From our May issue: Readers share anecdotes about a traveling Elvis, a language mix-up at a Tokyo hostel, a mischievous bear in Costa Rica, and more.
This Month's Prize
Tulum, Mexico The best response we receive between May 10, 2009, and June 25, 2009, wins a three-night trip for two people to the Blue Tulum Resort & Spa. The prize includes lodging, $500 for airfare, one massage per person, and a car rental. Estimated value is $4,000. Subject to availability, nontransferable, and nonnegotiable. Valid July 1, 2009, to Dec. 16, 2009. For more info: 866/336-2213, bluetulumresorts.com.
How to enter: E-mail us at TrueStories@BudgetTravel.com or mail us at True Stories, Budget Travel, 530 Seventh Ave., 2nd Fl., New York, NY 10018. The full guidelines are available online at BudgetTravel.com/truestories.
Trip Winner May's winner is Sandy Campbell of Deptford, N.J. Her prize is a five-night trip to Aruba, courtesy of the Aruba Tourism Authority and the Amsterdam Manor Beach Resort Aruba.
I took my husband to see the spa on our cruise ship. The woman on duty there asked if I wanted a free wrap and massage. Since I was going to schedule one anyway, I said yes. She asked us to come back at 2 p.m. for a tour the spa was giving. We came back, and I followed her to a room for my treatment while my husband went on the tour. The woman put seaweed all over me and wrapped me in foil—and then she opened the doors for all to see! As I lay there, groups of eight to 10 people kept coming in to watch as she gave me scalp and foot massages and explained the cost of the treatments. I was mortified, and thank the Lord my husband didn't come in—he wouldn't have been able to contain himself. And the woman left the wrap on too long, so I had to see the ship's doctor for my burns.
After all, Elvis is Le Roi
On a trip to Paris, my daughter brought along an Elvis Presley figure. It belonged to a friend, who asked us to take photos of it with famous sights. We attracted a few stares at the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, holding tiny Elvis aloft to get the perspective right, but our best moment came at the Rodin Museum, at a replica of the famous sculpture The Thinker. While I fiddled with the camera, my daughter set the figurine down on the pedestal of the statue, which was apparently forbidden. A uniformed guard rushed over to see what crime we were committing, but when he saw the toy, he burst out laughing. "Ah, Elvees!" he exclaimed. "Ça va" ("That's OK"). Then he stood guard while we got our shot. Paula Markham, Blacksburg, Va.
What's "rude" in Japanese?
I called a Tokyo youth hostel to reserve a room. The woman who answered excitedly said, "Hi." That's a friendly way to answer the phone, I thought. "Hello, do you speak English?" I asked. "Hi," she said again. Surprised by the response, I asked again, "Do you speak English? I would like a room for tomorrow night." "Hi," she said. Becoming frustrated, I said, "Oh, never mind," and hung up. After reading a Japanese language guide, I realized that she was probably saying hai, the word for yes. She was telling me that she did speak English and did have a room. I arrived at the hostel nervous and without a reservation, but there was still a vacancy. Jill Farrell, Livermore, Calif.
Is it sexist to say "nice legs"?
My wife and I were touring Israel with an international women's group. On the bus we learned that we would visit a synagogue in Tiberias and that everyone would have to be dressed appropriately. Our guide looked at me and said, "No shorts, Roger!" Everyone heard, and one woman tossed me a colorful wrap. "I can't," I said. "Go ahead, try it on," she replied. As we were walking up to the synagogue, our guide said, "Roger, you need a hat." A woman from Atlanta offered me one—a little white number with a pink bow. Well, I had gone as far as the skirt, so why not? At least it fit me. But as I was approaching the entrance—women using one door and men another—I had a moment of hesitation about which door to go through! Roger Blakewell, Schofield, Wis.
It's amazing what chefs can do with foams these days
In 2006, my brother took our 92-year-old Sicilian-American father to Sicily. Dad has macular degeneration and extremely limited eyesight. They went into a restaurant to see if it looked like a good spot to have dinner, and my brother stopped to read a menu in a glass case on the wall. When Dad asked what he was doing, Phil answered that he was reading the menu to see if they should eat there. Then he looked over at Dad, who was leaning forward, also staring at something. Phil asked him what he was doing. He said he was reading the menu, too. "Dad," replied Phil, "that's the fire extinguisher." Rita Messina, Bothell, Wash.