Don't Even Go There—Travel Writing for the Rest of Us

Even if the world is your oyster, you can still chip a tooth on its shell. While travel magazines feature exotic locales of breathtaking beauty, we expose sites so depressing that no traveler this side of Edgar Allan Poe would venture there without a tub-load of tranquilizers. Take Las Vegas (please) and the $5.99 all-you-can-eat buffet line at Sam’s Town. That's the world we explore at Don’t Even Go There.

On this site, we tell of places we’ve visited but wish we hadn’t. We reveal vacation plans gone awry and relate horror stories from the road best abandoned. These true stories reflect where we’ve chosen to go. We only have ourselves to blame. We rarely needed to exaggerate—the truth really is stranger than a Dan Brown novel.

Don’t Even Go There: travel tips for those of us who aren’t escorted by security guards, pampered by wealthy benefactors, or provided a generous per diem. This blog is for seasoned travelers and armchair tourists who want the real world first-hand and head-on, with all its drama, horror, and humor. You’ll laugh at us, cry with us, and decide to stay home more often.

10 October 2010

Embarrassing Travel Moment of the Month

This month, we introduce a new feature here at Don’t Even Go There. We’ve put this off as long as possible, but these stories keep piling up. Each trip we take contributes another sad story to the backlog. As always, we hope you learn from our mistakes. Maybe you’ll even laugh at our expense. Go ahead. We don’t care. We’re over it. We’ve moved on. Really, we’re . . . oh God. Did we really do that? —MB & JS
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Many years ago, during our college days, we had the opportunity to travel abroad. You can find some of these twisted tales here on our blog. What you won’t find is this particular story because we’ve never shared it before. We’ve never even told our best friends. It was categorized as “Need to Know,” and of course, no one ever needed to know what really happened.

In our defense, we were victims of a series of events that led, one after another, ultimately to our demise. Looking back on it, we could have prevented this mishap any number of ways. But we didn’t. We just went along with the flow.

The date was Thursday, 3 July 1980. The place was Munich, Germany. As Americans in a foreign land, the fourth of July was just another day. But, we decided, we had to celebrate somehow. We had secured tickets to see the legendary Frank Zappa in the Olympiapark that night. What could be better? Zappa was as American as apple pie and baseball.

That afternoon, however, we settled in to watch Wimbledon tennis on the telly with an Irish acquaintance. He brought with him a fifth of Johnny Walker Black. We proceeded to dip into it with gusto, three fingers at a time. We stayed longer than we should have, but somehow made it onto a bus headed for the Olympic Village on time for the show, with our tickets. That was the last good decision we made.

Memories are a little vague after reaching the concert site, but at some point during the festivities, Mark lost his wallet. That was bad enough, but it led to an embarrassing travel moment that still makes us cringe. After retracing our steps without luck, we must have looked like lovelorn saps because no fewer than three pretty German girls stopped to ask us why we had such long faces after such a great concert.

Our German language skills were fairly sharp at that point. We had conquered the tortured grammar. We were conversant. But we were also stupifyingly drunk. We wanted to say that we had lost a wallet. The German word for wallet is “Brieftasche.” That’s what we meant to say. Instead, we used the word “Taschentuch.” Taschentuch. For those you who haven’t studied German, it means handkerchief.

No wonder those girls abandoned us. We’d have done the same. So instead of spending a night of solace in the company of sweet, caring, nubile natives, we experienced a night of confusion, hurt, and yes, poverty. Ouch.

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