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It seems unlikely that a girl with no real talents, connections or strategic international interests would be invited to sit down to dinner with His Royal Highness Crown Prince Alexander II. But, sometimes it happens. I’ll tell you how.

Several months ago, I was asked to donate an auction item to raise money for the school that I was teaching at. I decided to offer to host a pizza party at my house for 10 students, followed by a movie in the condo’s theatre. It seemed like a good idea as my class was pretty evenly split with 10 boys and 9 girls. That way, I would most likely be hostess to 10 boys or 10 girls. I will admit that I was very happy that the parents that bid on and won my auction item were the proud parents of a girl! Yay!

We had the party on a Saturday evening. My gorgeous and generous friend and teaching associate, Kathryn, came over to help supervise the girls and give them manicures. A service that was deemed essential once the sugar and excitement went to the heads of these nine year-old girls. (I’m not the kind of teacher to give out rewards at school… so, upon seeing a spread of candies, popcorn, pizza, and cookies, the kiddies were pretty hyped!)

The parent who had won the prize also came along to enjoy in the festivities and help out with the party. While my teaching buddy was skillfully painting nails on the balcony, Doug and I were chatting with the student’s mother about the crazy trip that we were planning to take around the world. Her eyes lit up and immediately she had made a connection.

“I have the best gift for you!”, she gasped.

In my wildest dreams, I would never have imagined that it would be the chance to take a private tour of the Royal Compound of Serbia followed by dinner with The Crown Prince Alexander II at the Royal Palace.

This is a gift that you cannot turn down.

Over the next few months, as the trip began to take shape and apartments, flights, trains, cars and dinner dates were booked, the thought of dinner at a Royal Palace remained in my mind. How do you fit clothes to survive the rough terrain of Iceland and clothes for a royal dinner into a backpack?

I’ll admit… I am a bit of a procrastinator. I like the thrill of making game-time decisions or being a clutch player. I left the wardrobe element to the very last minute as I was spending the majority of my time preparing mentally… ha ha… just joking. I actually couldn’t stand the thought of lugging one more piece of clothing across Europe. I was living on only the essentials.

So, when I arrived in Serbia it was crunch time. And, after a fabulous lunch with my friend Jessie, everything was solved! I ran out the afternoon of the dinner and picked up a jacket and a belt to jazz up a dress that I had kicking around in my backpack. (They roll-up pretty easily.) Jessie had the perfect shoes for the outfit and I just had to pick them up on the way to the palace.

Once in the taxi en route, I gave the driver Jessie’s address first and then ask him to drive to the Royal Palace. He seemed okay with Jessie’s address but he was entirely confused about going to the Palace. We rolled up to Jessie’s house and her husband was waiting out front with the goods… an unlikely Fairy Godmother. I tossed my ratty shoes out the window and slipped the jewelled peep-toed pumps onto my feet. It was a Cinderella moment if I ever knew one.

I was pretty excited driving towards the Palace. Though the driver kept glancing back at me with a confused look on his face. I showed him the address for a third time just to be sure. Finally, we ended up at the American Embassy. I guess to him it seemed more like the place that we should have been headed to. Luckily, the Palace was just a short walk around the corner. So on foot, in my fancy shoes, I arrived at the front gates.

And, that is how a silly girl from Toronto ended up at the Royal Palace in Serbia.

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Written by Elyse Kishimoto

Elyse Kishimoto is a regular girl with an extraordinary sense of adventure. She's done everything from hiking up volcanoes in Iceland at midnight, to sitting down to dinner with royalty. She's climbed Mt Fuji and the Great Wall of China in the same week, and explored the lost glowworm caves in New Zealand. You never know where her next story is going to come from, but you can be sure that it will be packed full of fun! After spending years reading her favourite classic novels to her students, Elyse is excited to publish her second action/ adventure novel, Sky Watchers in the popular series, The Dining and Social Club for Time Travellers. www.thetimetravellersclub.com

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