True Stories

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Proving once and for all that travel is stranger, funnier, and more heartwarming than fiction

New Prize: Airfare to London!
If your True Stories submission is the best one that we receive before April 21, you'll win round-trip airfare for two to London's Stansted airport (a 45-minute train ride to the city center), courtesy of new all-business-class airline MAXjet. The tickets--for service out of any MAXjet departure city, including New York City's John F. Kennedy airport and Washington, D.C.'s Dulles--are valid July 1, 2006 to June 1, 2007. The prize has no cash value, and is nontransferable and nonnegotiable. Blackout dates may apply. For further information on MAXjet, visit or call 888/435-9629.

How to enter or True Stories, Budget Travel, 530 Seventh Ave., 2nd Fl., New York, NY 10018. We can't return photos. Read the full guidelines.

This month's winner    
This month's winner is Philip Traynor, of Fresno, Calif. His prize is a five-night equestrian vacation in Texas, from the folks at Cross Country International Equestrian Vacations.

As a young cleric in Rome, I ventured to purchase a sweater. I'd been studying Italian and decided I was ready for a test run. Dressed in my religious habit, I went to a clothing store in Trastevere. I told the young shopkeeper that I was there to buy a sweater, but instead of saying maglia, which means sweater, I said moglie, which means wife. She smiled and asked me what kind of moglie I'd like.

A moglie negra, I said--a black wife. By that time a small group of women had gathered around. She asked me to be more specific. I said I wanted a pesante negra moglie--a heavy black wife. The audience was giggling. She then asked why I wanted a heavy black wife. "Riscaldarmi," I responded--to keep me warm. Everybody howled, and the shopkeeper told me in perfect English that she might not have a heavy black wife for me but she did happen to have a very nice sweater.

You'd hate brazil
As an ordinary, but quite hairy, West Coast girl, I jumped at the opportunity for a last-minute five-day trip to Bali with my best friend. My husband, confident that my Sasquatch genes would repel any interested males, happily sent me on my way. On the first day, while touring the Tanah Lot temple, I was approached by three men, who asked if they could take a photo with me. Hesitantly, I accepted. They quickly swarmed around, nuzzling me. That's strange, I thought. On my third day, the concierge of my hotel asked if he could stroke my arm and leg, and on day four, a crazy man in traditional clothing tried to kiss me! On my final day it all began to make sense. During the taxi ride to the airport, the driver explained that body hair in Bali is a sign of femininity and that most males find it sexy. He said that in Bali I'm like a goddess--the men would build me altars and give me daily offerings and I'd never have to do anything again. Needless to say my next trip is already in the works! Megan Schutt, Blaine, Wash.

Never lift the mattress
In the countryside near Golfito, Costa Rica, I spent the night in an open-air thatched hut. My bed was a mattress on a wooden pallet raised a few feet above the ground. It was surprisingly comfortable, and the mosquito netting protected me from bugs, bats, and other flying critters. In the morning, however, I noticed that several ants were hiking up one of the bed's legs. I lifted the mattress: There was a colony of thousands of ants underneath, tending saucer-size clusters of ant eggs. John B. Kachuba, Athens, Ohio

Because she's ready to try that mallet on something bigger
Though she's not a fan of crustaceans, my 8-year-old daughter, Deena, came with me to sample blue crab at a seafood restaurant in St. Michaels, Md. Expecting a mountain of claws with drawn butter, we were shocked when our waitress arrived with whole crabs--legs, guts, eyes, and all. Deena had her mallet ready, unconvinced her crab was even dead (and to make things worse, it resembled Sebastian from The Little Mermaid). Lucky for us, our waitress expertly demonstrated proper crab picking. Eyes pinched shut, my daughter tried a morsel, then gently asked, "Do you think we could go out for chicken tonight?" Kelly Curtis, Clear Lake, Wis.

In a pinch, 10 percent of your income will do
During the second week of our honeymoon in Italy, my husband and I rented a motor scooter in Positano. Outside the hill town of Ravello, we parked and walked into the main square--only to find ourselves showered with large red paper hearts falling from the sky. We looked up: A small plane was releasing thousands of the hearts. It was without a doubt the most romantic thing that could possibly happen on a honeymoon. We picked up a heart from the ground and read the message. Roughly translated, it said, "God has granted that the only way to success is through love." Annie Porrino, San Leandro, Calif.

You can find more True Stories in the April 2006 issue of Budget Travel magazine.

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