Tourism Follies

Local Yokels:

“So, you live in Plymouth. What city is that in?”

“England? Can you get there by train?” — Asked of an English tourist in the United States.

“England? That’s in London, isn’t it?” — Asked of an English tourist in the United States.

“England? That’s near Paris, the city of love!” — Asked of an English tourist in the United States.

“Do they have beer there?” — Asked of an English tourist in a bar in the United States.

“So, you guys are from Ireland — did you drive across?” — Asked of two Irish women on a trip to Delaware.

“You’re from New Zealand, aren’t you? That’s just off the southeast corner of Canada, isn’t it?” — Asked of a New Zealander on a trip to Washington D.C.

“After moving here, how were you able to know what the speed limit was? Could you read our traffic signs?” — Asked of a Canadian who moved to the United States.

“You’re from America? Do you know my cousin Patrick in Chicago?” — Asked of a tourist from Connecticut in Ireland.

“New Zealand is a state in Australia, right?” — Asked of an Australian, travelling abroad.

“How do you get around, since you don’t have any cars?” — Asked of an Australian, travelling abroad.

“You don’t have electricity there, do you?” — Asked of an Australian, travelling abroad.


Tourists Without a Clue:

“Would it be cheaper to fly to California and then take the train to Hawaii?” — Asked of a travel agent about travel arrangements to Hawaii.

“Does your flag come in any other colors?” — Asked by a tourist in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

“Excuse me, is this the Eiffel Tower?” – Asked by one tourist of another while waiting in line for the CN Tower in Toronto.

“Were these steps always here, or did they build them?” — Asked of a guide at Mitchelstown Caves, Cork, Ireland. The guide jokingly replied, “No, but the electricity was!” and the tourist said, “Oh, really, wow!”

“Can you smell the smoke from the bush fire?” — Asked of a resident of Perth, Australia, about a fire in Sydney.

“How long does it take the penguins to migrate to Kelly Tarlton’s?” — Asked at the Auckland, New Zealand, Visitor Information Centre; Kelly Tarlton’s is an aquarium which features penguins.

“Which parks have swings for six-year-old babies?” — Asked at the Auckland, New Zealand, Visitor Information Centre.

“Can I get a ferry to Australia?” — Asked at the Auckland, New Zealand, Visitor Information Centre.

“Can you tell me where the Sky Tower is?” — Asked at the Auckland, New Zealand, Visitor Information Centre; the Sky Tower in Auckland is the tallest building in the southern hemisphere and difficult to miss.

“How does the snow get up Ben Nevis?” — Asked of a tourist information center in Scotland, referring to the United Kingdom’s highest mountain.

“What time do the penguins leave the zoo?” — Asked of a tourist information center in Scotland.

“Is there anyone here who speaks Australian?” — Asked of a tourist information center in Scotland.

“Is Fort William still alive?” — Asked of a tourist information center in Scotland.

“Why did the queen build Windsor Castle so close to Heathrow Airport?” — Asked by an American tourist in England.

“Were the people in Eastern Finland Europeans, Asians, or maybe Indians?” — Asked by a tourist in Seurasaari, Finland.

“Is this city also known as St. Petersburg? Which name is used officially? Or is it only a nickname? We were told about St. Petersburg on our cruiser.” — Asked by a tourist in Helsinki, Finland.

“We would like to go to Lapland, it sounds exciting. Is Lapland open every day? What about the polar bears? Can we find them?” — Asked by a tourist in Helsinki, Finland. Lapland is a province of Finland, population 188,000, and polar bears are not indigenous to any part of continental Europe.

“So Finland consists of several islands? Are you self-sufficient here? Do you have to go somewhere else to get something? I mean…are you happy here?” — Asked by a tourist in Helsinki, Finland.

“Didn’t this lighthouse used to be round?” — Asked of a guide at a lighthouse in Nova Scotia.

“Was it always like that, or did they change it after JFK was President?” — Asked of a guide at Royal Gorge in Colorado, after saying that from a certain angle, one mountain peak looks like JFK’s head.

“Will I be able to see Polar Bears in the street?” — Asked by a prospective tourist of Canada.

“Are there any ATMs in Canada? Can you send me list of them in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Halifax?” — Posted to a web site about tourism in Canada.

“Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Canada?” — Posted to a tourism web site.

“Which direction is north in Canada?” — Posted to a tourism web site.

“Can you send me the Vienna Boys’ Choir schedule?” — Posted to a web site about tourism in Canada.

“Are there supermarkets in Toronto and is milk available all year round?” — Posted to a tourism web site.

“I have a question about a famous animal in Canada, but I forget its name. It’s a kind of big horse with horns.” — Posted to a tourism web site.


Bon Voyage:

“Oh, are you going to drive there?” — Asked repeatedly of a couple moving to Iceland.

“How does Canadian sound? I don’t think I’ve ever heard that language before.” — Asked after a friend told him about his vacation in Canada.


International Business:

“You guys are working on the Fourth of July? I can’t believe it! Don’t you celebrate it?” — Asked of an English employee by an American employee of a international company.



“What do you mean New Hampshire’s a long distance call?! It’s part of Massachusetts!” — Declared by someone who grew up in Boston.

“Vermont is a state?” — Asked of a contractor that provided long-distance information for AT&T.

“What state is Minnesota in?” — Overheard in a store.

“Sorry, we don’t sell tickets outside of the U.S. . . . I don’t care how new Mexico is, we don’t sell tickets outside the U.S.” — A ticket salesperson for the 1996 Olympics, on the phone with someone from New Mexico.

“What countries belong to the Netherlands? France…Belgium?”

“I’m from West Virginia.”
“So, what’s life like in western Virginia?”
“No, I said West Virginia.”
“You know, you’re the third person I’ve talked to from western Virginia, and I will never understand why you don’t just say you’re from Virginia. It’s not that bad of a place!”
— A conversation between a West Virginian and a Californian.

“I didn’t know you could drive to Europe.” — An eavesdropper, piping in when he overheard a conversation about someone who had driven to Montreal.

“I want to walk from Vancouver to Toronto — can I follow the railroad tracks?” — Posted to a tourism web site.


Geography Anecdotes:

Caller: “Hello. I’m calling about [a product]. I need to talk to one of your technical people so I can assess the product’s suitability for a proposal I’m writing.”
Operator: “Sure. So I may route your call more effectively, please tell me the region from which you are calling.”
Caller: “Auckland, New Zealand.”
Operator: “Sir, in which state is that?”
Caller: (chuckles) “Quite a good one actually, but with recent elections you never know!”
Operator: “Sir, I need you to tell me which state Auckland New Zealand is in so I can route your call.”
Caller: “Oh. New Zealand is not in any state. It is a country in the South Pacific, near Australia. Auckland is a city in New Zealand.”
Operator: “Thank you, sir. I have Australia — putting you through now.”
Caller: “No–” (click)


I recently moved from Wisconsin to Texas.

Her: “Hi! Where are you from?”
Me: “I’m from Wisconsin.”
Her: (pause) “Where are you from?”
Me: “Wisconsin.”
Her: “Oh, where’s that?”
Me: “You know where Canada is?”
Her: “Yes.”
Me: “Right under that.”
Her: “Wisconsin…is that a state?”
Me: “Yeah. It is.”
Later, I had this conversation with my new social studies teacher:

Him: “Well, welcome Samantha. You’re from Minnesota, right?”
Me: “No, Wisconsin.”
Him: “So you’re from…Chicago?”
Me: “No, sir, that is in Illinois.”
Him: “Oh, and you’re from Michigan!”
Me: “No, sir, Wisconsin.”
Him: “Well, why didn’t you say so earlier?”
Me: “I don’t know, sir.”
Him: “So there’s a lot of cheese there right?”
Me: “Some, sir.”
Him: “And y’all’s football team is the Cubs, right?”
Me: “No sir, that’s Illinois.”
Him: “Vikings?”
Me: “No. That’s Minnesota.”
Him: “But I thought you’re from Minnesota.”
Me: “No sir, I’m from Wisconsin.”
Him: “Oh…so you don’t have a football team there!”
Me: “No sir, the Green Bay Packers are very popular there.”
Him: “But that’s a Michigan team.”
Me: “No sir, Green Bay is in Wisconsin.”
Him: “But I thought you were from Illinois.”
Me: “No sir, Wisconsin.”
Him: “Oh. So you just have hockey there, huh?”
Me: “Not any professional teams, sir.”
Him: “Well, I thought the Stars were from up there.”
Me: “From Minnesota sir, but now they play for Dallas.”
Him: “Do they really? I didn’t know that.”
Me: “Yes, sir, they do.”
Him: “Well, anyway. Welcome, Samantha from Michigan.”
Me: “Wisconsin.”


Tourism Anecdotes:
I was sitting on the city bus the other day (in July), and there were two British women sitting at the back talking. After noticing that they were unfamiliar with the city, the woman sitting across from them struck up a conversation.

Her: “Where are you folks from?”
Them: “England.”
Her: “What’s it like there?”
Them: “Cold.”
Her: “Oh, is it winter there now?”
It didn’t end there. The conversation continued. Among the other questions this woman asked was:

Her: “Is everyone there left-handed since you drive on the left side of the road?”
I just barely maintained decorum long enough to get off the bus.


An American was planning an extended trip to Australia and asked, via a chat forum, whether his electrical equipment would work over there. The short answer is yes, provided there are no problems with voltage mismatches. But somebody, just for fun, decided to say, “The Coriolis Effect will make your CDs spin the wrong way.” The American bought this and asked whether there were any devices he could buy to correct the problem. A number of people, my colleague included, jumped onto the bandwagon with various suggestions. Eventually somebody took pity on the poor guy and admitted it was all a joke. The response? “How do you expect me to know it’s a joke if you don’t use a sarcastic smiley?”

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