Feeding pigeons in St. Mark's Square in Venice is now illegal. The new law ends a long tradition of pigeons landing on tourists who are willing to exchange some avian bacteria for a photograph or two.(Photo: Gene Sloan, USA TODAY)
Weird laws-from a stiletto ban in Greece to the pinball crackdown in
South Carolina-give travel a unique flavor. They're a way for
destinations to look travelers square in the face and say, "We do things
a little differently around here." We've rounded up 10 surprisingly
strange laws from around the world to help you avoid fines, jail or
spending your next vacation on the lam.
Illegal: Pinball for minors
ever needs a sequel, South Carolina is ready with the plotline. The
state allows teenagers to dance (we think), but no one under 18 better
shimmy anywhere near a pinball machine. In a place where an old-timey
arcade game like pinball is illegal for minors, what's next? Malts?
Illegal: Eating and drinking near landmarks
like that time when you were five and spilled ice cream on the rug in
the living room, and your mother yelled, "This is why we can't have nice
things!" Except substitute Rome for your mom, and imagine the Pantheon
instead of a rug. Fed up with drippy picnickers, Rome is now enforcing a
municipal ordinance outlawing eating and drinking in areas of
"particular historic, artistic, architectonic and cultural value." That
Nutella gelato may be amazing, but unless you think it's worth $650,
steer clear of landmarks (including the Spanish Steps and the Colosseum)
until you're between cones.
Illegal: Sharing a hotel room outside of marriage
other. Friend with benefits. These relationship qualifiers are your
one-way ticket to separate rooms in Dubai. It's against the law in the
United Arab Emirates to share a hotel room with (or live with, for that
matter) someone of the opposite sex unless you're married or closely
related. On the upside, you won't have to fight over that single luggage
stand in the room.
Illegal: Stiletto heels
Fact: No woman in
heels wants to be compared to an elephant. So it's an uncomfortable
truth that the pressure a stiletto heel exerts on the ground is much
greater than that of a walking elephant. For that reason, Greece is
taking a hard line on high heels, with a policy that prohibits shoes
that "wound the monuments." The new guidelines will help preserve
ancient sites like Athens' Odeon of Herod Atticus for new generations of
Illegal: Soft drugs
complicated rules and being high go so well together, the Netherlands
has come up with an increasingly complex set of policies around smoking
"soft" drugs like marijuana and hash. This year, the country introduced a
law banning tourists from buying marijuana. Amsterdam, however, is
having none of it. The mayor recently announced that Amsterdam will
continue to welcome tourists at the city's more than 200 coffee shops,
where soft drugs are sold and smoked.
Daytona Beach, Fla.
Illegal: Spitting in public
Beach wants you to stroll down its sidewalks confident that no
stranger's projectile mucous is careening your way. The city's code of
ordinance decrees that it does not allow "any person to expectorate upon
the streets or sidewalks or in public buildings or places within city
limits." So walk tall, secure in the knowledge that you're not going to
slip in someone else's spit.
Illegal: Stepping on currency
a penny, pick it up, right? In Thailand, the second verse of the rhyme
would go, "And whatever you do, don't step on it. Seriously." Thailand
reveres its king-photographs of the monarch are always hung high in a
room as a mark of honor and respect, and it's illegal to criticize the
king. Since his likeness is on all currency, stepping on money is akin
to stepping on the king's face. So, clearly: not cool.
Illegal: Feeding the pigeons
know what would be great? If Venice could outlaw pigeons. Since it
can't do that, the city has instead cracked down on those who feed the
birds. The new law ends a long tradition of pigeons landing on tourists
who are willing to exchange some avian bacteria for a photograph or two.
Illegal: Penny overuse
Canadian piggy banks, straining under the weight of all those unusable
pennies. Across the provinces, it's illegal to use more than 25 pennies
in a transaction-something to remember next time you're trying to use up
all your Canadian currency at the end of a vacation. Need more proof
that the penny is Canada's most unloved tender? The government announced
earlier this year that it would soon begin phasing out the one-cent
Illegal: Chewing gum
you're blowing those bubbles under a doctor's orders, you're in
violation of Singapore's strict ban on chewing gum. If you're thinking
that you'll just sneak some in to chew in the privacy of your hotel
room, know that smuggling gum into the country is a serious offense as
well. We can only imagine that this granddaddy of weird laws has
inspired a thriving industry of mint manufacturers.