Friday, December 18, 2009

Dumb things I do when traveling

I started writing this sometime in September, but never quite finished

I should make a list of all the stupid, embarrassing moments that have occurred on this trip. This is inspired partly by lurching towards the thoroughly uninteresting ramblings of Jean Jacques Rousseau's Confessions, partly by the fact that these have occurred more frequently of late. They're more embarrassing than stupid, since they've resulted in a fair number of free things. So far, I've obtained a handful of free streetcar rides in Hungary and a free trip to St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna.

You see, public transit in Budapest works on the honour system. The first time I got on a streetcar there, I couldn't find anywhere to pay by cash. So, as is sometimes the case in China, I expected someone to come to me and ask for money. At the end of the ride that hadn't happened, so I quickly snuck off the streetcar and pretended that hadn't happened. Then I learned about the tickets you buy and how to punch them, except that the punching machines aren't easy to use and not easy to find on a packed streetcar. I probably rode for free four times, plus a free bus ride when the driver didn't have any tickets to sell me.

Here in Vienna, I wandered into St. Stephen's Cathedral from the exit, took some pictures, sat around, gazed at the beautiful interior and then wandered all the way back to the ticket-checking booth, and then practically ran out as fast as I could.

Here are some other mistakes, written just now:

I wandered Yushu, China, quite literally all of it, while searching for an Internet cafe. I asked pretty much everyone I saw where it was, getting a different answer each time.

While in Yushu I paid $12 to stay in a hotel with no shower and flies in the bathroom. Altitude sickness kept me from checking out to the $4-per-night English-speaking hostel with showers and friendly travelers. I guess it was an authentic experience.

In London, I mistook a shapely but stationary woman in a bright red sari for a mailbox.

In Munich, I ended up at a subway station. The ticket machine wouldn't take my credit card, or my 20-euro bill. I rode for free, sorry Munich. This is where the TTC's ticket sellers could have helped.

I got left holding the bag for two people's dinner in Kyrgyzstan. The bill came to about 100 Kyrgyz som. Fortunately, that's about $2.50.

In Belgium, my uncle drove me to the train station. I considered trying out my French (un billet si vous plait). I let him handle things though. The price for what had been a 16-euro trip was 33 euros this time. I found out later that I'd bought two tickets.

I blew 15 pounds by buying the wrong ticket at Buckingham Palace. Instead of touring the palace, I bought a ticket to see the artwork of the palace.

I ate a lot of Chinese food in Budapest. I think I had maybe one meal that was neither Turkish nor Chinese. I also took a $50 taxi ride to the train station one morning.

I think I also made some mistakes in Kingston, Ontario earlier this month that offended the locals, but I'm not too sure what they were.

No comments: