It’s common for tourists to find themselves in unfamiliar territory, where cultural norms and expectations differ significantly from those back home. Sometimes, these differences lead to comical, absurd, and downright outrageous encounters that leave locals scratching their heads in confusion. Here are 11 such encounters shared by United Kingdom locals on an online forum.
1. The Constitutional Crusade
One user says, “I’m British, but this happened in Germany as I was flying home once. While checking in, I became aware of an American family of four, at the next check-in, who were getting very aggressive with the lady on the desk.” The family had excessive carry-on luggage and insisted on their “constitutional right” to bring all on board.
In return, the clerk told them, “Not here, you don’t.” It’s safe to say they did not make it to their destination.
2. An Absurd Request
A British national shares that while visiting France, near the historic D-Day beaches, a tourist shocked everyone when she asked a shop owner if he had anything “newer” than World War 2 bullets. The owner responded in return, “Sadly and thankfully, no madam.”
3. Mustard Mishap
A waiter working at Gleneagles in Scotland shares that he once encountered a know-it-all U.S. guest. The person asked them for mustard sauce, and upon the waiter telling him about the difference between American and English mustard, the U.S. citizen became defensive and waved them away with an attitude.
Cut to a couple of minutes later, when he was served the sauce, “I back off and watch just out of his line of sight as he piles more on and takes a bite. Needless to say, his face and reaction to all that mustard were HILARIOUS. He would have felt like his head was melting from the inside out.”
4. The American Express Meltdown
One member says, “I had an American woman try to pay using an American Express card.” The tourist’s response? A rant about how American money is superior, even suggesting that everywhere else “is backward” for not accepting it. The incident left everyone utterly shocked.
5. Turkeys for Thanksgiving?
Last November, a British supermarket employee was asked if they had turkeys in stock for Thanksgiving. Politely, they had to explain to the aggressive customer that Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated in the United Kingdom.
6. “Little Mermaid” Misunderstanding
While in Copenhagen, an American tourist commented on the size of the “Little Mermaid” statue, saying, “Don’t bother with that; it’s really small.” The response was classic British humor: “Yes, there’s a clue in the name.” Sometimes, cultural references don’t quite translate.
7. The “African American” Misunderstanding
A member shares a story of a white American tourist in Britain who insisted on calling people “African American.” The locals found it amusing and clarified that they prefer simply “black” or “British.” “Even if we didn’t say black. It would NEVER be African AMERICAN… as we’re not in America,” they comment.
8. Curious Case of Road Bumps
An American couple at a road crossing were puzzled over bumps on the pavement. An Englishman explained that these tactile paving slabs allow blind people to navigate and understand where the road ends. The woman’s reaction? “Geez, they let blind people drive here?”
9. The Kilted Sentry
An individual shares that back in 1977, as a 10-year-old Scottish Scout wearing a kilt at the Tower of London, they were mobbed by American tourists. They asked him if he was “on duty” and if he had met the Queen.
10. Castle Street Confusion
In Edinburgh, U.S. tourists asked a passerby for the castle’s address. Little did they know, they were standing on Castle Street, known for its panoramic view of Edinburgh Castle. Sometimes, the obvious isn’t so apparent to tourists.
11. The Bouncy Castle
During a summer job at Edinburgh Castle, a member had a hilarious encounter with a tourist. As preparations for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo were underway, the tourist earnestly asked if they “put up the Castle every year for the Tattoo.” They continued, explaining, “He thought the Castle was erected every year for the special tattoo event. I can confirm that Edinburgh Castle is not, in fact, a bouncy castle; it is a real castle. Built in 1103, it’s one of the oldest fortified places in Europe.”
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