The Case of the Overzealous Tourist (Me!)

I believe that sharing travel stories, be they good or bad, entertain and at times, serve as teaching opportunities. Allow me to share a true tale which was surely served as a learning experience to me.

I along with hundreds of students from Quebec Canada spent summers in a small town of Cuenca in Spain. The aim was for us to deepen our Spanish language skills while infusing some much-needed money in the town. I met a young man who became my long distance boyfriend of three years. Luis was from a family of many children who were raised mostly by their mother.

In an effort to get closer to his family, I invited my boyfriend and his older brother to one of the town’s most renowned restaurant for lunch. I have to admit I also wanted to impress Luis’ brother in order to gain his approval of our relationship. It was the first time that my invited guests set foot in the restaurant. I wanted to truly connect with his older brother who held the patriarch role of the family. This was the first serious step in my quest to get closer to Luis’ family.

Casas Colgadas Cuenca

Once we were seated at a table overlooking the nearby river Huecar, one of the best views in the city, our waiter came by and shared the history of the restaurant. Located in one of the iconic “casas colgadas” (hanging houses), the restaurant and adjoining buildings are featured in multiple postcards of the city.

The restaurant that is now closed was often the chosen meal location for many high society tourists visiting the adjoining Spanish Museum of Abstract Spanish Art, the first museum of its kind in Spain. Established in 1966 this museum played an important part in the world’s art scene. Needless to say, for a young Canadian, dining in this establishment was a costly experience but it was important for me to make a good first impression with Luis’ oldest sibling.

A few weeks prior to our lunch, I had been at a bar where the local liqueur made of coffee and cinnamon called resoli was served in very tiny porrón. The porróns is a traditionally used to serve wine and requires skill to properly drink from it. The porrón is a cross between a wine bottle and a watering can. It is still used to share wine amongst many. The skill is to drink directly from the porrón without the vessel touching one’s lips; a skill we developed with much practice.

porron

 

Once we ordered our meals, our waiter brought over two little porróns, one with a clear liquid and the other with a golden liquid that I assumed was 43, another liqueur that was very popular at the time. Although we were in Spain to study, we certainly learned a lot about wine and liqueurs while frequenting the local discos and bars.

Wanting to give the appearance of being a well-traveled person, I reached out for the clear liqueur and proceeded to lift the porrón and aim the liquid to my opened mouth. At that very moment, the waiter and my two guests looked at me with huge eyes and a look of total shock. I thought to myself that this was a look of surprise that I was such a worldly person and knew of their customs.

As the liquid hit my mouth, I immediately felt the harsh taste burning my lips and tongue as I took the first swallow and realized that what I thought was liqueur turned out to be vinegar! This wasn’t meant to be drunk, but along with the olive oil of the other porrón to be added to our salad.

I quickly tipped back the vessel, eyes watering and throat burning. My guests and other patrons close by looked at me in complete dismay and amazement. Not wanting to admit my faux pas, I tried to act as nonchalant as could be while hoping I could hold back my cough and my welling tears. I tried to compose myself and think of something witty to say, but not finding anything smart, I simply nodded and stated that I wanted to taste the vinegar before adding it to my salad.

I am sure that the waiter rushed to the kitchen to share the story of this crazy Canadian woman who drank straight vinegar! I can tell you that it likely cast a strange doubt on Luis’ older brother as to my particular ways. I was too embarrassed to admit my mistake to Luis and for years he thought I had a stomach of steel.

After my first walk across Spain on the Camino de Santiago, I visited Cuenca again and met up with Luis and his grown sons. Wouldn’t you know, this was one of the stories he shared during our meeting. I learned a valuable lesson not to assume things and from that day on, I always asked if I wasn’t sure of what was served.

Have you had any unique adventures while trying to impress? Please share so that I can know that I am not the only one who had such moments!

 

oil and vinegar porron

Photo credit – Oil and Vinegar porrón from La Tienda a fabulous source of fine products from across Spain, located in the state of Virginia, USA.

 

 

 

 

 

apptraveler

Retired exec consultant who traveled for more than 4 decades, both corporate and leisure. I appreciate my travel experience and want to share tips, photos and stories with readers! I live in Ottawa Canada and have traveled to 31 countries.

54 thoughts on “The Case of the Overzealous Tourist (Me!)

    • November 22, 2017 at 2:42 pm
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      Hi Justin and thanks for your comments. I’m glad the blog pleased you!

      Reply
  • November 21, 2017 at 2:55 pm
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    Oh gosh drinking vinegar would not be fun.
    I definitely wouldn’t have known what either of these two things are so I would have been asking. But that’s funny about the waiter telling the story to others.

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    • November 22, 2017 at 2:42 pm
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      Hi Angela, Thanks for your comments. Trust me, NOW, I ASK if I don’t know! good lesson learned!

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  • November 21, 2017 at 3:05 pm
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    Oh, you must have been so mortified! I know that feeling of wanting so badly to impress someone important and then ending up committing a faux pas.

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    • November 22, 2017 at 2:41 pm
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      Hi Jessica, Thanks for your comments. To be honest, I was less mortified and more trying to not choke! Vinegar is really not good straight up!

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    • November 22, 2017 at 2:40 pm
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      Thanks for your comments Janella – we do have quite some options for discovering our beautiful land.

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  • November 22, 2017 at 2:22 am
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    I just came back from Japan with a brand and it did make me a little nervous. It happens to all of us!

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    • November 22, 2017 at 2:39 pm
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      Hi Tonya, thanks for your comments. IT does happen to all of us, and this is how we learn from our trips! Hope you enjoyed Japan!

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  • November 22, 2017 at 2:48 am
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    I remember you telling us that story. Very funny.

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    • November 22, 2017 at 2:38 pm
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      Hi Monique, thanks for your comments. Funny now, embarrassing then!

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  • November 22, 2017 at 3:49 am
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    I probably would have done the same thing! Loved the story.
    XO from a fellow traveler and blogger (GLT love)

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    • November 22, 2017 at 2:38 pm
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      Hi Melody and sister GLT – Always a pleasure to hear from those in this amazing group!

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  • November 22, 2017 at 6:28 am
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    Sharing travel memories would be amazing to remember it when the time pass.

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    • November 22, 2017 at 2:37 pm
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      Thanks Jack for your comments. Memories are a return to our experiences, for sure.

      Reply
  • November 22, 2017 at 4:51 pm
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    Oh, my! Thanks for sharing this story. It is often uncomfortable to know what to do sometimes! I love that you tried.

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    • November 26, 2017 at 4:01 pm
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      Hi Debbie and thanks for your comments. Learning is all about trial and error, and this was an error I never did redo! In the end, it’s all good!

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  • November 22, 2017 at 11:40 pm
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    Hhahaha omg I actually used to take vinegar shots in the morning as a probiotic… Absolutely horrid!
    I love reading this post (:

    Love
    http://www.simplysaidy.com

    Reply
    • November 26, 2017 at 4:00 pm
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      Hi and thanks for your comments. Glad you enjoyed reading the post!

      Reply
  • November 23, 2017 at 1:24 am
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    I can’t imagine my self drinking vinegar. Probably will ruin my appetite 😀
    What an amazing adventure. I bet it was a fun and memorable experience.

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    • November 26, 2017 at 4:00 pm
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      Hi Alice, thanks for your comments. All memories are experiences, good bad and ugly! As long as we learn from the bad and ugly, it’s all good!

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  • November 23, 2017 at 1:33 am
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    Sometimes we can get too excited, even over a trip – or while trying to impress people. Slow down and be you!

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    • November 26, 2017 at 3:59 pm
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      Hi Andrea, thanks for your comments, and your advice! Well said!

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    • November 26, 2017 at 3:58 pm
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      Hi Leanne, they weren’t really truly aware of what really occurred, they just thought I was a bit strange!! Thanks for your comments!

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  • November 23, 2017 at 4:01 am
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    Oh Sylvie..as I was reading this, I had a feeling of ‘knowing’ exactly what was going to transpire during this meal and now, I am sitting with tears rolling down my cheeks because I have been laughing so much, not though, at your expense, but with you. What was obviously a very ‘cringe worthy’ moment for you all those years ago, and, in other ways, for so many of us during our younger days is now in your store of memories. Thankyou so much for sharing this with us all. xx

    Reply
    • November 26, 2017 at 3:58 pm
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      Hi Susan, thanks for your lovely comments. I’m glad you enjoyed the story – after all, the point of my blog is to entertain and enlighten! That faux pas and awkward memories are part of the learning that comes with traveling abroad. The good, the bad and the ugly!

      Reply
  • November 23, 2017 at 7:23 am
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    Wow! This is pretty fantastic! Does drinking apple cider vinegar count? I do that everyday! LOL!

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    • November 26, 2017 at 3:56 pm
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      Hi Debbie,
      I appreciate your comments. I have tried apple cider vinegar, purposely, and it’s actually a lot easier to manage than pure white vinegar!

      Reply
  • November 23, 2017 at 8:07 am
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    I have heard so many good things about Cuenca I really want to visit. The porron is something I grew up with never though they would use it as a cruet for vinegar and oil.

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    • November 26, 2017 at 3:55 pm
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      Hola Adriana, Thanks for your comments. The casas colgadas in Cuenca are so unique and beautiful, and the church is spectacular. I recommend a visit to this city.

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  • November 23, 2017 at 4:56 pm
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    What a great story, although not for you I’m sure at the time! It’s absolutely something I would probably do too 🙈

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    • November 26, 2017 at 3:54 pm
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      Hi Jean, Thanks for your comments. This story serves as good fodder for laughs, every time!

      Reply
  • November 23, 2017 at 9:12 pm
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    Oh my! Drinking the vinegar must have been a shock! Thanks for sharing your story!!

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    • November 26, 2017 at 3:53 pm
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      Thanks Angela for your comments. Shock is the right word for how I felt! but I think I SORT of pulled it off! sort of…

      Reply
  • November 24, 2017 at 1:42 am
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    Oh my gosh hun that is too hilarious!!! Good for you for going with the flow though, I prob would have laughed my butt off after!

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    • November 26, 2017 at 3:52 pm
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      Thanks for your comments Nikki, I admit that we laugh about this story each time to recall it!

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  • November 24, 2017 at 2:45 am
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    I can’t think of any right now. But it sounds like you had a great time.

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    • November 26, 2017 at 3:51 pm
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      Hi Glenda, Thanks for your comments. I did have a great time, and even the most embarrassing experiences are worthwhile experiences!

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  • November 24, 2017 at 4:20 am
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    I had seen those drinking things before but I didn’t know what they were called. I was always curious how you made sure you shared without getting your germs on it.

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    • November 26, 2017 at 3:51 pm
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      Hi David, Thanks for your comments. There are so pretty adept drinkers in Spain, one guy had the trickle go over his face and into his mouth. Not my kind of drinking, but it looked impressive!

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  • November 24, 2017 at 6:21 pm
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    Ha! that will remain a good story to pass down in the family! traveling sure does educate us in our trail and errors as we learn through adventure! I have yet to travel alone, a little intimidating to me but at the same time I really want to!
    I look forward to hearing more from you 😉

    Reply
    • November 26, 2017 at 3:50 pm
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      Hi Eloise, Thanks for your comments. Oh, please, don’t hesitate to travel on your own! The world awaits you with great experiences and adventures for you to discover!

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  • November 24, 2017 at 11:17 pm
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    Oh no! How funny though. I can’t think of a time that I was trying to impress someone on an adventure and had something like that happen.

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    • November 26, 2017 at 3:49 pm
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      Thanks Jessica for your comments, It was truly an adventure!

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  • November 25, 2017 at 3:23 am
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    Haha oh what a hilarious story! Something so funny to look back on now but I can feel how embarrassing that must have been at the time!

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    • November 26, 2017 at 3:48 pm
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      Hi Krysti, Thanks for your comments. Embarrassing was the last thing I felt, trying to not choke was my focus!

      Reply
  • November 25, 2017 at 9:48 am
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    Traveling always brings about new and unexpected adventures. Some good and some not so much but very memorable.

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    • November 26, 2017 at 3:47 pm
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      Hi Jill,
      Unexpected adventures are at times the best ones! Thanks for your comments

      Reply
  • November 25, 2017 at 5:06 pm
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    What a memorable and funny experience! I would have died in embarrassment considering how Im also trying to impress my boyfriend’s brother but you were so graceful!

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    • November 26, 2017 at 3:46 pm
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      Hi Stephanie, not sure how graceful I seemed to be, but in my mind, I pulled it off!

      Reply
  • November 26, 2017 at 6:37 pm
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    What a fun story! Continue to laugh at yourself and enjoy your journeys!!

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    • November 27, 2017 at 7:15 pm
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      Thanks Thena for your comments, enjoying the journey is certainly something I do every day – whether it’s a good, bad or ugly circumstance!

      Reply

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