'On holiday in Cordoba three years ago, we spent a very hot and tiring afternoon trudging around the Mezquita, the Jewish quarter, and its maze of historic streets. Finally succumbing to tiredness, hunger and thirst we stopped in a pleasant flower-filled courtyard which offered cool shade and tables and chairs. A waitress appeared and my Spanish not being terribly fluent I mimed that we required a drink and asked for agua mineral con gaz for my wife and myself.
'The drinks came quickly - served with ice - and we downed them thirstily. The waitress stood with us as we drank, smiling enigmatically. I mimed a request for a bill - 'la cuenta, por favor'.
To my eternal embarrassment, she said in perfect English: 'Sir, this is not a public restaurant this is my private house, but I am glad to offer you some liquid refreshment free of charge.' Far from being a waitress, the lady was the wife of the Professor of English at the local university. I think this may well have been the most humiliating moment of my life - the worst part of it is that my wife blames me for the whole thing. I tried to make amends next morning by leaving a gift on her doorstep (with a card signed 'The English Idiots'). I swear that this is a true story.'
In-flight magazines often provide weird and wonderful information. Jennifer Roberts from East Molesley, Surrey sends in a photocopy of part of the in-flight information brochure of Aeropa, an Italian charter airline that operated in the late Seventies.
'I have collected several masterpieces of translation by dictionary, but the last sentence of Aeropa's 'technical efficency standard' is an all-time favourite.'
As far as technical efficiency standard is concerned it does not exist any difference in view of the fact that equipment employed, like Aeropa's Boeing 707's, are the largest and the most modern commercial aircrafts.
The public must be aware that their technical maintenance and efficiency is not a topic under discussion . . .
To meet these substantial requirements, Aeropa's aircrafts maintenance is made by one of the most well equipped and largest maintenance firms in the world. Out of the strict observance of the obligations dictated by government regulations, Aeropa does not intend to take any liberty to leave out from a scrupulous control the most meaningful screw.
If you have some urban myths to recount or tales of 'meaningful screws' or similar, please send them to Independent Traveller and the best we print each week will win one of publisher John Murray's excellent Literary Companions (the series covers Paris, Venice, India, Egypt, Florence or London) - alternatively you can select The Independent Good Holiday Guide or my new Family France guide.
Your tale should be brief - not more than 200 words - and can be about anything to do with travel. Write to: Frank Barrett ('Wish you weren't here . . ?'), The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB and say which book you would like if you are a winner.Reuse content