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Dear New Subscribers- Welcome Aboard! And, of course, a heartfelt Hello to long-time readers,
First "Meet the Senior Bachelor Event" Shaping Up!
As I wrote on my blog this weekend: "Manhattan Beach is shaping up to be quite a fun event. At least I hope so. We all are in new territory with this endeavor, and that adds a lot of mystery, Romance, and Adventure. On the one hand I am nervous, and the other hand excited." The "nervous" is an excited kind of nervous not unlike when you are planning a big party. Everyone is invited to join in the often spirited conversations on the blog! You'll find very interesting and supportive regular "Senior Blogettes" and it is usually the place where we post new information and updates. For many of us this has been our first experience with blogging so don't be shy. Also on the blog are your questions and answers about the "Meet the Senior Bachelor Events". Click here to go to the Senior Bachelor Blog. The preliminary agenda and information about the Events is located on the Senior Bachelor website- just click here.
Introducing the newest member of the Senior Bachelor Team!
On my previous two trips around the world, first in 1978 &1979 for 426 days with my family, and in 1996 for 190 days with my son Chris producing "Pop & Me," and on most of my other journeys, I never make reservations in advance. The obvious advantage is maximum flexibility; the obvious disadvantage is a lot of time is spent on making arrangements. I calculate that a full 1/3 of my time is spent finding a good hotel, arranging local transportation, hiring guides, finding restaurants, and then in 2 or 3 days, arranging transportation to the next destination! And on this upcoming world journey, much of the travel is in third, or fourth-world countries. I feel I am getting a little long in the tooth for this mode of travel, and I do not think it is fair to my traveling partner that I am unavailable 1/3 of the time! I have had some concern that the first two months of the Senior Bachelor Journey will be in South America, the only place I have not been to on this itinerary. I'm dreadful with languages, and when I'm traveling alone, I can handle this. However, with a new traveling partner, this did not seem fair. Due to these concerns, I have been keeping my eyes and ears open for just the right person who could relieve me of the logistics and allow me to enjoy the company of my Perfect Traveling companion the whole time. In essence, an advance man/interpreter, and ideally someone who has lived in South America and fluent in Spanish. I do know of such a person, but naturally there have been numerous details to work out.
Allow me to introduce Umberto Zappa, a wonderful, 29-year-old man from Italy whom I have known most of his life. I first met Umberto in 1985, when he arrived at Camp Tecumseh, a boy's sports camp in New Hampshire, where I was the Director from 1983- 1995. Umberto was 10 years old, could not speak a word of English, and had never left his home country of Italy. At this moment, I can recall the lost look on this young boy's face. Umberto spent the next ten summers at Camp Tecumseh, as a model camper, excellent Junior Counselor, then fantastic Counselor, specializing in trips and fencing. In 2001, I had one of the best years of my life, living in Italy, and I lived in the other half of Umberto's parents home, who are very good friends of mine. Umberto has recently returned from 3 years in South America, is fluent in Spanish, as well as Italian, German, English and French. Five languages and I struggle with one!! Umberto is the most humble, polite (he will only call me "Mr. Roe"), and talented young man I know. He has never smoked or drank alcohol, and is in extra- superior physical condition. Umberto grew up in an artistic environment, as his mother is a very accomplished painter and his father a computer graphics expert. Umberto also attended photography school in Paris, and his goal is to be a travel journalist and photographer.
Umberto will fly in from Milan this Wednesday, August 31- just in time for the Manhattan Beach soiree!! And he'll join us in Chicago as well. He will live with me as well as Joe Franklin's family (Joe lives in Manhattan Beach and is responsible for the website, and is my right hand man) for at least two months. If all goes well, he will start out on the South America portion of the Senior Bachelor Journey. If that is successful, Umberto will continue along, and make my life and "your" life so much better and hence the entire experience, so much more meaningful. I will put Umberto right to work taking still photographs and video for the Newsletter and blog at the Manhattan Beach event so everyone not attending can see the activities over those two days. Welcome back to America, Umberto, and "molte grazie" for your kind offer of help!
Just a quick review of what you will find on the Senior Bachelor Website. We added a whole lot of new information and reorganized it last week, so if you haven't seen it in a while, it's worth revisiting.
Past Newsletters: Please read the past Newsletters. This is easily done by clicking on this link. That is the best way to catch up with the Search for Perfect Traveling Companion, travel stories, new events and much, much more.
Richard's Blog: As mentioned before, there is a very active (and spirited!!!) Senior Bachelor blog. All the ladies there are very supportive of one another (and you!). The Senior Blogettes are usually first to get the latest information as well. Please join the lovely ladies of the blog! Click here to participate.
"Meet the Senior Bachelor Events": September 1 and 2, the first "Meet The Senior Bachelor Event" will be held in Manhattan Beach, California. Click here for all of the details. On September 15, 16, and 17, (TENTATIVE) the next "Meet The Senior Bachelor Event" will be held in Chicago. Remember, the deadline for submission of materials for the Journey is September 16, 2005. (The photo is taken in front of the Ayres Hotel private dining room where we will be conducting our face-to-face meetings.)
Senior Bachelor Cruises: The response to the idea of taking cruises together was beyond a smash!! So we set up a new page on the Senior Bachelor Website just for cruisers and are working on a special Senior Bachelor Cruise Newsletter. Click here to check it out.
THE HOLLYWOOD "STAR" and THE 5 STAR SPA HOTEL RESORT
(For those of you new to the Senior Bachelor Newsletter, here is where I periodically provide emails and musings from previous travels. To see past Newsletters, click here.)
January, 2005- Please allow me to relate to you my present accommodations, the Vinh Hung 5 Star Spa Resort Hotel, in lovely Hoi An, Vietnam. And I also call your attention to the quotation marks around "STAR."... For the past month I have been staying in grungy backpacker hostels, paying about $5 a night, which includes geckos, crickets, clammy sheets (if any), cold water (if any), and questionable toilet facilities (if any). In a previous email I have explained why I have chosen to travel this way- essentially it is a personal challenge. And, they say, you get what you pay for. However, that's not always the case as you are about to discover. Hoi An is located around the middle of Vietnam, on the coast, and also on a river. This is a very, very special place, and UNESCO has declared the Old Town a World Heritage Cultural Site- and it lives up to its billing. The Old Town is a combination of 100+ year old buildings with a French and Asian flair, and the buildings have aged beautifully and gracefully. The streets are narrow, no pollution (a big problem in the cities in Asia), and the local people are extra- friendly. To me this is one of the top ten places I have ever visited. The Old Town is chock full of great bistros and cafes, clothing stores, outdoor markets, etc. People come from all over the world to Hoi An to buy textiles and to get clothes made. The restaurants and the shops are located on the first floors of these buildings, and they are all very tastefully done. One can walk day after day in the same streets and never tire of the scene. I only wish I could describe it better to you. To me, it has a flavor of Paris, Santa Fe, San Francisco, and set in Bali. Bottom line, it is a truly awesome place to visit.
I arrived in Hoi An on Christmas Day, after my dinner "with" 240 Vietnamese, and I decided I would give myself a Christmas present- a nice hotel. I had spent the morning in Hue, had taken a 4 hour motorbike tour around the city, and then a 5 1/2 hour bus ride to Hoi An, arriving around 8:30 p.m. I was tired, dusty, soggy, and cranky, a lot because I missed being with my family on Christmas Day. So when the hotel clerk told me the hotel was filled, I figured it was time to return to New York City mode, pull out all stops, play all of my aces-in-the-hole. No holds barred. I snottily (is that a word?) insisted on speaking with the Manager. A Mr. Vinh presented himself to me and I presented myself to him, by whipping out my most impressive business card (500 for $12 at Kinko's in Manhattan Beach) declaring me: Richard F. Roe-President, WORLD TRAVEL TOURS, WORLDWIDE TRAVEL AUTHOR, and OSCAR NOMINATED FILMMAKER. To my utter amazement, Mr. Vinh seemed non-plussed (you know, some of that French influenced haughtiness). Oh, ok, so you want to play hardball, do ya'? I reached in my bag and pulled out the DVD version of POP&ME (HA, take that, schmuck!!!), something I had been saving just for such an occasion. I thrust it into his grubby little hands and smugly watched as Mr. Vinh slowly came to the realization of how exceptionally fortunate that he, and his hotel, might, just might, be to have me as a guest. That is if I would condescend into staying at his lowly 3 star hotel. As Mr. Vinh saw the DVD cover, read some of the reviews, saw the MGM logo, he started to blush- I swear that's true. He kowtowed (extra humbly low), apologized (profusely) for not immediately recognizing me, because he now realized he was certain he had seen, or read, or heard about some of "my works." Mr. Vinh then realized he did have a room after all, but he explained it was "only a Superior Deluxe Double Room." The 1 suite they had was occupied and he thought it was to late to evict the family from the Suite-even for me. Nevertheless, I said, I'll inspect the room.
It was fantastic. I told Mr. Vinh that due to the late hour, and my long private car ride from Hue (I couldn't tell him I had come by the local bus for $1.50) the room would be "acceptable, but just for one night." Three bellboys had heard all of this and when they searched for my luggage to take to my room, they saw only a small knapsack, and they wondered where my luggage was. Well, I said, for this portion of my trip, I wanted to travel lightly, so I left all of my luggage and all of my good clothes back in "my place" in Hanoi. (I have to tell you, once you get started, it's hard to stop!!) They loved this!! I took a long swim in the heated pool, and went out for a fine French/Vietnamese dinner. Well now....that was fun!!! Now friends, honestly, all I wanted was a nice room on Christmas Day, and I was not in the mood to schlep around town looking for a place. I truly had no idea that my charade would go to such lengths. Having said that, I was unprepared for what occurred the following morning when I walked into the lobby.
I had "accidentally" left the DVD of POP&ME with Mr. Vinh the night before, and he in turn had alerted the entire staff, including "The Big Boss" (I never did catch his name). The entire staff, about 20 people, were lined up in a receiving line, as if a visiting dignitary was staying at their hotel. After proper handshakes all around, The Big Boss insisted, absolutely 100% insisted, and under no circumstances would he take no for an answer, that I stay in his BRAND NEW 5 STAR SPA RESORT HOTEL!!! The Big Boss said he was personally ashamed that I had to spend the night in his pitiful, lowly 3 star hotel (Later, he told me he felt this to be a good business move on his part as he could use my stay for publicity for his hotel chain). We went over and the place was FANTASTIC-even the Beverly Hills matrons would be impressed with the Spa. The rooms were huge, food awesome, right on the river, of course clean sheets, hot water, air-conditioning, and HBO, CNN, and BBC. Damn!! I have changed my itinerary from 3 days in Hoi An to 3 weeks. Ciao, Richard Roe
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