Thanks to everyone who sent in their own Idiot Abroad experience for our Karl Pilkington competition. We had lots and lots of entries, so choosing just ten was very tricky. However, here are the winners who will each receive a copy of Karl’s book and DVD, courtesy of our friends and Canongate Books.
And the winning idiots are…
My idiot abroad moment came when I was lucky enough to have the money to take my daughter to a Bon Jovi concert in Madrid. I booked my flights there and back so had no need for accommodation I thought.
The flight there was terrifying to me (fine for everyone else), so much so I refused to get the plane back. After a huge over the phone argument with my husband I hired a car and drove home. £360 later I’m never allowed to go to an overseas gig again.
My studies included a year abroad in the Peruvian rainforest to write a dissertation. I realised that buying a laptop would help so I asked the guy who owned a solar panel if I could charge my laptop at it. He laughed.
I asked if I could charge for free; he was in hysterics. This went on for 10 minutes as in my halting Spanish I couldn’t work out why he was laughing. It was only later when I found out instead of the Spanish for ‘charge’ (cargar) I had used the word ‘cagar’ which is a lot ruder!
Ed’s note: ‘cagar’ is a verb meaning ‘to sh*t’
Years ago in Almeria Spain, in the middle of nowhere, we were thirsty, walked miles looking for a shop or bar to no avail. I walked on ahead, my family flagging in the heat behind me. I found a bar at last and got everyone inside out of the heat and went up to the counter to order the drinks. The man behind the counter backed away looking terrified and an elderly lady sat in the corner looked scared. I had in fact walked into someone’s kitchen; we couldn’t get out of there quick enough!
Even though my husband is not fluent in any foreign languages this does not deter him. In France he can get by with arm gestures and the occasional word like "Peugeot, Renault or Citroen". However when we were in Lanzarote hiring a car and the chap was explaining where the spare wheel and jack were, my husband , arms folded replied "Tres bien!" (Del Boy style). I had to walk away.
He once asked for two portions of ‘Sansui’ in Chinatown. It’s a stereo system!
I got a job working in Italy as a club rep, booked a flight and left. I didn’t take much money as back up, thinking I would make loads of money there. I was terrible at the job – no one spoke English so it was impossible.
Managed to flick a fag in my eye and a dog called Elmo peed on my suitcase. Tried to get home but my card had been cancelled. What an idiot for going abroad and not taking cash!
In Montana, my friend and I decided to go horse-riding. My horse had a Western-style saddle over a blanket. During the ride over fairly uneven ground, the blanket slipped further and further sideways until eventually I was at 90 degrees to the horse, hanging on for grim death. When the cowboy in charge came back to rescue me, he discovered the only thing holding me onto the horse was my bra which was caught on the pommel! Unhooking me cost me any dignity I had left.
Emma Ryan, Brighton
I ate a horrible local dish in a tiny, traditional Greek restaurant once in Kefalonia. I washed it down with what I thought was water. It was Ouzo. I then leaned over the table and threw up. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I threw up on the house cat. We promptly left.
When I was in New York a few years ago, a stranger approached me and asked if I wanted Coke. "Actually I would really like a Fanta!" I replied. He was standing close to a soft drink stall and gave me a baffled look as he walked away shaking his head! How was I supposed to know he was the friendly local drug dealer?
On arriving in Spain, I noticed on the luggage carousel that someone’s knickers had fallen out of a case and were being paraded in front of everyone. I burst out laughing and pointed it out to everyone, only to then realise they were in fact my knickers! Needless to say, I left them behind and made a quick exit.
Imagine the beautiful Spanish countryside drive from Sevilla to Cadiz, all 128km of it, through meandering roads and Rioja soaked fields, looking forward to a dip in the hotel pool as you arrive in sunny Cadiz, only to realise your passport is hidden under the TV back in Sevilla. Joy. The déjà vu drive back and forth was not so delightful.