travel

Kanamara Matsuri, Japan Penis Festival

Size matters at The Japan Penis Festival. Tourists, revelers, and devotees to Kanayama temple pay hommage to fertility,  childbearing, satisfied partners, and protection from sexually transmitted deseases. That and to gawk at the 6-foot-high, colorful phalluses being transported to temple. This festival is open to everyone, adults, toddlers, prostitutes, drag queens, and others. Why can’t we always get along like this?
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Wander about to see the hundreds of hand-crafted penises, made from paper mache,  vegetables, and other innovative materials. Buy penis shaped candy. See people licking penis shaped lollipops. See festival goers posing for photos atiop giant wooden phalluses.
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Buy souvenirs! Give them as presents to loved ones and friends. Attend workshops! Learn how to carve carrots into penises. Learn how to dress in style in your penis cloths.
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The festival is held the first Sunday of April, To get there, follow anyone who’s dressed like a phallus. Go there. This is the one time when it’s okay to be a dick.

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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De Lancey’s Canadian Fun Festival Tours

Emma, your tour guide

March 8 to 29 – Festival of Animated Objects -Held in Calgary, Canada. See puppet shows and performances with other animated thingys touch on dark, troubling themes. Even though, many of the shows are supposed to be family friendly, it all seems rather ominous. Watch animovies projected onto a historic grain elevator. A historic one, no less. Programming includes live performances, screenings, lectures, workshops, and exhibitions for all ages.

Last Weekend in July – Nanaimo Marine Festival and Bathtub Races –  As always, there will be amazing firework displays, decorations, and food everywhere. Arts and crafts stalls will dot the landscape, as well an entertainment stage, and a children’s tent. Visit the farmers’ markets, and do other stuff. Let’s face it the highlight of this festival is, and will always, be the stupendous bathtub race. It’s known appropriately enough as the Great International World Championship Bathtub Race. The race crosses the 36-mile Strait of Georgia.

Last Weekend in July – Elvis Impersonator Festival – Perhaps the best Elvis impersonator festival in the world occurs in the summer at the Collingwood Elvis festival which thank goodness, is held in Collingwood, Ontario. This festival draws a variety of people . . . Oh heck, no it doesn’t. Only lovers of Elvis’ music will go. Oh, and Elvis impersonators. Expect to see lots and lots of Elvis impersonators. This is a good thing, however, if you don’t love Elvis’s music and if you don’t love his songs, then why are you attending an Elvis festival? And eat the food the King ate. See how many fried banana and peanut butter sandwiches you can devour during the festivities.

July 30 to August 2 – Icelandic Festival in Manitoba – Embrace your inner Northern European spirit by raiding your way to the Icelandic Festival in Gimli, Manitoba. You’ll find tasty Icelandic food to eat. See the Icelandic fashion show. Visit musicians and artists who offer up Icelandic music and Icelandic crafts. But really the most exciting part of the festival is the Viking Village. See people dressed up a Viking warriors. Go to every single Viking Combat Demonstration. And oh my gosh, oh my gosh, don’t, just don’t, let your children miss the half-hour long Kiddie Shield Wall event.

September 2 to 4 – Poutine Festival – Make your way to the Poutine Festival in Drummondville, Quebec. Poutine, perhaps Quebec’s most famous dish, consists of French fries, beef gravy, and cheese curds or mozzarella. Listen to wonderful music while tasting caloric culinary greatness. Heart specialists are standing by. The highlight of the event is seeing which poutinier food truck will win the coveted Gold Fork for making the festival’s best poutine. * =  If history is anything to go by, next year’s excitement will take place anytime from July to September.

September 13 to 14 – Accordion Extravaganza! – Clear your musical palate by attending the Accordion Extravaganza! in Edmonton, Alberta. Pop in on all sorts of concerts, workshops, dances, and competitions, all featuring the accordion. Accordion lovers will melt in ecstasy here.

 

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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De Lancey’s Asian Fun Festival Tours

Himari, your tour guide

Third Saturday of February – Saidaiji Eyo Naked Man Festival – Men, clad only in loincloths race toward Saldaiji Templein in Okayama to collect lucky sticks. Register in advance with Saldaiji temple and buy a loincloth. Then you run around the temple for two hours and through a fountain of frigid water. This purifies your body and soul. Fully purified, the race becomes competitive. Indeed, the event has become quite a team sport with many teams sponsored by local businesses. The goal is to catch one of two wooden sticks, shingi, thrown into the racers midst by a temple priest. Catching a shingi confers good fortune for a entire year. Spectators vie for 100 lucky items thrown in the crowd. Amazingly enough, there’s a more subdued version of this for the local children. This strengthens the bonds between residents. Tourists can shop at the excitingly named street of Go Fuku Dori.

Late April to May – Steamed Buns on Bamboo –  The festival takes place in Hong Kong on or around Buddha’s Birthday. Contestants climb a giant bamboo tower covered in Chinese steamed buns. Buns picked from the top of the bamboo tower or taken on the backs of the contestants to the top are consider luckier than ones at the bottom.  Climbers try to grab as many lucky buns as they can in three minutes. Hard to reach buns give extra points. Or you could simply go for the prestigious Full Pockets of Lucky Buns award. This is won by the climber who grabs the most buns in three minutes. There is also a rather exciting team-relay event. The week-long festivities includes incense, prayers for prosperity and health, and offerings to festival’s god, Pak Tai. Wander the grounds and sample the incredible variety of steamed buns. See the festival’s spectacular parade, elaborate lion and unicorndances and marching bands. Witness the martial arts demonstrations. Don’t miss the “Floating Children” parade where children dress as Chinese deities. They sit on stands so high that they appear to be floating.

 

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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De Lancey’s European Fun Festival Tours

Aleta, your tour guide

Have fun! Come travel with me.

First Weekend in July – The International Witches Fair –  Watch reenactors capture witches and heretics. Watch the lost souls get tried. Be enthralled by their torture. Be entranced by lovingly recreated witches’s covens. Listen to the excommunication of the entire town. Watch as Pope Julius II curses the entire village of Trasmoz, Spain. The festival sports an authentic medieval market place and medieval camp. There are parades, magic shows, musical shows, and medieval combat. You’ll want to go year after year just to see everything. Learn about medieval plants. Learn how to poison someone. Or maybe you’ll want to heal people with medieval medicinal plants. To each his own.

August – World Bog Snokeling Championships – LLanwrtyd, Wales. People come from all over the world to race 120-yards through a peat bog. Is it difficult? Dunno. But it is only 120 yards long. Many find the competition to be intense. People root on their favorite snorkelers.If you’re an ironman, if you’re a triathlete, you simply must enter in the Bog Snorkeling Championships. It consists of an 8-mile run, a 12-mile Mountain Bike ride, and a 60-yard bog snorkel. There’s lots of fun for the spectators as well. Graze and quaff your way through the food and drink stands. Work your way to the ale and cider bar. Listen to live music as your kids stampede the bouncy castle.  The festival encourages fancy dress.
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August 26 to 28 – Redhead Days Festival – Held this year in Tilburg, Netherlands. Be there to strut your awesome redheadness or if you’re not redheaded yourself, to absorb the sunshine emanating from so much redheads assembled in one place. Be sure to check the event’s website before you bring your clothes. Attendees all dress in the same color, which will have been decided by voting. Planned highlights include: dress-up contest, pub crawl, kids playground, hot tubs (not in the kids playground), food stands, cocktail workshop, BBQ, art exhibition with a red-haired theme , open stage, singing, salsa dancing, lectures, photoshoots, poetry, and cycling tours. Spend your days at the festival, then head to the exciting after-festival parties. There’s even a late night, redhead party at Netherland’s best known gay bar, The Lollipop. All are welcome.
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Last Wednesday in Augsust – Last La Tomatina – The world’s best tomato festival, La Tomatina, is held in Buñol, Spain. The festival starts with the eating of many different tomato-based dishes. Yum! However, dining on the tomato is not the reason for La Tomatina’s extraordinary popularity. The festival hosts the world’s biggest tomato fight. Yippee.

Note: festival dates are prone to change. Check before you book. You don’t want to lug your broom all the way to Spain only to discover the International Witches Fair won’t take place another two weeks.

 

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

 

 

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De Lancey’s Fun Festival Tours of Finland

Aamu, your tour guide

Come with me and see the fun festivals of Finland.

June – Mosquito Swatting Championships – The Swedish town of Övertorneå holds its own event when the town was denied permission to use chemicals to kill the little, flying biters. So the good Swedes made a festival about killing the pests. Contestants here get 15 minutes to kill mosquitos. The record for this town is 135. Finland has its own such festival, which is held sometime during the mosquito season.

Mid June – Swamp Soccer World Cup – Love soccer? Lover a shorter game? Love mud?  Head on over to Hyrynsalmi, Finland.  200-to-300 teams from all over the world compete.  There are five different ways to compete: men’s, women’s, mixed, men’s hobby, and Masters of Swamp. Six players are on each side. Each half lasts for 12 minutes. There are no offside penalties. This is fantastic for all those who never understood the rule in the first place.

Summer – Ant Nest Sitting Festivals – Finland hosts Ant Nest Sitting Competitions. Contestants sit on an ant hill for as long as they can stand the ant bites. This competition is held all over the country during the summer months. It truly helps to have a high threshold for pain or an ass harder than bronze.

Summer – Wife Carrying Championships – It’s in Sonkajaarvi, Finland Sonkajaarvi, Finland Couples race around a track well stocked with obstacles such as logs and a deep pool. At one time, the woman in the event had to be the man’s wife, but neighboring women are allowed. The designated wife must weigh 49 kilograms or 108 pounds. You might think a good wife for this race would be as tiny as possible. But no, the winners earn the wife’s weight in beer.

July – Cattle Calling Championship – Can’t speak Finnish, but still love to make yourself heard? Alapitka, Finland, puts on the renowned Cattle Calling Championship. Techniques of the champions are closely guarded secrets. However, successful participants tend to know the names of the cows. Courtesy while chatting with your cow goes a long way to winning the championship.

Early July – Finnish Dialect Speaking Championship – You say you want to attend a contest that is conceptually easy to win? One that’s not physically demanding? Then the Finnish Dialect Speaking Championship in Kuopio is the event for you. Keep in mind, past winners tend to possess a strong command of this Nordic language.

August – Finish Sauna World Championship – Held in Heinola, Finland. Simply stay the longest inside Finnish sauna in a temperature of 110 degrees centigrade, 240 degrees Fahrenheit. Maybe you have a competitive nature, while having the inactive disposition of a rock. Then this competition is for you. Compete! Maybe you like the idea of thousands of spectators and TV audiences watching your nearly naked, sweaty body, covered with only a towel. Compete! It’s held in August, when it’s outside anyway.

Mid August – Cell Phone Tossing – Be sure to make your way to Savonlinna, Finland during mid August for its prestigious Cell Phone Throwing Championship. The traditional part has participants throwing the cell phones over their shoulders. The longest toss wins. Cranky folks, such as myself, who have never quite adjusted to the new technology and hurl one phone after another, are usually the tournament favorites.  However, in 2012. it was a well-adjusted man named Eric Karjalainon won. He said he prepared for this event mostly by drinking.

Late August – Air Guitar World Final –  Air guitar enthusiasts won’t want to miss the Air Guitar season. Prestigious events are held in Germany along with Japan’s own elimination tournament. However, the crème de la crème of air guitardom is the World Final, held in Oulu, Finland. The Final’s aim is to promote world peace. With this in mind, organizers have banned holding a gun while performing your air-guitar number. The winner goes home with the unique Flying Finn guitar, handmade by the great Mr. Matti Nevalainen. Dedicated air-guitar fans really must obtain advanced tickets to the VIP Area. These tickets give you the best views of the stage and a truly tasty buffet well stocked with local delicacies.

Note: festival dates are prone to change. Check before you book. You don’t want to lug your air guitar all the way to Finland only to discover the Air Guitar World Final took place a week ago.

 

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

 

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How to Circumnavigate the Earth

Paul De Lancey, circumnavigating

On September 8, 1519, Ferdinand Magellan and 238 seamen of various ranks left Spain to circumnavigate the Earth. It was a long ocean voyage! Just over two years. Only 30 of the 239 returned home. Then out of those 30, twelve had spent some in a Cape Verde prison.

We can draw two conclusion from this.

1) You are more likely to survive sailing around the world if you go to prison en route.

Survival rate, no prison sentence = 7.9% (18 sailors out of 227)

Survival rate, prison sentence = 100% (12 sailors of 12)

Noting this, NASA plans to equip all long-range spaceships with prisons.

2) It takes a lot of time and a lot of people dying just to get back to the spot where you started. I mean, what the heck?  If getting back to the same spot is circumnavigating, then I’m doing it right now. And no one’s dying, either.

You too can go around the world. Just stand still and say, “I’ve gone around the world.”

Congratulations, you world traveler, you.

 

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

 

 

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Aliens Built the Pyramids to Play Ring Toss

Who built the Egyptian pyramids? Giant prehistoric aliens. Why did they build the pyramids of Giza? So they could play ring toss. Ring toss is a fun game. Always has been. Always will be. How do we know all this? The aliens left the below photo behind. Archeologist Carl La Fong found it. It’s proof you cannot deny.

 

 

 

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D., travel guru

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Comfort Rocks Banned on Airlines

Banned Comfort Companions

It was bound to happen. Today, all the major airlines banned the use of rocks as comfort companions.

“It was getting out of hand,” said Carl LaFong, CEO of Duluth Airlines. “First it was comfort dogs, then comfort cats–boy did they hide everywhere. Then it was comfort mice–boy oh boy, didn’t they cause a lot of shrieking. Then it was a comfort rhino. It caused an incident the very first time onboard. We had to ban them all.”

“Then about a month ago, Farine du Ble, traveling from Duluth to Paris, brought a painted rock onboard. She held it in her hand, turning it over and over. The passenger in the middle, Amos Keeto, said a rock companion was stupid. Ms. du Ble took offense and hit Mr. Keeto in the head with it. We had make an emergency landing in Gary, Indiana of all places. Comfort rocks are now banned.”

Indeed the Airline Safety Council took preemptive action and banned the following pets from comfort companionship:

ants
bats
bees
crocodiles (they mess the passenger count)
giraffes (not even if you can put them in the overhead bins)
lutefisk (not even a creature, still don’t try it)
snails

Additional pets may be added as needed.

 

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D., travel guru

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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Great Arctic Eats, Tromsø, Norway

Tromsø, Norway

Do you love to eat in a town with just the right amount of people, that is 68,000? Do you crave an bustling town with an invigorating night life? Do you absolutely need art, history, and fantastic scenery? Do you want to take classes at the world’s northernmost university? Are you okay with learning Norwegian to get free tuition? Do you want it all by being above the Arctic, yet experiencing a sub-Arctic climate? Is it essential that you dine on tasty food? Then, oh my gosh, Tromsø, Norway, is the place for you.
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Let’s visit Tromsø’s five best restaurants as TripAdvisor(tm).
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The must-go-to restaurant is Restaurant Smak. I want to go there. I want to go there. If you dine at Smak, please enjoy a meal for me and do let me know how you liked it. True, it’s a bit pricy, but I have never, no not ever, seen an Arctic restaurant with more glowing reviews than this establishment. People rave about the attentive servers and the high quality of their fresh food. The restaurant ensures the freshness of their ingredients by buying only food from the neighboring farms. It’s not surprising then, that Restaurant Smak gets a perfect 5.0 rating. Do try their Jerusalem artichoke soup, white asparagus, wild lamb, cod cheek and hot dogs. And for dessert, try their dill and caramel sorbet. Meals run from three-to-five courses and can take two hours, but the time will fly because everything at Restaurant Smak is good as it can be. I really want to go here.
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Winning the silver medal on our restaurant tour is Raketten. It is a hot-dog kiosk, but what a hot-dog kiosk! This small building serves such good food and has been such a mainstay to the community over the decades that the powers that be designated it an Important Cultural Monument. Can your local fast-food joint boast of a distinction like that? No, I didn’t think so. Keep a sharp lookout on Raketten as the outside line of dedicated hot-dog lovers can be over a hour. Sit by the nice, cozy fire and enjoy some gløgg, a hot punch made with red wine, brandy, sherry, almonds, raisins, and orange peels. What more do you need?  Or perhaps you prefer a delicious hot chocolate topped with marshmallows? Be sure to try their reindeer sausage. Is this a great town or what?
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Third place on our dining tour is Svermeri Kafe Og Redesign. The atmosphere is cozy and the staff is friendly and attentive. It serves delicious fish cakes and desserts. They really, really make fantastic soup and cakes. The number of reviews praising their soups and cakes is legion. I think I’d order their wild-blueberry pie. They even make gluten-friendly cakes. Don’t miss this place.
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We now visit Art Cafe. This is an all around good restaurant with pleasant lunches and fine dining at night. Art Cafe possesses a super cozy atmosphere and a friendly staff. The restaurant is decorated with authentic artistic decor which you may purchase. The jazz bar sounds nice as do the reasonable prices. Many tantalizing dishes abound including: reindeer stew, king crab soup, shrimp, mussels, Norwegian cheese, beef bourguignon, and Greek salad.
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We finish our culinary adventure at Mathallen. It’s named after Allen, the local high-school math teacher. No, not really. It does serve great Scandanavian and European dishes. Mathallen’s uses fresh ingredients from local sources. The waitstaff is pleasant and knowledge. All the food is brilliantly presented. Mathallen gives good value. Restaurant goers praise the seafood especially the herring, cod, salmon, and whale. Fans of meat really should go for their deer and reindeer steaks. And who could resist trying their ice cream made from sour cream and hazel/plum sauce? Don’t forget their satisfying local beer.
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Tromsø’s restaurants
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By far, the best two way to reach Tromsø are by plane and by car. (Although motoring can get exciting when the fog rolls in.) You could visit the town by cruise ship as well. However, you’d have to be extremely patient if you wish to get to there by train. The Norwegian government has been debating extending the rail network to Tromsø for decades. You’d do much better riding reindeer and even then who knows if they know the way?
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Go on the Fjord Excursion by RIB. For how could you possibly travel all the way to northern Norway and not visit the nation’s fjords up close. The guides on the speed boats are quite knowledgeable and the fjords spectacular. If lucky, you can see orcas, sea eagles, reindeer, and seals come near your boat. Well, maybe not the reindeer, they tend to stay on land. Dress warm, it can get cold and rainy out there. You might even experience a blizzard. Astoundingly, many  people really want to experience a blizzard on the sea. At any rate, hot chocolate and cinnamon buns await you at the end trip. Mmm.
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Be sure to go on Night Reindeer Sledding with Camp Dinner and Chance of Northern Lights. Well, the name tells you what to expect, doesn’t it? So don’t think the tour guides can guarantee you the Aurora Borealis. Ahem. The trip is organized even to the point of having lasso tossing and other activities before the tour even starts. Or maybe just drink hot chocolate they serve. Until you go to where it’s really cold, you won’t appreciate how wonderful hot chocolate can be. But this excursion really is tailor made for reindeer lovers. Reindeer pull your sled! Your feed the reindeer! The reindeer feed you! Wow! Wow! Sure, the reindeer feed you from a limited menu, but they feed you! Okay, enough exclamation points. Dinner is a traditional reindeer stew served at major celebrations. Can you get that amazing dish at your local drive through? No, I didn’t think so. And learn about Swami history and culture from the pleasant Swami guides. I want to go on this one.
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People with not enough time to get out of town should make their way to the Polar Museum. There might be no better place in the world to learn about legendary polar leaders and expeditions. Learn about fishing and hunting expeditions to even farther north Svalbard. (Warning to animal right activists, this really isn’t a place you’d want to visit.) Others will want to see a trapper’s hut and the objects needed for Arctic survival. You can even learn the truth about polar bears wandering the streets of Tromsø. Egad, that sounds ominous. Probably isn’t though. Probably. At any rate, I want to head out to Tromsø even more
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Tourists with not much time, especially seal lovers, will want to visit Polaria. It’s a cozy place with the emphasis. See seals frolic up close. Try to get there for the seal feedings. Spend the money and feed the seals yourself. What fun! Polaria fills their aquariums with fishes and plants you won’t find anywhere else.
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As always, “Good eating. Good traveling.”

– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I Simplify Solitaire

How many times has this happened to you? You’ve spent the Christmas bonus on a week-long vacation on the sun-lit beaches of Hawaii. You’re up earlier than your spouse, rather earlier as you’re just so excited to splash in the warm ocean water. But it’ll be two hours before he wakes up. What to do? You decide to play solitaire to pass the time. Only the game takes so freaking, but find you can’t  ever leave anything unfinished.

He arises and cajoles you to take to the beach. Enthralled in your game; you do not. He pleads again. You do not hear him. He says he is heading to beach and asks you to join him later. You favor him with a perfunctory wave. He leaves.

Finally, the game is over. You look at your watch. Oh my gosh, is that the time? Oh my gosh, is that the day? Horrors, you have played the entire vacation away. Your plane leaves in hour. You shout for your husband. He does not respond. There is a note on the table. He found a beautiful mango heiress while you were playing solitaire. He’s going to spend the rest of his life with her on the French Riviera.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Now we all know the object of Solitaire is place the right cards on an ace. This, as we have seen above, can take a lot of time. My brilliant idea is to shrink the 52-card deck down to one, the ace of spades. As you soon as you play this card, the game is done. You can get one with your life. You and your wedded love remain inseparable. Life is good.

I show to the right a simulated game of Ace of Spades Solitaire. You’ve won!

 

Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.

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