When you travel overseas, you are bound to come across / visualise / be involved in certain situations which are just not in-line with your own cultural expectations. For me, it’s probably the staring by other people, line-cutters, people who spit in the street, people who don’t say please/thank-you to their servers – oh and pushing. Physically being pushed aside by randoms. They are what gets my goat and tend not to be the ones that make me laugh (can hold a grudge, just sayin’ ;)).
In saying that, have been thinking about some of the more ridiculous scenarios which I have to share. Just remember – in the wise words of almost every tour guide I’ve ever had ‘it’s not wrong, just different’.
London – When I first flew to London, I had no idea the room I had booked was a share room with other travellers (oh the naivety of a 23 year old travelling solo). My plane had landed quite late at night, so when I finally got into my room and instinctively went to the bed – I ended up on top of this lovely Canadian girl, who surprisingly handled the entire situation better than I would have myself! On the other hand – my girlfriend ended up sharing a room with someone who had night-terrors and woke her up screaming and bashing against the glass window – several floor above the ground. I think I probably won that room arrangement?
Paris – We stayed in a super cute little hotel on the far outskirts of Paris – lugging our suitcases up several flights of stairs we made it to our cute little rooms. I wish I could remember what that place was called. Anyway, in the middle of the night we had a phone call to our room with someone offering us ‘sexy’. We would just hang up. This happened probably 6 or 7 times during the night. It was horrifying. We even tried to call the reception area to report the problem (they were always engaged though). The next morning, my roommate and I didn’t really want to tell anyone else what had happened. But as we looked around the breakfast room, it became painfully apparent that we weren’t alone. Almost every room with our group staying in it had received the late night ‘sexy’ phone calls. Oh, and back to the naive 23 year old thing, one guy in our group said ‘Yeah I got the first call, then I took the phone off the hook’. Yep. We also should have done that. Oh – and it was established it was actually the receptionist who had been doing it.
Italy – On our trip we visited Rome, Florence and Venice. In Rome we had a pretty difficult time trying to order garlic bread (because in your early 20’s what do you even know about food?!). In the end we somehow ended up with a baguette smeared with crushed garlic. A girl in our group ate it because she didn’t want to be rude. Also we somehow paid over $30 for a coffee – to sit outside? In Venice we stayed in a really odd-ball hotel, with a really, really strange owner. Who gave us lettuce with brown sauce for dinner and breakfast was coca-cola and some cakes. The weirdest part might have been his courtyard in the back with strobe lights – worlds weirdest disco. He also put a different outfit on to be the ‘DJ/Bartender’ for the night. Not a single drink was the same price as the last but we were literally isolated – at least 20km from any other place. That was weird.
Florence took the cake though – First up we boarded our bus ready for our long journey from Nicé up to Florence, when we stopped at a truck stop to use the bathrooms. There was this massive line. The toilet attendant, walked to the back of the line – took my hand – pulled me past the 15 girls waiting, opened up a cubicle – led me in there (he didn’t come into the cubicle), then stood guard outside the toilet stall and sung to himself. He also clapped when I left. I don’t think I’ll ever work out what the hell that was about, but I did get to use the toilet first – so small win. I left the ‘disco’ early and caught a taxi back to the hotel. The taxi driver was absolutely hammering down the road, but kept turning back to tell me how ‘golden angel’ I was (nice compliment, but could you please watch the road when you are driving?) and demanded to know if it was my Mother who gave me my beauty, or my Father?
Amsterdam – Do I need to explain this in great detail? Probably not, so I will keep it short. First of all, we stayed in a giant blue lego looking hotel – so that was intense. Secondly, we ended up in a ‘grown-up’ coffee shop and someone in our tour group completely wiped themselves out. A few of the boys in our tour group went missing in the red-light district and our bus driver ended up dressed like a giant gorilla terrorising people on stage at a ‘cultural show’. I’ll keep this PG and just leave Amsterdam there but I can assure you, it may have been the weirdest place I have ever been to.
But hey, maybe we were the weirdo’s all along? 😉
Tell me, what is the most ‘unique’ travelling experience you have had, which left you outside of your comfort zone?