Travelers' Tales


From our October issue: Readers share anecdotes about monkeys behaving badly, a language mix-up in Italy, and the Taj Mahal of toilets.

New Prize: South American Cruise
The best response we receive between Oct. 15, 2008, and Nov. 28, 2008, wins a 14-day Norwegian Cruise Line cruise for two in an ocean-view state­room on the Norwegian Sun between Santiago, Chile, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, courtesy of For more info on 800/223-6868,

How to enter
E-mail us at 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

This month's winner!
This month's winner is Laura Grayson of Columbus, Ind. Her prize is a six-night trip to Tuscany and Umbria, courtesy of Foreign Independent Tours.

On a cruise that stopped in Grand Turk, my boyfriend and I took a tour of Her Majesty's Prison. After walking through the place, we hit the gift shop, which was having an unusual sale. We liked these containers, but we didn't buy any. Because really—who needs an ass kicking, even if it is half off?

Monkey see, monkey chew
While on safari in Kenya, we stayed at the Kichwa Tembo camp on the edge of the Masai Mara Game Reserve. As our guide showed us our tent, he stressed that we had to keep the tent door closed or the monkeys would take everything. When the monkeys stole the sugar cubes for our morning tea, we thought it was cute—but when we saw one trying to eat a lightbulb, we knew our guide was serious! Jennifer Klein, Glendale, Calif.

To be fair, they look yummy
My wife, her sister, her sister's husband, and I went to Amsterdam and visited the red-light district. When my brother-in-law and I heard moans of delight, we weren't surprised, until we realized they came from our wives, lagging behind us as we walked past prostitutes in picture windows. We turned and found our wives peering through a window, their tongues hanging out. The source of their pleasure? A bakery display of waffles topped with chocolate, strawberries, bananas, and mounds of whipped cream. Robert N. Turner, Centennial, Colo.

When dinner bites back
While in Tunisia, we stopped at a small hotel for lunch. The menu was in French. My companion chided me for ordering poulet rôti, since I could eat chicken at home. He chose the cerveau d'agneau. "Agneau means 'lamb.' I love lamb," he said. His enthusiasm dimmed when his plate arrived. "This is really bony," he announced. He sawed until he freed a bit of flesh. "Chewy," he said, as he ate it with difficulty. Then he hissed, "Teeth! Those are teeth!" It was true. The waiter, who hurried to our table to see what was amiss, snickered at the "gourmet" who'd just eaten the lips off a sheep's head while ignoring the brains¿baked to perfection and presented in their original container. I laughed so hard, I could barely finish my superb chicken. Jennie L. Brown, Bowling Green, Ky.

Toilet story No. 1
I was practicing my Italian at a coffee bar in Assisi. I'd seen my Italian friend Liana avoid a charge for water by asking for it from the faucet, so I did the same. The barman gave me a funny look, but I felt proud of myself as I watched him fill the glass at the sink. When I told Liana about it later, she burst out laughing. Instead of asking for water from the rubinetto, I'd asked for it from the gabinetto (toilet). Celia Orona, Lakeside, Calif.

Get back or we'll butter you!
My friend Sue and I went to St. Croix for a vacation and got rooms in a bungalow on the beach. One night we heard tapping on the sliding doors. We had no phone to call for help, so we searched the kitchen for weapons. Butter knives in hand, we approached the doors. Sue pulled the curtains—the tapping came from two gigantic crabs. What a relief! Antoinette Kish, Katonah, N.Y.

These kids have priorities
My husband and I took our teenage daughters on a three-week camping safari in Kenya and Tanzania. The campsites provided the bare necessities, and few had flush toilets. This worried our daughters, but we all got used to it. We enjoyed seeing exotic animals in their natural habitat. At Serengeti National Park, our daughters came running up to us. "Mom! Dad! Guess what they have here!" They were so excited, we assumed it must be a very rare creature. "Flush toilets! Clean porcelain potties!" Talk about an appreciation of the "wild life!" Glenda Durano, Albuquerque, N.M.

We'd go for the coffee
After a week in Punta Cana, my family and I went to the airport to fly home. Gun-toting military policemen with drug-sniffing German shepherds were circulating through the crowd in customs. We didn't pay much attention, but then the dogs seized upon my suitcase, snarling and clawing. One of the men motioned to me with his gun to open my suitcase. "This is probably what the dogs smelled," I said, holding out a bag of fresh coffee. But the dogs were still feverishly clawing at a pocket on my suitcase, so the man opened it. A slight smile crossed his face as he slid three tennis balls out of my bag to the eager yelps of the dogs. Then the man told us that trainers use tennis balls to reward the dogs when they find drugs. Becki Chianese, Monmouth Beach, N.J.

We are so going to hear from his lawyer
My husband, Scott, and I went to England in 2004 during a heat wave. We were in a sweaty crowd wherever we went. At the British Museum, Scott went to the restroom. I sat down to wait, and I realized I was sitting next to travel guru Rick Steves, who's from my home state, so I had a conversation with him. When Scott returned, I pointed and mouthed, "Rick Steves!" He just nodded, and we walked away. His lack of reaction surprised me, but I let it go. Back home, we were showing our neighbors pictures of our trip, and I said, "This is where I sat next to Rick Steves." Scott asked, "When did you see Rick Steves?" I reminded him of the moment at the museum, and he said, "I thought you were saying, 'He stinks!'" Sheryl Knowles, Marysville, Wash.

The Taj Mahal of toilets
Recently, my husband and I went to a remote village in India's Jharkhand State to see how our relief organization could assist the people there. I was nervous about the bathroom facilities I would find in an area with no running water or electricity. We were told that I would be the first fair-skinned woman to visit the village and that the people were excited about our arrival. After a lovely welcome, I learned that the men had been busy erecting a bathroom for my use. I was never so touched to see a toilet in all my life. Duska Cornwell, Charleston, Ill.

Well, you raised him
I flew to Spain with my son and his family. It was quite warm on the plane, and we complained, but no adjustment was made. I dozed off for a bit and awoke to find a very crude man down the row from me sleeping with his shirt off. I was horrified to realize that the "crude man" was my son. Beverly Lerner, Houston, Tex.

Bright side: No Dumpsters
For our anniversary in Las Vegas, we wanted a view of the Strip, but when we checked in, we were given a room with a view of Dumpsters and the airport. We were told to call every hour or so to find out if a room with a better view had been cleaned. After four hours, we got a new one. We opened the door, ran to the window for our killer view—and counted 22 cranes and 35 port-a-potties! Bill and Cathleen Huckaby, Lodi, Calif.

But did it have Lyme disease?
One night at a mountain resort, my non-nature-loving mother-in-law, Ruth, noticed a puffy brown thing stuck to her arm. She thought it was a tick and put it in a baggie to have it examined for Lyme disease. Then her son-in-law looked at it. He stared, squinted, and then poked and smelled it. Finally he told her, "Ruth, this is a raisin." Anne Noonan, Orono, Minn.

Hello, kitty!
When I helped my daughter move, we took a red-eye and brought her two cats. When we got to security, all the TSA employees gathered around the monitor and laughed at my bag. I had accidentally placed one of the pet crates on the belt for the scanner—it was literally a cat scan! Elizabeth Crawford, New Smyrna Beach, Fla.

Prize Report
Becky Marchant won a nine-day China tour, courtesy of Champion Holidays, for her story about a bridge in Northern Ireland. "Thanks, Champion!" Becky says. "We saw the Great Wall, the temples of Beijing, the Forbidden City, and Shanghai!"

Related Content