His name is Paddy Doyle and with a handle like that you'd figure maybe he'd be pouring suds in a pub in Dublin or tending sheep in Galway or Limerick. But no, Paddy Doyle lives in Fiji, an amiable Irishman who prefers the warmth of the South Seas to the dampness of the auld sod.
I met Paddy years ago when he was managing a resort called the Fijian, and in a note the other day he asked: "Do you recall when you, myself and a few others got up to various shenanigans and, youth being on our side, a good time was had by all?"
(How could I ever forget that awful hangover, Paddy? Of course I remember.)
Paddy is one of those lovable rogues who brightens the lives of all whose path he crosses. After his stint at the Fijian he shifted gears to become director of the Fiji Visitors Bureau. Now he's back greeting guests at a small, 18-unit resort that he built called the Crow's Nest. ("There must be a streak of insanity in the Doyle family," Paddy writes.)
I have not seen Paddy's new place, of course, but knowing Paddy I'm certain it must be pleasurable. Particularly with Paddy spinning anecdotes about his adventures in the South Seas, which are endless.
I have pictures of the Crow's Nest and it appears first-rate, being on the ocean as it is. And so I intend to pay Paddy a visit one of these days and I'll get you a firsthand report. Meanwhile, Paddy writes: "As you are aware, this is the year of Halley's comet and I read of the mass migration of Americans to Australia as a choice location from which to view this 'celestial snowball.' But here in Fiji we have a far cleaner atmosphere. Indeed, the only pollution of the air might be a passing yacht with a crew smoking the odd pack of Camels or a joint or two!
"Here at the Crow's Nest we are elevated some 60 feet above sea level facing due south, which gives us a box seat of the comet's track."
The Crow's Nest comes into focus along the Coral Coast at Karotoga, where Paddy provides snorkeling gear, croquet, volleyball, a swimming pool and day trips to Suva and the outer islands. Rates are $50 Fijian, single or double. See your travel agent or write directly to Paddy Doyle, P.O. Box 270, Sigatoka, Fiji. Only just don't make the mistake of getting into a rum-drinking contest with this incorrigible scoundrel.
Houseboat in Amsterdam
Several Sundays ago in reply to a reader's request, I suggested the Pulitzer Hotel as a place to stay in Amsterdam. This brought a response from Mari Pat Varga of Chicago, who owns a "houseboat hotel" in the Dutch city.
Says Varga: "My houseboat, the Vrede, is on a tree-lined canal in the heart of Amsterdam's old city. My partners and I bought her because we fell in love with Amsterdam's charming houseboat community and wanted to have a place to stay whenever we visited Holland." Afterward Varga turned it into a hotel "for other adventurous travelers who are tired of the mundane hotel scene." Varga says the houseboat provides "all the comforts of home," meaning a bedroom, living room, kitchen and bath as well as a porch on the water. "You need bring only yourself and a spirit of adventure."
Fresh flowers and a bottle of wine await guests. This is a bohemian area that is crowded with cafes, open-air markets, canals and other houseboats. The cost for a night's stay on the Vrede runs from $50 to $80, depending on the season, or $280/$520 per week. Write to Varga, c/o Houseboats International, 2461 Geneva Terrace, Chicago, Ill. 60614, or see your travel agent.
Pilgrim's Way Ltd. is a new agency for Americans traveling to England. Provides rental apartments and cottages in London, Kent, Devon, Dorset/Wiltshire and the Cotswolds. Emphasis is on "comfort and affordability rather than luxury," says Anne Pilgrim. Housing has been personally inspected to meet American standards.
Besides rentals, Pilgrim provides maps, does travel arrangements. Write to Pilgrim's Way Ltd., P.O. Box 1307, Havertown, Pa. 19083, or telephone (215) 649-1868.
Tokyo on a Shoestring
Tokyo has a reputation for being expensive--and it is. But you can cut corners. Contact the Japan National Tourist Organization, 624 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles 90017 or telephone (213) 623-1952. Ask about inexpensive hotels, restaurants. (You'll find dozens of reasonably priced restaurants on the side streets of the Ginza and other major areas of Tokyo.) Another money saver: For $3 you can buy a one-day subway pass that's good on seven of Tokyo's lines. Trains deliver you to scores of the city's major attractions. Tickets on sale at subway stations, 7:40 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Starting Saturday guests at Daphne and Maurice Gorse's 11-room farmhouse in the Dordogne region of southwestern France will be given free French lessons. Offer is good through April 19. Rates of $200 to $250 per person include breakfast and dinner for one week. Complimentary wine served before and during dinner. Contact Daphne Gorse, Castang, LeCoux et Bigaroque, 24220 Saint-Cyprien, Dordogne, France.