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Matt Gross’s World Worsts
photo: Tracy Sham
Name Matt Gross
Who? Frugal Traveler columnist for The New York Times. He previously worked for New York Magazine and, while in Vietnam after college, wrote film reviews for the Viet Nam News, the state-owned, English-language daily paper. His permanent base camp (wife, new baby, worldly possessions) is in Brooklyn, New York. He just won a Webby Award for his video series on taking a Grand Tour of Europe. Read his work: http://frugaltraveler.blogs.nytimes.com/
Countries Visited About 50
Worst Drivers Republic of Georgia. Most blatant disregard for the rules of the road. And they won’t let you use a seatbelt — wearing one is an insult to the driver.
Worst Bus Ride Croatia, from Zadar to Dubrovnik. The bus stopped in Split and I hopped off to grab a burek – this greasy meat-pie pastry — and when I came back, the bus was gone. And it had my luggage on it. So I spent the next five hours on another bus driving on these cliff-hugging roads, wondering if I was ever going to see my luggage again.
Worst Meal I was staying in a private room for rent in Montpellier, France. The home belonged to this Catholic family with 10 kids, and I joined them for dinner. It was probably the least exciting home cooking I’ve had, but the “worst” part was the absence of wine. This was the only family in France that didn’t drink, and if ever there was a meal that need wine… All the while, the patriarch of the family was telling me about their incredibly high life quality — how well they live and eat.
Worst Toilet It was in the mountains in the north of the Republic of Georgia. I couldn’t get close enough to actually use it, but I could smell it. And I could see that this concrete group squatter — two holes for men, two for women — wasn’t going to work for me.
Worst Hotel In Kyaingtong, Myanmar. It wasn’t the trickle of a cold shower in the courtyard. Nor was it the 90 minutes of electricity we got in the evening. It was because the front desk actively tried to sabotage my ability to check out. They’d just disappear. And it’s not like you can leave the key and some cash on the desk and go. They had our travel documents. .By not being there, they kept us from leaving.