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This is a question Brits Abroad

Union jack shorts, bulldog t-shirts, bars named after soap operas, hen parties in Malaga. Tell us about your encounters with the worst (or best) of our fair country's travelers around the world. Alternatively, tell us about your own doomed quest to find a decent cup of tea in Moscow.

(, Thu 24 Apr 2014, 13:01)
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"Marbella's really close to Africa!"
My mate got a job in southern Spain so we went out there for a weekend of congratulations, drinking and tapas. On Saturday he pointed out how close we were to Another Actual Continent, so we decided that was definitely the mission for the next day: bus down to Algeciras, ferry to Morocco, see the sights, back to Spain again in time for the flight home Sunday evening.

It was a bad choice, therefore, to play vodka drinking games Saturday night. I took it the worst - I vaguely remember opting for double-or-quits three times in succession, resulting in an 8-shot punishment; I don't remember the debate over whether or not we'd have to pay for the hospital to pump my stomach. (They decided they probably would, so they didn't call an ambulance. Cheers.)

Anyway, I was the keenest to Go To Flipping Africa, so I tipped the others out of bed at seven in the morning and made us all run across town to make it to the bus station on time. We'd booked nothing and found there was a massive wait for the next ferry, so we stopped in Gibraltar for a full English breakfast. I was in no fit state to eat anything and could only force down half a slice of dry toast.

Eventually on the ferry, we found the Spanish ferry port's timetables were all on Moroccan time (because why not?) so we had another hour (maybe two?) to wait before it actually sailed. Lunchtime found us still on the boat and by this time I was starving, so we went in search of food.

"Oh sorry, no - we don't have anything. It's Ramadan."

Dammit. Never even thought of that. Literally the only food available for purchase was some overpriced chocolates in duty free, so we bought those and ate them far away from everyone else (outside on the top deck) in case doing so should offend the locals (we had no idea if it would or not, but better safe than sorry).

We ended up having exactly one hour in Tangiers before having to catch the return ferry. That was just long enough to find a cashpoint to get some local currency, ask a local what the currency was called and (vaguely) what that was in Euros, accept said local's offer of being a guide, go round the local market and pick up some tat to prove we'd been there, gaze longingly at all the closed food establishments, narrowly avoid having my wallet stolen, bribe someone to let us jump the queue at the ferry terminal, bribe someone else to do his job and stamp our passports, and bribe his friend to give us our passports back.

Worth it, but I've never felt more like a British nob abroad, and have never set foot in another country without doing some basic research first!

[Slightly off-topic now, but it turns out that if you learn the translations for "hello", "yes", "no", "please", "thank you", "excuse me", "sorry", "this" and "that", you can get by pretty much anywhere. If you open with a smile and, "excuse me! Hello. This, please; no, that", you can manage almost any transaction. And when you get stuck, just say "sorry" and revert to English and pointing. By then they're on your side enough to forgive you and help. Even in France.]
(, Tue 29 Apr 2014, 21:53, Reply)

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