Most Embarrassing Travel Moments
Part of the fun of travel is the ridiculous spots we find ourselves in due to a language barrier, cultural misunderstanding, or just bad luck. Do you dare to share your most embarrassing European travel moment?
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My bumbling brother
A few years back my brother and I went on a trip across Alps country from Switzerland, Germany (Bavaria) and Austria (Salzburg). While on a train going from Munich to Salzburg and were sitting across from an attractive young Austrian woman and across the aisle from an older German or Austrian couple. When my brother returned from a trip to the bathroom he stood by my seat before sitting down to tell my some amusing story he had about his trip to the bathroom. I never found out what this story was because as he stood there talking the train made an abrupt turn and my brother stumbled backward into the older German\Austrian couple sitting across the aisle. Perhaps into isn't the right word, it was more onto them. However you define it they were nowhere near amused by it, though they didn't voice their annoyance they just sat there silently with stoic faces. My brother politely apologized and tried to lighten the mood with a little joke and they responded with a silent judgemental stare. They didn't find it nearly as funny as I did. My brother sat down and we started quietly talking about what just transpired and making jokes about it. I mostly wanted to know when everyone would just have a chuckle at my bumbling brother and relax a little. It was then that we noticed the attractive Austrian woman sitting across from us was laughing and deduced that she understood everything we were saying. We wound up having a nice conversation with her and found out she once worked as an au pair in Massachusetts, our home state. And to think we never would have had this conversation with the pretty girl if my brother weren't a bumbling fool.
Boston, MA USA 11/26/2013
wrong way train
Changing trains at Haymarket in Edinburgh, I noticed a train pulling onto the platform I expected to leave from. I thought it was early and hastened to get on board. When I got to my reserved seat after bumping thro the crowded early morn commuters, someone was in my seat. I looked to see who it was and discovered the train was headed to London, not Elgin, Scotland. I tried to rush off but the train had already started. I had to ride back to Newcastle and take another train kindly arranged by the conductor. I know people were thinking "clueless American" when I yelled stop the train.
Chapel Hill, Tenn. USA 10/04/2013
We had stopped at a busy intersection walking in Rome. We waited for the light to change, and when we saw 'the green man', I started across the zebra crossing. I checked left and started to cross just as my wife shouted 'look out'! I froze just in time as a cyclist blew through the light narrowly missing me! I was more shocked than mad, and continued across. Well wouldn't you know 2 Italian cops saw him and pulled the cyclist over just around the corner. We watched with laughter as they pulled him out and began berating him. The cops saw us, and one cop pointed to us, then back to the offender. That made us laugh even harder and made a potentially dangerous encounter a good memory for us.
Quantico, VA USA 08/30/2013
Gesundheit in Rome
My teenage daughter and I were outside the Roman Pantheon, in the little square there. There were many people around, eating in cafes, strolling about, and getting their photos taken with the Centurians and Gladiators. All of a sudden I felt a sneeze coming on. My sneezes tend to be rather load, and with a little embellishment I let out an AH-CHOO! It echoed against the perfectly architected buildings. The entire square stopped in silence, as if a record player had screached to a stop. They all turned in my direction and stared. I sheepishly walked away, and my daughter was mortified :-).
Cape Cod, MA USA 05/05/2013
I had just experienced a magical, nearly mystical, moment in Paris. I never heard of the Sacre Coeur but I went there on a recommendation and found the view from the top (the second highest point in Paris after the Eiffel Tower) to be fascinating.
In a relaxed mood, I strolled the beautiful neighborhood and found a souvenior shop selling berets (I still associated the French with wearing berets!). A man in my office, Lane, always wears one so I had my picture taken wearing one.
"Don't I look like Lane?" I asked my friend. Upon hearing this, the store owner sternly said, "No. No. Do not say that!" Confused, I answered, "Yes. I do look like Lane."
It wasn't until I got back to America that Lane explained to me that his name had another meaning in French so what I was saying was, "Don't I look like a jackass?" And I argued the point when the store owner tried to correct me.
New York, NY USA 08/09/2012
Awkward Sauna Moment
Some friends and I were in Paris a couple of years ago. The hotel where we stayed had a wonderful sauna that was perfect for unwinding after a long day of sightseeing. We always just wore gym shorts and tank tops in the sauna. One night, I decided to go in, but my friends opted to check out the Internet Cafe nearby. This sauna was very small and could comfortably hold about 5 people. Imagine my surprise when another European man walked in (he was definitely NOT American), wearing only a Speedo. I'm not even sure it could qualify as a Speedo, since I've seen professional divers clothed in more than this. Perhaps it was his bikini underwear? Nevertheless, I had had a little wine with dinner and was quite relaxed to the point of having to pinch myself to keep from giggling. My dilemma? How long did I have to wait before walking out of the sauna? I didn't want him to think that I was leaving because of him (even though I was, since I couldn't stop giggling at the awkwardness). You can take the girl out of the Midwest, but you can't take the Midwest out of the girl. Boy was I embarrassed!
IN USA 04/25/2012
From Prince to Toad
I never thought I would be married to the ugly American. My husband is a prince, but this was his toadly moment. He missed our kids and was in a foul mood. We had been backpacking for 4 weeks with my sister in Europe. My sister and I with my husband in tow went out to dinner at the Beefeater in London. A Henry the VIII thing. Long night short, he had a drinking game with my teetotaler sister. A vulture to a kill.
He was a bear feeling no pain. She was stone drunk. The man on my right asked me what was my nationality and I said "guess!" He guessed right. I told him I had no idea how to get back to the hotel. He said normally he would drive us but tonight he was coming out to his dad. His dad was obliviously chatting up his sons boyfriend about the girls around the room. They left to beak the news and take dad to a gay bar. I had to find a cab willing to drive my violently ill sister and remorseful husband back to the hotel.
Did I mention I paid around 200 for THIS FUN EVENING.I tucked them both in there rooms with the trash cans by the beds. I took all their clothes (I was up til 3am doing laundry). I locked the laundry room door and thought I would wash what I had on too. I sat in my bra and undies till the wash was done. On my way past the front desk with the finished wash I saw a smirking male desk clerk and 5 TV monitors. One of them was for the laundry room. Not my best night.
Edmonds, wa USA 04/16/2012
I was attending Summer School at the University of Innsbruck in 1970. We would often take trips to restaurants and nightclubs in small villages, and we'd take along a rather swinging nun, Sister Juliet Mehan from Memphis, TN, to handle our "drinking money." One night, we were having a "rather great time", and I got the generic restroom signs mixed up. Sister Juliet walked into the Damen bathroom, saw me and screamed bloody murder. It was very memorable, and somewhat embarrassing.
St. Florian, AL USA 02/25/2012