The goal of travel writers is to entice readers to travel.

On the other hand, the goal of this writer is to evoke a smile, a chuckle or even an OMG. To achieve that objective, one must look in unexpected places or at least relate what “normal” folks might overlook. To that end, a fertile imagination is not only helpful but a necessity. Some may call such a mindset weird, twisted or simple curiosity. Let’s begin.


The Alps cross several countries. Tatzelwurm is a dragon species that has different meanings, depending on the country, such as claw worm or jumping worm to name a few.

My family visited Tatzelwurm, an inn or perhaps a combination of restaurant and hotel, in Bavaria when I was around four or five years old. The sign above the door was a picture of a dragon. While we strolled in the nearby woods, I heard a dragon chasing chickens. The parents laughed it off as my imagination, but to this day I know I heard a dragon. Throughout history, there have been sightings of Tatzelwurm, the most recent in 1970 in Switzerland. So there.

Costa Rica:

Howler monkeys are shy creatures. And yet, at dusk and dawn, and sporadically throughout the day, their calls fly from their sizable lips to your ears, even if you happen to be three miles away. Undeniably, they are unique and effective alarm clocks. Believe it or not, their howls can be an odd lullaby at night. In fact, we miss their sunrise and sunset serenades when we return home to our mundane alarm clocks.

The long dangly fruit of the Trumpet or Guarumo tree is one of the Howler’s favorite treats. The fruit has a slightly narcotic effect on the Howlers. Let’s just say they get mellow. It is not a recreational drug for humans. Causes kidney problems and has a cardiotonic effect (increases the contracting mechanism in the heart). Besides, the monkeys do not share well.

Aside from the predictable sights on a Costa Rican beach, some are unexpected.

Female tourists slurping excessive amounts of adult beverages are common. But inebriated and frolicking on the beach in birthday suits, taking selfies is not a visual one can easily forget.

A local was enjoying a morning run on the beach with his dogs. He came upon a well-known American football player standing on the shore, staring off into the distance. One of the dogs did what dogs normally do with tall objects and marked the football player’s leg. The player looked down but was not upset. On the other hand, the dog’s owner was in shock and apologized profusely for the dog acting like a dog.

If boys will be boys, is it safe to assume that dogs will be dogs?


The locals take bicycling seriously. In fact, everyone rides bikes at breakneck speeds, even in the winter. Consequently, broken bones and other injuries are not uncommon, which is great for business at the hospitals. Warning: Just because the cyclist is an elderly male or female, jump out of their way for they will run you down. Cycling and mercy are mutually exclusive terms in Amsterdam.

Bicycle theft is common and often end up in the canals. The process is cyclical. The bikes are stolen, deep-sixed, resurrected from the canals, and sold again. It is possible to keep buying your old bike over and over again.


On more than one visit, we went to the Trófea Grill Restaurant. It is a fixed price buffet of over 100 kinds of meals and drinks (including adult beverages). The one we frequent is at the bottom of the hill from Buda Castle.

If you visit during your birthday month, tell the waitperson. Each celebrant receives a scrumptious cake with a lighted sparkler in the center. It was a delicious and sweet treat our eldest granddaughter enjoyed almost completely by herself. She was five at the time.

Trófea’s history is varied: A hunting lodge for the Royals; a strip club for the so inclined; and now a restaurant. One can only hope the staff gave the place a thorough cleaning after the club had a rebirth as a restaurant.

See. Not all travel articles are created equal.



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