When we got back from break, instead of immediately leaping into public service television and liberalization my European News Media prof spent the first half-hour of class with a challenge: who in the room had the funniest travel break story? Here is my mostly-accurate retelling of the two best stories, which each got a prize.
Hunter and a friend were in Istanbul. While they were there, Hunter decided to go to a Turkish bath--I mean, when you're visiting Turkey, you're like obligated to! The Turkish baths mentioned in his guidebook were kinda expensive, though, so Hunter decided to go to one down the street from his hostel which was like half the price.
So he sits down with his towel in the first room, a sauna. He notices that the Turkish guys in there are kinda looking at him funny. He figures it's just because he's a tourist.
He then notices that one of them is masturbating. O-kay... He finds this odd, but as a tourist...maybe that's just what some guys do in Turkish baths? Besides, he'd already paid good money to get in!
After a few minutes, Hunter proceeds to the next room, which had pools of water and such. It also had Turkish guys giving each other blowjobs. Oh dear. By this point, he figured out: hey, it's a gay Turkish bath!
When one of the gay dudes starts splashing him with water, trying to get his attention, Hunter finally decides to leave.
Moral of the story: When you're a tourist and don't know what the heck is going on, just suck it up and pay full price. Especially when it's an activity that involves quantities of mostly-nude men.
Steven and a friend had been backpacking in Italy and were planning to meet some friends the next day in Paris. So they went to the station to take the night train there. They hadn't made any reservations--they'd never had any trouble getting a seat on a train before. Unfortunately, the conductor told them that the train was full. For Steven and his buddy, this was not an option. They'd already booked the hostel and everything in Paris; it was too late to cancel.
The conductor let them on the train and said they could look through the cars to see if there were any openings. There weren't. Then the conductor came back and said that he had a place for them (probably the conductor's bed or something), but it would cost them twice the normal rate. They thought that was ridiculous, declined, and said they would be fine just hanging out in the hallway or whatever. The conductor, however, said that that was not an option--even if he were willing to let them, the customs guys would kick them out as soon as they hit the French border. He told them to get off at the next stop, then left.
Leaving was not an option. Instead, the two boys, with their backpacks, crammed themselves into one of the toilets.
There was only room enough for one to sit; the other had to stand. They switched places every half-hour or so. When they heard customs get on board, they unlocked the door so it would say "vacant" instead of "occupied." They did this for ten hours, the whole time terrified of getting found out by the officers, the conductor, or an incontinent passenger.
The expression on the conductor's face, when he saw Steven and his buddy disembark in Paris the next morning, was fabulous.
Moral of the story: Heck if I know. But there's no question that Steven deserved first place, for surviving ten hours in a train bathroom if not the sheer guts for attempting it in the first place. Damn.