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2023 Travel Hall of Infamy Awards
The Globe and Mail

In an uncertain world, it’s comforting to know one thing never changes: terrible tourist behaviour is the gift that keeps on giving. From offensive inflight odours to naked stage invasions, John Lee has scoured the globe for egregious examples of how not to leave home in our 39th annual Travel Hall of Infamy Awards.


The Clueless Carver Award

…goes to 27-year-old UK holidaymaker Ivan Dimitrov who immortalized his love for girlfriend Hayley in the time-honoured fashion: using a key, he scratched both their names on the nearest available surface. Unfortunately, that surface was an internal wall at Rome’s 2,000-year-old Colosseum. Italian police tracked down the self-absorbed scraper, who––when faced with possible jail time––maintained he hadn’t realized the antiquity of one of the world’s most famous historic buildings. Which might explain why he obliviously allowed an onlooker to film his idiotic vandalism in a viral video that was handily useful in catching him.


The We Didn’t Do It Award

…goes to an Air France passenger en route to Toronto who noticed a nostril-assaulting aroma beneath his seat. Since that’s where his co-travelling cats were ensconced in their carriers, he assumed there was an unexpected item in the feline bottom area. But a quick check revealed the moggies were blameless, and the smell-from-hell was coming from a 50cm-wide stain that looked like human blood and diarrhea––presumably left by a stomach-addled previous passenger. Attendants handed over some wet wipes and rubber gloves before backing away, while the cats held their noses for the remainder of the flight.


The Sozzled Sleepover Award

…goes to two US tourists who enjoyed an evening Eiffel Tower visit, before descending the staircase to return to their hotel. That’s when our well-oiled Kronenbourg connoisseurs decided to swap the prospect of fluffy duvets for an impromptu night with La dame de fer. The next morning, unamused security guards found them wedged into an out-of-bounds area between the tower’s second and third levels, requiring a speciliast fire fighter crew to recover them. Paris prosecutors later told AFP the clueless snoozers “appear to have got stuck because of how drunk they were.”


The Parents of the Year Award

…goes to a couple at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport who weren’t happy when Ryanair staff insisted they buy a ticket for their baby and the car seat he was travelling in. Rather than whipping out a credit card and begrudginly paying, the pair dumped the diaper-clad infrequent flyer at the desk and continued on to security, preseumably delighted to be finally free of all those pesky childcare duties for their upcoming trip. After calling police, airport staff tracked down the couple and reunited them with their abanoned infant who probably would have prefered to fly business class anyway.


The Show Must Go on Award

…goes to a 28-year-old German tourist in Bali who was so annoyed to discover there weren't any seats left for the sacred cultural performance she wanted to see at a Bali temple, that she did what any desperate drama queen would do: she barged through the gate, stripped off all her clothes and jumped on stage. Viral video of her spotlight-hogging routine shows her sashaying between the stunned dancers and ascending some steps before returning to face the audience for what she perhaps thought would be a standing ovation––but which was actually detention by furious temple staff who later handed her over to police.


The No Brain No Brainer Award

…goes to two Yellowstone National Park visitors who pooh-poohed warning signs for a quality time encounter with a roiling, steam-shrouded hot spring (average temperature: 172 degrees Fahrenheit or 78 degrees Celsius). A social media video posted by an incredulous bystander shows a woman holding the hand of her dolt-brained associate as she kneels on the edge of the bubbling pond of infinite pain, looking like she might topple in at any moment. Instead, she dips in her fingers, springs back and runs away yelling, “It’s very hot.” The park’s website confirms her hands-on assessment, noting, “Water in hot springs can cause severe or fatal burns.”


The I’m Soooooo Bored Award

…goes to a Canadian teenager who was visiting the 8th-century Toshodaiji Temple in Nara, Japan with his parents. Eye-rollingly unimpressed by the revered UNESCO World Heritage Site––­­or perhaps just unable to locate a Wi-Fi signal––he was spotted by fellow visitors using his fingernail to carve the name “Julian” on a wooden pillar in the Golden Hall. Later questioned by police for allegedly violating Japan’s cultural properties protection laws, he claimed he had not intended any harm. Interviewed by The Mainichi newspaper, a temple monk (perhaps through gritted teeth) described the incident as “regrettable and sad.”


The Everything That Isn’t Nailed Down Award

…goes to the couple at a newly opened Wales hotel who checked in without any luggage but departed the next day with a surfeit of suspiciously bulging plastic bags. When staff later serviced the room, they found that the grasping guests had apparently purloined everything––including towels, lamps, a kettle, an electric fan and even the TV remote. Hotel owner Natalie Newton later discovered CCTV footage of the couple struggling down the stairs with their stash and loading up their car, footage she later shared with police. “The only thing they didn’t take,” she told the Daily Mail, “were the shampoo and soaps.”


The Selfie Snapper Award

…goes to the ever-so-slightly-tipsy tourist at the grand Brussels Stock Exchange building who wanted to wow passersby by scaling one of the statuary lions adorning its 150-year-old exterior. Video shared by the Irish Times shows him descending gingerly after his feline-straddling triumph and––fatefully––resting all his weight on the slender arm of an adjoining statue of a torch-wielding man. Not surprisingly, torch guy responds with a cracking sound as his arm snaps off and plummets to the ground. Recently restored in a three-year, $130 million project, the building’s owners noted the statue repair would cost an additional $25,000––and they knew exactly where to send the bill.


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