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Hansen: Funny things tourists say

May 17, 2012|By David Hansen

Like the swallows return to Capistrano — wait, scratch that. Like the famous Brooks Street Surfing Classic — no, guess we can't say that either. Oh, forget it: The tourists are coming.

Like clockwork, they are coming — all 6 million of them.

Believe it or not, that's how many visitors come to Laguna every year, according to Judy Bijlani, president and chief executive of the Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau.

Judy knows. We can call her Judy because Laguna is a friendly place, which is what the tourists notice.

"They say, 'One thing I noticed about Laguna is everybody is so friendly,' Judy said. "And we actually do get that quite a bit, which is wonderful."

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The Visitors Center, 381 Forest Ave., is one of those nice, air-conditioned retreats that shares space with Sotheby's. The front desk concierges are always friendly and helpful and won't be happy unless you leave with dozens of whale watching fliers, restaurant recommendations and regional maps.

And information about the shooting locations of MTV's "Laguna Beach," of course, which we will come to in a minute.

When asked about some funny stories from visitors, Judy had to stop and think.

"It's sort of like when you try to remember a joke and repeat it to someone else, everyone kind of draws a blank," she said.

And then she told a story.

"I think one of the funniest things that happened was a visitor came in and wanted to know when the sun was going to come out," Judy said, pausing for effect. "And I said, 'Well, it's due out probably this afternoon. Sometimes in the morning we will get a small marine layer, but it will dissipate.'

"And they said, 'Well, no. We need to know the exact time when the sun's going to come out because we're trying to plan our day around it.'"

Judy paused again. And you have to know Judy. She is a bundle of energy and a nonstop talker, so for her to pause is a big deal.

"So I tried again to say, 'Well, it's going to be this afternoon probably or late morning.'

"And they just really wanted a time. So I walked outside and looked up and I came back in and said, 'I think it's going to be at 11:45.' And they were perfectly happy and they left."

Judy laughed. The other thing you have to know about Judy is she will not embarrass the visitors, for fear of biting the hand that feeds her. So for her to tell that story was a big deal.

"I don't want to make visitors look silly in the newspaper, but when people are on vacation, the mindset changes. It really does."

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