David Farley’s World Worsts
Name David Farley
Who? Award-winning food and travel writer and writing instructor at New York University. Farley is the author of An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church’s Strangest Relic in Italy’s Oddest Town (Penguin/Gotham Books, 2009) and co-editor of Travelers’ Tales Prague and the Czech Republic: True Stories (Travelers’ Tales, 2006). His writing appears in The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Geographic Adventure, and WorldHum.com, among other publications. More at dfarley.com
Age About 37
Countries Visited About 30.
1. Worst Beer It seems that anywhere outside the major metropolitan parts of the United States it’s hazardous to drink anything but the American-made watered-down piss-liquid that’s labeled “beer.” And if you eschew it, you face potential harassment. In one such place, I ordered the only non big brewery beer on tap and someone at the bar yelled out, “We’ve got ourselves a fancy beer drinker, boys.” They were probably waiting for weeks for someone like me to come and order that. But I was saved by an empty keg (the bartender, in turn, quietly poured me a pint of the said piss-liquid, either because he assumed I’d drink it or he was trying to save me from physical harm).
2. Worst Border Crossing Passing through a little-used border crossing between Turkey and Bulgaria. I was the only person on the bus not holding a Czech (or other Eastern European) passport. Everyone flashed the cover of their passports as the guard cavalierly waved them by. Then when he saw mine, I got the palm of his hand. He grabbed it and began flipping through the pages, pronouncing every syllable of “Uniteed States of Amerrrreeeca.” He demanded $20 for a “visa” which I knew I didn’t need and after my protests he let me pass. This wasn’t so bad, as I’ve been hassled for the passport I hold before (thank you George W. Bush!). But on the way back into Bulgaria a few days later, they actually took me into an interrogation room and attempted to extract $20 from me. They eventually let me go.
3. Worst Bus Ride The night bus in Prague that shuttles drunks from the center of the city to the hinterlands of the city. I’ve been vomited on, had cigarettes ashed in my face, and have passed out only to wake up at the last stop somewhere on the edge of Prague.
4. Worst Person Sitting Next to You on a Plane I once shared a flight from New York to Rome next to a plus-sized 19th-century-peasant looking guy from south-east Europe whose girth spilled over into my seat and his not-so-pleasant scent spilled into the rows in front and behind us.
5. Worst Haircut While Traveling I should have known better, but when I was living in Prague, I went to a tacky salon on the outskirts of town—they’re usually called Salon Barbara or something like that—just for a quick cut. In my faltering Czech that I wanted a little off the top and sides and more off the back. Instead, she did the opposite and I ended up with a mullet.