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pátek 14. září 2018

Meeting Phoebe and saying goodbye to Jim 2002-2010


.....And so, another year went by. I came back to Prague and sort of fell into the old routine. I still remembered what Jim has told me about Phoebe, but there was no way I could ever figure out where he could be, because Prague is one huge city. However... my Mother came home one day, holding this magazine I´ve never seen before and said that there is this article about Phoebe. She bought it just "by accident". It wasn´t an ordinary article. This one contained the exact address of Phoebe´s shop. No way would I let this chance slip away. 

It was January 2002 when I decided to visit Phoebe in his store. I did find him indeed, and I also had a chance to tell him all what has happened, how did I see Barbara and met Jim, and it all seemed so surreal. I can´t say why, but it almost felt as if someone up there was planning it all along.
I remember Phoebe smiling at me, when he was signing up a dedication into his autobiography "An intimate memoir by the man who knew him best". When I was leaving the shop, his dedication read like this:
He was literally blown right into my way
And then I returned back to Ireland in 2004. 
I had the opportunity to welcome Jim to my own home in Carlow sometime in 2006. He was Stephen´s surprise. When the door opened up, I didn´t  see him at first. 
Then his head popped out from the side of the door and with a laugh he emerged a bit later. He hugged me like we hadn´t seen each other for million years. What I felt at that moment was indescripable. My dear Jim back in my life and in my own house! 
We all sat in the living room, Jim settled down on the sofa, I was sitting on the ground and absorbed the precious moments because I knew time spent with him was only borrowed time. Then we watched Queen videos and talked about Freddie as if he were in the next room. It was so surreal. Me and Jim agreed that our favorite video was Scandal, and he just added that Freddie didn´t like it very much because he couldn´t make any creative input in it, although he loved the song. 
Then we talked about his illness, about him taking up to 40 pills a day to sustain his health and he also explained the difference between AIDS and HIV, as many people still didn´t know. We have talked so much and - above all - we laughed all night, almost at everything. It was so easy to succumb to his funny personality once again and  to his heartfelt laughter. He made jokes about fancying my ex-boyfriend, whom he lied on top of on the sofa. Long time ago, I´ve  sent him a letter explaining to him how Freddie has impacted my life. But I've forgotten  I´ve ever written it and now I was faced with the horror that I actually have sent it. I hoped he has forgotten about it, but when Jim and I met in the corridor of our house, I couldn´t but apologize to him for that letter, and for being so daring. To my surprise, he looked at me softly with his tired eyes and assured me that my letter was absolutely fascinating. Then we were interrupted by Stephen, who was just leaving a toilet and the conversation was cut short at that point. Unfortunatelly I would never have the chance to find out what was the next thing he was about to say, because I noticed he wanted to continue, if he weren´t interrupted. 
When we were saying goodbye at the door, he treated me as an old friend. He simply kissed me on the lips, which utterly shocked me and made me laugh at the same time. 
He invited us back to his house to have a little party, but my ex-boyfriend was not in the perfect mood and so we politely declined, which I will forever regret! 
About a year after that I bumped into Jim several times in the city where we both lived, or we exchanged text messages whenever I needed to advise what room flowers would be best for our new house. Sometimes I learnt about how he´s doing through my ex-boyfriend, who used to hang out with him and drink few pints in a night bar. Once my ex confessed how Jim told him that I was a great person and he should be happy to have me. They must have been talking about me!!!!


Then I met Jim one night in the nightclub, where he was with his friends. He spent most of his time sitting in the lounge smoking a cigarette, having fun with younger girls. Wherever he was, you heard his laughter. That night my ex-boyfriend arranged for Jim and me to have a dance together.
Jim was just dancing on the dancefloor with some older woman. I remember he had his jumper tied around his waist. I just got onto the dancefloor, he looked at me all serious and pulled me close to him. It was some tediously slow song that I can´t even remember, I just  know that we were staggering from side to side like two handiccaped penguins and that made me laugh hysterically.
He was such a clown!  Now, however, I consider this moment as one of the most precious memories of him. It was my night.

Back in 2009, I have learned that Jim was diagnosed with cancer. My ex-boyfriend told me how concerned Jim was when informing him. He said, he wept. At that time I didn´t know how serious the situation was and I hoped Jim will get better in no time. I believed the doctors would somehow help him out of it. I saw him a little later at work when he came to our restaurant for breakfast.
I almost served him as another customer, but when I realized it was him, I pulled myself back into the kitchen and let the other girls serve him. He never noticed. I was in such state of shock. I didn´t know what to do, how to act and what to say. He was so thin, just skin and bone. His face was sinking, his eyes full of pain, a small tube leading from his nose to the oxygen device he carried in his backpack and a small canvas hat on his head. I couldn´t believe this was Jim, whom I have remembered being so full of life and joy only half a year ago. I wanted to cry like never before. I also felt embarassed by my own cowardly reaction. I wished more than anything in my life to hug him and say I loved him. I wanted to wish him a happy Christmas. But I was scared of my own tears, which would not help him in his situation. 

I wrote him a message on the phone, but he didn´t respond. And then I got the terrible news. Jim died and somehow I also missed his funeral. I took a first taxi and went at least to his months Mass and visited his grave, bringing him daffodils and little white lantern with candle. It was so hard for me. His relatives stood above his grave. I said my prayers in a minute of silence. The air didn´t move and the moon was full in the night sky. It was dark and cold all around but I didn´t care.  
I wanted to see him laugh and mess around like he used to. It was as if another star had disappeared and fell to the earth. If only life could last forever. 

It´s been nine years since then, but I still immensely miss him and I will never stop. Thank you Jim from the bottom of my heart, that you once accepted me for who I am and allowed me to spend those precious moments in your company. You were dear friend and a great guy with so much to give to this world. And I remember, once you have promised we will meet again, and you knew we will. You knew it all along, you little devil :) 

newspaper clipping from the saddest day of my life

Meeting Jim Hutton in 2001

I don´t know why it is that I'm so lucky with Freddie's ex-partners. It's like the mosaic I'm composing, and it's undoubtedly an extraordinary picture. Every encounter of this kind is extremely valuable to me. As if Freddie was my guide through life and he was preparing my way. Even when I was in Prague and planned to leave for Ireland, I was joking with my colleagues from Queen fan club that I might meet Jim Hutton. Of course, I realized it was absurd. Just a secret wish, as looking for a person in Ireland is the same as looking for a needle in a haystack. However, after four months of my life in Ireland, I mentioned my love for Freddie at my workplace. The word gave a word, and finally I found out that one of my colleagues, Alison Dermoty, knew all of Hutton's family. What followed next was a big search for his address and the book "Mercury and Me" that he has written several years ago. 
One of my friends even took me to his house once during an evening, but it ended with fiasco. When we were in the immediate vicinity of the entrance, a black jeep suddenly bolted out of the front gates. 
It was driven by a handsome young man, no doubt Jim's new friend. Instead of banging on the door, I run for a shelter of a nearby bush and expected Jim to leap out with a shotgun any time soon. 

There were several uneventful months, when I had a chance to meet my Irish boyfriend. One day he offered me a meeting with his best friend´s girlfriend, Jacqueline. He told me she was Jim's niece. It was another challenge, the next connection to what was supposed to bring me to the expected goal. The destiny gave me a sign that I should not give up. 

Jacquie was a very nice girl. We talked a lot about Jim that night, but I didn´t find out any new information. The only thing that pleased me was the fact that eventhough Jim is HIV-positive, the illness didn´t fully develop, thanks to God. I remember the news that went around about his death a year ago. Well, he wasn´t dead AT ALL!


ON 23rd of March, there was a Queen Tribute band concert in Goresbridge and my boyfriend told me that Jim would come as well. He admitted that he had arranged with Stephen for Jim to come along. The concert was in the pub called The Spirit Store. What a great name for spiritual meeting, I thought.  When I entered, Jim sat at the table with Stephen, Jascqueline, her sister Valeria and other family friends. There was nowhere to sit, so we just stood by the table for a while. When I looked at Jim, he appeared somewhat fragile and tiny, like a man who could easily be overlooked. He didn´t look anything like those photos portraying him in the books.
After a while, there was a free seat by the table and everyone, including Jim, moved in order for us to sit down. It was just one place and my friend Mike wanted to take it. He got up fast but they all stopped him. Jim measured Mike up and down and told  him, "Perhaps you should let the lady sit here, you cavalier!" Embarassed, Mike got up from his chair and offered it to me. I got the honorable place alongside Jim. Being a woman sometimes has its advantages! Jim welcomed me with heartfelt "Hi". At first I was nervous, but after a while I felt relaxed and enjoyed Jim's company.  I was aware of his behavior, gestures, laughter, and tried to absorb his energy all at once. It was easy to talk to him about anything and everything. 

I wanted to know the man Freddie loved so much, so I guess I started giving him many questions. 
"Jim, are you still in touch with Phoebe?" Jim looked at me closely and began to talk to me with interest. "I haven´t really been talking to him for a long time. I know he had a hotel in Dubai, then he sold it, and he's in Prague now. He also bought something overthere and I think he's going to settle down there." When I heard about Prague, I jumped up excitedly and told him that I was from there. He smiled a little, though the coincidence like this didn´t  overwhelm him as much as me.
He relished glass of Budwaiser and smoked Ultra light Silk Cuts. He offered me one and lit it up for me like a real gentleman. It seemed he wanted to continue talking. We both made fun of the ultralight effect of his cigarettes, which would probably piss off every orthodox smoker, Freddie for sure! He then demonstrated jokingly, how to properly smoke them. He inhaled all the smoke by sucking in his cheeks and widening his eyes, as if he should soon burst like an inflated toad. None of us resisted and we both burst into a mad laughter. I told him about my visit to Munich and meeting Barbara. He smiled and listened, then he rolled his eyes up to heaven and stated that she is one hell of a crazy woman. I totally agreed, and added, that also alcoholic one. It was surreal to talk about mutual aquaintances together, people we both knew. I also mentioned my visit to New York club and I could see how he returns nostalgically into his memories. Then I also tried to make him remember my friend Allison, who told me about him in the first place. 
"About nine years ago she visited you in London". He couldn´t remember and admitted, that since then a lot of people have passed through his life and many of them he never saw again.
I continued. "She showed me several of your photos and in one of them you were holding Freddie's portrait that you bought at the auction". Suddenly he jumped up and said he knew whom I mean. 

I showed him my miniature box containing a stone and talked about it with almost patriotic pride. "It's a stone from Logan Mews that I had to dig out from under the threshold of his house, because there was nothing else to take." Jim laughed out loud, this time without any hindrance and doubt that I was totally crazy. I also laughed because I knew I sound like nuts. He remarked with smile from ear to ear that I was pretty crazy. "Yeah, I'm crazy, and I'm proud to be. Who isn´t...and by the way.....why not?" I smiled at what I just said, because that´s what Freddie would say, to defend himself. Jim then talked about the medallion that Freddie had given him for his birthday. He said, there were three miniature pictures inside.  "The first is that of Miko ", he said gently, looking up at me to make sure I knew who he was talking about. "In the other one is Freddie" ... he continued with kind of fervor and love. Something deep inside me shivered. "In the third one," ... he didn´t  answer yet, when I jumped into his monologue ...."Tiffany," I blurted out. 
"My mom's photo," he finished his sentence. (and I prayed he didn´t register my answer).

It was nice to hear him remembering like that. He opened up in front of me the way I never dreamt of. I think it was nice for him to share these beautiful moments and to talk about things that meant so much to him. "This rock is my good luck charm. I have been listening to Queen since I´m  twelve and I also work in the Fan Club's office. We celebrate his anniversary every year. When I went here, I was kidding with my friends that I might meet Jim Hutton in Ireland... and here you are, sitting right next to me. That´s my dream come true", I said all emotional. 

"How do you know Stephen?", he inquired after while.
"I go out with Vinnie and they are good friends" He eyed my boyfriend and indicated that he knew who he was. 
"I was annoying the two of them and was constantly asking them to bring you", I smiled. 
"Oh, Jacqueline wanted me to come, alright" Jim smiled at the thought. Then he talked about the music talent competition, in which they were selecting the best imitators of Queen. 
"What music are you actually listening to?" I wondered. 
"I have no favorite, I'm listening to almost everything. Even a radio".
"And do you still have Zig and Zag?" 
He only sighed and said in a sad voice that they had both died since then. 
"And do you have any other cats?" 
"Yeah, I have seven others now," Jim smiled. This number didn´t  surprise me. The old habits are hard to kill.
"Do you still keep up the gardening, Jim?"
"Constantly," he said with a loving smile and amusedly showed me his hands dirty from the clay and covered in sores. For God's sake, he must have been gardening a few minutes before going to a concert!, I thought to myself. A complete garden maniac.....

We were joking on the account of  the band that was supposed to start playing long time ago, but somehow did not. He told me it would be nice to get drunk, so we didn´t know how terrible they were. That really made me crack up. He could be so funny. 
He joked and emphasized to everyone around the table, that instead of a concert he could have been at home watching his favorite movie. In the same breath, he admitted that he was curious about their performance and that he hadn´t been out in ages. 
He leaned over to me and confessed, that now he lived a life completely cut off from the rest of the world. 
"We are basically the same, I am basically like him. Now I just enjoy loneliness and privacy. I don´t go out anywhere except my garden". I immediately knew whom he was referring to in his speech.
I said that I had discovered his house in Palatine and apologized when I saw his slightly concerned look. I said I was just little curious. 
He then recalled a few of his encounters with the fans. One day there was an unknown car with a couple of strangers that arrived to his house. They came all way from Vienna and they found him by questioning people in a town! Not a hard thing to trace him, he said, as every cab driver in the area knows him pretty well. One local newspaper even published a photo of his house, and although they gave a wrong address, a lot of people had found him. 
That made me laugh, because I knew what it means to be a devoted fan. 
"On the other hand, it's nice to know that someone is constantly looking after you and giving you the feeling that all this is still alive," I added with a smile.
"Jim, do you still have your Volvo?"
"You mean the one that Freddie gave me?.....No, I don´t have it few years now, I´ve swapped it for a new one," he smiled.
He was all too gallant all the time, always lighting my cigarette. 
He also wondered how long I would stay in Ireland, so I said that only another half a year. 
"And you wanna come back here?" He asked suddenly. 
"Oh, I'd love to. I'm trying to find a job either in Carlow or Kilkenny," I said enthusiastically. 
Then I fell silent, looked at him and assured him "Definitely."
Each time he looked up into my eyes, I saw an incredibly nice person in front of me. Something in his silent expression suggested that he had suffered great deal of pain in life, but that he was now completely reconciled with his fate. Still, in his eyes shone a spark of unrelenting humor. In his company I forgot all about the world. I was happy to be able to make such an affluent and warm contact with him. The longer we knew each other, the closer we were.

When he wanted to go to the toilet, Stephen told him that the men's toilets were behind the bar and the ladies in front of the bar. It sounded like he wasn´t quite sure which one would Jim prefer.
But Jim didn´t care much and set off to the men's. I admit it made me laugh a little.

Then we continued our dialogue. I mentioned that I read both his and Phoebe's book, but that I 
couldn´t find his book anywhere in the stores. He confirmed that it´s out of print at the minute. 
When I told him that I had stolen his book at the local library, he laughed and said that I should have asked him and he would have given me a copy, but he only had Italian version.  

Finally, the band started to play. Everyone in the pub stood up and whole lot of us - as we were tucked in at the back, climbed onto the window ledges. I stood next to Jim, who remained seated. 
He looked a little bit run over. I knew he was surrounded by the loneliness and I watched him with sadness. I lacked much power or words to comfort him. It was only after some wonderful songs that we both joined and got up. He could not remain sad in such a loving and friendly company for ever.  

When he noticed the enormous, life-vibrant energy that only Queen music could produce in conjunction with a crowd of people singing, I think he forgot his personal pain. I could see pride in his face. He stood up and watched the band. Then he addressed me and made me come up onto the ledge above him to see better. I would not listen to anybody else, but from him it didn´t sound like an order. He wanted me to get the most out of it and it pleased me. Then we sat back and drank. Jim seemed to be getting cheerful and livelier. The more he drank, the more cheerful he was. The guys ordered him Red Bull with vodka. When I asked him if it was vodka, he claimed it was white lemonade! He put a warm glass of "vodka" on my hand, so I almost jumped out of my skin, which he thought was terribly funny. 
Whatever he did, he looked at me as though I was the only person who knew what was behind his looks. His faces and funny grimaces reminded me of Freddie. He had a lot of subconsciously inherited poses and gestures from him. Even in his laughter I could detect an influence of Freddie's strong personality. He simply marked all people around him. It was not the same contagious and stormy laugh, but there was a spark of resemblance. 
His niece Jacqueline, Valerie and Stephen, danced all the time on the ledge and Jim was pulling  them and wrapping himself in between their legs, hugging them, clinging to them, and messing around like a little boy. It was a wonderful sight, as he was so happy and childish. 

Jim wrapping himself around like a baby
 After some time, Jim lost himself in a crowd of concert goers, so I went to look for him. Without his company it felt such a sad place. It was as if he had fallen through the ground, which made me very nervous. Finally, I found him by the entrance table, where he was joking away with one old blonde, not too different from frivolous Barbara Valentin. I asked him for a photo together. At first he looked impenetrable but as soon as I threw a sad eye and smirked, he brightened  up and agreed as if saying "You know you can, anything for you, darling"
 His niece Valerie took our picture. He then whispered to me that he hopes I´ll send him some pictures later. 
I would follow him to the end of the world...
After that he announced that we are going back inside to listen to the band.
I saw them from close-up and I must say that it was much better to just hear them. They looked rather too comic with all their wigs. It was something that would make Freddie laugh too.
I told Jim that they don´t look very natural,which he agreed with, but he said he couldn´t complain about their music. He was totally right, because musically they weren´t bad and the singer had a very authentic voice.
Inside, everybody was dancing and Jim joined in and circled around them like a rogalo. 
The whole pub vibrated with intense and loving energy. There was no one who would be bored. Jim then threw himself in the arms of his two nieces, who gently caressed him in his hair and embraced him. He let them take care of him, now vulnerable like a little lost child all of a sudden. 
There was something deeply touching about it. He had closed his eyes and sadly lowered his head, as if his tears flowed deep inside, in his invisible world. I realized at this stage, how much he really loved Freddie. I was looking at him and I had a desire to caress him and comfort him but instead, I had to stand aside. 
"You can have everything and yet feel alone", Freddie once said. But I was glad Jim had his family and friends around him, who cared and protected him. Jim was going through sorrow and joy,both at the same time, it seemed. 
comforted by family

such a sad face.....
having a drink 


During one of his many shananigans, I caught him messing around with his niece's boyfriend. 
He sat him on his knees and imitated sexual intercourse. It would seem offensive and utterly crazy to someone who didn´t know him. But we all did. Jim was laughing like crazy and when he finally looked at me, he seemed a little embarrassed by his behavior and gave me a look that said"I hope you won´t tell on me to Freddie"...but it was hard to take him seriously. 
We both smiled conspiratorially at each other. In that sense, our relationship no matter how short-lived, was special. We understood one another in thoughts. He winked at me a couple of times, tapping my beer like an old buddy.
In one moment in particular, Jim leaned over me and whispered: "You as a fan have right to be crazy, but them" ... pointing at our dancing group of friends ... " they are fucked up", he said with smile and he began to knock his finger against his forehead. An international gesture that doesn´t need an interpreter! 

Jim then went to the toilets for a while, and I, like a stray sheep, followed him through crowds of oblivious dancers. He was somewhat drunk at that time and barely retained a balance. He staggered a little like a broken tree. No surprise after god knows how many Red bulls and vodkas!  I was bit afraid for him, so I supported him inconspicuously by both shoulders from behind. He went to the toilet and cared too little to even close the door behind him. If anyone was looking, he would see Jim Hutton pissing in a toilet bowl in his bright canary shirt.
At that moment they played the most touching song of all, These are the Days of our lives .... I stood by the door and listened, watching the band and waited for Jim. I don´t know why, perhaps because of the fate that brought me here, I suddenly felt terrible sorrow. I was sorry for Freddie and Jim. Tears poured into my eyes. I didn´t cry, but was very close to it. Jim suddenly appeared  next to me and noticed my face. "What about those tears? I hope you don´t cry", but at this stage I was lost for words. His concern made me sad even more. Something inside me forced me to caress him. I hugged him gently around his neck and put my head on his shoulder for a moment. I wanted to let him know that I am very sorry about what happened to Freddie. He did not resist. He knew he wasn´t  the only one in the world who was missing him. I looked into his eyes, and I told him a sentence that I didn´t know why I said, but I strongly felt it..."Jim, he's here, he IS here." His expression was rather confused at first. "Do you believe me?" ... I said this with a seriousness and a certain degree of self-assurance that he froze for a while. He looked thoughtful. He knew what I was talking about. 
I seemed to only confirm his inner conviction. He didn´t say a word. He wiped my tear away with the edge of his hand and without warning, took me firmly by the hand and led me through crowds back to our friends. There was a lot of care and love in his touch. The music was just playing and Freddie just sang "I still love you" and I knew he did. 

I didn´t  want to leave, but I knew I said everything I needed to. I could not leave without saying goodbye. It would be a sin after all this to just disappear into eternity. I interrupted him from the conversation with someone else, leaned over the table and said, "Jim, I'm leaving now, so I want to say goodbye, it was great pleasure meeting you." I smiled as much as my heart allowed me to and shook his hand. He stared up and thought for a moment, and then, without any hesitance said, "We do not see each other for the last time." I didn´t know at this time how true his words were. 
I thought I did not understand well, so I asked again, "sorry?" and he repeated patiently and more resolutely, "I shall surely see you again," while taking my hand into his hands and kissing it gently. 
He left me in amazement. I stumbled out from there perplexed but still I could hear him talking about me to someone there. He probably said he hadn´t seen a bigger nutcase in a long time, assuming from his cute teddybear smile. Gosh I loved him so much!

The next day I learned from my friends that Jim was looking next morning  for his jacket that he had forgotten in his car. Few days later, I've sent him the promised photographs. Jacquie confirmed that  he called in to say he had received them allright. So now I'm just waiting for what other things will my fate bring me, because THIS is just a beginning.....





čtvrtek 13. září 2018

Magical Munich - report from 2000

Freddie was a faithful guide to us on July 15th, 2000 as I went with my friend Paul to Munich, both for holiday and also to visit all the places Freddie liked to visit. Throughout my stay, I took detailed records and photographed, so that everyone who would be interested in seeing it, knew exactly what to do. 

Immediately after we arrived to Munich, we went to Geothestrasse, where we reserved a hotel.
We crossed the railway bridge, got into the train and reached the Marienplatz metro station. From there it only took two stations to Geothestrasse. Mariandl hotel was closeby. As soon as we unpacked, we went for a walk. We took the main street to Sonnenstrasse, towards Karlsplatz. 
As it started to rain and we were tired and hungry, we decided to go home. 

Mariandl Hotel in Munich
I felt like in quite an alien country where Freddie once lived and where he spent fantastic days of his life, and that atmosphere was beginning to catch up with me slowly. 

The next day we finally went on to explore gay clubs. We went through the whole Sonnenstrasse from top to bottom and asked people where to find popular gay bar called Frisco. One guy from the passage gave us a magazine with a map of gay clubs in Munich and said Frisco had been shut down long time ago and turned into a heterosexual bar. So our journey took us further into the Bermuda Triangle. It was not far, but it took a while to find. Eventually, we just found ourselves in front of the Padres Bar, the former Frisco club. At one stage, I heard Freddie singing very loud from the streets. I run along the path following this mysterious sound, as if lost in a dream. Poor Paul was running after me, probably thinking I got entirely mad. There was this Gay and Lesbian public parade in one of the squares, so we joyfully joined the event. It was marvellous to see so many colourful, friendly and loving people all at once. I was exhillarated to be in Freddie´s friendly zone and felt so lucky that we had a chance to experience this and mingle with these fantastic people.


Then we found the Ochsen Gartens Club. It was such a claustrophobically narrow space. Immediately, all the eyes belonging to male inhabitants glanced at me in unison, as if I was from a different planet. I asked a junior bartender who was trying to imitate Freddie in his appearance, whether a female can enter. He said no women allowed, as if that wasn´t obvious! And so I gave over the task to do the dirty job to my friend Paul. He got the instructions as to what to do and go back to do the survey of this seedy underground, while I waited on the corner of the street. After 45 minutes of dwindling in the dark street, Paul sprang out from the bar with the exactly these words: "No one in my life will ever get me there again! This place is full of gays! I talked to some guy and he told me he had seen Freddie here many times. Then I asked his friend to take our picture and that was a fatal mistake. His boyfriend roared at me something in German, and pointed at the door. That was the end of the show" 

Ochsen Gartens these days
We then headed off the main street into a more quiet Munich night. We acted silly all the way home, laughing and singing and showing freely our love for Munich. We both fully understood why Freddie was so fond of this city. Everywhere there was peace, no restrictions and no recriminations, no matter what we did. Whole Munich was just ours, and that was an incredibly beautiful discovery.

On 17th July a Beer festival took place in the city. We saw the changing of the apostles and also visited the Music World, where they had a lot of unknown LP´s with Queen music. We came to Bermuda and continued on the Mullerstrasse to Rumfordstrasse. Then we finally discovered Old Mrs Henderson's, and we immediately recognized the sidewalk on which Freddie's video shoots were recorder. At night we went to the original Frisco, which is called Padres.

Although it was probably rebuilt 7 years ago (as the bartender told us), there was still some original magical energy. I was hoping to visit Mrs Hendersons bar, where Freddie was celebrating his 39th birthday and shooting Livin' On My Own, but it was closed, so we decided to taste New York instead. 
in Old Mrs Henderson´s bar, where Freddie celebrated wildly his birthday
For a change, I could enter without problems, which made me very happy. I could go to the club where Freddie fell in love with Barbara! According to legend, Valentine sat on the toilet seat, and Mercury sat down to her feet with a glass of his favorite vodka in his hands. There they talked about their lives as an old friends. She remembered, "It was a complete coincidence. We both appeared in the same bar, that's all. He was there with a huge crowd of people and so was I. 
I got accidentally burned by one guy´s cigarette and I was screaming at him. Then he apologized and asked if I wanted to be introduced to his friend - and that was Freddie. We said hi and that was it. And we almost didn´t shut up for next 24 hours. We spent all time chatting in the toilet, because there was nice and quiet. He just seemed amazing. " When they stopped, they found they were locked inside. It was 4 o´clock when they were saved by a cleaner. 


The place looked amazing. It was an underground space with one bigger ground floor bar and other four smaller ones. There was a deep blue light everywhere. The miniature flashes flickered, the floor with the pattern of a checkerboard shone in the darkness. Most of all I was fascinated by the light ball under the mixing cabin that looked like a sun. There was a strong, strangely wild and narcotic atmosphere in the air, as if Freddie was there everywhere.
I noticed one guy to my right and we started to talk. His name was David and he was very curious as to why we came to Munich. I said we just wanted to visit the places where Mercury used to go.
He was both surprised and excited. He told me that Freddie was often here, but he had never seen him personally. He told me about Barbara and said that she was getting very old. He also spilled the beans, that she frequents the Nil bar, where we will definitely find her, but he warned us that she doesn´t look very well.
One of his friends told us that he had seen Freddie quite often. He always said he was friendly to everyone, he talked to everyone and danced, there was a cocaine sniffing at times, and that could get wild enough. We stayed with Paul until the closing hours, when the DJ put on New York New York by Frank Sinatra. 
New York bar recently
Freddie and Barbara became best friends and lovers
David wrote on the back of this ticket where to find Barbara Valentine
On July 18th at 7pm we slowly set off to the Nil. The bar is located directly on Hansach Strasse opposite the obscene Teddy Bar and Freddie´s and Barbara´s mutual appartment. We got there by tram and then walked back a bit. It was a nice bar with an outdoor garden, all lit by mini light bulbs. Paul asked the waiter if Barbara was inside and he told him she was right there. So we walked in and walked around her, trying to act normally. We wanted to sit as close as possible so we climbed up the bar stools on her right hand side. She was dressed like the owner of a merry-go-round, hair like after an explosion. She was pale in her face and completely destroyed by alcohol. We later caught Barbara out in front of the bar as she boarded the car. Paul asked her for the autograph. At first I was embarrassed and I thought I would not be able to ask for a signature, but then she pulled some of her photos from her wallet all by herself and signed them for us. She even asked which photo of hers we prefer, as she had two varieties. We asked her to have a picture taken with us. With a lot of effort and clumsily, she got up from the car, stepped up next to Paul and took me beside her, letting me hug her around her waist. She put her arms around my shoulder and her friend took a memorable picture. Then she said goodbye and shook our hands. 

Nil bar, where we met Barbara in a male company
meeting Barbara in front of Nil bar was lifetime chance and we didn´t miss it...
signed photograph that we chose that night. She wrote "with love, Barbara"

https://www.ellgeebe.com/en/destinations/europe/germany/munich/nightlife/cafe-nil


On July 19th, we went to where our legs brought us. We reached the Nil once again. We didn´t  know if Barbara would be present once more, but she was. The bar cracked in the hinges and so we sat close to the toilets by the exit. She walked past us when she went to ladies.
She looked absently at me and didn´t recognize us, but I was not surprised considering the previous night, when she was barely standing on her feet. We didn´t  want to chase her this time, so we drove to New York to find David, but he wasn´t there. When we asked about him at the bar, nobody seemed to know any David. He showed up like a ghost and then disappeared like one. I felt Freddie´s presence everywhere. This night, they were making a beautiful laser show. We left again with the final sounds of Sinatra. 

On July 20th we went to the Turkish quarter, walked up to Marienplatz and walked down the main street to a luxurious neighborhood. Munich is a bit divided into a particular class neighbourhoods. For example, we lived in the Bohemian quarter full of gays and lesbians. Ordinary people lived at the opposite end of the city and the center was for the rich. A lot later, there was a stop in New York, where we left a message to David that we thank him for everything. Then we finally greeted Ochsen, Nil and Henderson's. I didn´t want to go home, I would love to live here forever! However, the most difficult thing was to leave those many friendly souls that we have met during this time. This Munich was kind of magic, arranged by nobody else but Freddie. 

úterý 7. srpna 2018

the Epiphany of Rhodes


 This summer holiday I got entangled into the wishes of my dear beloved boyfriend who prefers to have it all inclusive so I succumbed. Only this once! We chose to go to Rhodes island in Greece into the Lalyssos area, which is about 15 minutes away from the Rhodes main town.
The flight was quite demanding, as we flew in the morning hours and arrived at midnight. There was millions of people at the airport at this hour, a chaotic turmoil and one very drunk or drugged woman, who kept despondendly running around looking for our delegate among myriads of others. It took us at least ten minutes to locate our station and get through the crowds. We then had to find the bus on the colossal bus depot and sit on the bus for another hour, as the crazy woman had a fit of rage and started arguing outside the bus with her husband, drivers, and delegates, smashing her phone on the ground in the process. What a start to our holiday! 
When we finally arrived, we were taken to the main reception and given key room. The bell boy then sat us down into his golf car and drove us away into the annex building, distant perhaps 300 metres away, in the zone of a dead donkey, so to say. My fears came true the moment he took us to the elevator that could barely fit in two people at a time, claustrophobically small, with broken parts in the ceiling and with no air to breath. Fortunatelly, the room was relatively nice and after visible facelift. However, it had a terrible view of nothing in particular, at most the neighboring wall of some unidentified building and there were pigeons sitting in every nook and cranny, looking startled when I discovered them. We were quite thirsty after travelling three hours deprived of a drop of water, so we went to have a drink at the main bar. There were planes flying  across our hotel every ten minutes, which I thought was hillarious, and secretly hoped that one of them doesn´t fall down just when I´m enjoying my Sex on the beach.
In the morning we ventured into the main hotel canteen, where I was taken aback by avalanche of tourists who had the same idea. I have never seen so many people in my life, I mean, having a mutual breakfast. It seemed so unnatural and I suddenly felt slightly sociophobic, to be honest. There was plenty of food for everyone, more than we could ever digest, but I didn´t enjoy this mass moment of maddness, where you consumed and consumed, until you couldn´t consume anymore, as you were devastatingly bursting full and sick from mixture of eggs, sausages, bacon, beans, bread, mushrooms, yoghurt, croissants, coffee and sweet artificial juice. I just couldn´t handle the proprotions of it all and also the noise and movements of all the adults and kids fighting for a free table. Breakfast should be an indulging, private moment, not a football match arena. I nostalgically remembered the great and quiet times in Italy, which was a huge contrast to this experience. The same went for lunch and dinner, only dinner was in much bigger megalomaniac proportions. I couldn´t just decide what meal to have, so I usually chose everything, which not always matched together. If you happened to come late for your dinner, you had a tough luck. You had to queue in a long line and let the staff with walkie talkies navigate you to your table. I was turning into a sociopath more and more each and every day, secretly wishing all these hordes would just magically disappear.
On the second day of our stay, I was already nervous from having nothing to do. If you didn´t lie on the beach or by the swimming pool, there was nothing much else to do than sit in the main bar and drink until you had your mouth glued together with all the sugar. I was bored beyond imagination as we sat in the bar all evening and had nothing else to do than watch Germans play kanasta and see ocassional planes flying above. Maybe bit of a night entertainment would be good. Some kind of live music or little bit of dance. But no, there was absolutely nothing and the idea of spending my time sitting in the same position for another six days seemed unimaginable.
After my litany on how boring the life in hotel resort is, my boyfriend decided we will visit a town of Rhodos the next day. We knew there is a bus station somewhere nearby, so we took a random stroll in that direction and discovered not only a station, but also several markets and seafood restaurant, which cought our attention. The tour to the city could have taken 20 minutes as we were stopping at every station, but it started to get packed the more we approched the city. It was incredibly hot outside and we barely walked, slowly wandering around the old city perimeters and the castle streets and secret corridors. The old city is built within the castle, so you actually walk among the pathways of medieval royal routes,where I could imagine, used to travel the knights on their horses. It was very romantic and photogenic part of town. You could buy a portrait on the street of Artists or visit a Master castle or archeological ruins, but you had to pay for everything. Even taking a photo of a motorbike was prohibited, as there was a sign:“if you want a picture, you need to pay“. There were lovely little restaurants, so we decided to have Mousaka in Rustico. It was nice and comforting, but I have to say, the portion was petite and I can make better Mousaka than they did. The owner kept attending to us all the time and there was even an old musician playing Greek songs and Hallelujah by Cohen on his little guitar, which was sweet. The surprising fact to me was two mosques in the middle of town, so untypical for Greece. After the short stroll in the harbour, we went back to our station and home we went. I discovered a little donkey few yards from our hotel, in an isolated field tied to the tree. He aproached me and quisically studied my ever move, not fully decided if he should bite me or lick my hand. I preferd not to find out which one of those he chose to perform and just took his picture.
The main swimming pool was never really available, as all the people blocked the beds with towels right before breakfast and didn´t leave a single one or two for use. We could never swim in it as there were hundreds of children jumping about (despite the strict prohibition), so we had to put up with the little comfort of the beach beds, which were usually available. The sea looked better from the shore, but it was much worse when you got in. First of all, attempt at going in without any shoes was crazy, second, the amount of sea weed or other debris was at times alarming. The waves were constantly splashing against your face, so I had to use my sunglasess to avoid being blinded. Jaimito was upset at the amount of children, as he would prefer to swim in the swimming pool. He said, next time we´ll look for ADULT hotels only.
The next day we decided to rent a car. The cheapest one was Fiat Panda, but the one we got was the oldest and ugliest that was standing in the parking lot, so when I sat inside, I started protesting and demanding a swap. Jaimito was happy with the choice (eventhough he wasn´t really, only didn´t want to ask for another car), but when I discovered corosive bottom of the seat and bad air conditioning, I won. He went for a swap and got us much more beautiful, decent Nisan Micra, which cost him 5 EU more. I guess it was easier to pay it, than have me angry for the rest of our tour.
We drove from Kremesti, which was our starting position, via Paradisi and in the airport general direction. In Theologos we visited Petaloudes butterfly farm, which was an utter disappointment. They charged 5 EU for a 15 minute climbing up the steep hill through the forest, where was a little stream and several mini waterfalls (yes they called them waterfalls, eventhough they were just ordinary streams running down the cliff). There was a lot of butterflies, but you could barely see them, as their natural colouring was brown and they looked like Red Admiral type, which is common in most European countries. Jaimito carried his heavy rucksack and sweated out maybe a gallon of water, while trying to climb up and kill me at the same time, because it was my silly idea to go there in the first place.
The next stop was an ancient village of Kamiros. It was a city of ruins built on top of the mountain, so we had a beautiful view of the sea. It was a town of ruined stones, pillars and remnants of baths and public houses from pre-helenistic period. We imagined the old time thinkers and philosophers gathering in the local square and debating over cup of beer until the sunset. For Jaimito who loves and adores ruins, quite enjoyable. After this, we headed to the „renown“ beach restaurant Porto Antico, that had a „loud“ advertisement on all leaflets in the area. They said we can have 15 % discount on our meals and that their prices are „reasonable“. The view was nice enough, we looked across the beach onto the sea. But that was where all the fairness ended. The calamari I ordered for 13 EU were four little shrunk circles with one baked potato without salt or any hint of spices. It was actually astounding how much they dared to ask me to pay for it, considering the size portion. We also got no 15% discount! Understandably, the worst restaurant experience of my life in Greece. AVOID PORTO ANTICO my dear beloved friends. Go to the place next door, where everything is half price.
And then we drove a long distance across half of the island towards Lindos. It took perhaps half an hour to get there from our last destination, as we drove alongside the coast and had a wonderful view of the slowly approaching mountains. The little square of Lindos was so busy with traffic and nowhere to park, that we had a difficulty to find a spot for our car and had to drive to a remote street. It was more of a street cobweb rather than a town. There was this donkey station, where were tons of donkies loaded next to each other like bricks, solemnly standing and barely breathing with exhaustion, supporting their tired heads over their buddy´s back. It was very sad sight for me, the lover of donkies. The few guys who run this dirty touristic attraction tried to offer a ride on a donkey like they were selling a funfair ride. When I saw a 40 year old guy who must have been 95 kilos heavy, riding this poor animals´a back and smiling around vigorously like an idiot, I wanted to kick his arse so badly, he would never sit back on it. I wished I could help these creatures from their suffering, but didn´t know how. I understand all this belongs to the Greek kolorit and I understand if a child wants to ride a donkey, but come on, 40 year old guy? We didn´t have the strenght to climb all the way up the steep mountain to visit Lindos castle. It was too hot and we couldn´t wait to jump into a cold sea.
After we wrestled our way out of Lindos, we headed along the coast all way back towards Rhodes town. There is a famous beach, Anthony Quinn bay, where the movie GUNS OF NAVARONNE was made in 1960. So we visited this tiny jewel of a beach, which was not very spectacular at all. Just ordinary beach with few giant stones and smelly dark toilets, where one couldn´t change into swimming gear unless you dared to put your bag into the gross liquidy staff on the ground. We changed in the bushes, helping each other to protect our bodies from the eyes of all voyers. I think I forgot my white pair of shorts on the motorbike, while trying to squeeze into my swimsuit.
The next day we had an option to visit hotel´s own Greek restaurant, but you had to book yourself long ahead of time. We had booking made for 8 pm and it was very nice experience, I have to admit.This time we got a Menu counting nine hors d'oeuvrs, two main dishes and three desserts. We got a platter with tzatziki, spicy cream cheese, meliztanosalata, green and black olives, greek salad with feta, grilled octopus salad and fried squid, chips with mizithra cheese, pork Tigania and crab balls. They were all just small tapas but filling enough to make one complete dish. Then we both chose meat mix grill with village style sausage, chicken leg and pork souvlaki. By the time we ate our way through to pecan pie, we were so full, we couldn´t think of eating another two desserts, so we discreetly vanished. It was all delicious and all praise goes to this little tavern.
It all appears like we were doing nothing but drinking and eating, which is exactly what we did! The very next day we tried the seafood road restaurant, which was actually a fish shop connected with a little bistro, where you could choose freshly made seafood of all kinds. We had each a bowl of seafood paella for 7 EU and then grilled octopus, my first one! And the next day, we went for the same food again, as it was way too tasty to leave behind.
On the second day of our stay, I went to file a complaint as my hairdryer broke down. I reported it at the main reception and the receptionist took a note and said she will take care of it. For the next following six days or so, nobody came to fix it and nobody even cared, so I dried my hair in the balcony. I didn´t want to make a big fuss about what seemed like a minor problem. When we entered the Aqua park for the first time, which could have been on the fifth day of our stay, the lady on the premises stopped us and required to see our bracelet, which we didn´t have. She turned us back to the main reception, where we informed them and the main receptionist crossed herself when she discovered we have been moving about the hotel for all week without it, getting all inclusive service. The guy who inicially accepted us in the hotel on the night of arrival was of course responsible. When we got our bracelets, we could fully use the Aqua park, which we discovered was the best of all places, as you could easily get free sunbed, run under the various funny showers and also get a ride on one of the water slides, which of course, I tried out several times (for the first time in my life) and I had as much fun as never before.

I´ve never seen British people in such amount in holidays as in here. There was the biggest concentration in Rhodes, so it seemed. British, second German, third Czech and Polish. Towards the end we were so heavily overwhelmed by the sweet drinks from the bar. I´ve tried Screwdriver, Cuba Libre, Vodka tonic, Tequila Sunrise, Sex on the Beach, Gin Tonic, El Paradiso…but having too much sugar in my blood by then, I decided that beer is the only one to resfresh myself with. Most of those drinks were made from cheap alcohol and even cheaper versions of tonic and juice. Some of them tasted like toilet cleaners.
On the last day of our stay, we sort of didn´t realize we should check out at certain time, as our departure was scheduled for 9PM. We felt we had enough time and I completely forgot we should be leaving the room by morning, as all of my previous holidays I always had early departure and therefore never needed to know the check out time. What a big mistake! We spent morning hours in Aqua park, then we went to shop for some food into the main street stores, and only after that we returned to our room, where I found an envelope under the door. The time of the letter was 12:30, already half an hour late as the check out was supposed to be 12:00. But since we still didn´t know what´s going on, and the note didn´t say „please you missed your check out time“, I tried to call the reception to no avail and so we had to walk all the way back to main hotel. There we were approached by the receptionist, who six days ago took a note about my broken hairdryer and when she said we will have to pay 30 EU for late check out, we went berserk. She called the manager of reception to deal with us and when she insisted on regulations and our responsibilty to check out on time, we defended ourselves by pinpointing all the problems that their hotel was responsible for. We reminded them about the broken hairdryer and to this, the young receptionist said….“but it´s not my responsibility“, throwing mockingly all her responsibility away. I said, „well, why did you take a note and said you will take care of it, if it´s not your responsibilty. And by the way, whose responsibilty is it then, if not the front desk? The waiters?“ The manager said….“ok ok, so I will check with the maintenance if the hairdryer will be repaired“, and I said“ well, bit late for that now, when we are leaving, lady! “  She said something like „we don´t have an electrician in here“, so I went „well, maybe you should! “Then we reminded them of the elevator that hasn´t worked on several ocassions and Jaime took out his medical reports to show her he shouldn´t be really using stairs. She tried to play it cool and be in charge, but her abilities to save the situation were desparately lacking any skill. We had more arguments against the hotel, then the hotel had against us. After half an hour of sweaty arguing, she gave up and said we don´t need to pay anything. Sometimes you gotta fight for your right. Whenever there is a mistake on the part of the hotel, it seems fine…it´s just a minor issue and they think sorry will heal it. However, if you as a client make one slip up, you have to pay them extra money. What a baloney!  If we were to pay for late check out, they should have paid us for half of the services unmet and unprovided for. Some hotels think just because they are big machinery with loads of lawyers behind them, they can abuse their power. Not exactly the best way to leave your holidays (and we do not argue this way EVER!), but sometimes it´s inevitable to stand your ground. Despite all this, we really did enjoy our stay as we traveled a lot, we tasted fabulous food, we had fun and we didn´t care. But next time guys, be careful what you sign up for. And don´t let them trick you and cheat you off. Until next time. Have a nice summer guys….
our beach on the arrival

when it got really windy

Rhodes port




 
our car

ruins of the Kamros city

in butterfly valley 

Lindos castle


poor donkies waiting for death 

seaview near Anthony Quinn bay

Anthony Quinn beach

my mascot, the donkey






pondělí 23. července 2018

Calabria, Italy - dream holidays



On Friday the 13th nobody likes to travel. Alas, we did! By us I mean myself and my Mother. The destination was Calabria in Italy, the infamous home for mafia, beautiful italian countryside, food and sea. Our resort was Parghelia, close to Tropea city and the hotel we stayed in was on top of the cliffs, the amazing Santa Lucia https://www.hotel-santalucia.it/ 
We knew the pitfalls of this area, such as a necessity of taking a minibus to get to a beach or the city. We knew that our appartment will not have the most wonderful seaview, as they were all booked out. We also knew that there will be no town in walking distance or promenade to take an evening stroll on. With a hindsight, none of that really mattered. The hotel was clean, beautiful, spacious and full of goodhearted, always smiling staff.
After we set our feet into our room and settled in, we started to explore little by little. We made friends with local head waiter Marcelo, who surprisingly turned out to be of Argentinian origin. He was sweeping the pavement by the swimming pool when we first came, and when I wanted to touch the leaves of a tree, he reprimanded me and gesticulated in desparate yet funny gesture not to go near it….as if sweeping the leaves was the worst job of his life, which probably was. We all had to laugh at it afterwards, while he made friends with us, wiping sweat off his brows. The first hard working employee I´ve seen in a long time!
Our first dinner was delicous. We had ravioli in rich sugo and tuna steak with loads of grilled vegetables. The dining room looked very posh, with all those carpets, chandeliers and twenty waiters who run around in their suits and bows. We also discovered a tiny shop behind our hotel run by a small Italian guy named Antonio, whom we noticed during the dinner. We thought he must have been the owner, as he walked from table to table and chatted vigorously to each customer.
The weather here was very humid and hot, so I was happy to have air conditioning in the room and little balcony with a small view of sea in a distance and small portion of a swimming pool. We were positioned just above the hotel entrance, so we saw all the guests coming in and out, we heard the fountain gurgling, the cicadas singing, the minibus arriving and the hotel staff runing around doing their daily routine. It was all nice and peaceful though. That´s until the night started, and the bunch of Italian singers started to sing until oblivion. The door shutters nor the door itself really helped to block out the terrible sounds. So we gave up and used earplugs, shut the door and turned on the air conditioning, full blast! We were unconditionally grateful for having one of the „better located appartements“, as some people weren´t as lucky.
In the morning, there was a buffet style breakfast, where you could choose from many varieties of sweet buns, sponge cakes and croissants and also yoghurt, cereals, fresh bread, salami, proscuitto, mortadella, scrambled eggs, tomatoes, some fruits and canned plums and peaches. You could accompany this with delicious frothy cappuccino or latte, strong americano or just very sweet red orrange and pinneaple juice. We were happy above our expectations, as we are used to much more meager rations and worse food quality from other destinations in Greece. This was a luxury in comparison! During the breakfast, as a part of your new daily routine, you had to thick off your choices of meals for lunch or dinner, depending on your programme. There was usually a choice of three starters, one of which was soup, three main courses, one of which was fish and one vegetarian option, and two types of vegetable side salads. The desserts were always a surprise, but mostly just a slice of oversweetened ice cream or piece of melon, which in Italian is known as anguría.
After the first breakfast, we had a half an hour of  tedious meeting with our delegate, who kept talking of the history of onion, so called ciopolla, which is famous in the region. We were in a hurry to get to the beach!!! The only interesting information she gave us was, that there was an earthquake close to morning hours. We didn´t even notice.  She did, she told us, because a piece of a bread fell out on her head from a kitchen cupboard. The earthquake was at 3:40,which leaves  her story rather questionable.
 Later we took a minibus that was extremely overloaded, having capacity of just 20 seats. Some of them had to be taken by a spare bus. We travelled about 10 minutes along the coast and through small villages, and under the cliffs with the famous viaducts of Tropea city. Then the bus stopped by a small beach resort, Lido Calypso, where we unloaded and paid our entry fee of 7 EU for two seabeds and umbrella. At first the guy who sat by the little provisional table told me a price of 13 EU, at which I looked startled and said…“sorry, but the guy in front of me paid only 7!“, and then I saw the girl next to him gesturing something like it´s ok…just let them go….because we were from Santa Lucia, and the guests from this hotel have it for cheaper. At least that´s what I gathered.  So we grabbed our seats just wherever there was a free space, which was behind a giant rock, that looked like a meteorite that was short of destryoing whole of Tropea some hundred years ago. We got a place right next to two Slovak couples with kids, who were very friendly and talkative, and gave us their unused ciabattas. Other than these, we haven´t met any Czechs throughout our stay in Calabria, which was very peculiar but very refreshing!
The sea was very tranquil first few days, which is good if you like to swim. I prefer the big waves, and I was meant to have more of them relatively soon. We learnt to combine our seabathing with swimming pool, where there was no one and we could enjoy our lemon beer in the shade of the hotel sunbeds. On a third day we had seafood menu, prawns and mussels, pasta and red scorpion fish, and a seabass fillet, but too much is too much. Having a fish everyday is tempting at first, but after few days you get slightly sick when seeing a fish. So from that day on, we kept ordering pork escalopes with pepper sauce, with lemon sauce, with mushroom sauce…..well….go figure. I was sick of meat after three more days and went back to fish!
The only trouble with Italian entertainment was that they didn´t organise any professional bands in the evening. It was all local production, and by that, I mean guests and animators singing at the karaoke until the midnight hours, when all people would probably prefer to sleep. Sometimes it was bordering on insanity. They sounded like bunch of drunk broken-hearted guys, who sing false italian songs that never saw a hit chart. I think my version of Eros Ramazzotti would be the winner of the night, had I the courage to join!
The clouds have been gathering above Calabria for last few days, so we were expecting some storms. We discovered that it´s quite normal to see a barman working next day as a swimming pool sweeper, or a receptionist working next day as a waiter. Therefore, it was always a nice surprise to find various people at different places.  It was like that game: find Wally,if you know what I mean.
One wonderful day we went to Tropea city at night where we were dropped off by the old Calabrian church, and we wandered through the little cobbled streets with beautiful neat shops and typical Italian restaurants. The town was full of tourists and the usual buzz. There were red onions hanging from every corner, a thing called Nduja, salamis and olives and people with ice creams. We made the same tour the next day, when the weather got very windy and stormy, so we could see the city in the daylight. We met a Polish guy with Ara parrot in the old square and because I am such a goofy person who likes these things,  I wanted to take a photo with it, so all I got was one very bad picture and one half eaten hand, because the parrot didn´t really like humans and preffered to bite them until they all screamed in convulsions and probably died!  Of course the Polish charged me 2 EU for one minute of misery and wanted the same from my Mum, who didn´t even want to have a stupid parrot devouring her arm. We then saw a whole seaview from above, which was a small compensation for our previous suffering.  We had some ice cream, which as my Mother explained, was made with pure milk. True to her word, the ice cream had the same endurance as an iceberg thrown into hot lava! It tasted delicious, but you had to lick it like a thirsty dog, unless you preffered to drink it. We had time to buy some sundried tomatoes and bergamot pasta. We were waiting for our bus that never arrived, so we changed a plan and went to the beach by foot. The best things happen when you least expect them, so they say.  The big storm arrived by then and there were only few people scattered about and the  giant waves were glorious to watch. So we enjoyed the marvellous, powerful mother nature for  a while.  
The last few days we were desparately looking for a lemon and Nduja, the local traditional meat pate, which we got to taste due to Gateano, one of the eight brothers who owned Santa Lucia, as Marcelo later told us. We met Gaetano earlier on, but this time, when we tried to order Ice coffee, my Mum stroke a conversation in Italian and they chatted for another hour, by which time, Gaetano started enjoying himself too much and gave us a taste of Calabrian Amaretto, a slice of his snack, which was bread with Nduja, and plastic cup of chilled local wine. What a great and friendly attention!!! In the end he brought us cups of iced coffee to our sunbeds and when I presented him our paycard, he simply waved it off. So this is a way to a heart of Calabrian. They are all nice and sweet people under their tough, sun parched skin and they have more kindness in their cold blue eyes, then you would think. When I told Gaetano about how nice was Marcelo to us, Gaetano laughed and said....Marcelo is good guy. But he is Argentinian bastard and cornuto, which basically equals to asshole. It was so funny, when Gateano forced my Mum to repeat these words to Marcelo, after what he came to his shift and Marcelo shook her hand and simply answered:"nice to meet you, I´m Argentinian". 
I finally got what my heart craved for. The giant waves, that I used as a jumping pillows. They were so huge, that they exceeded me by metre and half at times. One of them hit me hard from back, splashing all over my head, another one sent me to my knees with an extraordinary power. It literally spat me out like a chewing gum and I was just a little crabby creature, trying to crawl out on my all four. I was horrified that another one will come and finish me off. My Mum stood by on the shore and laughed like insane But it was all a great fun and I would do it again for sure!
The last day we said goodbye to our beloved Marcelo, who was waiting for us at the bar, and we slowly proceeded to pack our suitcases. This was a very beautiful place to be in and I would say, one of the few that I really fell in love with due to its people and the natural beauty. And Nduja is soo good, you will want to eat it everyday. Spicy and extraordinary like Calabria, the home to great Italians, who never lost their spirit, no matter how poor they have gotten. 



view of Lido beach from the top of Tropea city


sea view close to lido Calypso 

me and Mum in town

Gaston, the bitey bastard of a parrot

during the storm

Marcelo, Gaetano and Mum, talking about cornutos 

stormy Tropea

our Argentinian friend, Marcelo







lazying around, the queen of a swimming pool




delicious seafood starter, delights of the sea

amazing ravioli

what a breakfast!!!!