Enter Our Bill Bryson Sweepstakes
This sweepstakes is now closed. Congratulations to our winners:
Our editors will be contacting you shortly to send you your prize.
Reading a Bill Bryson book is a great way to instantly become an expert on the topic at hand. He has a knack for introducing a subject's most ridiculous traits, quirkiest historical characters, and absurd events in a way that manages to paint a strikingly accurate overall picture. His travel stories are hilarious and memorable accounts of his personal experiences in each destination, peppered with fun facts you'll want to know before setting off on your own vacation.
In honor of the release of Bryson's new book, At Home, we're giving away five Broadway Abroad tote bags filled with three of Bryon's humorous musings. Whether you're heading Down Under, taking a hike on the Appalachian Trail, or just going about your day to day errands, these books are sure to please any travel junkie:
In a Sunburnt Country
Bryson chronicles his travels around the vast country of Australia, from boogie boarding at Sydney's beaches to drinking beer in a scorching Outback pub, and discovers a land where the people are friendly, a prime minister can vanish without a trace, and nearly every animal on the continent is trying to kill you.
A Walk in the Woods
Bryson's story about The Appalachian Trail documents his attempt to walk the 2,100-mile route from Georgia to Maine, and perhaps more memorably, introduces the stream of outrageous characters with whom he shares his journey.
I'm A Stranger Here Myself
After a 20-year stint in England, Bryson returns to live in the United States only to find that the things that seem so commonplace to most Americans—accents, garbage disposals, and Thanksgiving—might not be so normal after all.
How to Enter
To enter our giveaway, we want to hear about your funniest travel moment. Tweet your story to @fodorstravel or leave a comment below for your chance to win. Winners will be announced on Monday October 11.
- Offer applies to U.S. residents 18 years or older only
- One Broadway Abroad bag containing one copy of In a Sunburt Country, A Walk in the Woods, and I'm A Stranger Here Myself will be awarded to each of five randomly-selected participants
- Offer expires at 11:59 PM EST on Sunday October 10
- Limit one entry per person
- Official rules
Member Comments (17) Post a Comment
On my first visit to Hong Kong, some girlfriends and I took a day trip to Macau. We took a local bus and missed our stop but decided to just see where it took us and we had fun exploring the black sand beach. We then took the bus the other way, and this time knew where to get off. We were going to follow a "self-guided walking tour" I'd found on a website, but feeling peckish we decided to stop in a bakery first. We had the most delicious egg tarts. We followed the walking tour for a couple of hours while my girlfriends exclaimed, we have to get to Lord Stow's - they invented the portugese tart. We found it a couple hours later - it was our first stop but in our hunger, we had completely missed their signage. No worries, we bought another half dozen of the tasty tarts!
On a recent trip to Italy, my husband and I decided to drive to Sirmione on Lake Garda. We had a reservation at a hotel within the walls of this medieval village/castle, of which I had only read about. When you arrive by car, and with a reservation, the local police allow you to enter with your car across the drawbridge. What they don't tell you is that you will then be driving under conditions similar to those you might find if you were allowed to pull into Cinderella's castle at Disneyland. The streets are narrow pedestrian-filled affairs and cars are rare. People literally have to move out of their place in line at the gelato stands in order to let your car go by, and the possibility of running over any number of creatures is real and limitless. Somehow we made it to the hotel (which required a few tries, since directions are as rare as traffic signals). To our relief, the hotel takes your car at this point and parks it. You can then relax and become one of the wary pedestrians of this beautiful spot in northern Italy.
My husband and I boarded the train for a day trip to Versailles from Paris. The train took off, then stopped at an underground station. Everyone else got off, but we stayed in our seats - our directions said this was the right train. After a few moments, someone leaned down and rapped on the window. We looked up and they gestured for us to get off the train. We came off to see what they wanted to tell us, and when we said "Versailles," they pointed in another direction to a different train. We boarded the different train and arrived at Versailes post haste! Had we not heeded these kind strangers, we might have still been sitting there waiting for the train to take off to Versailles!
My husband and I were living in Australia for 3 years while teaching high school. His parents came
to visit and we toured them around Australia and then on to New Zealand. His father (a very jovial man) saw many large trout in Queenstown and wanted to feed them. Upon asking a local resident what they liked to eat, the gentlemen replied: "mince". Of course, my father-in-law thought it was "mints" so directly went off to the local shop and bought some after dinner mints and joyously fed the fish - of course, they had nothing to do with the candy. He had no idea mince was hamburger meat. We are sure the New Zealanders (kiwis) are still having a great laugh about the "nutty American".
While visiting my Aunt in Japan, my family decided to hike Fuji-san to see the sunrise. What we thought would be a nice, meditative walk turned into a climb from hell. The volcanic rocks were wet and slippery, the path almost invisible in the (very) early morning and altitude sickness quickly set in. To make things worse, groups of 80 year old Japanese people were passing us at every switchback, the tinkling bells of their hiking sticks fading into the dark. At one of the tiny tea houses about 1/4 of the way from the summit my Mother thought she was going to be violently ill. My Aunt started asking the Japanese proprietor "Where is your Binju? Can we use your Binju? Binju?!" The Japanese man looked horrified. After some all too graphic gesturing and broken Japanese he brought my Mother to the bathroom, an outhouse precariously hanging over the side of the mountain.
Later in the trip, we were mortified to learn from a Japanese friend that ‘Binju’ is not to be used in polite conversation. It’s a slang phrase that roughly translates to “Where’s your shitter?” No wonder the tea house owner looked so shocked.
I don't know if this is my funniest but it happened just 2 days ago. I had to leave my Oxford, England B & B to catch the early bus to Heathrow. I decided to grab a yogurt and a banana from the B & B to have later once I got to the airport. There were sups/saucers and teaspoons provided in our rooms for tea. Needing a spoon for my yogurt I took one. I felt bad the whole way to Heathrow about stealing a spoon. After using it I placed it in my jacket pocket thinking I could return it on a future trip. Unpacking the next day, I found the spoon and washed it. When I turned it over, I found it had come from British Airways!!! Gave me quite the laugh.
While vacationing in Europe my husband and I who live in N.C. were having dinner in a restaurant in Innsbruck,Austria. As we were waiting for our food to arrive a man passed by our table that I recognized. I said to my husband, "wasn't that your friend from clock repair class"? (They had attended the same class and also assisted one another a few times on the repair of clocks for friendsas a hobby). My husband replied that he didn't see the man, but as luck would have it when the man returned to his table in the next room he saw us sitting there and said to my husband, "Harold, what the h_ _ _ are you doing here? Just so happened he was traveling with a group from the local community college and we were dining at the same restaurant thousands of miles away from home. My husband went to the next room and spoke to the group and knew several of the people who were traveling. Like they say "it's a small world afterall".
I was visiting my brother and sisterinlaw near Frankfurt, Germany and bravely took a train one day by myself into the city. I needed to switch to a bus to get to the Frankfurt zoo, so successfully found the bus and after 1 minute ride, everyone got off, and the bus driver shouted something to me and left the bus. I sat there wondering what he said - Nein being one of only German words beside sauerkraut that I knew,and had no idea what he had said. I didn't know where I was, should I get off to find a phone and call my sister in law or stay on bus? I got off to look in some store windows, and the bus driver came along (after his tea break?) shouted something to me, and I got back on bus and made it to the zoo finally!
I had just arrived in Paris. I handed over my passport and the official didn't stamp it, just looked at it and gave it back and waved me on. I was standing with a couple of guys I met on the train and we all wanted our passports stamped but none of us had enough French to verbally request that. We were all pantomiming stamping a passport but he would not stamp our passports. I imagine we looked pretty funny.
My wife and I were on our 1st trip out of the country in Nassau in 1968. We rented a scooter and were traveling around the island wearing bathing suits. The scooter broke down and a dump truck stopped to help. The natives couldn't get the scooter started so they put it in the back of the truck and we got in the cab. They gave us a ride back to the rental office. Turns out they were in a fude with a rival and the rival had put sugar in the gas tank. The experience has given us many smiles in our 44 years of marriage.
We were sightseeing in Nara, Japan. All over there were lots of school children on field trips since Nara is a very historic town. At one of the museums there was a group of children maybe around 8 years or so old. Two little boys pointed at me and my friend and starting laughing. We smiled back. They found something very funny as they kept laughing,putting their hands on their mouth, bending forward, sometimes jumping slightly or just moving around hysterically. We were right in front of them, so we enjoyed looking at them and smiling too. Soon we sat down on nearby benches. The students came there too, still the boys were giggling and by now the entire group was looking at us and laughing a lot. I could not resist asking the teacher what is making these students so happy that they keep laughing. She explained that she had asked them and found out that they were suprised to see foreigners who look different. The boys Had told their teacher,"they have such big eyes!" Teacher said she had talked to them and reminded them to be polite and well mannered. But these boys were just having a great time. We enjoyed the incident so much and realized that we really do look so different from the Japanese and for little kids we really are some aliens from some far away land. We cherish the funny but very memorable incident.
On the Last night of our honeymoon at Anse Chastenet on St. Lucia, my new husband and I forgot to close the louvers that made up two walls of our room before we went to dinner. As we returned to our room through the door, a giant spider entered from the other side via the open louvers. Giant is a little bit of an understatement…the only thing big enough in the room to catch it would have been the ice bucket. My husband grabbed the closest thing at hand – my tennis shoe – and approached the spider, weapon held aloft. I did point out that using my shoe to kill the spider was probably not a very good idea. I think I suggested that you can’t kill a mouse with a shoe so why did he think that killing a spider bigger than a mouse would be successful? He took one swift swing, and with all 8000 eyes, the spider saw my very white shoe headed directly for it, jumped to the side at the last second and ran under the bed. I raced to the bed to pull the pillows and bedspread away from the wall so that I could see if the spider was headed up the wall and in between the sheets. There was no sign of him so I suggested we go into the bathroom and that maybe, just maybe, if the coast was clear and the room was quiet, the spider would leave. I’m sure it was very comical to see the two of us peering around the corner, watching for the spider. It only took about 5 minutes and the spider made a mad dash for the louvered wall. My DH was one step behind, released the pin and quickly closed the louvers behind it. We raced along the walls closing all the other louvers as quickly as we could and laughed for the next twenty minutes!
After waiting in line at the the tour desk in my small hotel in the Australian outback, I introduced myself to the young lady sitting behind the counter. While I had grown accustomed to the warm and friendly Australians, her greeting exceeded anything I had encountered to date. She favored me with an almost blinding smile, and informed me that she'd been looking forward to my arrival for weeks. This anticipation of my visit represented a level of customer service and VIP treatment that exceeded even my wildest expectations. I had just persuaded myself that it must be my accent, and started seriously considering moving permanently to Australia, when her next comment threw me completely off guard. "I cannot wait for you to take my confession", she said, treating me to another blinding smile, "when can we start". Well, from there it look a little bit of working out, but it turned out that coincidentally, I shared my name with a Catholic Priest who was arriving at the hotel on the same day. The young lady, who lacked access to a Priest in the small outback town, had apparently made some advanced arrangement him to hear confession while he was staying in the town. A simple, funny, but potentially awkward case of mistaken identity.
My husband and I were camping in the Tiergrten camping ground outside Munich. One evening while I was in the toilet block, I heard another Australian voice and clearly recognised it as Avonne a member of our ski club. However, I could not remember her name at the time and so came out to see if I could recognise her in the gloom or any of her friends that she generally skiied with. However, when I came out, she had obviously gone in. So off I went to find my husband and tell him that someone from the ski club was here. It took a long time to get him to identify who I was talking about and then he did not believe me - imagination working overtime and all that. He went around the camping ground trying to find her without any luck. When we returned to Australia we met Avonne at the ski club and I asked her whether she was Munich on a particular day and she said she was and she was at the camping ground with a tour group! It's a small world!
angiedyer on oct.9th at 6.00am. I do not have any photos for this particular 'event'. but I do have one hell of a good story. A couple of years ago several of the Nurses that worked in the Emergency Dept. of a major hospital here in the states went to paris. On one of the days we were there we had been to visit the Louvre, after an all day outing of walking and seeing all the magnificent things in the Louvre, we just wanted to get something to eat and go back to our hotel and crash! In a small restaurant we ordered our meal, and I decided I had to go to the bathroom, so I headed toward the door of the restroom, to which there was no one in there at the time luckily for me!!! All I saw were urinals hanging on the walls, so I thought to myself, that I was not going to show my ignorance by not knowing how to use 'the restroom' in Paris. I pulled my pants down and 'squatted' into the urinal the best I could. well, right in the middle of when I was 'using' the bathroom a group of men walked in the restroom and bursted out laughing! realizing the mistake I had made of going in to the men's restroom, I was absolutely horrified!!! but, there was nothing I could do about it now. So I began to gather my wits about me. I quickly stood up, pulled my pants up and acted like nothing was wrong. After I stood up I recieved a standing ovation, to which I quickly took a bow and almost broke the door trying to get out of the 'mens room' I bet all of those men thought I had, had a little to much to drink, when in fact I had not had a thing except water! there's no telling WHAT I would have done if I had, had anything to drink! I got a bigger laugh from my fellow Nurses when I told them what I had done, i think this was my MOST memorable event while in Paris!!!!!!!!!
My funny travel story is brief. I am on a night train from Milan to Paris. I am in a six person car, which includes myself, my husband, two guys from Korea, girl headed back to the states and a very loud French woman. It is August, and the air conditioning is broken. The French woman is talking to her Italian boyfriend saying over and over "Ciao Bebe." Everyone was trying to at least pretend to sleep, but we ended up breaking out in giggles over the insistent "Ciao bebe. J'adore."
Fodor's Top News & Features
- 15 Festivals to Attend Before You Die
- 10 Best National Parks to Visit This Winter
- Fodor's 2013 Holiday Gift Guides
- Fodor's 2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Under $100
- 10 Cheeses Worth Traveling For
- World's 10 Best Ski Towns for Foodies
- Fodor's 2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers
- Incredible Private Pools at 7 Worldwide Hotels
- Top 15 Warm-Weather Resorts for Families
- Fodor's 2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Kids
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe
- $525 -- Luxe Rio de Janeiro Resort over New Year's EveSheraton Rio Hotel & Resort
- $699 & up -- Cancun All-Inclusive Beach Escape w/AirApple Vacations
- $949 & up -- Caribbean: 7-Nt. Cruise on World's Largest ShipRoyal Caribbean
- $599 & up -- Weeklong Southern Caribbean CruiseRoyal Caribbean
- $849 & up -- Westin Maui 3-Nt. Vacation w/AirPleasant Holidays