From our May issue: Readers share anecdotes about a surprise family reunion, mystery soup, suspicious Tunisian rocks, and a full-service Italian winery.
Funniest true stories
If you like our True Stories column, you'll love our new book, A Stingray Bit My Nipple! True Stories From Real Travelers. It's a collection of the best-ever True Stories (including a few that were a bit too risqué for the magazine), and you can buy it on amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com. While we believe Stingray is an exceptional title, we did have other valid options, including I Got French-Kissed by a Giraffe!, There's a Grasshopper Stuck in My Throat!, and A Monkey Just Tried to Break Off My Banana! (It's a very funny book.)
New Prize: Celebrity cruise for two
The best response we receive between May 14, 2008, and June 30, 2008, wins a Celebrity Cruises sailing for two good for up to 14 nights in Hawaii, Alaska, the Caribbean, or South America (excluding the Galápagos on Celebrity Xpedition). The prize includes accommodations in a veranda stateroom and is valid from Sept. 1, 2008, to Aug. 31, 2009. For more information on Celebrity Cruises: 800/852-7239, celebritycruises.com.
How to enter
E-mail us at TrueStories@BudgetTravel.com or mail us at True Stories, Budget Travel, 530 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10018. For a complete rundown of the contest guidelines, please see BudgetTravel.com/truestories.
This month's winner!
This month's winner is Denise Buonocore of Milford, Conn. Her prize: a three-night trip to Cancún from Continental Airlines Vacations.
While on Italy's Amalfi Coast, my husband and I visited a cemetery in Vettica di Amalfi to look for the graves of his ancestors. We tried telling the caretaker what we were searching for, but she didn't speak English. Just then, two women strolled by. Luckily, one spoke English, and after asking us a few questions, she realized they were distant relatives of my husband! They showed us around the village and even invited us home for lunch.
So much for the what-to-say-in-the-postcard dilemma
When our van rolled into a ditch in the Serengeti, everyone got cuts and bruises, but we were most concerned about Alice, who had a bump above one eye and was very disoriented. We were transported to a lodge where there was talk of airlifting her to a hospital. Eventually, however, we discovered the source of her distorted vision: A lens had popped out of her prescription eyeglasses! A backup pair of spectacles cured her dizziness, and after a few glasses of wine to ease our aches and nerves, we continued on our adventure. Elaine Nave, Phoenix, Ariz.
Let's hope no one tells him to jump off a bridge
My husband, Ken, ordered something called otdak soup while we were in South Korea. To his surprise, another patron jumped up, ran to his car, and returned with a small white pill. He insisted Ken take it before eating the soup and explained that foreigners sometimes have an allergic reaction to otdak. Not wanting to offend the man, Ken took the pill and ate the soup. The next morning, he had a dry, itchy feeling in his throat. He searched the Internet for answers. One of the soup's ingredients was the root of the plant Rhus verniciflua. Better known as the lacquer tree, it's a close relative of poison ivy. After a visit to a clinic and a few days with a red, itchy throat, he was entirely back to normal. Karen E. Farley, Columbus, Ind.
Or maybe a baby grand
My lack of Portuguese made finding an Internet café in Rio difficult, but I soldiered on. After my queries were repeatedly met with shrugs, I resorted to sign language, miming typing with my fingers. At last, a woman nodded and directed me to a building. I ignored the skepticism in my gut as I rode an elevator with several businessmen. At long last, I entered the "Internet café." There was a man in a barber's chair getting his hair cut, and another lathered up with shaving cream. I sheepishly wiggled my fingers, and the man in charge ushered me in. Only then did it dawn on me: Everyone thought I wanted a manicure. Corinne Whiting, Annandale, Va.
Then she said, "Put that in your pipe and smoke it"
Last winter, my 13-year-old daughter, Danielle, and I took our first cruise—a western Caribbean itinerary on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas. While in Labadee, Haiti, we ventured to an artisans market, where Danielle bought a palm tree necklace. Later that night, everyone at dinner was talking about what they had purchased, so she proudly displayed her new treasure. There was chucking. Puzzled, we continued on with dinner. Finally, an older lady asked me what was on the necklace. I explained that it was a palm tree. Everyone broke out laughing. "I think it's a pot leaf, dear," she said. Jane Stanton-Turcotte, Manchester, N.H.