I have been to many places across the world but I've only recently made my first pilgrimage to Paris. It was a particularly amazing trip because it also coincided with my first European burlesque tour. I was to perform as part of the Parisian Le Bisou Francaise festival as a special international guest.
Not only were the sights, sounds and delicious delights everything I'd hoped them to be and more, but kindness was abundant absolutely everywhere I went. To this end I was surprised because I had been forewarned that the French didn't like English speakers very much: this was so not true.
The vibrancy and warmth of the people comforted me daily as I explored the nooks and crannies of the city. I would go home with my mind wonderfully numb from all the beauty and information the city had to offer. Museums, palaces, galleries and shows; I could not get enough!
The most magical moment, by far, was being awarded the Grand Prix for best performance of the festival. This was such an honour considering my act was French themed and for a moment I was the proudest Kiwi on Earth. J'adore Paris!
In 2013 I had a rather embarrassing encounter with the German autobahn police. I had just finished a week-long competition in Antwerp, Belgium, which included a costume section —my entry consisted of a great blue feathered and rhinestoned showgirl type costume. It was quite an ensemble. This and a few other accessories were haphazardly thrown into my travelling suitcase.
I had booked a carpool travelling from Antwerp to Vienna. The journey would take us through Germany. The driver, a gentleman with dreadlocks to his knees, greeted us (myself, a student from Amsterdam and a Pakistani immigrant) at the pickup location and off we went. Whilst driving down the Autobahn we were twice pulled over by the German police for randomised passport and contraband checks.
The first time, we received a smile and away we went, the second, the police asked to check the vehicle and luggage. I had not mentioned what was in my bag, and upon opening it for inspection there was a great explosion of rhinestones, G-strings, feathers and dance accessories. I don't know who seemed to get a bigger fright, my carpool buddies, the police, or me? Luckily it was followed by laughs all round.
• Contemporary dancer and former Mr Gay World Chris Olwage is an ambassador for the Auckland Pride Festival, February 2-18.