Travelers' Tales


From our September issue: a hands-on Moroccan wedding planner, an unexpected late-night bathroom encounter, this month's naughty monkey, and more.

This Month's Prize!
Vietnam The best response we receive between August 29, 2009, and September 30, 2009, wins a 10-night trip for two in Vietnam, courtesy of Intrepid Travel. The prize includes the Spirit of Vietnam tour, with lodgings, some meals, and transport within Vietnam, plus the winner's choice of Urban Adventures—either a visit to a mountain village or a tour of the Mekong Delta. Does not include airfare to Vietnam. For more info: 800/970-7299,

How to enter: E-mail us at or mail us at True Stories, Budget Travel, 530 7th Ave., 2nd Fl., New York, NY 10018. Full guidelines are available at The prize has an estimated value of $1,956. No blackout dates; prize valid until August 1, 2010. Taxes are the sole responsibility of the winner. Prize is subject to availability, nontransferable, and nonnegotiable. Contest is open to residents of the 50 United States and its territories, except Arizona.

Trip Winner September's winner is Helen Cicirello of Leesburg, Va. Her prize is four nights at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort in Coronado, Calif.

My husband and I and our kids were checking in at the airport and answering the security questions: "Did you pack your bags yourself?" "Yes." "Have your bags been in your possession since you packed them?" "Yes." "Do you have any weapons?" Before my husband or I could respond, our 8-year-old son shouted, "Yes!" When we asked what weapon, he said no, he didn't have any weapons. The agent laughed and let us board. When we asked our son about it, he said he thought the woman had asked, "Do you have any Webkinz?" It's a brand of stuffed animal, and he did indeed have his.

Reminds us of college
One day when I was doing volunteer work in rural Peru, about 50 locals approached me. Explaining everything in Quechua (which I don't speak), they led me to their Carnival and had me do a traditional dance that involved whipping my male partner. Then they drew on my face with chalk and gave me chicha, an alcohol the Quechua make by chewing corn, spitting it into a vat, and letting it ferment—corn-spit beer, essentially. I managed to drink two cups. Needless to say, I loved it there. Jessica Cornett, Palm Harbor, Fla.

Next time, try the feta
My boyfriend and I were in Athens recently and had lunch at a really nice café. Our waiter didn't speak English very well, and we speak no Greek, but the menu was in English and we were able to order. Before the meal arrived, the waiter brought us some bread and an incredible cheese spread that we couldn't stop raving about. I was really eager to learn what it was, thinking we might pick some up before we left the country. I tried to ask if it was goat cheese, but our waiter just shook his head as if anyone should know what it was and said, "Phyllo Delphi." Shortly thereafter, the manager approached and asked, "You were wondering about the cheese, madam?" I said yes, and he called over our waiter, who brought the wrapper of the "local" delicacy: It was Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Erin Nathe, Carlsbad, Calif.

Naked story number one
My husband and I were on a cruise when, one night at about 2:30 a.m., he got up to go to the bathroom. I waited a couple of minutes and thought I might as well go, too. When I reached the bathroom, he wasn't there. I searched the cabin—even the closets and the balcony—but no Charlie. I couldn't imagine where he was. Then I heard a low voice calling, "Mary, Mary." I opened the hall door to find him locked out of our room. Not fully awake, he had gone into the hall and taken a few steps before realizing he wasn't in the bathroom. He didn't remember which cabin was ours and was afraid to knock on a door because he was stark naked. I told a friend about the incident later and said I was just glad nobody had seen him. She said, "You know they have security cameras in those halls." No wonder the cruise director kept smiling at us all week! Mary Keating, St. Marys, Ga.

Naked story number two—must be a trend!
After my husband and I checked in at a hotel in Baton Rouge, we went to our room. My husband entered first, and I heard him say, "Oh! Sorry, sir!" We had been given the key to someone else's room, and that someone else was already in bed. We settled into another room; then my husband went down to our car, and I decided to take a shower. As I was about to get in, I heard the room door. I peeked out of the bathroom, and there was a stranger! I don't know who was more surprised, him or me. He backed out of the room, and a few minutes later my husband came back and said he had a funny story. He had met a flustered-looking young man in the elevator and told him our story about walking in on a man in bed. The young man said, "I can beat that—I just walked in on a naked lady!" And I said to my husband, "I can beat that—I was the naked lady!" Denise Kerkhoff, Opelousas, La.

A hands-on wedding planner
My husband is from Casablanca, and I was excited to get married there. I don't speak Arabic or French, so his family arranged the wedding. My four dresses and jewelry were provided by a Moroccan wedding planner, who also helped me get ready. She motioned for me to undress and then sized me up as I stood there in my underwear. She took one look at my chest, shook her head disapprovingly, and immediately left the room and fetched two hand towels. Before I knew what was happening, she stuffed the towels into my bra, gave them a push upwards, and nodded with satisfaction at my new C cups. Maria Rachidi, Jersey City, N.J.

With friends like you...
A close friend had a destination wedding, and I played a trick on him as he and his fiancée were checking in at the airport: I arranged for a group of women to pretend they were his past flings and run over and beg him not to abandon them. Better yet, they had a bunch of small children with them. The women and children, of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, played the roles perfectly, mentioning his name and other details about him. "How can you leave your daughters and me?" asked one woman. Another chimed in, "You always said I was your only love." One child grabbed his leg and cried, "But, Daddy, it's my birthday next week! You promised you'd be there!" After a few minutes, the joke became apparent and everyone laughed. The check-in agents who saw the whole thing got such a kick out of it that their supervisor upgraded the bride and groom to business class! Conrad von Peterffy, Chicago, Ill.

Because Londoners never yell
I flew to London last summer, and the airline lost my luggage. The morning after my arrival, I went to a Starbucks near my hotel. My dad called my cell phone, and I told him my luggage woes as I ordered and walked back to the hotel. The more I talked about the missing bag, the more heated I became. When I hung up, I was in the lobby and glanced over at the concierge. "New Yorker?" he asked. Startled, I said, "Yes, how did you know?" "Americans drink Starbucks," he said. "New Yorkers drink Starbucks and yell on their cell phones." Kyra Vezina, Kings Park, N.Y.

He hasn't aged a day
On our trip to Rome, my parents, my boyfriend, and I were walking to the Vatican when my boyfriend pointed out a very retro hairdo. It looked just like Elvis's hair! I approached the man and learned that he was German and didn't speak much English. But when I said, "You look an awful lot like Elvis," he smiled and said with the King's drawl, "Thankyou...thankyouverymuch." It was one of our most memorable moments in Rome. Brenda Chavez, Cypress, Tex.

They really should have thrown this catch back
At dinner with two girlfriends one night on a recent trip to the Cinque Terre in Italy, I was horrified when the waiter set my dish down. I had opted for the "little fishes," an assortment of fried fish. One still had its head and fins, another looked like it had already been chomped on, and the last was some sort of eel-I could barely keep from gagging. A Belgian couple sitting at the next table couldn't stifle their laughter as I took a photo. Turns out that the woman had ordered the same dish and had been equally horrified. When we ran across the same couple the next day at lunch, the man looked at my spaghetti and said, "Much better than the fish, eh?" Allison Rumph, Houston, Tex.

Hold on to your lunch!
While visiting Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica, we decided to enjoy a day at the beach. My wife hung our beach bag packed with extra clothes and snacks from a nearby tree. In just a few minutes, the bag was gone, stolen by a troop of capuchin monkeys, who ran off out of sight. We later found our bag and clothes thrown away deep in the jungle, but our sandwiches were gone. The locals told us those monkeys are skilled sandwich thieves. Ronald Perez, Norwalk, Calif.

No five-finger discount here
I fell in love with the indigenous crafts in each city I visited in India. In Udaipur it was perfume, and I found a store with exquisite scents in camel-skin bottles. After sniffing and sampling, I chose several and asked the price. The man helping me answered, "1,200 rupees." I countered with 1,000, but he repeated, "1,200 rupees." I held up my hands and, pointing at my 10 fingers, said once again, "1,000 rupees." He held up his hands and said, "1,200." I shook my head and was about to count off finger by finger when I saw that the man had six perfect, manicured fingers on each hand. I paid the 1,200 rupees. Liz Berger, New York, N.Y.

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