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Lions and Tigers and Pirates…….. Oh My!

My Humble Opinion, Raves & Rotten Reviews, Royal Ramblings!, Travel and Adventure, You Can't Make This Shit Up!

Cruising the West Coast of Africa

Silversea Silver Cloud

The Silversea Silver Cloud on our trip.

We went on a Silversea Silver Cloud cruise up the coast of  West Africa recently.   We went to 6 countries to be exact.  There are basically 3 questions people ask you when they hear you have been to “Africa.” Question # 1- Did you go on a Safari (or did you see any “big game” animals- as both are basically asking the same thing.)  Question #2- Why in the world did you choose to go there, of all places. Question # 3-Were you worried about Pirates.

No, we weren’t on a safari, nor did we see any big game animals. That takes place more in central or east Africa.  What we saw most of were goats, pigs, chickens and cats, because all of those animals roamed  freely- and abundantly – through every village and city we were in. We did see some good sized monkeys swinging through some trees one of the days while we were riding in the bus.

In Morocco we saw some camels at a Bedouin camp, and also just roaming around in the middle of the desert. In Marrakesh we saw few snakes, which were being “charmed”  for the sake of tourist. The snake charmers were scarier than the snakes.  You’ve got to watch out for those guys- they don’t want to let you go without getting the big bucks out of you!

Senegal Village Animals

This picture of animals in a Senegal Village shows about the biggest “game” that we saw on this trip. Camels, goats, cats, sheep, a few pigs and a boar were about the extent of our animal viewing!

Other than that little menagerie, no “big game” stuff. No lions, or tigers, elephants or giraffes.  Wrong neighborhood for them.

Why we chose to go to West Africa is another story.  My man had broken his foot last fall, right after we moved into our new house. (Great timing on his part, I have to say- thank you very much!) He was bored to death, and started looking into places he’d never traveled, and trips that would get him closer to his goal of 100 countries.  A “luxury cruise” up the west coast of Africa came up in his search, and next thing I knew, we were going to West Africa. So, question number is now answered.

Senegal Village

This Senegal Village was fairly typical of many of the villages. You’ll see a goat in the background. This village was one of the few that had any sort of “toilet” facilities. This outhouse had buckets in it to go on. Quite sophisticated compared to many!

Was West Africa on the top of my bucket list of travel?  Heaven’s no!  However, if you know me, you also know I’m always up for any adventure, and always up to try the unusual. So- when Don asked if I’d go on the trip, I gave a resounding yes…….

Captain Phillips, Here we Come!

As soon as we mentioned a boat, and Africa the question of safety and pirates came up constantly. After all, who hadn’t seen Captain Phillips, right? So, of course, we asked our cruise line, Silverseas, if pirates were a possibility or concern. The question was poo-pooed- and we were told that pirate activity is on the east side of Africa and we had nothing to worry about. WHEW!

Silly Americans! We don’t even know where the pirates hang out in Africa. Tsk, tsk, tsk…….

So, onward and upward we went with our plans for our trip.  We decided to tack on a trip to Amsterdam to see the tulips on our way to Akkra, Ghana.  Thank God, because if we hadn’t I wouldn’t have found that great shop with the fantastic 1940’s style dance dresses…….. (Good thing I brought that extra duffel, because it was filled up on day 3 of the 23 day trip!)

Patti in one of her 40's dresses!

This is one of the 40’s style dresses I got in Amsterdam! What a find THAT store was! (And BTW- this is my granddaughter Nell at her graduation from grade school a few weeks ago!)

My prior cruising experience has been on the uber-large cruise ships. Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland, Costa- and yes, I’ll even admit to Carnival- back in the day!  Don has only done small “expedition” type of ships.  This cruise, on the Silversea Silver Cloud was to have approximately 200 passengers.

The “luxury cruise” part of the trip had me from Hello.  Unfortunately, the “luxury” provided didn’t add up to the cost of the cruise in ever-so-many ways………..

But I digress…….

Ghana Port

This poster was on the wall going into the Ghana Port. You would not have BELIEVED the one asking them not to poop in the port! That one was really graphic- but unfortunately we weren’t able to pop a photo fast enough! Things run a little differently in Africa than some of us are used to!

As we pulled up to the port (after a rocky start and less than impressive trip to the ship), Don noticed that the back of the ship had large bars added across the back deck where the enormous water cannons were. Water cannons? Why would the ship need water cannons?  We thought that perhaps the ship goes to other areas where pirates might be a concern……..

So, blithely we boarded the ship.

And, as with all cruises, muster is the first order of business on all ships. A lovely letter awaited us when we entered our suite, telling us when muster was to take place, and how focused Silversea was on making our voyage special, personalized, pampering, blah, blah, blah….

Safety First!

Our welcome letter upon arrival on the Silver Cloud

Off to muster we went.  Then the ship left dock. After familiarizing ourselves with the ship, we went back to our suite, to find another letter………… informing us that we were in a “high risk area for piracy

 

If you are of my age group, you will remember Saturday Night Live, and church lady from years ago. Can’t you just hear Dana Carvey saying “How conveeeeenient!” ( Not to mention the following line- “Who made you do it, was it the Devil?”)

How conveeeeenient that the second letter was given to us JUST AFTER we left port!  And worse- it stated that the “enhanced measures” were in effect from April 8-14.  THREE DAYS BEFORE WE BOARDED THE SHIP!

These assholes knew for 3 days before we got on that Captain Kidd, Blackbeard and Henry Morgan were in the ‘hood, and didn’t bother to tell us?  Holy shit. Are you kidding me?

Then the letter went on in explicit detail telling us how to handle the possible boarding and takeover by pirates. My favorite line was, “in the rare event that pirates succeed to board the vessel, do not panic, and do as they say.”

Roger that.  I am going to stay as friggin’ as calm as a clam.  Yessiree! Ahoy there mateys- nothing to worry about.  I’ve seen Captain Phillips. These are reasonable people……….

Silversea- what in the name of all that is normal is wrong with you people?

Where is Johnny Depp When You Need Him?

The pirate with a parrot on the seashore

Not only are we dealing with totally unreasonable people with pirates in the African waters, none of them remotely begin to look like Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. There is just no upside to these pirates at all.  Just sayin’.

For the next 4 evenings we were told we had to keep our curtains to our decks drawn and not to open the sliding doors. This was mighty convenient, as the AC was also not working on the ship, and we were in near 100 degree heat………..

If THIS doesn’t all spell out “luxury cruise”- I don’t know what does!

In the public areas of the ship, every curtain was buttoned up as tightly as a nun’s va-j-j.  Where there weren’t draperies, the windows were covered with paper and duct tape. And the decks and outdoor restaurant were closed down.  No “romantic strolls” around the deck were taking place here folks! I felt like I was in London during the second world war blitz attacks.

Again, I know I am repeating myself here, but if THIS doesn’t all spell out “luxury cruise”- I don’t know what does!

Another great tip pointed out in the letter was that if the pirates were to approach the ship, and/or board, we were to go to the common areas of the ship and get down with our hands over our heads.  Fuck that shit- I’m hiding under my damned bed and hope they don’t check there for me. I figure that these pirates probably aren’t into doing a lot of work, or they’d have more upstanding jobs.  Maybe they aren’t going to look under all 100+ beds, right? But go hide out in the open- with my hands over my head?  Are you kidding me?  I’m going to come out and line up for the machine gun rally? Come on, I’m smarter than I look! (I’d have to be, or they wouldn’t let me out alone….. But again, I digress.)

(Our Silversea “Pirate Warning Letter”- delivered immediately after the ship left port. At this point it was bit too far for a swim back to shore,  I’m afraid!)

Every Day is an Adventure!

Now I realize that earlier I stated I am usually up for any adventure. I’ve jumped out of planes.  I’ve zip-lined. I’ve snorkeled and dived. I’ve bungee jumped. I’ve married a variety of men.  I’ve had children….. the list of adventures goes on and on.

However, in all those cases, these were experiences that I had preplanned for.  The adrenaline spike is because of the thrill of a “controlled” thrill.  One that most people live through. One that has safety parameters built into it.

Not friggin’ PIRATES! I never signed up for PIRATES!

So, for the first 4 evenings of our “luxury cruise”, while sweating like I was in an Indian Sweat lodge, with my drapes and balcony window buttoned up tightly, I wondered if I would live to see the good ol’ US of A!

There ain’t NOTHIN’ that spells luxury like that folks!

Captain Boczek’s last lines of his letter left me feeling calm, “special and highly personalized” (refer back to letter #1)… “Your safety is of paramount importance for us at Silversea…..”

Really?  Really? My safety is of such utmost importance to Silversea that they didn’t tell me about my tryout for a role in Pirates of the Caribbean before the ship set sail? THAT’S how paramount my safety was to Silversea!

That all being said, I guess we can add a few jackasses to the list of animals previously noted. But they were all on board our ship, wearing nautical costumes!

As you can probably decipher from this post, we did make it out of Africa alive.  No pirate boarding or takeovers.

Don & Patti in Marrakech

The last tour day we had lunch at a hotel which was once a palace. This little room looked like where you’d go to smoke your hookah!

You might have also figured out that I am not going to be the head cheerleader for Silversea!  Oh hell no!  I wish the pirate fiasco and the lack of AC was our only issues on this “luxury liner”, but no…… those were just the tip of the larger-than-hit-the-Titanic iceberg. I’m not even going to mention the numerous small items, like Don finding a shard of glass in his lunch one day. We’ll overlook those “little annoyances.”

Silversea asked for feedback on the cruise, which I provided. Over 6 weeks ago.  Then followed up 2 weeks later- to make sure they had received it. Then again 2 weeks ago again.  No response in any way. Not even a form “we received your letter and someone will get back to you” canned response! The last time around we even spoke to Ricardo who booked our cruise, made him aware of our letters, and resent the correspondence to him directly.  He promised he would “pass it on to his supervisors.” That was 2 weeks ago, with no follow up from anyone.

I’m sure I’m not being ignored.  I think I’ve figured out the problem.  PIRATES!  The pirates probably boarded a Silversea ship which had a company meeting going on with all of the customer service personnel, the head honchos and the marketing people, and they are being held hostage RIGHT NOW!

Someone contact the authorities, and send out a search and rescue team!

Meanwhile, I’ll stick to my “non luxury” cruise lines, and I can get 12 -15 cruises for the money one Silversea cruise cost!  (Not to mention, I’ll have AC in my cabin!)

_______________________________________________I had to add on a little “follow up” addendum to this story. While writing it, I sent a second email to our Silversea representative, Ricardo, telling him how disgusted I was with their company’s total lack of customer service.  I will admit, this particular email was not full of unicorns, flowers and glitter. No, I wasn’t really my most nice on this round.  I did mention in it that I now submitted a review on my experience to cruise critic and that I was now in the process of writing an article for my lifestyle blog regarding Silversea and their Silver Cloud ship.

Miracles DO happen folks! Yessiree! Amazingly enough within a few days I actually received communication from Silversea’s Guest Relations department. They apologized for the lack of response, stating that my original emails were “caught in their spam system.”  OK, hold on here Frank…….. may I call you Frank, Mr. Sansone?  You are going to tell me that Silversea- a large corporation, has a customer service email system, which you ask passengers to send their feedback to (feedback@silversea.com) and when they do, it goes into your spam folder?  Now THAT is a clever way to set things up! Very helpful to all involved……. Of course there was no explanation as to why my letter to Ricardo hadn’t been responded to for over 2 weeks at this point either…….. hmmmmmmm. Maybe their employees letters ALSO go to spam. Again, a clever and efficient way to run things.

So, that all being said, with his effusive apologies- well, kinda- sorta’- this following line of the letter threw me off a bit- “We appreciate your candor in evaluating your experience aboard Silver Cloud which we anticipate will stand out in a positive way in terms of service and product.”  Perhaps something was lost in the translation of my letters when Frank read them, because I would think it apparent to all involved that Silversea, indeed did NOT stand out in a positive way in terms of service and product….. Oh my. Consistant.  At least they are consistent…..

So, in the end, what Frank offered us was some credit on a future cruise, an amount which is basically equivalent to an upgrade from one class of cabin to the next level. SERIOUSLY Frank? Oh, and the other detail is that we must use that oh-so-generous credit for travel within the next two years.  I’m pretty certain that we will be getting our calendars right out and check which of the Silversea cruises are going to fit in our travel schedule. Or………..maybe not.

And last, but certainly not least- the following video has nothing to do with the idiots at Silversea, or even me- but after my rant I thought you deserved a bit of fun- so watch this great video of a young man who has been to every country in the world (how does he do that at this young age?).  He shares some cute little ditty about every one of the countries he’s been to- because…….. as I always say- Every Day is an Adventure!

The Last Straw!

My Humble Opinion, Royal Ramblings!, Serious Shit, You Can't Make This Shit Up!

A Sip From A Straw Could Mean Jail Time!

The Last Straw! Where has our common sense gone?

Seriously?  What the hell has happened to common sense in our country?  ESPECIALLY in my state of California?

A new law California law has been proposed which would cause a server to be fined $1,000.00 OR 6 months in jail if they put a straw in a drink of a patron without first asking.  COME ON PEOPLE!

I’m just as concerned over our environment as the next person, but for the love of Pete!  (At this point my daughters always ask me- “Who is this Pete guy and why do you love him?”)  But I digress………. Again I say, “For the love of Pete!” This is ridiculous!  This is the “last straw” in the lack of common sense in the US.

Have you ever been a server?  Do you know how crazy it can get being a server during the rush of lunch or dinner?  And you are going to tell me that if they forget to ask if you’d like a straw, and put one in your drink automatically, they are going to be fined $1,000.00?  Or worse yet- go to JAIL?

“What’s your mom in for Jimmy?”  “She got 6 months for doing the crime. She put a straw in a customer’s drink.” Heaven forbid!  Cuff her and remove her from society!  In fact, let’s protect little Jimmy from such a horrible person and put him in a foster home!

Common Sense Has Left The Country

Holy Shit, are you people kidding me? Common sense has left the country.  I think about the time Elvis died- so did ANY sort of common sense. Maybe he took it with him.

Sure, we can all cut down on our plastic consumption.  There are many ways to do it.  And, yes, servers could ask if you want a straw.  Or, we can, as consumers say we don’t want a straw…… But does every damn thing in this country need to become a friggin’ CRIME?????

Our court systems are overburdened.  Our jails are bursting at the seams. And we are now going to prosecute AND jail people over straws??????

For the love of Pete.  Again, I’m saying it. Whoever this Pete character is, for the love of him, STOP THE NONSENSE!

I hadn’t even heard until about a month ago that this straw issue was a big deal.  Now, suddenly, it seems to be a problem of epidemic proportions.  The whole world is going to come to a screeching stop if we don’t start arresting servers, charge them huge fines and end the use of straws……

Ughhhh…… Reusable Straws……

A San Diego restaurant is using aluminum straws for it’s patrons.

For the love of Pete.  Since the whole nonsense started I have now seen ads for us to purchase “reusable straws.”  That sounds like a great and sanitary idea…… said no-one-in-their-right-mind-ever. Come on people! Imagine THAT catastrophe! I’m going to pull out this little telescopic straw at a restaurant, use it, and put it back in it’s little case…… YUM…… Mold, spores…… oh the possibilities are endless!

I brought this up on Facebook when I saw the ads, and people said, “You’ll wash them!”  Well, even if I did take a stroll into the restroom of the restaurant, and wash it (which, believe me, might happen about… not at all) ……. you are putting it away in a little carrying case WET…… shit is STILL going to happen that is not healthy while it’s buttoned up, in the wet darkness of its little plastic, unbreathable case……….

For The Love of Pete…….

These aren’t really straws, they are glow sticks from a kids’ event we were at last night, but they looked kinda’ cool, so you’ve got them here folks! Of course, they too are made from plastic, so common sense says that the days of glow sticks are numbered!

Common sense.  Let’s just use some.  How about going back to paper straws?  I don’t remember feeling suicidal when paper straws were in common use.  They seemed to work just fine at the time.  I’ve even seen articles that there are, believe it or not, pasta straws that work well with just about anything other than cola products.

A friend of mine went to a restaurant in San Diego recently and they are using aluminum straws.  Again, I wonder how sanitary the straws will be.  How in the world are they getting into the middle of them and cleaning them properly?  The other concern I have with aluminum straws is that we have been told that aluminum is linked to Alzheimer’s.  I’ve read that drinking from aluminum cans should be avoided.  So now we are going to drink out of aluminum straws, which probably aren’t too sanitary? At least later in life, due to the aluminum, we won’t remember what the problem could be….

Another alternative is glass straws……….. what could POSSIBLY go wrong with a glass straw? Oh for the love of Pete, let’s not even DISCUSS what could possibly go wrong with a glass straw.  If I need to discuss it with you, you are too stupid to live.

There is a solution. There are a number of solutions.  I’m not sure WHAT the right solution is, but I’m sure we can solve it. For awhile anyway.  Until we decide the solution is another problem we have created.  For the love of Pete………. it never ends!

There are alternatives to plastic straws! Where is our common sense?

The last straw here, for me, is jail time and large fines for servers.  Seriously?  A number of servers I know could end up on the street if they had to pay a $1,000.00 fine!  Imagine what 6 months in jail would do to them?  Aren’t the consequences a bit excessive for the crime?

Yes, we need less use of plastic.  Yes, you could cut down on straw use.  Yes, we need to work on helping the environment…….. And YES-  people need to get some common sense, and stop making everything in our country a damned CRIME!

That’s my 2 cents worth, and I’m not even charging for it!

Check out this related article: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2018/01/29/plastic-straws-illegal-unless-requested-under-california-bill/1074610001/

Want to find some reusable straws?  Here is a great article: http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-reusable-straws

Here is a reusable aluminum straw you can keep in your purse.  Just in case you feel the need. (I’ll be checking in at the nursing home in 20 years to see how the Alzheimer’s is faring…. https://mfhousehold.com/products/straw

 

 

 

Why Didn’t You Pay The Bill?

Comedy, You Can't Make This Shit Up!

Those who have known me for a while, know that I really went through it with my (last) ex-husband, and finances. What a disaster I lived through for a number of years!

It’s a joke among friends that I never just say “my ex-husband,” because God knows……. I’ve had enough of them that you won’t know which one I’m talking about, so they each have a code name.  #1 is known as “my first husband.”  # 2 is known as “my kids’ dad.” And, the most recent one, # 3 is fondly referred to as “the financial fuck-up.”  That pretty well summed it up!

My current man, thank goodness, has it “together” financially.  Well, actually in every way- which is why his “code name”- given to him by my close friends is “Mr. Perfect & Wonderful!  Quite a change from husband #3!

During that oh-so-wonderful time of my life, while married to The Financial Fuck-up calls from bill collectors was a daily occurrence.  Not something I’ve had to deal with once I got out on my own (and paid off the debt he’d run up in my name). Not something I plan to ever encounter in the future (knock on wood). But, deal with it, I did. Too many times, and for FAR too long!

There is absolutely nothing worse than the feeling of the bill collector on the phone, or worse yet——— knocking at your door.  OK, maybe the feeling you get when you are having people over and the electricity gets shut off while they are there.  THAT’S not a really good feeling. That’s kind of a really-embarrassed-and-feel-like-a-loser feeling.  That one is followed closely by the feeling you have when you look out the window, and one of your vehicles is being towed away, having just been repossessed. I’ll be honest.  None of it makes you want to hum a happy little tune when you are living through it.

But, as with all things in life, you might as well find the funny side of it! I thought things had gotten a little to serious around here, so it was time for a little laugh!

Therefore……….. please let me share with you my “bill collector” story………

 

DO YOU STOP AT RED LIGHTS?

Adventures With Attitude!, Royal Ramblings!, Sexuality, Sexy After 60!, Travel and Adventure, You Can't Make This Shit Up!

DO YOU STOP AT RED LIGHTS?

Everything You Need To Know About Amsterdam’s Red Light District.

One of the side streets in the Red Light District. You can see the red lights down the street.

Normal Curiosity…..

As an American, I think it’s normal to be curious about the Red Light District in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is a bit of a curiosity all the way around, with its legalization of drug use, prostitution and other carnal pleasures that aren’t legally allowed in the glorious US of A.

Amsterdam, seems to me the epitome of Liberalism, although I don’t believe that is what they call it.  When you go to Amsterdam there are a number of sayings that you will hear the locals say. “As long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else, go ahead and do what you want.”  “I see you through my fingers”, which means that they know what you are doing, but don’t really care.

The thing about this type of attitude, is that it seems to work. While the prisons and jails in America are burgeoning, in Amsterdam and throughout the Netherlands, it is just the opposite.  They are nearly empty, and some have actually been closed down and turned into other uses, such as hotels.

A very typical Amsterdam Street. 4 story buildings, bikes and a canal down the middle!

Charming Amsterdam…..

All of Amsterdam, due to the water and canals, is mostly made up of buildings 4 stories tall.  You will see an occasional 5 stories, but most of the 5th stories are made up of just one room.  Narrow streets, divided down the middle by a canal.  One narrow lane going one direction on one side of the canal, the other direction on the other side of the canal. The sidewalks are even narrower, so many of the pedestrians walk in the traffic lanes.  Add to all of that THOUSANDS, literally THOUSANDS of bicycles, and it’s a bit of a clusterfuck! Then you have small “alley like” streets that run perpendicular to the main streets.  These are equal to one narrow lane, and many don’t even have sidewalks.

Charming. That’s the way to describe Amsterdam. Completely charming.  The architecture is beautiful.  Most every building made of brick. Due to the quagmire it is built on, many buildings tip a little to the left, to the right or a bit front wards or backwards.  Some may tip 2 or 3 of the direction that I mentioned.  No one seems too worried, as they are 200, 300 or 400 years old and haven’t gone anywhere yet!

The amazing thing though?  You don’t see aggravated drivers.  You don’t see aggravated pedestrians.  The bicyclists, for the most part are pretty calm weaving to and fro between it all….. Again, the Amsterdam attitude of you do your thing and I’ll do mine.  Let’s all just get along.

A typical store throughout Amsterdam. You can buy various drugs, marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms and much more!

The Red Light District

So, back to the Red Light District. What is it like?   The streets look basically the same as other parts of Amsterdam, except there are a plethora of sex shops & erotic shops (which are just a sex shop with a different name!), sex “museums”, and a number of bars which have some sort of sex show or porn show.  It kind of reminds me a bit of Bourbon Street in New Orleans- just missing the jazz music.

Keep in mind, little “coffee” is consumed at an Amsterdam coffee shop! The “coffee shops” are where you can go and puchase and smoke weed- all very legal.  Just walking past most of them you can get a “contact high!”

The biggest difference that you see are the Red Lights, and the windows which accompany the Red Lights.  Some blocks may have none, others may have 2, 4 or 12.  So what does that all look like?  Picture your typical front porch light.  With a red bulb placed in it.  Then, next to, or under the light will be a window, and the window usually has Red Velvet curtains in it.  When the light is on, and the curtain is closed, that means the lady  (the prostitute) is busy with a customer.  When the light is not on, you will usually see the curtains closed.  No one is working in that window, at that time.

Typical example of the windows the girls stand in.

An Open Curtain – Means Open for Business!

And then the thing that we Americans find SO fascinating……….. when the curtain is open, and there is a girl in the window. What do you see then?  Most of the women you see are in their 20’s.  They are wearing some type of lingerie.  Most often a bra and panties with heels.  It can vary of course.  I was really surprised that I never saw any type of “bustier”, stockings and garters.  I would assume that look would be prevalent.  I also never saw any “nighties”.  There were a few with the “school girl” look of a short pleated skirt.  One had her nipples only covered with a couple of (ouch!) star-shaped stickers.

There are areas, evidently, where one can find some more “mature” women, larger women or even women-who-might-not-be-women.  Those areas are a bit off on their own, not on the main drag.

The women are in their little “window” area. Many of the windows are groups, usually 3 together.  Those windows are about the size of a typical front door. There were a few other windows, even smaller- typically set down about 2 feet below street level, and they were about 3 ft. by about 4 ft. then, there were other larger windows, about 6 or 7 feet wide.  The wider windows actually showed you the whole room- bed and all.  All of the beds were covered with a dark blue vinyl.  Most of the rooms you could see were very clinical, not too “homey” and unattractive.  We never saw a shower, and seldom a sink in any of them.

These are the “rare” windows, in that their curtains aren’t red velvet!

One of the larger “rooms” we saw in the main area had the usual vinyl covered bed, but also on display were numerous sex toys, wigs, whips and other BDSM equipment. The woman in this window was a bit older than the average girl we saw in other windows. (Darn it, I snuck a photo of her room, but can’t find it in my camera!)

The World’s “Oldest Profession”

So…….. How does it work you wonder?  The women are behind their windows.  Some are very actively interacting with the crowd, giving a cute wink or smile, a “come hither” look. Others look bored beyond belief. Some look plan ol’ scary and like you’d better not bother them.  Some were on their cell phones.  When someone has an interest, they motion to the lady, she opens her door, and negotiations are made as to the services offered or desired, and the price. We were told that the typical price is 50-75 Euros.  That is for the “service” not for the time, and most sessions are considered about 15 minutes long. Evidently, if you want a specific time period, that is negotiated up front.  Don’t ask me what happens to the poor gal who gets a guy who lasts forever and a day……….. I guess they have provisions for that!

Rules of the Red Light District

There are certain “rules” that everyone is supposed to abide by.  Pictures of the women while behind their windows is strictly forbidden.  There are a number of plain clothes police walking around, and they don’t take kindly to rule breakers! It is also said that the girls have been known to come out, grab your phone, and throw it in the nearest canal, or stomp on it and break it!

This is how people are expected to behave in the Red Light District. Sorry about the color, the nearby red lights were distorting the white background…..

There is actually a “10 Commandments” on how to behave toward the prostitutes which is expected. You can find it posted in the area.

They are as follows:

  1. Do not take photographs or film
  2. Do not tap or spit on the window
  3. Be respectful toward the women
  4. Do not peek through cracks in the curtains
  5. Do not stand in front of the doors or windows
  6. When visiting, pay in advance and discuss beforehand what is and is not permitted
  7. Never have unprotected sex
  8. Be Hygienic (clean and well groomed, not intoxicated)
  9. When you suspect force or coercion, call the police on 09008844
  10. Aggression is not tolerated.

There are a specific number of licenses given for the Red Light district.  No new licenses have been issued for quite a number of years. One person can own more than one “window” which they rent out by shift. There are approximately 300 of the windows, or “prostitution rooms.” The ladies pay a specific amount per “shift” which is typically 10 hours.  Most of the rentals are 150. Euros per shift, but some, depending on the location, day and time, could rent out for more – or less.

It is said that most of the ladies are “independent”- they work for themselves.  But there is still some amount of “pimping” “managing” or as they call it ”lover boys”. Evidently, “pimping” used to be illegal, but in the past few years it was deemed to be legal. However, things are closely watched, to make sure that sex trafficking is not going on. In theory, in Amsterdam, everyone who is working as a prostitute does so of their own free will. Local authorities continuously investigate and inspect the working conditions of the prostitutes.  It is also encouraged that if any customers suspect that someone is being forced into prostitution, they should report it, so the woman can be helped. There is an anonymous phone number that can be called to report issues, and that number is prominently displayed around the Red Light District. The safety of the prostitutes is taken very seriously in Amsterdam.

This is the suggested behavior for “on the job” success!

Taxes are filed by the women, in fact we went past a Tax Accountant’s office- and he advertised that his specialty was filing taxes for the Prostitutes.  There are also required routine medical test to make sure they aren’t passing on any diseases.

In Amsterdam, there are also brothels and individual escorts. All must be licensed.  The brothels are located all around, not just the red light district. It is the responsibility of the brothels and the owners of the “windows” to make sure that the women are properly checked out, and that none of them are being forced into work by anyone else.

I don’t think much sleeping goes on in these rooms! This may have been a bordello, but no one would really give us an answer on that!

Museums, Museums…….. Everywhere!

Another interesting fact about Amsterdam is that it seems you can call just about anything a “museum” and charge people to enter.  In the Red Light District there were The Sex Museum, The Eroticism Museum and The Museum of Prostitution, among others.

We visited The Museum of Prostitution.  It was interesting, but I wouldn’t say we picked up any astonishing information, or learned any big fact about prostitution in the Red Light District that we hadn’t picked up by talking to someone we knew who lives in the area.

Patti in front of the Prostitution Museum

Obviously, we weren’t the only ones a bit curious about the famous “Red Light District.”  It is estimated that over 6 million people visited the Red Light District of Amsterdam in 2017, and that over 60% of all tourist go to see it personally.

So, let’s see if we have this right.  Prostitutes are licensed, taxes are paid, diseases are kept to a minimum, things are policed for everyone’s safety, the jails aren’t filled beyond capacity- and the rest of Amsterdam basically feels like “live and let live”- basically not caring if someone partakes or doesn’t partake.

Can someone explain to me why in the world our country is so antiquated and doesn’t do the same thing?  If people want to participate in prostitution on either end of the spectrum, they are going to. Filling our jails with adults who have both consented to a sexual act doesn’t make sense to me. People involved in that act shouldn’t have to worry about their safety, whether it is the woman, or the man.

I’m all for the Amsterdam attitude of “live and let live” and “as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody else, go ahead and do what you want.”

I hope this little article answers some of your curiosity about the Red Light District!

 

Smile and The World Smiles With You!

Adventures With Attitude!, Giving Back, life, My Humble Opinion, You Can't Make This Shit Up!

Do you ever wonder how much one person can impact our world?  I think we can have more impact than we might realize.  The commercial I’ve attached to this article shows a great example of this theory. Sure, you can say it is “just a commercial.”  “Not real.”  “All actors.”  But I challenge you to watch this and not laugh.  Really laugh.  Laugh out loud.

I simply couldn’t stop myself from laughing when I watched it.

That being said, could you imagine the world, and what a better place it would be if each of us took the time to share a smile, share a laugh, and make the people around us a bit happier and full of joy?

I can think back to times when I felt my world was crashing around me, and more than once, just the kindness of a stranger, reaching out, being kind, giving a smile made me feel SO much better.  They may not have realized it at the time, but they changed my world- at least for that moment, that hour or that day.

We never know what a stranger is going through.  Hell, often we don’t even know a small crumb of what people we consider “close to us” are going through.  People tend to keep their problems close to the vest. They are embarrassed or ashamed to share with others, afraid of being judged, or looking bad. Your love, your kindness, your sparkle, your smile just might be what they need.

I challenge you to make it your goal to get a smile out of at LEAST one person you don’t know each and every day.  The check out clerk at the grocery store.  A person in line at the bank.  Someone at the gas station.

Remember the old saying, “Smile and the world smiles with you.”  Let’s make that a reality!

 

 

The Sound of Silence

Comedy, Fabulous After 50, Health = Happiness!, My Humble Opinion, Royal Ramblings!, Sexy After 60!, You Can't Make This Shit Up!

If you know me, you know that I love being pampered as much as the next girl!  In fact, earlier this evening Don and I went for a 90 minute massage.  We go pretty often.  Many would call me spoiled, and I don’t feel bad about it for a minute.

Nails, pedicures, facials…… I’m a regular at pretty much all of them.

So, of course, when I saw an article about the most “out there” spa treatments, I was sucked into reading it stat!

The idea of most of them left me cold (or hot- but not in a good way!) Treatments where they switch from freezing you to heating your body parts with hot volcanic rocks, within moments of one another.  People ringing little bells and making noises while you are having a massage. Metal bowls laid on your body, and sound vibrations being used to “calm you.”

Shammans, High Priestess’, detoxifications, Nature bathing, Chakra Clearing, Chants, Bell ringing……… the thrills go on and on.

The one that sounds like pure torture to me are the “silent spas.”  Holy shit- people go for 2 to 5 DAYS without anyone talking? I would be out of my fucking MIND with days of total silence.  Please, let me give birth to 12 elephants without an epidural before I have to sit around in complete silence!  Are these people training to be some sort of monks?  And for this people are paying good money?  Something is wrong with this scene! THE SOUND OF SILENCE…. A little bit goes a LONG way in my book!

Call me old fashioned, but my idea of pampering is to take my clothes off and have someone massage me. I don’t want Chatty Cathy working on me, but should I want to let her know I’d like a little more pressure, I want to be able to speak up and get it done the way I like it!

Bells ringing, vibrations vibrating, chakras being cleared, water being poured on my head, rattles, wind chimes and other assorted “hocus-pocus” are just not my cup of tea.

Boring.  Old fashioned. Dull. Call me what you want, but when I’m being pampered, I prefer things a little more subdued.  I don’t feel the need for the Shaman and his dancing band of thieves to show up and set up a show. I think my Chakras are doing, fine, thanks for asking.  I’ll keep the bells on the windchimes outdoors.

Give me a quiet room, a little bit of “Origami music” (check out my Origami music side story, which is at the end of this blog)  and if we are really going all out- a heated bed, and I’m a pretty darned happy camper.  I prefer  the “cozy” of a warm massage bed to the extremes of being frozen and heated to excess……

So, as I previously said-  Keep the bells, the Shamans, the dings and the dongs, the good vibrations (I’ll keep the vibrating to the privacy of my own bedroom, thank you very much).  Just get out the massage oil, a semi dark room, my man on the adjoining massage table, and let’s stick to the basics.

Keep it simple stupid!

If you’d like to read the article and see what you can have done, and where to find it- here goes: Most Out There Spa Treatment

SIDE STORY- As promised………

Now that I mentioned “Origami music” I feel the need to explain.  A number of years ago, I owned a gift ware company.  When we worked the gift shows, it was damned hard work- on your feet for 8+ hours straight, trying to write as many orders as possible to keep the company profitable.  I always took 2 other girlfriends with me to work the markets.

At the LA gift show they had chair massage set up.  I told the girls that if we made a certain goal that day, I’d spring for chair massage on our way out.  Sure enough, goal achieved we went to get the massage.  My friend Kim was one of the hardest working people EVER.  Always doing for others, but seldom doing anything for herself…….. So, as we all settle in our chair massage contraptions, and just start to relax, Kim says, in all seriousness…. “This is great, but we need a little of that Origami music.”

HUH?  Origami music? What is that, music to fold paper by?

To this day, I can’t hear “massage music” without thinking about it being “Origami music.” Thanks for about 20 years of laughs over that one Kim Hartley!

 

 

 

Queen for a Day Retreat is Coming!

Adventures With Attitude!, Cocktail Time, Entertaining, Events, Fabulous After 50, Health = Happiness!, Networking Event, Sexy After 60!, You Can't Make This Shit Up!

The first “Queen for a Day” retreat is coming soon, and you won’t want to miss this!

The theme is “Learn to Live Like Royalty.” February 24th 9:30-4:00 with an optional “Happy Hour” afterwards! All of the needed details are on the flyer above.

Speakers, Delicious food catered by Etoufee’ Cafe on Wheels, Spa Treatments, Vision Boarding and more- all geared toward YOU and you creating a life you love! There will be raffles, give-aways and swag bags worth over $50.00 for each woman attending!

This day is going to be more fun than you can shake a stick at! Girlfriends galore, and more information, fun and fabulous-ness than you will EVER be able to stand!

Space will be limited, so sign up now!

If 2018 is the year that you are determined to get your life on track, be more successful and enjoy your life SO much more- then you need to attend this fun filled event!

More details about our fabulous speakers and sponsors will follow soon!  Don’t miss out- get your reservation in soon!

I have places for only 2 sponsors left, so if you’d like to sponsor, contact me NOW! Only $300.00 and you get to bring a friend/colleague, whatever!

Go to eventbrite or contact Patti Phillips to sign up: https://queenforadayretreat.eventbrite.com

800-680-9133

Creepy Christmas Carols

Comedy, My Humble Opinion, Royal Ramblings!, Uncategorized, You Can't Make This Shit Up!

I fully understand that most of our Christmas Carols were written quite some time ago – and standards of what is acceptable have changed dramatically during that time.  Am I the only one who shudders when you hear some of those “old classics?” Many are not only “politically incorrect” they are “socially incorrect.”

Think about it.  In We Wish You a Merry Christmas– a bunch of strangers walk up to your door, and start singing outside.  When you open the door, they demand “figgy pudding” (and God only knows what the hell THAT foul sounding concoction is).  Then this intrusive bunch of strangers says they “won’t go until they get some.”  It’s like spontaneous trick-or-treating of sorts, but you have no idea that this rude bunch was going to show up- and you are supposed to be Johnny-on-the-spot with some damned  figgy pudding! Or maybe, it would better be called Martha-Stewart-on-the-spot! ( I’d doubt that even Martha would have figgy pudding whipped up, ready for carolers! And – I’d also bet, you don’t just show up ringing the bell at Martha’s house unannounced!) I can’t imagine too many of us would be ready to welcome a large group of strangers into our home unannounced and feed them dessert!

Where was Santa when the bullying was taking place?

Then of course, the one that really makes my blood boil.  The ultimate “it’s OK to bully someone” song.  Rudolph The Red Nose Raindeer. Rudolph, the poor little raindeer with the big red nose.  This poor little guy is different from the other “kids” and gets teased, made fun of and ostracized from raindeer society.

The big guy in the red suit obviously knows this bullying is going on, and he doesn’t do anything to stop it either.  But then- alas- when there is a USE for poor little Rudolph- he is called upon and becomes the hero of the raindeer hierarchy. Am I the only one who is pissed off by this little song?  Come on- why didn’t anyone stick up for little Rudolph earlier in this little ditty?  Fuck you Dasher and Dancer, Donder and Blitzen, and all your other little raindeer bully friends………And shame on you Santa and Mrs. Claus for letting the bullying happen in the first place.

How about Santa Claus is Coming to Town.  Again, Creepy!  He “Sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake.”  This sounds more like Stalker Santa than not,  in my book! Picture some fat old guy hovering about in your bedroom,  looking over you when you are a small child asleep in your room.  Uh………. no thanks! I’m not going there  for just  a few little presents under the tree Santa….. I have my standards!

Oh my goodness- another song that is very odd when you think it through.  I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.  What’s it do to a little kid to see his slutty mommy screwing around under the same roof where daddy lives?  What’s THAT say to a developing little psyche? Mommy is kissing AND tickling the chubby old guy, and this kids sneaks in and sees the whole scene! Right under the same roof where daddy was probably the sole breadwinner in those days! I have a feeling that once daddy gets told mommy is screwing around with another guy, this kid is going to find out it isn’t so “funny” after all!

The guy in this song just doesn’t get the word NO!

The REALLY creepy song?  What I call the original “date rape” song.  Baby It’s Cold Outside. This woman CLEARLY states numerous times she wants to leave, and he insists she stays.She says “I really must go, the answer is no.”  Still he insists she stay- saying there are no cabs outside, because it’s cold!   Whatever happened to that saying- “No means no?” Not only does he keep insisting she stay, but it sounds like he slipped a rufie into her drink! She says, “What’s in this drink?” CREEPY!  CREEPY!  Mr. Date Rape himself is the star of this little ballad!

“Say, WHAT’S in this drink? (Maybe a rufie?)

Santa Baby takes “gold digging” to a new standard!  Work it sister, and get the old geezer to buy you diamonds, furs and cars! There is a GREAT standard to teach the kids!  Money can’t buy you happiness, but using those womanly curves can get you the goods!

The list goes on and on…… this is just the tip of the Creepy Christmas Carol lyrics.

My last comment on Christmas Carols…….. I know I have a number of screws loose, but am I the only person who gets creeped out whenever Karen Carpenters songs come on? I don’t know WHAT it is, but the whole time she is singing my mind plays a constant loop of “dead woman singing.”  I don’t think that when Whitney Houston songs come on, or Nat King Cole, or Bing Crosby- or any number of other artist who have gone on to the big gates in the sky….. but Karen Carpenter songs cause damage to my brain, because that is all I can think of……. Dead woman singing.  I know, someone should have me committed…….. put away for a long time so I don’t do further damage to myself or those around me.

My mind tends to go to places the average Joe, or Josephine wouldn’t begin to imagine.

A little PS to this article…. Do you remember the song Grandma Got Run Over by a Raindeer?  Well, check out the following YouTube link!   It gives some real credibility to that song!

I’m Not A Zen Girl!

Fabulous After 50, Health = Happiness!, My Humble Opinion, Uncategorized, You Can't Make This Shit Up!

Meditation- I give it about 3 seconds til I hit the “crazy” button!

Dancing is the New Meditation

I have heard for decades that the best way to relax and achieve inner harmony is to meditate.  You can’t live in Southern California without have a hundred people tell you “it’s the way to go.” I call BS on that!  Don’t get me wrong.  If you meditate, and it works for you, more power to you!  I”ll even give you an “Om” to go.

It’s just that meditation, to me is the greatest and easiest way to stress out I have ever tried.  I’ve tried it more than a handful of times.  And here is exactly what happens.  I sit in this place I’ve decided to be quiet in and cleanse my mind.  In approximately 30 seconds a committee shows up in my head. The committee is loud.  It’s raucous.  They all begin to talk, taunt and tease.  I suddenly am filled with thoughts of all of the “productive” things I could be doing.  Should be doing.  Need to get done.  I think of things with work that I have been putting off.  I think of things I could be writing for my blog, rather than just sitting here, wasting time.  I think of things that need to be done in my house. How many things I need to organize. The closets that could use cleaning, the drawers that need sorting.  I think of things that WILL need to be done for work, my house, my blog in the near future.  I think about places I could go for travel and enjoyment, and want to look those things up on the internet RIGHT THEN.

I begin to think about things that really bug me.  Things that have bothered me for awhile. Things I didn’t even  KNOW bothered me.  Now I start to get REALLY irritated at the things that I didn’t even know were bothering me.

Any small problem in my life can take on gargantuan proportions when I sit down to meditate. They suddenly become overwhelming.

Meditation = STRESS For My Brain!

While attempting to meditate I start to think about things I have recently seen on Facebook that I thought were really profound.  Or really cute. Or really irritating.   You know the things I’m referring to- the political posts that differ from your opinion.  The people that voice their totally inane and negative opinions on someone’s post, which were TOTALLY unnecessary.  The more I am supposed to “empty my mind” the more that comes in to crowd it, and  my blood pressure goes up.  Which is, I think the direct opposite of the point of meditating.

All of this brain hyperactivity  can be accomplished in record time.  I’m sure I’ve just spent at LEAST three hours in the process, and when I look at the clock, I’ll be damned, five minutes haven’t even passed! God bless you if this meditation thing calms you down. It just stresses the hell out of me!

The same people who like to meditate, enjoy Yoga. Don’t even get me going on that one!  If I’m going to spend an hour in an exercise class, I want to feel like it’s doing something for my body. I can’t get through half a yoga class without wanting to laugh at the absurd positions (which don’t seem to be building any sort of muscle that I can tell). I want to giggle at the silly names they call them. And for some reason, the people in Yoga class are just too damned serious about the whole thing.  It becomes a religious activity for them, it seems.  Forget Yoga…..I much prefer to do a few crunches, hold a plank, lift a few weights, or Zumba my way to cardio health.  In Zumba you can’t help but have a happy attitude! Why- because DANCE MOVES are happening there!

Screw meditating! I’m just NOT a Zen girl!

I’m Not a Zen Girl!

I guess the cat is out of the bag.  I’m not a Zen girl.  My idea of relaxing is planning a party, figuring out my next event, or dancing.  Dancing is my “drug of choice.”

When I went through a divorce about 8 years ago, I decided to take up dancing.  It was something I’d always wanted to learn, and it was the first thing I set my mind to when I knew the marriage was over.  Now THERE is a stress reliever! There is a blood pressure reducer!  And, like meditation and yoga combined- it’s GREAT for your body!  Within a few months, although I was out every evening and enjoying a few drinks, I looked better than I had in years!  I lost weight and toned up, without dieting or even TRYING!

Dancing- My “Drug of Choice!”

When you dance, the committees can’t be in your head, because you are too busy following the lead of your partner.  You can’t think about the problems you’ve got going on, what needs to be done at home, what is going on with work.  There is only one focus.  Dancing.  What the next move is, where your partner and your body are going to lead you.

For me, dancing gives me all the benefits of meditation, and then some.

If sitting in a quiet room, making your mind blank works for you, then go for it!

Just PLEASE don’t try telling me that it’s a stress reliever!  Not for my A type of personality!  Thirty minutes of meditation a day would probably put me in the grave within the first month!

No matter what problems I have in life, after a few hours dancing I feel refreshed, at peace and in tune with my body and soul.

Dancing video, Kingston Mines (This is a little video my daughter shot of Don & I when we were all in Chicago this summer.  I realize the video is dark, and I apologize!  If you get to Chicago, this place is worth visiting!)

 

Tora, The Body Beautiful, The Headless Woman

Comedy, You Can't Make This Shit Up!

Most of you probably know that I do stand up comedy.  But, perhaps some of you don’t!  I thought I’d just share one of my stories which is on my You Tube Channel. The story of my first job, and how I became the success I am today. After all, how many people do you know who were stars of a Freak Show?  That’s me! People often ask where I get my material for my comedy. Look people, when you start out life with your first job as Tora, The Body Beautiful, The Headless Woman……… life just brings you enough shit daily to make people laugh!

That being said, I thought I’d share that sotry here.  Funny thing is, when I pulled up my YouTube Channel, smack between all of my videos is a video entitled, “Lady craps her pants on slingshot ride!  Seriously, as I said before, you can’t make this shit up!  WHY in the world is this smack dab between all of my videos, I ask you? I am not that woman, and I have never, to this day, crapped my pants in public. (Sure as hell, because I said that, it will happen before the week s out, you can just about count on that!)

That kind of sums up the story of my life- a woman crapping her pants, right between my funny-ness. Go figure.

Anyway, here’s one of my stories, just to give you a little laugh today, and if you want to check out more of my videos, go to you tube, and my channel, Patti Phillips, The Comedy Queen.  

And of course, it goes without saying, I can bring my funny-ness to you, or the organization of your choice any darned time you might like- because that’s what I do!

Have a funny day! And try not to crap your pants, slingshot ride or not!