Right now I am on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, clutching my stomach from food poisoning, acutely aware that I am not going to get any sleep, and I can't help but think that it was pretty stupid to eat the eggs at the cafe even though I knew full well that there was something funky going on. Then that got me thinking, could it be the stupidest thing I have seen or done whilst travelling? Sadly, after heading down that rabbit hole I gotta say not even close. Not even top ten. Here are some highlights in no particular order.
- PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC: GETTING TAXIS: I was on a spontaneous ten day break with my sister so I got some last minute tips from a friend who had lived in Prague. There was a lot of fun stuff to do, and great advice, but one rule was reiterated. Twice. "Do not get a taxi without asking the price". Of course it was raining when we arrived from Vienna, and there was a row of gleaming taxis beckoning us. It would have been rude not to. So we jumped in and gave him a piece of paper with the hotel name on it, and sat back. I still don't know how much we paid as it was a foreign currency that was new to me, but most likely enough for a nice dinner for him and the wife for the ten minute journey. Lesson learned. Later that night I was much wiser: I asked the taxi driver if he spoke English first. He shook his head, so we jumped in anyway, but it was ok, because he turned on the meter. In an out of the city we wove, until Mr. Taxi driver was bored. During that forty Euro cab ride we saw our hotel four times.
- CENTRAL AMERICA: TAKING A HOLIDAY ROMANCE HOME WITH ME: So I met a nice (enough) guy in Guatemala (an American) who was travelling with his mother and sister, which indicated to me that he had strong family values, not issues. He was good looking enough, and I was bored, which may explain why I overlooked the fact that he was late thirties, never married, no kids. Huge mistake. It was three weeks of fun, laden with huge, bright red flags that I chose to diligently ignore. Not only ignore, but then I took him home as a souvenir, didn't I? Apparently negative traits are not so forthcoming in the Caribbean, and once he got to Europe it became an exercise in catch and release.
- ST ANTON, AUSTRIA: DRY HUMPING A WOODEN KANGAROO WHILST WEARING A GREEN LYCRA SUIT: Let's just say, 6am on New Years morning may have been a reasonable time to call it a night. What compelled me to stay in the bar and then go directly to lunch still has me flummoxed. I do understand though, that once I had made that decision to go to lunch I had no choice but to power through. And I did, but as my meal was forgotten I went straight to the shots. Incapable of skiing, we got a taxi to Apres Ski at the Krazy Kangaruh, where for some reason a friend had a green lycra suit in her handbag (as you do). So I put it on. Backwards. But that was not enough. Seeing that nobody could see me (aside from the fact that they could as they had seen me arrive and the bar was pretty much empty) I figured it was my time to shine by doing push-ups on the tables. Still not enough: finally I was winning at life, so I went outside and started dry humping a wooden statue of a kangaroo, proving that it was in fact I who was the Krazy one. Never. Lived. It. Down.
- LAKE COMO, ITALY: MAKING A LONG DISTANCE PHONE CALL FROM MY ROOM: I was lonely and a little bit drunk. I was staying in Como by myself and it was my first time taking a holiday alone. Dinner was horrendous: the waiter grilled me about my intention to dine alone. Luigi, the little fucker, may as well have said, "Ha, do you feel humiliated yet? No? Well, let me give you a table in the middle of the restaurant where everyone will watch you and wonder why you would dine alone in one of the most romantic, scenic, overpriced places in the world. Got no friends huh? You sad reject." So in defiance I got drunk by myself, and increasingly lonely, so I went back to the hotel and called my sister. For an hour. Then I needed a cigarette, so I went and got one from the concierge, and smoked it, all the while without hanging up the phone in my room. Couldn't I simply have called her back? No, that would be too easy. The call cost more than my hotel room would have done for three nights, so I had to go home prematurely the next morning.
- BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA: PUTTING DUTY FREE BOOZE PURCHASES INTO NEAR EMPTY SUITCASE: I had to go back to Australia under trying circumstances at short notice during the middle of Winter in Austria. As it was such short notice, the only available flights had me up in the air for 38 hours. On the plus side though. it was the beginning of 2009 and the pound had just crashed, making Duty Free super cheap. So I bought two bottles of Bombay Sapphire Gin to accompany me. But when I got to Brisbane, I had to change to a domestic plane, meaning I couldn't have the booze in carry on. No worries, my suitcase was nearly empty, and what harm could come to two thinly wrapped bottles of Gin in an empty suitcase? When I got the the airport my mother queried whether I had been drinking the whole way, because I reeked of GIn. That little exercise cost me four hundred dollars in express dry cleaning.
- POMPEII, ITALY: SOME GUY TAKING PHOTOS IN THE RUINS USING A FLASH: So here we are, roaming the ruins in the ancient city of Pompeii, which is wonderfully preserved due to the fact that Mt. Vesuvius erupted all over it in 79AD. We were walking around what was a brothel, and some guy starts taking photos using a flash. There were signs and pictures everywhere in every language, making sure even a monkey could get the gist of no flash photography. Aside from this American monkey. I pointed out that it was forbidden, and he said that it was not for preservation as I stupidly suggested, but for the benefit of the photographers as the flash may cause a reflection on the perspex ruining the photo. I dobbed on him.
- GUATEMALA TO BELIZE: BORDER CROSSING IN A BOAT WITH NO RADIO: This one gets the food poisoning mention as tonight's episode has me safely in my room feeling sorry for myself. So we were at the Hostile Hostel in Guatemala and couldn't wait to leave. I had been throwing up all night in the outdoor toilet from home cooked tamales, but a travel day was still better than staying there for another night. The first boat ride went without a hitch, but somewhere between sitting on a dirty dock that reeked of petrol fumes and getting on a speed boat to go from Livingston to Belize, I stopped paying attention to logistics and concentrated on not throwing up. I was only jolted from my alternate universe when we hit a log going at full speed and the boat stopped dead. Thinking we were going to sink, I waited for him to use the radio for help: but there wasn't one.
- ST ANTON, AUSTRIA: GOING OFF PISTE WITHOUT CORRECT EQUIPMENT (NOT EVEN I AM THAT STUPID): I gotta say, this is more stupid than all the things I have ever done put together. Not even I am The amount of people that come to St Anton looking for fresh powder days with the intention of getting first tracks when they have not prepared properly is Darwin Nomination worthy: a plugged in toaster in the swimming pool has nothing on this! I cannot explain the extremity of my head shaking was when some older, slightly rotund English men were all sad that their friend was in hospital from a heart attack. Not only had he been out til four o'clock in the morning, but then he got up and went off piste by himself without avalanche gear. Genius.
- BUDAPEST, HUNGARY: GUESSING WHICH CUP THE BALL WAS UNDER UP AT THE CASTLE: I met up with a friend whom happens to be a good lawyer (suggesting intelligence) and has a Hungarian wife which means he should have known better. Sure, he had been ripped off on taxis Prague style, and to be fair I could have said something but it is hilarious watching others go through it. But him paying fifty Euro equivalent for a three block taxi was nothing compared to what he did up at the castle. There were some lovely old men whom had seen it all, with two balls and three cups (nothing kinky). My friend threw down a large sum of money, which the old men took as soon as they had done some jibbity jabbity boo shit that was blink or you'll miss it. I was still laughing whilst he did it twice more, same result, meaning he could not even pay local price for a taxi.
- BROOKLYN, NEW YORK: WRONG PART OF TOWN STROLL: Recently in New York I was looking for an Australian cafe in Bedford-Styvesant that I had read about, and for my weekly travel writing assignment I was doing, "A Round up of Australian Cafe's in New York". Of course I had looked at the map and knew where I was going. I just didn't know that you needed coins for a bus, so the driver would not take me. I was like, "No problem, I can walk anywhere because Brooklyn is now expensive and gentrified". So here I was, in my chocolate brown Prada boots, a leather satchel with my Mac Book air inside, and—well, frankly anything of value I brought may as well have been on display. It was not until about ten minutes of moseying and looking in awe at the brownstone houses that it occurred to me that this was no Bedford Avenue. Not. Even. Close. At last count I crossed the road ten times, with eyes on me the whole way. In this case, I even surprised myself with my level of stupid.
Please put your own stupidity stories in the comments section below.