“There are no stupid questions, just stupid people” — Mr Garrison, South Park.
Whether it’s prompted by the uncomfortable feeling of the unfamiliar or the disengaging of the brain whilst on holiday, tourists can say some of the stupidest, and for that matter, the funniest things. Research painstakingly collated by VisitBritain, US National Parks Guides, English Heritage, Thomas Cook Holidays and the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has revealed some of the most hilarious and ridiculous outbursts from tourists abroad.
A visiting American to British shores was overhead asking a tour guide with no hint of irony: “Why did they build Windsor Castle on the flight path to Heathrow?”
Comedian Eddie Izzard once remarked, “I’m from Europe, you know, where the history comes from.” However, in a land where a castle is a fluted, turreted affair created by an animator at Disney, it’s perhaps no surprise that a tourist to Whitby Abbey in North Yorkshire asked: “Why did they build so many ruined castles and abbeys in England?”
The icing on the cake though was a New Yorker who, having sat through the first half of Shakespeare’s Othello at the Globe Theatre in London said to his friend in the interval: “Gee, this Shakespeare dude is tough, I wasn’t expecting so many words and stuff.”
When not asking stupid questions, Brits seem only too happy to make stupid complaints. A British tourist having come back from a holiday in Tenerife complained about the opening times of local businesses on the island: “It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time — this should be banned.”
After taking a holiday to Goa, a region of India famous for its spicy food, where fish curry is a staple of the diet, a traveller wrote to complain: “I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food at all.”
One disgruntled wife wrote to her tour operator after a cheap holiday in Tenerife went spectacularly wrong for the couple: “Topless sunbathing on the beach should be banned. The holiday was ruined as my husband spent all day looking at other women.”
However, this comment was topped by another female who felt her holiday had been ruined by the bedding arrangements in her hotel room: “My fiance and I booked a twin-bedded room, but we were placed in a double-bedded room. We now hold you responsible for the fact that I find myself pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked.”