Saturday, April 11, 2009

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Not an April Fool's Joke, But Still...

So, as some of you already know, Greg and I took a tour of Europe in 2004. If you are actually considering going to Europe, I highly recommend *not* using a bus tour, unless it's through a private family-owned compay. What we wanted was to spend some time in a few select cities. The most practical way to do this (according to our Travel Agent) was to use a bus tour. So, we took the Globus "Grand European Tour".

We were packed on a bus of 30+ people, didn't like too many of them, and were rushed around in "get to the end as quickly as possible" fasion. I feel we could have spent *much* more time in some of the places we visited, but most of them were briefly introduced over the course of one day. It was exhausting.

There were, however, some highlights to the trip. One of my favorite memories is of a man who was part of our group. He insisted on sitting in the back of the bus the whole trip, watching episodes of Futurama on his mini-dvd player. He went by the name, "Prince Joseph of Australia".

Seriously. This guy spent the duration of the tour trying to convince everyone on our bus that he was of "Australian royal descent", but was living in the city of La Jolla, running an (extremely successful--according to him) antiques business.

According to his story, he had been exiled from the country by his older brother (who's name we never could get from him). He was forced to live by himself in the US (horror) and was never to go back to Australia unless his brother died.

To be really honest, I was a little afraid of Prince Joseph at first. I really couldn't figure out his motive. Why on earth would this guy be doing this? I knew Australia had no royalty outside of the queen of England. Elizabeth I, and then parliment, right? There are no princes of Australia. Was he some sort of wacked-out terrorist or something?

But then I saw how some of the ladies on the bus tour actually FELL for his story. I mean, he actually had BUSINESS CARDS that read, "His Royal Highness, Prince Joseph of Australia." We nick-named his group of women "Prince Joseph's Harem" because they were so very enamored. The ladies followed him around like he was the cool kid on the playground. And he ate it up big time. The more questions that were asked of him, the more elaborate his story grew. I loved watching the husbands of the ladies rolling their eyes and shaking their heads as their wives squealed in delight over Prince Joseph's wonderful tales of Australian high life. I don't know if they really did believe him, or just wanted to.Funny thing was, he had zero Australian accent. We asked him about that once, and he told us he had to use an American accent to protect his identity.

At one point during the trip, Greg and I found a big, gaudy, fake-gold necklace just outside of the bus. I immediately recognized it to be "Joey's" (what we were supposed to call him when we were off the bus--for the sake of secrecy). But since we were in one of our "on our own" moments, we weren't able to return it to him. Later that day, when we got back on the bus, we gave it to our tour guide Doris. Doris asked if anyone was missing it. His royal highness got all excited and said, "Oh, Yay! Now I can call Paris Hilton back and tell her it's been found!" Even if Paris Hilton had known "Joseph of Australia", I don't really know what she would have been able to do about his missing necklace in Europe.

The trip passed relatively uneventfully and Joseph never did kill any of us. It is funny how much of an impression he left, though--the annoyance combined with amusement. Greg and I speak of him often. I wonder if he reserved his act for European tours, if he actually does run an antiques business, if he really even does live in La Jolla. Who the guy really is, we'll probably never know.