September 26, 2011


David Ellis

SOME people just can't seem to break with habit, even when taking a holiday.

A colleague overhead an English fellow at a camp-site in Switzerland bemoaning to a captive at the bar about the camp's lack of 'proper' food. "It's awful," he growled. "They didn't even understand when I ordered egg and chips for lunch – they served me a boiled egg and some thin strips of potato that when I asked, they said were called Pomme Fritz…"

He's not alone.

Tourists from France expect the world to speak French. Those from the south of the United State are amazed that the few others anywhere else eat grits. And Aussies – well don't get us going on the lack of Vegemite in 5-star resorts in 'Vegas and the United Nations...

Thomas Cooks, arguably the most famous travel company in the world, has been receiving bizarre complaints from tourists ever since 1871 when Mr Cook took 570 people by train from Leicester in the Midlands of England to a temperance rally 15km away.

The success of the venture prompted Cook to start arranging other trips for all sorts of people – not just for those who had forsaken alcohol – including an amazing round-the-world tour in 1872 that took 222-days and for which he charged 200 guineas.
Today the company manages the travel plans of 19-million customers annually, and staff patiently deal with those who don't quite seem to understand how petty are some of their travel gripes.

Like the fellow who went back to England quite irate about the Mediterranean tradition of siesta. "It's lazy of the local shopkeepers to close in the afternoons," he wrote. "I often needed to buy things during this time. It should be banned."

Another wrote: "I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local stores do not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts," while one grizzled: "We booked an excursion to a water park, but no-one told us we had to take swimming costumes."

And when a guest at a Novotel in Australia complained his soup was too thick and strong, the waitress pointed out he was eating the main course gravy.

Another: "On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don't like spicy food at all."

And how about this bloke. "The beach was too sandy… it was not yellow like the sand in the brochure, it was quite white."

And the beach proved a worry for another family. "No-one told us there would be fish in the sea. The children were quite startled."

Then there was the tourist at an African game lodge who spotted an aroused elephant, and complained to Cooks that the sight of this rampant beast ruined his honeymoon by making him feel "inadequate."
Maybe he would have got sympathy from a woman who bemoaned: "My holiday was totally ruined by topless sunbathing. My husband spent all day looking at other women."

Spain seems to cause the Brits the most angst. "We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish," one holidaymaker scribbled.  "And there are too many Spanish people," wrote another. "The receptionist spoke Spanish. The food was Spanish. There were too many foreigners."

And the couple who came home with more than they left with: "My fiancé and I booked a twin-bedded room but were placed in a double-bedded room. We hold you responsible that I now find myself pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room we booked."

And two trainee hairdressers asked before leaving England if they would have trouble staying at a particular resort, because the brochure stated "No hairdressers at the resort," while another lady wrote: "I compared the size of our one-bedroom apartment to our friends' three-bedroom apartment, and ours was significantly smaller."
Then there is travelling to and from your destination: "It took our American friends only three hours to fly home from Jamaica, but it took us nine hours to England because we are English."

And finally: "We bought 'Ray-Ban' sunglasses for $5 from a street trader, only to find out later they were fake."

Some mothers do 'ave 'em.





[] SPAIN: "The Receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish, there were  too many foreigners."

[] RAMPANT male elephant made one honeymooner feel he was  "inadequate."

[] OFF the menu in Swiss holiday camp: English favourite egg and chips.

[] JAMAICA: "Only three hours for Americans to fly home, but nine hours for us to England because we are English."


(Photos: Spain, South Africa, Jamaica Tourism Boards/Bureaux)


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