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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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