Kharkov, Ukraine: May 24, 2012
A cloudy, rainy day at JFK as our excited clients drifted in to gate 3 for the Austrian flight to Vienna and then to Kharkov. However, once we all gather at the hotel on the 25th, we will number 25 including John Adams, Ken Agee, Bud Patterson and yours truly. It is sure to be a tour to remember.
I always enjoy the interaction of all the clients upon first meeting. As individuals, they could not be more different – ages, occupations, home town and life circumstance. Yet, since the mission is identical, bonding occurs very quickly. The mood is heightened once stories begin to circulate among those who have traveled before and those who are on their maiden voyage. Questions abound and answers and opinions given.
I am reminded of returning from the Kiev tour in February. We were picking up our luggage at the same airport when my friend, Paul gave me a hug and said, “We came as strangers and leave as brothers”. This is exactly what happens each time. So what is it that binds us together? We have all dreamed, some for years, to travel over the sea to hope to find love. It is this belief that there is someone special waiting thousands of miles away to share a smile and a loving gaze to change one’s life forever that drives these men of good will to invest precious time and treasure.
So, now we all sit on a comfortable Austrian flight dreaming and hoping, many totally unaware of the fun and possibility that awaits all of us in the Ukraine – a land blessed with beautiful women who long for a sincere, loving relationship.
It is amazing that these women are willing to leave their family, friends, occupations and belongings to travel to a foreign country with a man with whom they have fallen in love. However, this scenario has occurred thousands of times in the past with overwhelming success. I sometimes wonder if the men would be willing to do the same if the situation where reversed? Interesting.
Well, having the benefit of enjoying several tours as a client and a leader, I know what awaits them and it makes me smile. I think of the joy in the faces of the clients who met that special lady and fell in love. I am eager to see how this plays out for these twenty two courageous men. I know that for each man who has taken this giant step toward happiness, there are thousands who unfortunately will never follow. Such a pity.
It is interesting that I have been party to two other tours when a film crew accompanied us. I have also viewed many other attempts to document what we do to varying degrees of success. Since we are dealing with human beings and relationships, there will, of course, be joy, heartache, the encouragement of future promise and occasional dejection. This is the nature of matters of the heart, no matter where it occurs.
And so now we sleep and dream at 600 miles per hour. We will awake in Vienna and there will be much more to our story.
Kharkov, Ukraine: May 25th
Well, we tumbled off the Austrian flight and searched for our luggage. Unfortunately, two of us didn’t find it, but that’s life. Believe it or not, one of the guys had a beautiful lady waiting for him at the airport! She traveled to the hotel with us and even joined us at the orientation later. I have never witnessed this – cool!
After checking in at a very comfortable hotel recently built for the upcoming Eurocup (soccer, or football is as big as the NFL in America), we settled in to our rooms and joined the orientation at 6PM. The challenge was to stay awake until later that evening to adjust to the time difference (they are 7 hours ahead of us).
John Adams and Bud Patterson carefully discussed the critical details that everyone needed to know. Then we were joined by a dozen lovely interpreters who would be with us while we are in Kharkov. Each city will have a fresh group, of course. I cannot stress how important they are to our success. The majority of the ladies only speak Russian, so their services are critical. Fortunately, they were very accommodating and skilled. Their presence at the social the next day will be appreciated by all the clients. Of course, they will be available during the upcoming dates.
As all of us are very tired, it w an early evening, although some took advantage of the 24 hour bar in the lobby! Everyone is very excited for the social on Saturday. Those that are new to AFA tours are wondering what awaits them. Those of us who have enjoyed it previously just smile as we know how exciting it will be!
Kharkov, Ukraine: May 26th
Wow! What a great day. We started out hanging out in the hotel office while the guys lined up dates and we prepared for the social – very busy. At 4 PM we boarded the bus and headed downtown to a very cool nightclub called Compass – amazing. It was decorated in a very contemporary fashion with a lighted dance floor. There were 22 guys and over 200 beautiful ladies waiting for us. Now those are odds any guy would appreciate. As a matter of fact the AFA staff bussed in 30 ladies from Poltava as they were concerned that they might miss the social when we travel there on Monday 5-28! The champagne flowed and the dance floor was packed. The biggest problem the guys faced was the overload of ladies. Who should I talk to? Many tables had 6-10 ladies just waiting for one of us to join them.
Each one of us had been provided with a nice booklet and pen to jot down contact information with interested ladies. I saw many men actively using this. As the evening drew to a close, lots of guys had lined up dates for later on and for Sunday, the 27th, yours truly included. Some had as many as three for the day. Again, I believe the biggest challenge they faced was who among the lovely ladies held the most interest for them. It is truly sensory overload.
If you have not availed yourself of one of these tours, what is holding you back? There are many tours here and in Latin America and Asia for the rest of the year just waiting for you. Personally this is my sixth tour, and I assure you I will return.
Well, now it is Sunday, the 27th and the weather is golden. We are all looking forward to our dates and you will get a complete report soon. There will be many stories – some glorious, a few perhaps disappointing or humorous, but that’s life. I hope all is well where you are ( you should be here with us!)
Poka, for now.
Kharkov, Ukraine: May 27th
Ah, Sunday in the Ukraine. Many citizens must work on Saturday, so this day is special to families and others. However, that does not stop our clients from setting up dates from the social last night or calls made by the staff to other ladies in our catalog and on the site.
At the hotel, it is rare to see a guy enjoying a cup of coffee and having a conversation about how great the social was (although it was great). Everyone seems to be busy on dates. It’s fun to listen to the many stories, most just fine, some not so much. But that’s the way it goes. There is plenty of opportunity, but at the end of the day we are all responsible for our own happiness. It’s a bit of carpe diem. Most of the guys have taken advantage of what is readily available.
What is interesting is that preconceived expectations do not always match up with reality, once on tour. Also, the process enables guys to learn much about themselves and what is really important. Often it is not a 23 year old “super model”, but a good hearted lady who only wants to make the right man happy. Don’t misunderstand, beauty abounds and appears to endure for many years. It’s only an observation you may wish to consider.
And so it goes. We now have one city and social under our belt and head for Poltava early Monday morning. Since the social will be on Monday evening, it will be a bit hectic. There will be surely more tomorrow. Again, we all wish you were here with us to enjoy this wonderful experience.