From our March issue: Readers share anecdotes about a language mix-up in Italy, being mistaken for Santa in the Dominican Republic, amusing encounters with a sheep, a monkey, and kangaroos, and more.
Turkey The best response we receive between March 1, 2009, and March 25, 2009, wins a private, escorted seven-night Highlights of Turkey tour, courtesy of Foreign Independent Tours, valid August 1, 2009, to May 31, 2010. Includes airfare, hotels, transportation within Turkey, tours, some meals, and an English-speaking guide. For more info: 800/248-3487 ext. 300, fittours.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.
Trip Winner March's winner is Lisa Schaefer of Woodland Park, Colo. Her prize is a six-night trip to the Azores, courtesy of Azores Express. My family spent the day after Christmas at a beach in the Dominican Republic. A local family arrived, and on seeing my husband, their little boy became very excited. He walked over and shouted nervously, "Santa Claus!" When my husband let out a "Ho, ho, ho!" the little boy squealed with delight and jumped on his lap. His family called to the boy, "¡Santa Claus está de vacaciones!" It was a Christmas miracle disguised as a sunburned, overweight tourist.
No charge for the "luck"
In Cuzco, Peru, one often encounters Andean women, dressed in brightly colored traditional garb and holding a pet alpaca, llama, or sheep, who will pose for photos with tourists. One day my friends and I were stopped by two such locals who offered to take a picture with us in exchange for a couple of coins. I sat between the women, and one handed me the baby sheep she was carrying. Just as my friend was about to snap the picture, the animal peed all over my leg and arm! I handed the sheep back to its owner, and everyone laughed at my good luck. Jaime Fleres, Walnut Creek, Calif.
At large: A Singaporean clown in American shoes
My husband always made fun of my belief in the karma god until our six-hour bus ride through Malaysia. Before boarding, he exchanged a $20 traveler's check. He got on the bus looking smug and told me the bank cashier had mistakenly given him $100 instead of $20. I let him know I disagreed with his keeping the money. Once the trip started, we took off our shoes for comfort. In the middle of nowhere, the passenger behind us rang the bell and got off, which was odd as it was a nonstop bus. Later, when we were preparing to leave, we realized that my husband's shoes were gone—the man behind us had stolen them! It took my husband three days to find a pair of size 14 shoes in Singapore, and they cost him $80! He's now a firm believer in karma. Megan Buell, Auburn, Calif.
Wait—you stayed there?!
On a trip to Rhodes, Greece, my husband and I wanted to visit beaches away from the crowds. After driving miles on dirt roads, we found our perfect spot: a cove with golden sand and not a person in sight! We decided to have a "no tan lines" day. But as we were relaxing au naturel, we thought we heard thunder coming from the clear blue sky. Then we heard machine-gun fire. Consulting our guidebook, we realized we were in a military training area—an army unit was on maneuvers just over the rise. No wonder the place was deserted! But no one from the army bothered us, and we enjoyed a beautiful, if somewhat noisy, day at the beach. Tina and Jeff Welter, Taos, N.M.
This chick's got it good
While on vacation in Bali, we hiked to the Lempuyang temple. Along the way, we came across a monkey tied to a tree. It was holding a chick. At first glance, it looked like the chick was going to be dinner; however, we soon realized it was the content adoptee of a motherly monkey. Bill and Jennifer Gardner, Vancouver, Wash.
Hope they understand "fore"
I visited my boyfriend in Australia, and we drove the Great Ocean Road. I wanted to see kangaroos, koalas, and beautiful scenery. The route delivered all I had hoped—except kangaroos. After two days of searching, we were convinced we'd never find them in the wild. Just before our final destination, we stopped to get drinks at a golf course. And there on the greens were... hundreds of kangaroos! They didn't seem bothered much by us or the golfers playing around them. We had spent days looking through bushes and going to national parks, but all we had to do was have a soda by the ninth hole. Chandra Murphy, Waltham, Mass.
Did he get it in five seconds?
I bought a taco for my flight from Washington, D.C., to Denver. As I boarded, the sack with my meal slipped from my arms and through a small opening between the jetway and the plane. Just before takeoff, a flight attendant asked, "Would the passenger who dropped their food on the tarmac please press the call button?" My first thought was that I had violated airport security. With a pounding heart, I pushed the button, and the attendant made her way to my seat. To my astonishment, she handed me the bag with the remains of my dinner and explained that the first officer had gone down and retrieved it. Now that's service! Patricia Lauer, Lakewood, Colo.
Italian for skivvies
My husband's luggage was lost on a trip to Rome. Since he speaks some Italian, buying clothes was easy—until it came time to get underwear. We saw a shop with socks in the window and figured we'd found a likely place. I stood outside but looked in after some time. My husband was trying to tell an old Italian woman what he wanted, to no avail. Though I don't speak the language, I thought I'd help. I went in and said, "Fruit of the Loom!" The woman yelled, "Ah, Frutta de Looma!" He got his underwear. Marie Campanelli Sfameni, Lynbrook, N.Y.
How much less is "less"?
On a cruise to Ensenada, Mexico, my fiancé and I wandered through a flea market. We were after genuine Mexican silver, and there seemed to be plenty of it, but after a quick perusal, I began to wonder. In stall after stall, merchants emphasized the quality of their jewelry, several even administering street-side acid tests to prove the silver was real. My suspicions of shady business were confirmed when we approached a shop with a large banner reading WE CHEAT LESS HERE. At least they were honest. Ixchelle Yakimowich, Santa Barbara, Calif.
All your dream trips in one
We couldn't swing our annual trip abroad because of the economy. So we went to Lynchville, Maine, home to a rip in the time-space continuum. The distances are accurate—all of the places are Down East towns. Duane Hendershot, Salem, N.Y.
Have a Coke and a hot lip
In Beijing, we ordered at a restaurant by pointing to photos of what we wanted. Our waitress brought a can of Coke at room temperature, and as I struggled to ask for ice, my husband pointed to the can and to a machine he thought was an air-conditioner. She bustled away. We were pleased at how easy it was. The waitress came back with a hot, misshapen can. That "air-conditioner" was a heater, and she had dutifully warmed up my drink. Susan Onaitis, New York, N.Y.
"But I need my grenade"
Most hotels have similar rules for the comfort and well-being of their guests, such as no smoking. On a recent trip to Cambodia, I stayed in a guesthouse that had more-pressing concerns, like no guns. Brad Lashua, Everett, Wash.
Prize Report Trent Jones of Safety Harbor, Fla., won a six-night trip to French Polynesia, courtesy of Tahiti Legends, for his story about a naked lobsterman. "The InterContinental resort on Tahiti was by far the nicest resort I've ever stayed at, like something out of Fantasy Island. I'll never forget swimming with the sharks. My bungalow on Bora Bora overlooked a stunning lagoon."