I still smile every time I think of this incident and wonder how foolish we can be at times.
The Ship had just docked in a small town in Italy and as was the norm I took off the minute the immigration formalities were over. It was a beautiful summer day and I was looking forward to soaking in the sun and the sights in this quaint little town Porto de Terracina. Leaving the ship I got into the boat that sped us towards the city. As we approached I felt as if I was looking at a page out of a travel magazine. The deep blue sea, yatchs and boats swaying in the sea and glimpses of a beautiful town behind.
Sure enough it was an ideal day around the town, stopping at the little bars to sip coffee, delicious Italian lunch at a lovely Trattoria and of course shopping(most important) and visiting the local attractions. It was evening before I knew it and I wasn’t too happy about going back to the ship, yet it had been a long day and I was looking forward to putting up my aching feet. I proceeded to have a sumptuous dinner, before heading to the pier.
I reached the pier from where we were supposed to take the boat back to the ship at the designated time along with the other crew who had also come ashore. We were waiting when we got the message that because of some technical issues the boat was delayed. We were asked to wait around there only as we would be on our way the minute the issue was resolved. The place where we were waiting for the boat was a little dark and dingy, plus with my aching feet I didn’t really want to stand and wait for how much time it took to repair the boat. Looking around I saw only one restaurant in the vicinity and even though it looked a bit ostentatious, I decided to wait inside. After letting the others know i would be inside, I went into the restaurant.
Once I was seated inside the waiter got me the menu. I didn’t really pay attention to what I was ordering and just ordered the first dish on the menu which suited me just fine as it was also the cheapest, I think just 7 or 8 lira. Since I was done with dinner and of course had a long shopping list for the next day as well, I wasn’t willing to shell out to much money just to wait there. I asked the waiter if the dish that I had ordered was good and in very heavily accented and broken english he managed to explain it was a kind of fish and their specialty. Congratulating myself on making a wise decision of not waiting outside plus getting a cheap dish that was a specialty as well, I gave myself a mental pat on the back. Wow what more could i want. I ordered a drink too and waited for my food. Looking around I saw it was a nice restaurant, quite busy with many families enjoying their dinner.
My food arrived and it was heavenly. It was a fish with herbs and butter served with some yummy sides. The fish was heavenly, it was cooked to perfection and it literally melted in my mouth. I couldn’t believe my luck, all this for just 7-8 lira, fantastic.I was still eating when one of the guys came and told me the boat was ready. I quickly finished and asked for the check.
When the check came my eyes popped out. It was a lot. I called the waiter and I asked him how come the bill was so much. It took a considerable time what with the broken english and the heavy accent and with some help but he somehow very politely managed to explain that what was given in the menu was the price of the fish per 10 gms, and since the fillet they served was 300gms, well the rest of the mathematics you can do yourself. So it was basically the price written on the menu multiplied by 300. Of course I had no choice but to pay the steep bill for a meal that I didn’t even want and I felt like a real fool for thinking minutes ago how smart I was. I felt really silly more so because I remember how smug and smart I felt just minutes ago and was very grumpy on the boat ride back. Now wherever I go i make sure I ask for an english menu and if by any chance thats not available, I make sure i clarify everything before I order. Plus after this I totally refrain from giving myself any more mental pats on the back.