World-Building Made Simple

A New Tool for World-Building

Introduction

Have you ever wanted to visit some foreign city or country for research but didn’t have the funds to do so? Many authors who write stories in far-away places usually would like to visit them to get the sense of the location.

Looking at pictures is limited as are travel videos created by the local guide. But suppose instead of going to the foreign country, the country can come to you and be absolutely free!

Welcome to Virtual Tours

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the thought of going to different cities and countries had been scrubbed because of the virus. Thousands of tourists had to cancel their plans of sights, sounds, and atmosphere of some far-away place.

A solution was since created by many different companies of bringing Live-stream tours right to your laptop, tablet, or phone. Tour guides, with phone in hand would give virtual tours of their local cities.

The advantage to live-stream is that you feel like you’re actually in the city and you didn’t even to buy a plane ticket, book a hotel room, or rent a car. You also get to interact with the guide; asking questions about the area which gives you current, and historical information, for your book.

One platform, in particular, which I’ve been using, is Heygo.com. This organization offer Tip-based tours. Essentially, the tour are free but a few dollars to the guide helps them keep bringing you these amazing tours.

Off the Beaten Path

One of the advantages to virtual tours is that you only have one person travelling around; therefore, they can take you where they wouldn’t normally take a group of 30-50 people. For example, the guide’s own home which gives the writer an opportunity to see how people in that part of the world live and interact with family members and their neighbors. We’ll look at some of these in future articles.

Conclusion

To get a better idea of how these virtual tours work, click on this article that I recently wrote, The Armchair Traveler. In the coming weeks, we’ll look at architecture, building placement, and other ideas to help you build the world for your latest novel.

Don’t forget to check out my books; which can be found on Amazon.

Happy Adventuring!

Interview with Stefy

Cassendra: Hello and welcome to Bob’s Front Porch! I am your host, Cassendra! Just kidding, Chris isn’t here yet but I thought that I’d start the interview myself. Today’s guest is Stefy from Quito, Ecuador.

Stefy: Hi Cassendra! Thanks for allowing me to spend a few days here. Bob has a really nice house.

Cassendra: Yes, he does. So tell us a little bit about yourself.

Stefy: I consider myself a very friendly and sweet person, I have a lot of love for my profession and my country, tourism is a hobby I feel that I am doing something that I love and I will always give my best. I am an expert in creating unforgettable experiences for those who choose and take the time to get to know my city and country, I am very grateful to meet great people who are Heygo travelers!

Cassendra: You’re definitely sweet person! What made you decide that you wanted to become a tour guide?

Stefy: From a very young age on my first trip outside of Ecuador at 7 years of age I remember that I visited Cartagena, Colombia and I loved the way of working of a tour guide, from that moment I loved the profession, I even always loved each place from a very young age from Ecuador and this motivated me to show the world my country. Before studying tourism guide and tourism business administration, my mother had an apartment to rent to foreign tourists and this also motivated me to follow this beautiful profession. My mother did not trust tourism as a source of economic activity and I managed to change her perspective, now we support each other and many times we work together.

My country, Ecuador, is just amazing, we have four worlds in one: Galápagos Islands, Coast, Andes, Amazon!

Cassendra: You have defintely made it work as a tour guide! Tell me, what’s one reason people should visit your city?

Stefy: The city of Quito was the first city declared by UNESCO as a cultural heritage of humanity in 1978, it hides culture, stories, beautiful architecture of the historic center of Quito, scenic beauty, that is, they have a great variety so that each tourist, depending on their tastes and preferences, you can visit incredible places and it is a strategic point to visit the different attractions of Ecuador, only an hour and a half will be in the cloud forest of Mindo, in two hours at the second highest active volcano in Ecuador and one in the world Cotopaxi , in 4 hours by car we reached the coast and in 3 hours to the Amazon. Ecuador has its 4 natural regions that they enchant!

Cassendra: Not to mention, you have access to the Equator. Give one interesting fact about your city that most people wouldn’t know.

Stefy: Quito has one of the best preserved historical centers in South America, and one of the largest collections of orchids in the equator in the Quito botanical garden and its beautiful visits surrounded by active volcanoes that Quito residents are not afraid of because they are the beauty that makes every day happy.

Cassendra: I’ve been surrounded by worse than volcanoes, but that’s another story. Suppose someone had only 1 hour to visit your city, what would you recommend them to see?

Stefy: If you like nature and viewpoints: Quito Cable Car

If you like architecture: Historic Center

If you like art: Oswaldo Guayasamín House and Museum

If you want to visit the center of the earth and have fun even if you have children: Mitad del Mundo Museño Intiñán.

If you like flowers: Botanical Garden of Quito

Cassendra: Quite a variety of places for just an hour! When the pandemic ends, and tourism in person resumes, would you continue to give virtual tours?

Stefy: I would love to continue doing virtual tours it is a great way to promote my country and I know that I am doing something good, besides being the representative of my country I feel very happy meeting many people around the world and showing the beauties of my country and my culture.

Cassendra: Do you see Virtual Tours (such as Heygo.com) as the wave of the future for tourism?

Stefy: Of course! It is a great platform that even many travelers can take virtual tours before traveling to the destination and they already have the necessary information to visit that place, even the world is constantly changing and it is not known if at some point we will only travel again online and for me it is a way to de-stress, enjoy and have fun!

Photos by Stefy

ME: Cassendra, are you trying to take over my job?

Cassendra: Not at all. Stefy was here, I was here, you weren’t here. I thought I’d get started.

ME: Did you leave me any questions?

Cassendra: Of course! You get all the fun ones. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a cake in the oven.

ME: Sorry about that. Let’s continue with the interview. Has there been a location that you’ve always wanted to visit as a tourist?

Stefy: México, China, Roma, Alemania, Londres, Canadá, USA.

ME: Good choices! If you ever make to Arizona in the U.S. I’d love to show you around. If you couldn’t be a guide, and had to get a job in the “Real World”, what would you do?

Stefy: I would probably exercise my other career that I find myself studying: Law or as a hobby I am a fondant cake designer, in this pandemic I have been selling cakes to generate some money.

ME: A baker and a lawyer! That might make an interesting story.

Cassendra: (from inside the house) The Floor 17 Café doesn’t need more characters!

ME: Jealous! (To Stefy) Sorry about that. So, when you don’t have a tour, what do you do in your spare time?

Stefy: I am finishing my third degree: Law, I am in the last year and I am dedicating a lot of time to this career, when I am free I like to go for a walk and go out to eat with my family, in Quito we have a lot of variety of food and it is very fun to meet new restaurants. Also I love to take pictures of my city and be on the pics for promote my country!

ME: It looks like you keep yourself pretty busy! Having been on your “Center of the World” tour, tell us a little bit about all of the hummingbird statues in the equator area.

Stefy: The hummingbird is the representative bird of the city, they are always present in city Parks; even in our gardens. In Ecuador, there are around 364 species of hummingbirds, in Quito, we have several species that make our day.

One day Consecrated painters and groups of artists made and decorated 65 sculptures 1.7 meters high, with different styles and messages that seek to preserve the emblematic bird of the capital: the hummingbird.

Juan Manuel Carrión, general coordinator of the project, details that the “Quito Jardín de Quindes” project brings the inhabitants closer to the knowledge and appropriation of the Natural Heritage as a fundamental element of collective identity and potential for local tourism.

These sculptures were made in 2011, the first exhibition was in a famous boulevard in the modern area and is currently located in one of the most visited places in Quito: The Middle of the World city, and they are located around the Latitude monument 0 commemorating the French geodesic mission of 1736. Hummingbirds are my favorite birds and I love these sculptures!

Photos by Stefy

ME: You have 3 hours to show as much of your city to people as possible. What would you show and Why?

Historic Center of Quito, Middle of the World and Quito Cable Car.The historic center of Quito is full of a lot of Ecuadorian history and identity, half of the world is a magical and special place and thanks to that place our country is called Ecuador! and Finally with the Quito cable car we can have a beautiful panoramic view of these two places and of the entire city feeling with a great adrenaline rush of being on a volcano.

ME: A Hollywood Director wants to turn one of your tours into a documentary, which one would you pick and why?

Stefy: “Middle of the World” It is the magical place of Ecuador and the world. We are the highest point where the parallel 0 passes and for that reason we are special! We can also have fun with the gravity; water, weight experiments, everyone leaves very happy with this place!

ME: I completely agree. Those experiments conducted right at the equator are fascinating! Let me ask you this, if there was a virtual gift shop, what items would stock from your city?

Stefy: Cheff cuy; its a lovely toy that all the people fall in love with that guineapig toy. Rugs and carpets of Ecuadorian designs made by hand by indigenous artisans, Ecuador designs t-shirts, and of course, Ecuadorian hats.

Photos by Me and Stefy

ME: One final question, If you could run another guide’s tours for one week, who would it be and why?

Stefy: I’m new on heygo; so I’m trying to meet some guides. But I really like Aaron K. and Patrick’s New York tours, Vanessa from Lima, Renán from Bolivia, Cassie from China (I love pandas), and Apostolis from Ohrid. These guys have the same energy to show their place with passion for being a tour guide in their locations.

Photos by Stefy

ME: Thank you so much for being a guest. That’s all for Bob’s Front Porch.

If you’d like to contact Stefy, you can reach her on InstaGram and Facebook

Interview with Elizabeth

Hello and welcome to the Bob’s Front Porch. I’m your host, Chris, and um, my guest doesn’t seem to be here right now. I was supposed to interview Elizabeth Puma from Arequipa, Peru, but she isn’t here yet.

Cassendra: (exits front door carrying a pitcher of lemonade and a cake) Elizabeth will be right down. She didn’t know what to wear for this interview.

ME: What do you mean, ‘be right down?’ Down from where?

Cassendra: Upstairs, duh! (pouring the lemonade) She’s staying here for a few days.

ME: But this is someone’s house, we can’t just make ourselves at home.

Elizabeth: (comes outside) But we are. Is that cake?

Cassendra: Just came out of the oven.

ME: Wait a minute! You said, “we are”. Are you referring to yourself and Cassendra?

Elizabeth: (nods) And others.

ME: Others?!

Cassendra: Just start your interview.

Photos by Me.

ME: Very well. Elizabeth, please tell us a little about yourself.

Elizabeth: Well, Chris, I’m 39 years old, I was born in Colca Canyon (Chivay) on April 12th in 1982, but I live in Arequipa City of Perú. I came from a large family and I moved to Arequipa City as soon I finished my high School. I have done my tour guide career and I got my license since 2002. I started working as a guide since 2008. I continue with my studies about history, geology, Customs, Cultures, and bird studies.

ME: That’s quite a collection of studies! What made you decide that you wanted to become a tour guide?

Elizabeth: I have decided to become a tour guide because I like to travel and to know many cultures, history, and I also want to show the people my Country.

ME: What’s one reason people should visit your city?

Elizabeth: They must come to visit my city because this unique City of Arequipa has been built with the white Volcanic rock.

ME: Yes, I’ve seen many pictures of your city. The buildings are beautiful; even at night. If someone had only 1 hour to visit your city, what would you recommend them to see?

Elizabeth: It would be to visit the Historic Center.

ME: Yes, I imagine that would give an individual a brief overview of Arequipa. Tell me, when the pandemic ends, and tourism in person resumes, would you continue to give virtual tours?

Elizabeth: When the pandemic ends, I would like to keep doing the virtual tours because I would like to keep showing the world about my Culture, History ,etc. There are many People who can not travel because for various reasons, I would like to show them my country .

ME: I agree! Those who are disabled or simply unable to get out of their house would find these virtual tours to be an invaluable tool. Do you see virtual tours (such as Heygo.com) as the wave of the future for tourism?

Elizabeth: Yes, because it makes to people to decide if they would like to visit that place.

ME: A “try before you buy” kind of concept. Now where have I heard that phrase before?

Cassendra: (from inside) Do I really have to tell you?

ME: No! It was Charley from London. I remember.

Photo by Elizabeth

ME: Getting back to the interview, what’s one location that you’ve always wanted to visit as a tourist?

Elizabeth: I would like to go to India .

ME: Ah yes! The colors, the food, the music. Seems such a wonderful place to visit. Let me ask you, if you had to get a job in the “Real World” what would it be?

Elizabeth: There’s no other job for me. I would like to keep doing my job as a tour guide; teaching, helping, showing to the people my country.

ME: Well said! Sometimes, it’s just too painful to think of an alternate line of work. So, when you don’t have a tour, what do you do in your spare time?

Elizabeth: I like reading! I like to read about History, Volcanoes, and Plants.

ME: A special question, if I may. In a recent tour, you mentioned that businesses close on Election Day. Are there other days in which businesses close?

Elizabeth: Oh yes! Arequipa city will celebrate its anniversary on August 15th. But, before that, a big Celebration will be on July 28th. That is the time when we celebrate the Independence day Of Perú and the time to Change Government.

Photo by Elizabeth

ME: We’re reaching the end of our interview; just a few more questions. Let’s say you have 3 hours to show as much of your city to people as possible. What would you show and why?

Elizabeth: Well, there are too many things to do in Arequipa City. 3 hours, the time flies! The Historical area of City Center, Volcanoes and terraces places, and a typical restaurant to eat. I think all those show our History, life, and Customs of my Country.

ME: That would definitely be a interesting tour. Let’s say a Hollywood Director wants to turn one of your tours into a documentary, which one would you pick and why?

Elizabeth: Wowww!! That idea it could be great for my Place; for my People as well. I think the Colca Canyon area is so beautiful for any documentary, it’s a perfect place because there are still people wearing their traditional costumes, and of course the area is so magnificent.

ME: That sounds like a great documentary! If there was a virtual gift shop, what items would stock from your city?

Elizabeth: Real Pictures of  local People and the food. Nice Volcanic rock works.

ME: All this talk of food is making me hungry. One final question, if you could run another guide’s tours for one week who would it be and why?

Elizabeth: I think Some Indian tour Guides; because I think there is something in their Country which connect to me.

ME: Definitely the Taj Mahal for me! Thank you Elizabeth for your time and participation.

Photo by Me.

If you would like to contact Elizabeth, you can find her on Facebook

To book one of Elizabeth’s tours, check out her page for Arequipa.

Remember all of these tours, on the Heygo platform are FREE!

Interview with Ernie

Hello and welcome to the Bob’s Front Porch! I am your host, Chris, and it seems that Bob is on an extended vacation.

Cassendra: You say that like it’s a bad thing.

ME: Cassendra, this is some guy’s porch; not a lounge or a café.

Cassendra: Would you prefer the Floor 17 Café ?

ME: Uh no, thank you. Why don’t you whip up some lemonade? Let’s get to our guest this week…

My guest today is ­­Ernesto Temoatzin Osorio; “Ernie”, from Puebla, México.

We’re giving you the opportunity to meet the guides that are featured on Heygo.com in this informal interview setting. Before we begin, please tell us a little about yourself.

Ernie: Thanks for having me, Chris. I am a certified general tour guide based in México. I have been working in tourism and recreation for over ten years now, I have experience guiding small and big groups. I offer a unique view of how life is in Mexico City, Puebla and other main cities of México. I love cinema and all kinds of music and plastic arts. I am a collector of memories and a food lover, so any tour can turn into a food tour any moment.

ME: What made you decide that you wanted to become a tour guide?

Ernie: Due the lack of guides in a cantinas’ tour I had to become a guide for a day with no previous training, at first I was repeating everything like in the script that was provided to me, but suddenly I was adding my personality and passion in the tour. I realize that I was good at it and couple of years later I was taking classes to get the certification of general tour guide

ME: Sometimes just jumping in with both feet is inspiration enough. What’s one reason people should visit your city?

Ernie: It is a colonial city with very welcoming people, the food is amazing in here and you will love the colors in the buildings and the spots to have snack or run a photoshoot.

ME: I’ll have to agree with the view. Having been on your downtown tour, it is definitely a relaxing vibe. Please give one interesting fact about your city that most people wouldn’t know.

Ernie: The city was supposed to be called “City of Angels” but end up being “Puebla” due a misinterpretation of the word Puebla which by the XVI century used to mean “to populate”.

Me: I’m guessing that Los Angeles would have been named something else. If someone had only 1 hour to visit your city, what would you recommend them to see?

Ernie: Downtown has a lot to offer in a reduce space.

ME: Yes, I can agree with you on that. Given that you’re only an hour away from Mexico city, it would make a good side trip. Let me ask you this, when the pandemic ends, and tourism in person resumes, would you continue to give virtual tours?

Ernie: Yes I will, I like the reach and possibility to build a community through technology.

ME: I agree. Seeing people from all over the world, at one time, in any tour online is simply amazing. Do you see these virtual tours (like Heygo.com) as the wave of the future for tourism?

Ernie: I think is just a new brand way of travelling, but when things come back to normal, I think in person tours and virtual will coexist.

Images of Puebla and Cholula. Photos by Me.

ME: Let’s get a little personal now. What’s one location that you’ve always wanted to visit as a tourist?

Ernie: Cuba, I never been outside Mexico and I always wanted to go to Cuba.

ME: I’ve considered the same myself. If you had to get a job in the “Real World” what would it be?

Ernie: Long story short, I would be a screenplay writer.

ME: Would you care to elaborate?

Ernie: I’m a man of few words. My English isn’t very good-looking.

Cassendra: Your English may not be good-looking, but you certainly are.

ME: Cassendra, you’re already in a realtionship.

Cassendra: Can’t a girl play the field?

ME: I’m telling Johano!

Cassendra: All right, all right! Here’s the lemonade. I’m going.

ME: Sorry about that, Ernie.

Ernie: Who was that?

ME: The hired help.

Cassendra: (from inside the house) I heard that!

The pyramid of Cholula. Photo by Ernie.

ME: Um, okay! Let me ask you this question, when you don’t have a tour, what do you do in your spare time?

Ernie: I take pictures, study, cook, watch movies, and write short screenplays that maybe I will film one day…

ME: Ah! Write and film screenplays. That’s very interesting. Since Mexico City is “nearby”, how often will you run tours there?

Ernie: Depending on the support you give to the tours, I will be able not only to go to Mexico City but others main cities in Mexico.

Things to see in Mexico City. Photos by Me.

ME: Let’s move on to some fun type questions. Suppose you have 3 hours to show as much of your city to people as possible. What would you show and why?

Ernie: Downtown Puebla, Cholula, and the modern Angelopolis in Puebla, these three spots are separated but connected by the history and the evolution of the city. I am working in a tour of a day visiting these three urban areas

ME: That sounds like fun! Now, just suppose a Hollywood Director wants to turn one of your tours into a documentary, which one would you pick and why?

Ernie: I created one tour in México city which is dedicated to the history of the muralist movement, definitely I would like to see that one, but I am working in a screenplay of the best tour guide in Mexico, lol.

ME: Ah, so you probably would end up being the director yourself. Souvenirs are always something people buy to remember their trip. Tell me, if there was a virtual gift shop, what items would stock from your city?

Ernie: Talavera tiles, Molé sauce, and sweets.

ME: If you could run another guide’s tours for one week who would it be and why?

Ernie: I am a nerd, so I will be glad to do “Game of thrones in Dubrovnik” of Nikola or “Harry Potter London Film Locations” by David.

ME: This brings us to the end of our interview segment. If you’d like to join Ernie on his tours you can find him through Heygo.com in Puebla.

You can reach Ernie through his social media…

email: imyourguidemx@gmail.com

Facebook: Iamyourguide

InstaGram: @IAmYourGuideMX

Want to learn more about Cassendra and the Floor 17 Café? Check out this book.

Fancy a trip around the world without leaving your home? Join us on Heygo.com and take a trip today. Remember these trips are FREE. They are based on a TIP system.

Interview with Apostolis

Hello and welcome to Bob’s Front Porch! I am your host, Chris. Bob isn’t here today which is why we’re using his porch. We’re giving you the opportunity to meet the guides that are featured on the Heygo.com platform in this informal interview setting.

Today’s guest is ­­­Apostolis from Ohrid, Macedonia

ME: What made you decide that you wanted to become a tour guide?

Apostolis: My father. As a child I was going with him, watching how he was doing this job, having all of that attention on him, meeting people from all around the world, learning their culture. It must fill you with satisfaction and positive energy, I thought. Everything that I know and have accomplished so far is because of him 🙂So I can say that HE is the guilty one for this 😉

ME: Family tradition, I understand. Tell me, what’s one reason people should visit your city?

Apostolis: My city is a small city in a small country that is not very famous, but it is full of history and nature. Its magic will astonish you if you come and I am afraid that once you come here, you will never want to leave. 🙂

ME: I’ve been told Hawaii has the same affect on tourists. Please give one interesting fact about your city that most people wouldn’t know.

Apostolis: Many people might know that Ohrid Lake is one of the largest, oldest and deepest lakes in the world. What they probably don’t know is how it was formed. Ohrid Lake was caused by a vertical collapse of the soil, which is the case with a relatively small number of lakes in the world. It is so famous that even NASA named one of the lakes on Saturn’s biggest moon, Titan, after it.

ME: NASA? That’s fasincating! Let me ask you this, if someone had only 1 hour to visit your city, what would you recommend them to see?

Apostolis: In one hour, you can visit many places in the old city of Ohrid (if you start from the top of the hill) 🙂Once you are there, you must visit the fortress of Tsar Samuel, the church of St. Clement – the site of the first university for the Slavic people, the ancient Roman theatre, the museum-workshop of handmade paper, the famous church of St. Sophia and the last place with the most amazing views upon Ohrid Lake – the church of St. Joan the Theologian. My suggestion is to not try this route from the bottom to the top if you don’t want to have muscle pain the next day 🤣

ME: I’ll agree with you there. Plus, it sound like you’d have to ride a bike just to see all of it. So, let me ask you this, when the pandemic ends, and tourism in person resumes, would you continue to give virtual tours?

Apostolis: I would love to continue with the virtual tours because for me it is an opportunity to interact with people from many countries from all around the world at the same time. Yes, it is a virtual place, but the energy that flows within is just priceless. I have never felt that atmosphere with a physical group so far.

Me: It would seem to me that people are more themselves when in the comfort of their homes. Here’s an interesting question, do you see virtual tours, such as Heygo.com as the wave of the future for tourism?

Apostolis: Most likely, it is a certain step to the future. Even after the pandemic, there will always be people that will not be able to travel for various reasons, but with virtual trips (heygo.com), they will be able to go to their dream destination in a split second, at no cost and waste of time. All they have to do, is sit on their cozy bed and turn on a laptop. And if they are happy with what they see, they can just leave a tip and a review as appreciation. Simple as that 🙂

Cassendra: Here’s a fresh pitcher of lemonade I made in Bob’s kitchen.

ME: Cassendra, what are you doing inside Bob’s house? We’re only supposed to use his porch.

Cassendra: He’s not here, how will he know?

ME: Sorry about this Apostolis.

Apostolis: It’s all right. That lemonade looks good!

ME: Fine! Cassendra, just serve it and let me get back to the interview.

Cassendra: Suit yourself! The cake will be ready in just ten minutes.

ME: Getting back to the interview, let me ask, what’s one location that you’ve always wanted to visit as a tourist?

Apostolis: I always wanted to see the Northern Lights in Iceland. Now, I did it from my living room!🙂

ME: Ah yes! Albert is a great tour guide. Here’s a question, if you had to get a job in the “Real World” what would it be?

Apostolis: If there was a chance, an opportunity for a job position as a tour guide in space on the Moon, that would be the job that I would like to choose 🙂I am too optimistic about this one hehe.

ME: Tours on the moon? Why not! When you don’t have a tour, what do you do in your spare time?

Apostolis: I use my free time to explore my city and the surrounding nature, looking for ideas for new virtual trips. Thanks to this organization, an interesting feeling of curiosity woke up in me to explore places that I had never been to before. I am also watching my fellow colleagues making their tours. I always try to support them as much as they support me on my tours. We became one huge family in such a short time.

ME: Now for some questions to challenge your creativity… You have 3 hours to show as much of your city to people as possible. What would you show and why?

Apostolis: I would show them the old city of Ohrid, together with the monuments and churches from Byzantine times, the ancient theatre from the II century B.C., and the museum-workshop of handmade paper. Then I would take them to some of the shops that sell the famous Ohrid pearl and explain the unique history and procedure of their production. In the end, I will take them on a boat tour so they will witness the divine beauty of the “pearl of the Balkan” from the lake.

ME: Yes, a boat ride does some relaxing. Here’s a thought, suppose a Hollywood Director wants to turn one of your tours into a documentary, which one would you pick and why?

Apostolis: I will choose the Springs of Ohrid Lake. They could make one interesting documentary about it, the way it was formed and its true story about the origin of the largest springs. They could film the flora and fauna, talk about the unique species of fish and the famous history about the journey of Ohrid’s eel.

ME: An eel? Sounds a little fishy. Heh heh. If there was a virtual gift shop, what items would stock from your city?

Apostolis: The famous Ohrid pearl, the unique Ohrid carvings, and the filigree.

ME: Yes, those pearls are more famous than people know. Here’s an interesting question, if you could run another guide’s tours for one week who would it be and why?

Apostolis: That would definitely be Santorini. It is my dream destination. I even have a huge picture of it hanging on the wall in my tour agency. 🙂

ME: We’re nearly out of time. I’d like to thank my guest–

Cassendra: Cake is ready!

ME: We don’t have time for cake. Bob will back soon.

Cassendra: Oh, he’ll be gone for a while. Since Apostolis was talking about boat tours, I made sure Bob took one.

ME: You don’t mean…

Cassendra: Yep, a 3-hour tour! (hums the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song)

Thanks very much for joining this interview! To get in touch with Apostolis, here are his social media links:

Apostolis on Facebook

On Linkedin

His InstaGram

You can also reach him at his email, apostolis.karajanis@gmail.com

Thanks very much for joining us today. Do you fancy a trip around the world without leaving your home? Then sign up for Heygo.com The tours are completely free and run on a TIP system. Try one today!

Off the Beaten Path

Buses and Singing and Food, Oh My!

Somewhere in Pamplona, Spain

Fran: Welcome to my home! Tonight, we are making Seafood Paella.

Tourist #1: I’m allergic to shellfish.

Tourist #2: Is this gluten free? I’m on a strict diet.

*Crash sound in back*

Tourist #3: Was this vase valuable?

Fran: It’s a family heirloom. Well, it was.

#3: Yeah, but was it valuable?

Tourist #4: You’re all out of toilet paper.

Tourist #5: (opens fridge) Got any cervezas?

Fran: Please, get out of the fridge.

#5: You said, make yourself at home. What’s on TV?

Fran’s Wife: Who are all these people?

Fran: People on my tour. I’ve invited them to our home.

Wife: There must be 50 people in here.

Tourist #38: And 30 more outside. When do we eat?

Fran: *sigh*

Meanwhile in London, England

Charley: Okay, Ladies and Gentlemen, the bus will be here momentarily. Does everyone have their Oyster Card?

Tourist #23: I left mine in the hotel room. Do you have another one?

Charley: I had just enough for everyone.

#23: Well, that’s not very responsible of you, is it?

Charley: Where’s Tourist #32?

Tourist #41: He stopped off to get a pint. He said hold the bus until he finished.

Charley: I can’t do that.

Tourist #11: So, what are we going to see today?

Charley: That’s the surprise. You won’t know until the bus gets here.

#11: I hope we don’t go past St. Paul’s Cathedral. I’ve seen Doctor Who and I still get nightmares!

Charley: (mumbles) Thank you, Moffat!!

Tourist #66: Hey everyone, I just saw that Weasley Kid from Harry Potter! C’mon!!

{Everyone wanders away chattering}

Charley: *sigh*

Introduction

The above scenarios didn’t happen but might give you an idea of what our next discussion will be about. Since Heygo (formerly Virtual Trips) has launched, people all over our world have been able to travel to dozens of destinations; far and wide without even leaving our living rooms. It has been a godsend to those who have been in a lockdown situation, or simply those who just can’t get around like they once used to.

The advantage to the virtual tour is that now tour guides can take you places that would normally be impossible, if not improper, then before. I’m, of course, talking about the homes of some of the tour guides in which we have seen cooking classes, artwork, singing concerts and variety of other events. Additionally, we’ve been surprised, on occasion, by mystery tours that, at the time, only the guide would know where we were headed and what we would see.

Tours, like these, wouldn’t necessarily be possible in reality as most would expect to know, in advance, where they were going. Plus, you can’t fit 300 tourists in someone’s home or on a bus. We are going to talk to a few of the guides and ask them how their unique ideas came to fruitions and what’s on the horizon in their corner of the world.

Enter Sara and Food Classes

I recently learned that it was Sara, of Rome, who launched the first “cooking” class. Here’s what she had to say about that experience…

I was the first one with the “Traditional Christmas cookies with nonna” because I really wanted to share with you the secrets of one of the most popular tradition of my city. Then many cooking classes were added to Virtualtrips! I have planned many tours off the beaten path as Ostia or a Civita di Bagnoregio, but every time I had to cancel my tour because we were back in a red zone and everything is closed! I really hope for a better future! 

And the cooking classes exploded as many, from other countries, jumped on board to share recipes from their local cities and cultures. But it doesn’t stop there, I tracked down Charley in between tours of London and talked to her about the idea of a tour from a bus.

London from a Bus with Charley

My first job our of University was on the open-top buses and I really fell in love with the idea of seeing the whole of London from the top deck.  I learnt my trade there by doing 3 full loops of London a day, five days a week. After you repeat tours like that, they stay in your mind forever. I often joke that when I’m older and I’ve lost all my memories and capabilities I’ll still being able to tell people the weight of Big Ben.

How confident were you that it would be as successful as it turned out to be?

To be honest before my first tour, I was super nervous about connection problems or being ‘caught’ by the driver. I knew people would enjoy the tour, but what has been a really pleasant surprise has been the loyalty of the riders. I now have riders who come back every week; ‘a seat motif monitor’ and a rider who has created a monopoly game for the journeys. I would say that we’re building a community around a tour which is really very exciting. (There’s even a Facebook group, click here)

How many different bus routes are there? Do you have a favorite?

There are 700 bus routes in London and asking me which is my favourite is like asking me to choose my favourite child. But, if pushed, I’d have to say the 78 because there’s nothing quite like riding over Tower Bridge in a double decker and because of its famous hero driver, Albert Gunter.

What’s next for an “Off the Beaten Path” tour idea?

Mudlarking. It’s the practice of searching the riverbank at low tide for objects of historical interest. I’m reading a book all about it at the moment. Watch this space!

It sounds like things are well in hand with Charley. Another guide came up with the idea of riding a bicycle around his city. I managed to chase down Stephan in Amsterdam and talk with him about his tour concept.

Lost in Amsterdam on a Bicycle

What made you decide to do tours from a bicycle?

Anyone who comes to Amsterdam for the first time will notice the number of bicycles. It is also the most used form of transport and 80% of the inhabitants do not have a car (but more than 1 bicycle). Actually, it is the best way to explore the city in a good way, especially, now that the city is becoming increasingly car-less. So, it was a no-brainer for me as a born Dutchie.

How confident were you that it would be as successful as it turned out to be?

One thing I’ve learned as an entrepreneur is that you have to try out an idea first to see if it works. That’s the way it went with the bike tours. So I didn’t know if it would work on the bike and still, there are some things that could be improved (the wind has a lot more influence) and some guests think it is too fast. I am happy to see that many people enjoy getting on the front of my bike.

Would you consider doing this as a real-life tour?

For sure, I love to cycle around with my guests. In a normal year I do a lot of cycling tours as a private guide on the bicycle, tandem or cargo bike (if there are small children) via my company Amsterdam Experiences. So, all of you are very welcome to join me or one of the amazing guides working for me on a bike tour.

What’s next for an “Off the Beaten Path” tour idea?

First, I want to develop this idea further. This means that several bicycle tours are planned for April during which we will discover the tulips in Amsterdam. And I am excited to announce that from May, I will be doing a series of bike tours in other Dutch cities. Every weekend I’ll take you to a different city in the Netherlands, which we explore by bike. We go to the cheese city of Gouda, Haarlem, Delft, The Hague, Rotterdam, Muiden and Utrecht. I also think that some people want to see our beautiful landscape from a bicycle, possibly with a musical accompaniment. I created a Facebook group for bike lovers and so people can decide what places I will visit in the Netherlands: The Netherlands by Bike (Virtual)

It is also cool to see that several other guides, Charley in London and Adam in Budapest for example, have followed suit and are now also starting tours from the bike.

As if buses, bikes, and food weren’t enough, virtual tourists have been entertained with live music and dance! I managed to catch up with Zsuzsa in Budapest who surprised the tourists with a concert on Valentine’s Day.

Live from the Living Room

What made you decide to do a concert of Hungarian songs for Valentine’s Day?

Besides tour guiding, singing is my other passion. I thought it would be a great idea to share some of the most popular Hungarian Folklore and pop songs from talented performers. I wanted to show how colorful Hungarian music can be; singing love songs was the best idea for Valentine’s Day.

How important are these songs to you that you shared them with everyone?

These songs are filled with deep emotion and people can easily relate to them; expressing joy and happiness or pain and sorrow. They have such beautiful lyrics with meaningful content; I translated them into English, before singing them, so everyone can understand them.

The feedback I received was very nice. I was told that some got very emotional; even cried during the songs. This means so much to me as I felt I gave them something special.

What’s next for an “Off the Beaten Path” tour idea?

I have a few in mind. More singing concerts; with different songs, styles, and some dance steps as well. I plan to head out to the countryside of Budapest and show lakes, castles, and lookout towers. I’m also planning a private boat tour and several interesting museum tours. Lots to looking forward to, I’m very excited for what’s ahead.

Virtual Guest Responses

In addition to all of the reviews that each of these tours received over the last few months, I spoke to a couple tourists who gave me their view of these unique tour experiences.

First was a note from Christine,

I love the “Off the Beaten Path” tours. So often, as tourists, we only get to see the public life of tourists. We journey around looking at the well-known sites and eat in the restaurants.

I’ve taken several of the cooking classes, and I love how it gives us a glimpse into the normal everyday life of those who live in the city. We see what their home and kitchen is like, and sometimes we see their families.

We see what typical food is there and how it is different or similar to our own. It may even be different from what we experience when eating in the restaurants. I feel like it opens the door to a deeper cultural understanding that we often lack in a typical tourist encounter.

Liz also wrote some comments about Vanessa, our guide in Lima…

I’ll start with how much I love this group and how much I appreciate those who came up with such an idea, that binds together the world of people looking to hold on to something normal in their lives. The group has grown rapidly and is changing as the desires of people change. Now we can enjoy going into the tour guides homes. Just how personal is that?

If we had traveled and met the tour guides through tourist groups or other means of gaining a tour of a city or country, we would never be going into their homes to watch them cook and meet their families. To learn about their lives through their food and culture is meaningful in such a personal way.

For me personally, it has led to a wonderful new personal friendship beyond VT. 

I began the journey by choosing to take the tours in Peru with Vanessa as the guide. My choice was based on my interest in the Peruvian culture and history, which I have always found so interesting, plus a close friend is Peruvian.

I enjoyed the energy and knowledge that brought Vanessa online to be a tour operator through VT. It grew from one tour to four tours and then the cooking lessons began. As I always had done with all the other tours, I collected my postcards, transferred them at the end to my computer and from there created collages. 

Vanessa commented on the first one I created and from there things grew. We contacted each other off VT and started to chat. We shared stories, family photos, ideas for making the collages better so that I could send them to her allowing her to keep them for the future repeats. We found that we had so much in common although we are a generation apart in age. 

I could go on with my stories. So many of my friends have followed in my footsteps when they saw how much fun I was having. It’s often fun to see which of us enrolls on which tour and meet up online first.

Conclusion

Volcano photo courtesy of Amanda Johnson, others by me.

With the name change of the platform, and some other big changes in the works, we can see that the virtual experience will continue; even once this pandemic becomes a memory. People will still want to walk along a beach, visit a local café, or watch a volcano erupt from the comfort of their own homes. With Heygo, these tours will still be available and we can continue to enjoy them.

The Armchair Traveler’s Etiquette Handbook

You, Your Guide, and Your Destination

Introduction

In the five decades that I’ve lived on this planet, I’ve noticed how vast our speech and conversation has changed. Unfortunately, it’s a change for the worse. Once upon a time, we used to greet people by saying, “Hello, how are you doing today?” Then it was shortened to, “What’s up?” and finally, even it was shortened to, “‘Sup?”

In addition to this, our use of text messaging abbreviations shortens phrases even more! “I’m really laughing about this” becomes LOL, “I’ll be right back in just a minute” becomes BRB and so on. Even emojis now reduce our words even further! 😊 ☹  So, what comes next? Mind-reading? Wait, what? Same to you!

In this article, I’m looking to aid the virtual tourist in developing casual conversation with their guide. We’ll also look at questions that can be asked. I am not an authority on this subject by any stretch; just a fellow tourist who works in the customer service industry where you have to greet and talk to people daily.

Disclaimer: I am not being paid by the company, nor by any individual, to write this article. This is completely of my own freewill. Additionally, Virtualtrips.io is now HeyGo.com

Charley in action in London, England

Your Tour Guide is a Human Being

We are all one race; The Human Race. If you want to discuss different races, watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy and then get back to me. They may have different skin tones, speak with a different accent, and live in a different part of the planet, but they are the same as you and me!

You guide is a human being! For some reason, this is a huge oversight for some people on these tours. They see the guide as nothing more than the camera pointed at things. Yes, you usually see the guide at the start, and hear their voice throughout, but it’s like they suddenly aren’t a person anymore; just a machine to comply to the demands of the tourist.

Zsuzsi in action in Budapest, Hungary

They all have their personal lives; hobbies, dreams, and goals. Plus, they have families, friends, spouses, and children. They live in houses (or apartments), pay bills, buy groceries, fix and eat meals, and worry about the life they are building for their families.

If you see these people as people, and not machines, you can better relate to them and have a much better experience on a tour. Otherwise, you will constantly be upset when things don’t go the way you want. Whether it be: Not getting that perfect picture because the guide aimed at the camera at a certain object for only a minute, reading everyone’s comments in the chat and getting upset because they are discussing things outside the tour itself (Hint—You can close the chat and not see it at all), or being angry over losing picture and/or sound when the guide struggles with equipment. As stated before, they are humans and have the same problems we do. Patience is a virtue that we can ALL develop and/or improve upon.

Talking to Your Guide

Now that we’ve established that your guide is a living, breathing human being, talking to them; or with them, should be simple. Yet, it seems to become a very awkward challenge to most. I’ve noticed one of the biggest pet peeves that a lot of people have, on these tours, is the constant asking of the time and temperature in the city that they are visiting.

Susanna in action in Melbourne, Australia

Time difference is just fascinating to us; especially those who never travel beyond their own country. Those of us who live in the United States usually have a hard enough time keeping track of our own time zones in regards to calling family who might live on the other side of the country. Now, in addition, we add other places like Sydney, Australia; Amsterdam in The Netherlands; and Buenos Aires, Argentina to the mix, it’s no wonder why we’re curious about the time there.

The Temperature difference is also an interesting factor. For those of us who live in the Southwest, like Arizona, or the far south, like Florida, we rarely see a change in our weather so it’s understandable why we’re curious about the weather. And knowing about the different hemispheres, and the equator, seasons are reversed. When Northern Hemisphere has Summer, the Southern one has Winter. As stated before, we manage to keep up with our own country’s weather as opposed to the rest of the planet.

A Solution to all of this. One suggestion is to simply search on the internet for the time and temperature of the city you are visiting. (Here’s a website to help you with the time zones and weather)

What about these questions to ask during the pre-tour?

  • How early to you get to your starting point before starting a tour?
  • Do you eat anything before you begin a tour or wait until after?
  • When do you usually get up on a tour day?
  • What do you do on a non-tour day?
  • What is the hottest time of the day where you live?
  • What are considered unseasonable temperatures for your area?
  • What is your favorite season to be outside?
  • How do you manage to stay warm/cool when doing these tours?

And the list goes on! From this, you can get a little more insight into the guide’s life and get to know them as a person (remember, fellow human)

There will be those who will continue to ask time and temperature, all the same, and it’s something you’ll just have to deal with. As it was stated earlier, patience is a virtue!

Knowledge is Good, Too Much is just plain Rude

In this section, I want to discuss how some people will try to upstage the guide with additional knowledge of a subject that is being talked about or explained. First, don’t do it. If you know more than the guide, great! Grab your phone and become a guide yourself. Don’t override what the guide is saying or even contradict it. All you are doing is drawing attention to yourself and no one wants to see, hear, or read that.

And above all, don’t get into any kind of argument with the guide or any of the fellow tourists on the trip. This is not only rude but inconsiderate to all. There are more people on the tour than just yourself and the guide. Just because you’re unhappy doesn’t mean that everyone has to share in your unhappiness. We all know the phrase, “Misery loves company”; but it’s not applicable here.

Other General Comments or Questions

There are so many other things you can comment on or ask that are not necessarily connected to the tour that are considered acceptable; provided it doesn’t distract from the tour itself. Here are some suggestions…

  • Do you speak other languages?
  • What languages are spoken in your country?
  • Have you visited other countries?
  • What countries are on your “must-see” list?

And so on!

Conclusion

As you can see there are plenty of things that you can do to improve your experience with the city you are visiting as well as encourage the guide to “relax” a bit while doing the tour. Try not to treat it like a blind date where awkward questions become the central focus.

Have fun during your visit and try not to get too uptight about others’ questions or comments. Remember, you can always close the chat section and just enjoy the scenery.

Fancy a trip around the world? Now you can and not even leave your home. Check out HeyGo.com today!

Happy Adventuring!

The Armchair Traveler

Seeing the world without leaving your home

Introduction

If I told you that at 6am this morning, I was looking at the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy; then at 7:30am was viewing the Punic Harbor in Carthage, Tunisia (North Africa); and then by 2:30pm was under the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. And if I told you I did these trip in just one day; would you believe me? Well, I didn’t but, then again, I did!

The concept I am talking about is taking virtual trips from a website which allows you to tour the world right from your own living room! No passport, no luggage, and no plane tickets for these trips. Just a good internet connection and a desire to see the world are all that’s needed. And…it is completely free! Interested? Read on!

Disclaimer: I am not being paid by the company, nor by any individual, to write this article. This is completely of my own freewill. Additional, Virtualtrips.io is now HeyGo.com as of April 6th, 2021

Traveling via The Real World

I did a little research online and here’s what I’ve calculated if I (one person) were to take a 10-day trip to Paris, France (Prices in American Currency):

Flight from Phoenix—$859 roundtrip. 13 hrs. plus a two-hour layover just to get to Paris.

A hotel room for $93 a night—$1,057.

Renting a sedan-size car at $21.71 a day—354.83

Top of Eiffel Tower—$31.10

Louvre Museum—$20.73

Buying “Average Meals” for 9 days—$300

Odds and Ends; souvenirs, meds, etc.—$300

This comes to a grand total of = $2922.66 (round up to 3K to cover all contingencies)

Quite a bit of money just for roughly 8 days; given that you spend about a day and a half on a plane and/or in an airport between flights. What can someone, who doesn’t have this kind of money, do to enjoy such a trip?

Welcome to HeyGo (formerly Virtual Trips)

With the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19, travel across the world; let alone your own country, has been limited or come to a complete halt. Travel agencies, tour guides, and tourist attractions are hit hard as people have to stay home during lockdown or other restrictions.

You would half expect to see a tour guide wandering around their home pointing out Mount Staircase or Living Room Lagoon or even that trendy eatery of Le Kitchen to 3 cats and 12 stuffed animals just to keep their guiding skills sharp. But no more!

Gina, one of the members of Virtualtrips.io told me, “Virtualtrips was started in May 2020 and was created to bring the world closer together and allow everyone to connect while embracing the cultures of other countries.”

Liam, CTO added, “It allows people to escape their day-to-day and share an experience with friends and family wherever they are in the world. It brings laughter and joy at a time when we all need it the most. I’ve spoken with many of our travelers and been really touched by how much it means to them – going on a tour with us is often the highlight of their day.”

Tour Guides in Cyberspace

With a website in place, the next thing needed are tour guide and the cities that they showcase. I spoke with a few of them; getting their opinions about the tourist industry and how these virtual trips have help…

Patrick of Paris, France shared his views with me, I was already thinking before the development of different platform of streaming that Tours industry would have to change to make it “greener”. These types of tours save energy, create family meeting, are cheaper, so in a sense sustainable. I think it is a new type of travel and that won’t stop after the end of the epidemic.

Charley, based in London, England, made similar comments: “Virtual trips and tours seem to be a great resource for those who can’t travel and those groups will still exist even when COVID is long gone. The lockdowns have created an acceleration in tech from companies like Virtual trips that will hugely benefit those with financial or mobility restrictions.

However, there will always be people who want to see the ‘real thing’. For these people the tours will act as a compliment to the physical experience. As a sales funnel; ”try before you buy’, a planning tool, or even a way to keep in touch with their guide.”

Sara of Rome, Italy agreed as well, “I think Virtualtrips has been a real-life saver for many of us, people bored to stay home and tour guides that couldn’t work anymore with tourists since the beginning of March 2020.”

Now I would be remiss not to include comments from the boys of New York City. If you haven’t been on one of their tours, you are definitely missing out. I spoke to Aaron K. (pictured right) of Aaron and Patrick about why virtual trips is so popular. Here’s what he had to say, “There are two types of people; those who love to travel and those who don’t. For those who love to travel, the itch is quite present and not going away tomorrow. VirtualTrips.io has afforded folk the chance to have a bit of an escape from the quarantine-life and feel like they’re traveling again…but without the headache of airport security! Me personally, I’ve discovered new destinations to add to my list that hadn’t occurred to me before.”

I share the same sentiment with Aaron as I would have never considered traveling to either Prague or Budapest, but having seen them both, in a virtual trip, I’m ready to pack my bags and go. And, as Charley said, this is a “try before you buy” kind of idea. Why spend all the money, and time, to go to a city; for a vacation and have it turn out to be the wrong trip for you?

I’m Sold, where do I Sign up?

Just like a travel agency, you go to HeyGo.com and fill out your basic information. Once you’re signed up, you click on the Tours Calendar to see what cities you can travel to and what dates are available for that place.

Specific information is given as to what you will see on the tour and the name of your guide. Each trip lasts from 30 minutes to an hour with about 10 minutes prior for everyone to “check in”, say hello to the guide, and say “Hi” to your fellow tourists. Yes, there is a chat feature in which you can talk to your fellow tourists or ask questions of your guide.

Keep in mind these are LIVE tours and start when the start time is listed. If you miss it, there isn’t a replay for later in the day or later that week. In addition, as a live tour, there will more than likely be unplanned incidents that happen. For example, from the things I’ve personally witnessed: A citizen on the street asking a question of the guide, the guide suddenly taking an off-the-trail side venture for a great shot of something iconic, and the guide suddenly breaking into song.

Another great benefit is the opportunity to collect postcards. That’s right, virtual postcards! Closing the chat window, you will see a little camera icon which, when you click on it, captures a screenshot of whatever you’re looking at. A free souvenir from your trip which is added to your account in the postcards section. It gives you the name of the city, your tour guide, and the date of your trip; so you can remember these good times years from now.

You can also post these same pictures on Facebook to let people know where in the world you currently are plus, with a little effort, you can download them to your laptop or phone.

There is also an opportunity to cancel your trip if something comes up in real life and you just can’t make it. Fear not, most tours are done multiple times throughout the month so you can always re-book.

Did I mention that they are all completely free? Yes, these virtual trips are free! This website has guides working on a TIPs system which allows you to watch for free and then tip the guide after (or during) the tour to show your appreciation. You can also leave reviews to help guides adjust their future tours or simply tell them how much you enjoyed the trip.

Finally, if you’re on social media like Facebook, there is a Virtual Trip Voyagers group that you can join, meet other tourists, upload photos from your trips, or speak to guides in a more informal setting.

Conclusion

With the uncertainty of the pandemic, and the future of traveling aboard hanging in the balance, you can continue to enjoy these foreign lands right from the comfort of your living room couch. Give these virtual trips a try and see what you’ve been missing.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to check in for my trip to Buenos Aires, followed by one to The Scottish Highlands, and later, a stop in Moscow. Take care and stay safe in your part of the world!

Happy Adventuring!

New Content coming Monday

Found new purpose for my blog so prepare to view a lot of new material.

The final entry from “Happy to Serve”

Happy Friday one and all!

This is the last excerpt I will be sharing from the first Floor 17 Café book. It is also, the final blog post in the book as well. When I put this book together I did an even 50 blog entries. However, when I got to the entry before this one, I realized that I ended it in such a hokey way; a super feel-good-happy-happy kind of ending. So I decided to do one more entry to wrap things up. I think it came out well. If you haven’t seen the cover for book 2 yet, you can view it and the end of this entry. Please enjoy!

Cafe Chapter Divider

A New Day Dawns

Good Tuesday afternoon to all my friends and fans of the Floor 17 Café. Yes it’s me Chuck and as promised here’s a new blog entry. I chose this title for two reasons, one it’s the song that East of the West sang at our wedding after we were married and headed back down the aisle as husband and wife. Secondly, with all of the changes mentioned in my last post, this is truly the dawning of a New Day. Not just another day on the calendar but a new day of how the café will be handled from here on out.

For those who read the comments let me respond in regards to a couple of them. First, in regards to KittyKat98, I’m glad she’s not on here anymore. I noticed that her name was removed as a follower. I didn’t do it so I assumed she did. I left her supposed threat in the comments section as it amuses me greatly. Secondly, Candice has claimed Patty and me as her aunt and uncle as that is tradition of the dragons. During their adolescence, anyone who shows care and concern for them gets “adopted” by the dragon. One other couple got adopted as an uncle and aunt when they were present for her birth.

Clancy was maître D this morning and he had me do my entire shift as a singing cowboy. Fortunately I have a decent singing voice and so I managed to entertain my patrons with singing and my cowboy slang. Johano was working with me and Clancy had him do the entire shift as a 1930s Gangster. We had the customers rolling in the aisles when the two of us would bump into each other. We’d stay “in character” and challenge each other to a duel. I knew Clancy would be a great addition to the café and I’m glad that he hasn’t changed even though he was promoted.

Maurice is up at Windows checking on everything there. Although he is now the owner, he still serves as maître D for both locations. He told me that he’s been at it for so long he doesn’t think he knows how to give it up. I told him as long as he’s happy, just keep doing it! And he is definitely happy! He’ll be going on vacation after our big party this Saturday. Glenda will still be available to show Maurice the duties of owner and she’ll fill in when needed while Maurice goes on holiday. I saw the worry in her face regarding her daughter, Meghan. I hope she finds her soon.

When I told Zak and Hector that Patty and I officially adopted them he was overjoyed to have parents again. We went up to the Floor 68 Public Park yesterday on my day off. We enjoyed the day, our first, as official parents! Patty is still not feeling too well and we took it easy for her sake.

Speaking of Patty, now that she’s pregnant she will no longer serve as a guide but will be at the registers most of the time. She’s not happy about that as she loves to explore the entirety of the gift shop. Her boss, Jake, wants to make sure that there are no accidents concerning the child. She mentioned that she might also be allowed to serve as liaison for the gift shop and go around to businesses that don’t have souvenirs available to try and encourage them to do so. Since she handled the remodel of the café so professionally, Jake feels that she can do this job as well. And yes, it is a promotion for her!

The new elven server, Gainel Breeches, is doing a marvelous job of serving. He got some practice at Quenchers when he was serving a two week work furlough. Not sure what that is but Denbar assured us that he won’t give us any trouble. He and Gretchen have become fast friends, especially after she pulled the ice cube trick on him. Since then they have conspired in several practical jokes; mostly aimed at Clancy. Since he’s big in the filming industry, they’ve brought in a few people pretending to be making a movie and wanted him to direct. Long story short they recorded the whole incident and then played it back in the radio studio this morning. Clancy couldn’t believe his ears but then laughed as he was that easygoing. You couldn’t pull a stunt like that on Ol’ Whatshisname.

Speaking of the radio studio I’m finally going to get my chance to be a guest D.J. this coming Friday afternoon! I’ll be spinning some records and taking requests from noon until four, and then a match will be heard from five until eight. Maurice will send someone down from Windows to fill in for me while I’m up in the studio. A couple of times I’ve gone up there and watched Wally do it and know I should be able to handle it myself.

Maurice got in contact with Evander, the dwarf tavern owner. He’s the one who got us Vincent Singer for the Diadios celebration last year. Maurice is making arrangements, through Evander, to the Academy of the Seven Spires to send one Fourth Year Student per month to perform for a few shows at the café to help give them experience. I think that’s an excellent idea! It will help the students with their resumes or letters of introduction and give us some entertainment for the weekend.

“Mucky” Meyers had made his return this morning with his mule, Helene. He hadn’t been feeling too well of late which is why he hasn’t been around. I guess when you’re his age it’s harder to do even the simplest of tasks. No, he never told me his age but when you look at him you’d guess he was up there in years. I finally asked him about the atmosphere of Rellfax Minor and off he went on one of his stories. Clancy is thinking about recording him telling stories and then selling copies to keep our costs down for the café.

 

That will bring this entry to a close. Thanks for stopping by and giving it a read. Stop down in the Askinar Towers Gift Shop sometime and give my wife some encouragement. I have a feeling that this pregnancy of hers is going to be rough. Also stop by here in the café for a sandwich and something to drink. Remember, I’ll be on the air this Friday afternoon so they’re be plenty of music for dancing as long as you mind the puddles. My next post probably will be late Friday after my D.J. shift.

 

Happy to Serve,

Chuck

 

COMMENTS

Clancy33: Hey Chuck, can you yodel? I’ve got an idea for your next character!

SuperStud2000: Yodel? Let’s just stick to singing.

Johano1: Loved playing the gangster. Just remember I can’t sing, Clancy.

Clancy33: No problem! But do you know Shakespeare? Check it out in the library sometime.

Brenda10: I love Shakespeare! We have several of his books. Stop on up.

Gretch2112: Clancy, can I do a movie starlet? I’m good at over-the-top performances.

Johano1: Yes, she is good at that.

SuperStud2000: No argument from me!

Gains914: That ice cube trick was hilarious! Hey Clancy, Can I be a football coach doing a halftime pep talk.

Toby2150: I’m gainfully employed by a siege company. I’ll be in to eat soon, it’s been too long.

 

As promised, here’s the cover for book 2, A Café Mystery…

Cafe 2 Promo

I’ll be back on Monday to talk a little about this new book!

Happy Adventuring!

Chris