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Memorable Characters You've Met While Travelling

Memorable Characters You've Met While Travelling

Old Aug 5th, 2001, 06:40 PM
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Memorable Characters You've Met While Travelling


Just wondered what memorable characters have you met while travelling? We met a French-American woman in Nice whose pet parrot is named, "Jacques Chirac," an English socialite in Anguilla whose claim to fame is that she has never washed her own hair,an Italian driver who said his favorite American word was "Bullsheet", and a young woman in La Rochelle, France, who swears that she's related to Joan of Arc. Who have you met??
Old Aug 5th, 2001, 08:34 PM
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Wendy: Serendipity! I was thinking of just this topic earlier today. What called it to mind was Hilda, an 84 year old Ohioan I met in Ecuador last year. She was having trouble with the Galapagos terrain in her Soft Spots shoes, eyed my hiking boots and told me how much she regretted having gotten rid of her own hiking boots only the year before. May we all reach age 83 as owners of active passports and well-worn hiking boots!
Old Aug 6th, 2001, 09:30 AM
Book Chick
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On the train from Marseille to Milan, an older gentleman boarded. He introduced himself as Alfonso Rossi & we talked the whole trip away. He was in the Riviera to check on his boat & was planning to sail with all around Italy to Venice. He was the retired owner of a small chain of appliance stores. He wanted to know about my family & we struck up a friendship & corresponded for several years prior to his passing away.

The other character I enjoyed was a woman whose name I never learned. I arrived in Avignon without hotel reservations & took a cab to a place I'd gotten out of a friend's Frommer's Guide. The woman running the place was short, a little chunky & had "Lucille Ball" red hair & wore vivid red lipstick. She called around & found a vacancy for me. When my cab pulled away, she came out into the street & waved her scarf & said with such flair & sincerity "Au revoir, mademoiselle, put-etre une autre fois!"
Old Aug 6th, 2001, 09:42 AM
dan woodlief
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Just a few of the more unforgettable ones:

1. An elderly man at the Vietnam Memorial who formerly commanded the most important military region of South Vietnam. We talked for about an hour, and I was invited to photograph a group of Vietnamese coming to meet him.

2. A woman in Hawaii, traveling with her New York Jets-player-dating daughter, who got so drunk at the luau that she threw up on the bus back to town. We rode the rest of the way with our feet in the seat (not a pretty picture, but I won't soon forget it).

3. A drunk outside a Freiburg bar who asked me to help him unlock his bicycle. We went on to have an interesting conversation in German.

4. The wife of one of our professors (during a study abroad course in Asia). She had this habit of walking around waving her umbrella and shouting "Wisconsin" to get our attention. I think a few people could have strangled her.

5. Same trip as above. A very nice, friendly, and humorous guide named Wong (in Beijing). On our last day in town, he told us one of his favorite songs was "Take Me Home Country Roads," and he sang the song on the bus microphone for us as we drove to the airport. I never hear the song without thinking of him.

Old Aug 6th, 2001, 07:52 PM
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While hostelling it some twenty years ago in Greece, I recall being stuck in a mixed sex room. There was a longhaired Belgian guy in our room who was on his way to India. He was on the strange side and dressed in what I can only describe as early Christ r or later Gandhi wear. He wrapped a cloth around his waste and left his chest bear.

Another Australian women in the room who had just come from India told me there were many like him who came to India acted like profits and then wondered from house to house, prostiliticing and getting free grub.

What I remember most about this guy was him telling us he believed that you should express pleasure out loud when ever you feel it. If you moan about it out loud you are aware of happiness and the happiness is intensified. We had an enclosed shower we all used at different times of course. But this guy would go in and give huge sighs of pleasure. Nothing sexual mind you or at least I did not understand it this way.

I think about him from time to time when friends tell me I am not making my usual noises of pleasure during mealtime. What’s up don’t I like the food? This little quirk of mine seem to happen by accident but I think this guy did leave his warped little mark on me.
Old Aug 6th, 2001, 08:11 PM
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It was in a small French village last summer. There were about eight guests gathered around the dinner table in the courtyard of our small B&B. All of a sudden I felt a "presence" behind me and turned to see a tall, striking male figure, dressed entirely in black, standing in the doorway. He strode over and sat at a table positioned at the side of the courtyard where the owner of the B&B was dining with friends. He seemed very interested in the guests, observing the group at our table closely and without smiling. As dusk fell, one of the men at their table took out his guitar and started to play. The tall man then began to sing song after song in a haunting voice. The music was enchanting and very special. We later found out that it was Leny Escudero, a very well-known French singer, who is a friend of the host at the B&B. A few days later we went into a music store and bought one of his many CDs as a souvenir of a memorable evening.
Old Aug 7th, 2001, 09:14 AM
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An elder italian gentleman, (84 yrs old).
Met him while waiting for the Villa Borghese tour to begin on a sunday.
We spent a good 15 mins conversing in italian and english, mostly about where my family was from,
where we were going, and my children.
We did talk about states and cities in the U.S,
the gentleman was showing off his knowledge of our country.
Texas -cowboys
New York City- the Big Apple
L.A- Hollywood
Detroit- Ford motor cars.
Atlanta- Gone With the Wind.
Thislast one was the one I really enjoyed, the mental picture of this movie being shown in Italy, back when it was released.
And the impression that was formed by it.
It reminded me of Cinema Paradisio.

When we were finally let into the Villa, the gentleman walked up to the guard, showed a pass in his wallet, and went in.
I saw him engaging many others in conversations.
A good way to pass a Sunday, yes?

Two street vendors outside the Vatican;
their line to us tourists was ;
"Cheaper than K-Mart"
But, they were very kind men , and did their best to help the children overcome their disappointment when mommy would not by them the 12" versions of the She-Wolf and Romulus and Remos, but instead made them settle for the 4" versions.
They gave my children an extra trinket each as a gift.

The gentleman who I "accosted" on a backroad going to Caserta , for directions.
He spoke as much english as I spoke italian, but was very patient and said to me,
"If you speak very slow and simple, I will understand"
this sentence was delivered to me at the speed of a record player going at 16 rpm!
Then , he actually turned around and drove us back to the main road!!

Not a pleasant character:
the very large gypsy woman, who slapped a waitress in the face, after the waitress asked her to leave the restuarant,(where she was asking customers for $$)
(Piazza Popolo)

there are so many others, that made the trip memorable.
Old Aug 7th, 2001, 11:50 AM
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Two incidents in Tahiti years ago:

I went into a small country store on a dirt road with one wire leading to a electric pole. The man behind the counter when he learned I was American gestured for me to come to his pareo covered doorway. Smiling proudly, he pulled back the pareo to show me The Streets of San Francisco show on his small B&W TV and said "see America".

Two young men took my husband and I out on a catamarin ride, one told me that his favorite song was On The Road Again by Willie Nelson and went ahead and sang it. Considering at the time there was one road circling the island, it brought a smile, and to this day whenever I hear that song I think of him.
Old Aug 7th, 2001, 01:35 PM
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Wendy, it's good to read all that everyone has to offer on this opportunity to reminisce and share.

On our honeymoon, we were wandering around on Rittergasse Strasse in Sachsenhausen (Frankfurt) on a pleasant summer evening and we were approached by an edlerly man named Hans. We talked for a while and he wanted my baseball cap in exchange for his appfelwein ballcap. We exchanged hats and when he learned that we were married a few days before, he disappeared briefly only to return with apple wine and flowers for Mary. He would accept nothing in return and we have exchanged Christmas cards in each of the last four years since we met.

We probably will never forget him.

Old Aug 7th, 2001, 03:00 PM
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Met an Amish guy in Indiana who gave my family a ride in his buggy for a fee. He didn't have a beard and had solar heating panels in his buggy. Told us he didn't like going to Amish churches because the services were too long. Said he preferred going to quaker meetings because they all went jet skiing after church. He kept asking us to go back to his farm for chocolate milk (with "fresh" milk right from the cow)and popcorn balls. We politely passed. We asked him about his lack of beard. He said something about protesting vietnam. We still laugh about that guy.
Old Aug 7th, 2001, 05:49 PM
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On a "day out" bus tour to Stratford on Avon, I sat beside an older gentleman (82). He was "on holiday" from a small town in Scotland. He and I hit it off so well, he changed his plans to return home the next day and took another bus tour with me to Bath.
Old Aug 7th, 2001, 06:52 PM
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Since Dan has related an experience on U.S. soil, I feel free to tell my story. My husband and I were in the Metro station at Arlington, and found a couple from Israel trying to decipher the token machine. We offered our help, and a 3 day friendship was born. We toured DC with this wonderful couple, and used their tourbooks and maps, which were much more accurate than ours. The man had a wonderful exaggerated way of opening his map, and to this day my husband and I still pay homage to him when we reach for a folded road map.

Another character (again U.S.) was 65+ year old "Harold", a horseback guide in the hills of Arkansas. We were the only customers, and he took us on a wonderful ride, on the trail and in stories. But when he got us off the horses to appreciate the view, was when he stopped our hearts. The view was spectacular, we had not realized how high up we had ridden. But when this "older" man, in his very old, very pointed cowboy boots, walked right up to the EDGE, I mean EDGE, of the cliff, I was close to fainting. He just laughed, threw his cigarette butt off the edge, and went back to his horse.
Old Aug 7th, 2001, 07:45 PM
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I've met so many....but PBProvence and I were in the Cévennes last April, over Easter weekend, driving around on really tiny dirt paths in some very remote areas. We saw a sign that said "foie gras" and followed the path. We first came to a remote farm that looked promising, with a couple of guys outside. We asked them if they sold foie gras, and they said no, it was a place further up the piste, so we continued. Following their directions, we ended up at a completely remote bunch of farm buildings high in the Cévennes. We scrambled among the various outbuildings and finally found a string to pull outside one building. The bell rang and rang, but no one answered. We poked around for while, but it appeared no one was there. About to give up, we started up the hill (these farm buildings were strung along a hillside) and an old man appeared. We asked him if we were in the right place to buy the foie gras and he said yes, but the owners weren't home. He followed us up the hill, where there was the most amazing view out over the mountains. He asked what nationality we were (he guessed Swiss - they always do when PB and I speak French for some reason), and then began, upon finding that we were Americans, to regale us with tales of being held captive by the Germans and being liberated by Americans in WWII. It was an astonishing tale told in an astonishing setting. I will never forget him. He had a beret on and a cane, and the image of him standing on that mountainside in the Cévennes with the ruin of a castle on the oppostie hill will be with me forever. He must have been 85 years old, and he wouldn't let us go, thanking us for being Americans and for liberating him, over and over. I didn't think we'd be able to leave the scene, but we fairly gracefully said thank you and good-bye a few dozen times and made our way out around the mountain.
Old Aug 8th, 2001, 03:15 AM
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Sarah, why would the Belgian guy wrap a cloth around his excrement ? and where did he get the Chest Bear - the Zoo ?
Old Aug 8th, 2001, 04:55 AM
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No,no,Hoho! She probably means a CHEST bear, you know, you strap it on your chest and you put your jammies and books and stuff in there? Then you go to Gramma's or to a pajama party or to a hostel, see. I think maybe that waste cloth might have been a diaper, dunno, tho, Hoho.
Old Aug 8th, 2001, 03:42 PM
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to the top
Old Aug 8th, 2001, 03:56 PM
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What I didn't understand was, how he could act like a profit if he had no money? Or was he lying about all the money he made, to impress people?

Old Aug 8th, 2001, 04:28 PM
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I'm not sure they'd really qualify as "characters", but two of my most memorable people from my trips to Europe are...

. Mrs. M. (for Margaret, I think) Stonehouse, who ran a B&B (in, of course, a stone house) in Edinburgh. I stayed there in my first trip to Europe in 1979. She was a charming and friendly, but also cantankerous, older lady with gray hair who fiercely wanted independence for Scotland. And she also had a requirement that all guests eat breakfast together because she thought it was great for people to meet each other that way (and it worked since I became friends with a woman there from Trier, Germany who I visited in Trier on a subsequent trip.)

. My other memorable person is Madame Colette, the lady who, along with her son, runs the hotel I stay at in Nice. Originally from Paris, she's a wisp of a woman in her late 80s or early 90s, speaks pretty good English, and is a real sweetheart.

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