Those ladies helped make my dream trip which could have been ruined, one of the highlights of my life.
The very first time I went to Paris I was on a tour with 40 other people I did not know. To save money, I roomed with a much older lady who ended up treating me like I was her personal travel companion (which I was not). When I made it clear to her that I was on this trip not for her, but to do what I wanted to do and not spend the whole time catering to her needs, she complained to everyone about me. In fact she complained about everything! The food (my goodness! we were in PARIS!), the hotel, and how much walking we were doing. She was a miserable roommate and could have ruined the whole trip for me.
A group of four beautiful ladies in their 70’s saw how miserable this lady was and took me under their wing. They included me in their dinner plans on our free nights and went above and beyond to make me feel comfortable and make sure I was having a great time. They were simply fabulous. Although I was determined not to let my roomate stand in the way of me having the time of my life in the city I had dreamed of visiting for my whole life, they made my first trip to Paris so much sweeter.
To this day one of those ladies is one of my best friends and I see her regularly. Those ladies helped make my dream trip which could have been ruined, one of the highlights of my life.
I find that the Japanese often go above and beyond.
I find that the Japanese often go above and beyond. If you are lost and looking a little helpless, the Japanese are kind enough to either point you in the right direction or even take you to your destination. I was trying to find the connection on the JR from Yokosuka to The Great Buddha of Kamakura. I must have had “that look.” I made eye contact with a guy in his early 30s. I, in my awkwardness pointed in the direction I thought was my train. He waved at me to follow him. He walked me to the correct platform and got on the train with me. He politely signed to me when I had reached my destination. As I got off the train I turned to respectfully nod my appreciation. I am pretty sure he was not even going my direction to begin with. However, his willingness to go above and beyond for a stranger made that trip and started my adventure on the right foot. My nephew has had a couple of similar experiences in Japan. I appreciate the graciousness of the Japanese.
I’m in the back of the car, praying that we don’t meet our Maker that evening.
This was in 1991, just after we first retired and began traveling the world. But I have never forgotten the experience.
Billy and I arrived in Cumana, Venezuela, the oldest city in the Americas, located on the northern coast. It was in the early evening, after flying in from the capital city of Caracas, and was our first visit deep into Latin America. Our Spanish was woeful.
We had made reservations at a small, Mom and Pop run hotel, and Papa came to the airport to pick us up. However – and this was the first and only time this has happened to me in all of my travels – my luggage didn’t follow me to my destination! I’m sure the owner said something along the lines of “No pasa nada” – meaning don’t worry and he spoke with the security at the airport. Papa promised we’d hear from the airport about my luggage, and we’d drive back later on that evening to get my belongings.
Or…at least I thought that’s what he said.
So after arriving at the hotel, and eating some dinner that Mama prepared (along with a local specialty of black ants in hot sauce), Papa said it was time to go back to the airport. We all piled back into his car, Papa behind the wheel, Mama on the passenger side, and I was in the back seat. It began to rain, and it was quite dark. No worries, we’ll just turn on the windshield wipers…except they didn’t work! So, Papa was hanging outside his window to clear off the water on the windshield, while Mama was clearing up the condensation and fog on the inside of the car. They worked deftly as a team.
Meanwhile, I’m in the back of the car, praying that we don’t meet our Maker that evening.
Surely, just as promised, my luggage had arrived from Caracas to the airport. Papa swung my bags into the trunk of his car and we got to do the same dance on the highway back on the way home.
Neither Mama nor Papa felt put out of the way by this incident, and both did this with great cheer. Not only that, but this was the eve before US-celebrated Father’s Day, and I asked if I could use their phone to call my Father back in the US to wish him a happy day. That wasn’t a problem either!
So this was our first real introduction to Latin America’s warm community, where everyone seems to be “instant” family.”
The library was closed, but knowing that I am an American and a writer, they opened the library for us.
I am fortunate to have had many memorable travel moments. People have always been kind and helpful. That said, on a recent trip to Alsace, France, I wanted to visit the Humanist Library in Selestat. The only day I could go was Tuesday and the library is closed, but knowing that I am an American and a writer, they opened the library for us. They have one of only three copies of the Introduction to the Cosmography. In this book is the first written mention of America. It’s a real gem of a library and I believe everyone who visits Alsace should make the time to go there.
I can't imagine having such a rich, enjoyable experience without Talai's guidance.
Talai. I smile merely thinking of this welcoming, gracious man who was our host at Asman Traditional Guest House in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. His guest house was newly opened and reviews were few but glowing, so we took a chance and booked with him. I’m so glad we did.
We were there early in the week and business was slow. Talai was eager to share the charms of his beautiful city and some of our best moments were adventures with him. He took us and a Chinese couple for a lunch of tandoor samsa, meat-filled buns baked in a wood-burning oven. Later the five of us shared a dinner of plov at the restaurant Darkhan, sitting on a tapchan, a traditional platform table. We bought melons at the melon market on the edge of the city. We learned traditional Kyrgyz table manners and cultural traditions. He drove us to Uzgen’s 12th century Kharakanid mausoleum. He advised us where to go, how to get there, what to buy and from whom. I can’t imagine having such a rich, enjoyable experience without Talai’s guidance.
Link to full article: https://curiosityandcomfyshoes.com/osh-kyrgyzstans-oldest-city/
What a breath of fresh air for us to experience luxury and service at this level and caliber.
During a vacation in Jamaica at an all-inclusive resort we experienced service that exceeded our expectations. Our butler Rashid, learned that my husband Jim practiced a type of martial art that requires the use of sticks. He chatted with Jim at length about what type of sticks, the weight of the sticks, and the length of the sticks.
That evening after dinner and a stroll on the beach we returned to our room and there on the bed were a pair of sticks with a note from Rashid that said “I hope these will help you in your training time while here in Jamaica. It is my pleasure to present these to you.” Needless to say, we were stunned. We have never had this level of service in any resort or all-inclusive resort we have stayed in. What a breath of fresh air for us to experience luxury and service at this level and caliber.
Leticia could not have known what an impact she had on my life all those years ago when she so kindly showed me around.
In 2002 I was robbed during a vacation in Hawaii. The experience changed me, It made me more timid and somewhat fearful about travel. I knew I had to “get back on the horse” or I might not ever travel again. When my next vacation came around, I began talking to my co-workers. One of them had recently married a woman from Thailand. They had an import-export business, and she spent half of every year in Bangkok. He insisted I should visit Bangkok and let his wife, Leticia, show me around.
I hadn’t ever considered Southeast Asia as a destination. In fact, I wasn’t the least bit interested in Asia. But given the circumstances, I couldn’t afford to turn down their kind offer. Leticia didn’t just show me the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Bangkok’s other famous tourist sites. She also took me to the Pad Thai restaurant reputed to be the favorite of the Thai Princess, drove me to Ayutthaya to visit the previous capital of Thailand, and even took me to see the fields of blooming sunflower awaiting harvest.
By the time I boarded my flight to a remote island off the west coast of Thailand for a week-long Yoga Retreat, my travel confidence was back. And, perhaps more importantly, I had fallen in love with Thailand. Since then, I’ve visited 98 countries, but no other has had the siren call of Thailand. I finally admitted I was addicted to everything about Thailand and moved there permanently two years ago. Leticia could not have known what an impact she had on my life all those years ago when she so kindly showed me around, but I will forever be grateful to her.
The owner went out of his way to design daily routes for us.
On our first trip to Tuscany, we stayed in a small apartment on the ground floor of a farmhouse outside Montepulciano. The owner went out of his way to design daily routes for our exploring so that we would see all the unique sites with our rental car. Each night he led us to a new dining experience in town and spoke with the chef to make sure they accommodated my food allergies. One night, he and his wife cooked dinner for us in their home and we stayed for hours. The wine and food – we can still taste them all today. What a different experience it would have been if our host hadn’t taken the time to make our trip unique and wonderful!.
Daliborka is not a tour guide to us but rather a lifelong friend.
One of the reasons why Keith and I travel is because we value experiences more than things. We have made many new friends and experiences from our travels. However, one recently stood out while traveling in Croatia where this person went above and beyond and made our trip extremely memorable.
We were on a tour of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia when Keith received an email from the guide who was supposed to take us on tour the next day. She said, she would not be able to take us tomorrow because she had to tend to a sick relative. Delnice is a small hill town, north of Zagreb near the border of Slovenia. Delnice is the city that Keith’s great grandparents immigrated to the US from. We decided we would visit the less traveled area of northern Croatia so that we could visit Delnice and look for some genealogy information and gravesites. Knowing that his family had lived in the area for many generations we thought it would be interesting to learn more about them.
Now we were stuck in Zagreb and it is already 1pm on a Saturday, we speak no Croatian and there are no trains that travel to this rural area. The tour guide who was showing us around Zagreb and explaining its history was Daliborka Ulemek director of the Adria Travel Agency. We asked her if she could put us in contact with a driver who could take us to Delnice. Delnice is not a place foreign tourist visit and it’s about an hour each way from Zagreb. Daliborka without hesitation said she would cancel her plans for tomorrow, and would love to take us there.
Daliborka arrived at our hotel early the next morning and we hopped in her car and headed up the freeway to Delnice. As we exited the freeway she says, I called ahead yesterday and was able to get in touch with the tourism office for the area. They are going to have the town historian meet us and travel with us around town. They were so flattered that you wanted to see their small town that they said they want to make sure you learn and see everything you are coming there for. Given how late we returned the night before, we could not believe Daliborka was able to arrange this.
We arrived in the town of Delnice and saw a small building. In front were three people waving as we drove up. I asked Daliborka how they knew it was us? She said I am sure they do not get many non-residents up here so it was an easy assumption. We parked the car and the three people ushered us in the small tourism office. Daliborka turned to us and said the town has a surprise for you. When I called yesterday, I told the town representative the story you told me about your grandmother making a nut roll call povitica. They immediately said yes we know of povitica, everyone here makes povitica. I told them I had not heard of povitica but if they could tell me of a place where we could buy it, that I would take you there. They said they would look into it and call me back. Daliborka said a short while later she received a call and the representative saying we can do one better. We have two women that will get up at 4 am tomorrow and make one for Keith as a surprise. Standing in the small office as we turned around there where two sweet women holding a hot, just out of the oven nut roll or povitica for us.
Amazing things did not stop there as the historian came along in Daliborka’s car. She showed us the first water well in the town that my great grandparents would have gotten their water from. A house dating back to the 1800s and the very small town ski slope. Then she took us to two graveyards. One of which was simply a small park now because all the graves had sunk below ground. At the newer cemetery, we found many graves with both his great grandparents’ surnames.
After enjoying a traditional Delnice meal with Daliborka we returned to Zagreb and our hotel. We rushed in to try the nut roll. It tasted just like the ones grandma made for us. Daliborka, the women, and the people of Delnice made our visit special. Daliborka did not just make our day memorable but she refused to let us pay her anything. Daliborka is not a tour guide to us but rather a lifelong friend. Meeting someone like Daliborka and establishing a friendship, it’s why we travel.
They were eager ambassadors of their culture.
The safari experience I had in Kenya and Tanzania would not have been as memorable without the fantastic guides we had in each country. Not only did they do an amazing job finding a diverse range of wildlife, they also provided a wealth of information about each animal. For the birders in the group, they easily identified the multitude of species at distances that the rest of us needed binoculars to see clearly. Most importantly, they were also eager ambassadors about their culture, honestly answering all of our questions about the typical east African lifestyle.