Here's a cautionary tale about traveling alone to a country where you don't speak the language. What could possibly go wrong? But it's not a horror story, because instead of laughing at Erwin Kreuz, Americans were so charmed by his good-natured naivety that they made him famous.
In 1977, 49-year-old German brewery worker Erwin Kreuz blew his life savings on his first flight — a once-in-a-lifetime birthday trip to San Francisco. He'd seen it on TV, and he wanted to visit the Wild West. As the World Airways flight from Frankfurt stopped to refuel in a small airport in Bangor, Maine, before continuing on to California, an air stewardess who had finished her shift told Kreuz to "have a nice time in San Francisco." Her choice of words would change Kreuz's life.
Kreuz, who typically enjoyed drinking 17 beers a day, was a little groggy, and on hearing this, grabbed his suitcase, got off the plane, went through customs, jumped in a cab and asked the driver to take him to the city. He wandered Bangor for three days enjoying the sights and sounds that Maine had to offer. Unfortunately, Kreuz thought he was in San Francisco.
When the mixup was eventually uncovered, that's when Kreuz's adventures really began. Read his story at SFgate.