filming a movie “Visitors from Down Under”

DEATH VALLEY: We took a coach from Anaheim through to Las Vegas and another funny toilet stop mid-way in the middle of Death Valley where screams emanated from the toilet block, I thought because I had spied a sign saying ‘Beware of Rattle snakes” but no it was because our ladies had spotted another lady from Cowra not in our group also stopping at the same toilet.  We stayed 2 nights at the Flamingo Hilton Las Vegas doing their fabulous evening show of follies on ice.

Tijuana bullfight quite a funny day, you wouldn't believe unless you were there, would you Jimbo?
Tijuana bullfight quite a funny day, you wouldn’t believe unless you were there, would you Jimbo?

MEXICO : We drove in hire cars down south from LA to San Diego Sea World then went through extensive checks at the border control to Mexico where we went to Tijuana to a Bull fight would you believe.  Tijuana was a dirty, decadent looking city with obviously a lot of crime, there were lots of broken down very old rusty police cars with crooked tyres and dents everywhere cruising around all day. It was a funny day, as we had been drinking slushy Margarita’s there and we took them in large milk shake containers to the Bullfight. When we tried to pay at the entrance gate the man would not sell us tickets as he said the stadium was full, so I said if I sing you a song will you let us in, he said if it was any good he would so I sang “My boomerang won’t come back, my boomerang won’t come back” my singing must have been OK for a change as he let us in, saying “Plumb loco” as he gave us our tickets. That’s not joke is it Jimbo?

We were  sitting half way up the stand, things got very noisy and heated with the passion and emotion of the bullfight, and me feeling terribly sorry for the poor bulls who were mercilessly slaughtered and then unceremoniously dragged out of the stand, started yelling out “Come on the Bull” to which cushions, and cokes and God knows what got hurled in our direction! It appeared I was on the wrong team.  It was all about the matador.  Anyway we got out unscathed fortunately, although there was a car blown up in the car park when we got there.  Just as well it wasn’t our hire car! 

SOUTH AMERICA Machu Picchu to Punto on the train in South America, our friend Max had altitude sickness badly and just wanted to go home. Of course there were no airports or way of getting home from Lake Titicaca so to try and allay his fears we told him we were on the descent.  He looked at the running river alongside the train for some minutes before saying water doesn’t run up hill to which we replied “Oh yes it does but only in Peru”!  He believed us, just because he wanted to and we had him convinced. A few Pisco sours later helped Max no end.

SANTIAGO – CHILE On our Adventure World educational our group had a few drinks and in the foyer of our Hotel a wedding party were arriving for a reception at the Hotel dining area of about 200 locals. I said to the guys in our group come on lets go to the wedding as guests, they probably wont even notice, or think we are long lost cousins, so just two of us were brave enough, Weytek and myself.  We ate the feast, danced every dance, said our best wishes to the bride and groom who thought we were bonafide guests and generally had a wonderful time.  Just goes to show.

LIMA – PERU     We flew down to Cuzco, when John and I took our group to Cuzco later in 2004  when waiting for our plane to take off from Lima airport to Cuzco, over the loud speaker came a message that out particular airline Aero Continente was broke. We thought they meant the aircraft was broke meaning broken, but it was actually bankrupt-broke, and this was the last flight it was ever to take to Cuzco!  Don’t know how that would have sounded in our local newspaper ‘Cowra Guardian”  ‘GROUP TAKES LAST FLIGHT TO CUZCO’!

SANTA ANNA RANCH, PAMPAS, NEAR BUENOS AIRIES, ARGENTINA.  Time to ride the gaucho’s horses for anyone game enough on the pampas,  David Bigg or as our guide called him ‘Forest Gump’ from the way he raced everywhere,  had a go of course, but not at all elegantly, his saddle kept slipping off and he looked very awkward. Meanwhile Ernie mastered it very well as he rides horses on his farm at home.  Funny one, Graziana our guide asked “are the boys wearing a uniform” because they both had long white sox on to ride the horses, we said no that is just regulation for some Aussies from out in the west.

MACHU PICCHU : When it comes time to leave this magnificent place there is a sadness, but you soon forget this as a young Peruvian boy comes into our coach when we are all loaded ready to go with a plastic container held out for tips, and we wondered what for. Anyway he yelled out “Goodbye” to everyone and took off down the steep slope.  Now the road winds back and forth about 20 times, going slowly to negotiate the devil’s elbow bends, and each time the young lad running straight down, would run in front of our coach yelling out “Goodbye” again, till eventually 20 minutes later at the bottom, and 20 Goodbyes, he was at the door of our coach with a big grin on his face and you could not help but put tips in his held out plastic container.

IRELAND –  We went to LIMERICK and of course quoted many Limericks of like…….. “There was a young man from Cowra, who thought his Whisky turned sourer!

KILLARNEY Whilst staying at the Riverside Hotel in Killarney, a strange thing happened in the middle of the night.  My room mate LuLu woke me up and said “HIT THE FLOOR” of course my immediate reaction was to look out the window to see why! To  hear gun shots, and see a dark shadow of a person fall off the 3 story roof. Well then I did hit the floor and we stayed there till dawn when we looked out again there was an ambulance in the car park and someone was taken away in the shadowy dawn.  Who knows what, or who, it wasn’t any of our Globus group, thank goodness.  And none of them saw or heard anything. Strange things that go bump in the night in Ireland.   Every time I got up enough courage to look out the window, Lulu would say “hit the floor” again. Every time I see her now or get an email from her, she says “hit the floor” ha ha. Just as well it wasn’t Limerick, or I would have to write a limerick!.

Globus top 10 Ireland group at Killarney "Hit the floor"
Globus top 10 Ireland group at Killarney “Hit the floor”

LONDON GLOBUS TOUR Then off to the theatre to West End to the Prince of Wales theatre to see “Mamma Mia” the musical, what fun, everyone up bopping away in the aisles making the old theatre shake to Abba’s music. Funny thing Lulu and I were sitting at an outdoor table at a little restaurant waiting for the theatre to start and walking right by came Jamie Oliver of The Naked Chef TV programme, of course one could not hold back the remark “Oh Jamie you’ve got your clothes on tonight” which just got a cheeky grimace back.

Low Entrance to the Church of the Nativity, all hats off
Low Entrance to the Church of the Nativity, all hats off

ISRAEL When group was asked to take their hats off to enter the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem one lady J.J was heard to utter “I don’t take my hat off for anyone” to which I retorted “Sorry but you will have to take it off for Jesus Christ” which she immediately did.  Must say when she got back in the bus, and no-one could see over the big hat, because she refused to remove it again.

AFRICA: ZIMBABWE  It was at Hwange National Park that we sighted our only leopard of that trip, lying only as leopards can on a leopard branch, in a leopard tree.  You find yourselves looking for this shaped form, for the elusive leopard all the time after a sighting.  Funny one John asked our local tour guide Jackson if we could get a bit closer to the leopard to video, and Jackson answered only if you give me your video camera.  John said “Why”, Jackson replied “so I can film you getting chased by the leopard”!

N. in Zimbabwe – Asked one of our group to carry her overnight bag.  Ernie having done this for a week or so came up to us in disgust, saying there were about 6 bottles of Duty free liquor in the bag and was fairly heavy and a nuisance.  So one morning when N. was late for breakfast at Victoria Falls, I decided to bite the bullet and confront her about her bag, and on getting to N’s room to find her pre-breakfast on whisky and tipsy as, then on her way to breakfast looking up to the playful chimpanzees in the trees, tripped up, gashed her hand to which I had to play nurse and do a complicated dressing.

Lesley at Chobe Lodge, when I saw her about to jump in the swimming pool, never dreaming that this dear elderly lady could swim, I yelled out Lesley can you swim, to which she replied with quiet dignity “Of course I’ve been swimming for 50 years”.  She then proved it again by on arrival at Zanzibar’s Prison island being the first in the water.

Lesley at Fothergill island on an evening game drive.  We hadn’t seen lion like our other group vehicle had in the past few game drives so we were getting a bit envious of them, until one afternoon after our ‘sundowner’ drinks and eats we were just standing around finishing off our drinks when a huge chaos erupted with 2 lions, one male one female heading straight for us chasing an impala.  I took one 6 foot leap into the back of the safari vehicle but Lesley just stood and watched sipping her chardonnay and cooing like a pigeon,” oo, oo, oo”! I had an empty coke bottle poised to throw at the lion if it attacked Lesley and Brad had his rifle drawn from under his car seat.  Phew that was a close call.

KENYA Whilst staying at Tortilis camp in Kenya at the foot of Mt. Kilamanjaro coming back down the hill at night, after a few “Sherberts”, when the generator had cut-out,  in the dark, and with a torch only throwing a slim light, I tried to un-zip what I thought was my tent, and hearing a male voice ask “Is that you darling’? I had to make a quick u-turn, and head for my tent, two tent flaps away, with a very red face, but I couldn’t stop giggling, thinking of the consequences.  Could have ended in right pickle!

 Europe trip –PARIS  D. then about 85 years old, gave us taffy all the way poking me in the back and asking questions, but a funny thing happened to her in Paris….. the Insight tour bus dropped us off at the Paris Opera House and said be back here in 1 hour, you are on your own to wander.  So after the hour we all rocked up back at the Opera House, except D nowhere to be found. We waited an extra hour, still no D, then the driver said we cannot wait here any longer, we have to go to beat the pm Paris traffic back to our Hotel on the periphique. I was really panic stricken at the thought of losing my first ‘groupie’ but one of the group allayed my fears by saying don’t worry D took a map and description of the Hotel when we checked in.  We were all due to go to the Moulin Rouge for dinner and Show, so I said to John I would have to stay behind he take all the rest.  I was looking out the hotel window, and you would not want to know, but there was D. escorted by 2 lovely ladies from Reykevic in Iceland who had found her, not on the old Opera House steps but the NEW Opera House steps where she had gone because she thought they looked better, they were cleaner, with  no pigeon poo. Any way I said to D. you had better give the two lovely ladies something really fitting for bringing you home by taxi, thinking monetary compensation of about $100 would be OK, to which she replied. Oh no I gave them a Cowra tea towel!

LONDON We did get our own back, when she could not find her passport at London Heathrow to fly home after us telling everyone to keep them at the ready.  So John got her suit case, opened it up threw all the clothes on the airport floor till he found the missing passport wrapped up in her girdle! She said it was safe there!

 ITALY: Autostrada diner – J. Always last one back on the bus, this time took longer than usual wandering around the car park looking at trucks.  Coach driver had had enough, so he started the engine, said everyone look to the left (opposite side to J.) as we drove past him and off up the highway laughing profusely.  As we looked back, he was in a gallop like a camel behind us trying to catch up yelling out hoy, wait for me, which of course we eventually did.

TUSCANY VILLA LA FORRA One delightful evening spent, was, when asked to attend a wedding in the Fattoria’s ristorante as villa guests, thus appropriately attired, and quite resplendent in dark suits and suitable outfits,  all descended to the designated spot at the designated hour.

First communione boy who cut the "wedding cake"
First communione boy who cut the “wedding cake”

 

Tom, Liz, John, me Rob and the two aunties at the "wedding" Villa La Forra Tuscany
Tom, Liz, John, me Rob and the two aunties at the “wedding” Villa La Forra Tuscany

 

Completely bewildered by the lack of sposa e sposo and confetti and other marital affects.  It was only after a seemingly precocious young man in a white robe cut and distributed pieces of the “wedding cake” that we realized it was a “first communione” cake and celebration, not a wedding.  We made conversation with relations, the aunties of the boy not understanding one word of their vocabulary, they not understanding one word of ours, but all got on very well with much body language being offered, and total understanding.

TUSCANY AT THE VILLA – One evening Tom decided he would cook pork chops for our dinner at the Villa, so having purchased a decanter of Chianti Classico  wine lunchtime and consuming it all he disappeared to the kitchen to cook them, put them in the oven and sat watching them cook (supposedly).  John came in a few hours later and asked Tom how was dinner going, Tom replied ” bloody beautiful, smells great”, John looked in the oven and said funny that Tom you haven’t even turned the oven on yet!

PORTOFINO A funny thing happened when we went to have dinner that night at a lovely Portofino restaurant, we sat down awaiting service from the well dressed waiters who just waved us away because they were watching Italy play in the World Soccer Cup match. So we had to sit and wait till the football match finished.

TUSCANY VILLA Then when we got to our Villa and Italy was playing in the quarter final against France, you could hear from out in our orchard garden whenever Italy scored a goal because loud yells of approval would erupt and echo from one tiny village to the next like a domino’s effect. Then when Italy was beaten by France in a penalty shoot-out, there really was an eruption. The Italians get so excited about their soccer especially World Cup.

TUSCANY VILLA – Endearing fire-flies indeed, a nice way to end our Villa La Forra stay, on our last night, after consuming quite a bit of Chianti Classico we headed for the swimming pool via the vineyard, and could not believe our eyes as our white slacks and clothing were flashing on and off white-yellow lights, we thought we had been invaded by tiny Martians or some horrible phenomenon, until one ‘bright spark’ determined they were fireflies up our pants legs as were all through the vineyard too. Very funny. None of us had ever seen these little beetles spreading their bioluminescence before, which is evidentally all part of their mating game…… and up my slacks legs too, indeed. Anyway they are quite magical and special little beings, a bit like angels.

SPAIN – MADRID TO BARCELONA So to get the bus driver to go back was one thing, and then half way to Barcelona, I had to point to the map to show him I wanted to stop for the group to see Zaragoza Cathedral which is another spectacular one in my book. And then make out I was eating to say we wanted lunch there, as well, all sign language.

CANADA: In the middle of the night received a distress call from one of our group’s rooms V. saying my grand mother is very ill.  So after rushing down to her room and  calling the Hotel doctor to examine her very swollen legs, probably twice normal size, the Dr. asked what pills was she taking, she showed them but said she was not taking them, why not said the Dr. to which M. replied “ I didn’t take them because they make me pee”.

On another occasion, we could not find M. at the train station at Kamloops, then saw her some way off just staring at the landscape.  We said what are you doing M, she replied “Just looking for bear”.

Surreal... real live brown bear leaning on this car, fellow on the road is game as bear can oujtrun humans!
Surreal… real live brown bear leaning on this car, fellow on the road is game as bear can oujtrun humans!

Another funny happening with bear.  On the main highway our coach came across a couple bailed up in their car by a very large brown bear standing, leaning against the vehicle, paws on the hood, funny sight was the 2 inhabitants leaning so far to the other side of the car they were almost out of it.

ZIMBABWE – The doorman at Harper’s night club named “Wellington” made us very welcome and it came as quite a shock a few months later, to receive a phone call from the same Wellington.  John and I were actually playing a round of golf, when the mobile phone rang and a voice said “this is Wellington from Harare”!  He was phoning for a cheap airfare to Australia as John had given him a business card. Worth a try I suppose.

The computer which was disasembled by the customs man in Harare airport then carried to Victoria Falls school
The computer which was disasembled by the customs man in Harare airport then carried to Victoria Falls school

 We had about ten cartons of books and clothing that had been donated and collected by the school children of Cowra to give to Mr. Charles Nduna at the Victoria Falls Baobab School, which got through OK, but the much sought after second-hand computer and keyboard, was another issue. Mr. Customs man kept saying it was new and attacked it with a screw driver, getting everything out of the cartons, and demolishing it, probably looking for drugs. I became very angry and asked if this was the thanks we got for kindly donating goods to their country, to which he stood seven foot tall and demanded “have you got a problem ma’am” I meekly replied “No Sir”!  Anyhow a half hour an later, having put our equipment back together, we were out of there and on the road to town.

Thank You for taking the time to read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colleen Woodward's travel tales