Depoe Bay, Oregon (800×600)
The traffic grew sluggish as we approached Depoe Bay. The narrow bridge, street side parking, and throngs of tourists caused the slow down. We weren’t stopped but going slow enough to read the signs. As we crossed the bridge, I noticed one which read “Depoe Bay Worlds Smallest Harbor.” Now this I had to see, so I pulled U-ey to get a parking place on the other side of the road, next to a family munching salt water taffy in the lee of their SUV.
Surprised by the cold wind after the warm sun in the protected car. We joined the gawkers peering down into the harbor. I have personally been in smaller harbors which didn’t even consider claiming such a title. I admit that there is a smallish harbor at Depoe Bay and I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and just assume the city promoters are ignorant and don’t really intend to defraud anyone with their exaggerated claims of superiority (or in this case inferiority).
A major world crackdown on superlatives is definitely in order. Someone should appoint a task force to police these biggest, tallest, smallest, oldest, and general famousness claims of provincial towns everywhere. For the price of a single tomahawk missile we could probably settle the questions once and for all.
While I’m firmly in the not-the-worlds-smallest-harbor camp. I will concede that with a little more surf it could be a contender for the most dangerous harbor entrance. However, I doubt the local captains would be willing to go head to head with a mexican panga driver.
It seems that where ever we go the locals have some tenuous claim to some random world superlative. Cheyenne and I once trekked into the wilds of Karelia (north western Russia) to see Europe’s somethingest waterfall. Unfortunately the superlative descriptor was the only word in the sentence Cheyenne couldn’t understand. It sounded good though and everyone was very enthusiastic (Although, in hind site I’ll bet none of the people who recommended it had actually been there).
The journey involved a long bus ride, a rabid dog (literally), hitchhiking in the rain, a long expensive taxi ride, only to end up stranded in a town with no restaurant or public bathroom. We thought that the misunderstood superlative would be self evident when we arrived. However, it was, well… not even a waterfall. At least not by my standards. I’d call it a class V rapid. It may not even be in Europe. It was raining heavily and meter was running in our taxi so we only stayed a few minutes.
Kivach Waterfall, Karelia, Russia 2005 (800×600)
Wandering around in the drizzle we finally found the towns only restaurant. The worlds most isolated Ben & Jerry’s franchise. It wasn’t really a restaurant though just a cake shop with ice cream, tea and coffee but no bathroom. Drinking coffee in a town without bathrooms doesn’t sound like a good idea does it?
Fake Ben & Jerry’s, Kondopoga, Russia 2005
Kondopoga, worlds fewest public bathrooms. (800×600)
They finally kicked us out of the Ben & Jerry’s some hours before our train was due. As we trudged back to the station huddled under our Moscow umbrella we found a casino bar blaring Russian pop. We went in hoping for a bathroom and found a lone girl sulking behind the bar. Thinking it would be rude to head straight for the loo we sat near the dance floor and waited for her come over. She gave us a few furtive glances but didn’t budge from her place. You might think that when two foreigners walk into the loneliest bar in Russia it might be a cause for celebration or at least a sale. We grew restless. Cheyenne approached her and asked for beer. Bila Nich. “I can’t serve you because this is a members only club” she apologized. I use the word apologized loosely, “membership costs 500 rubles.” Huh?! I guess we know why there aren’t any customers. Cheyenne replied that that would be the worlds most expensive beer and we really only wanted to use the bathroom. She brightened a little and let us use the bathroom for free. The freeest bathrooms in Russia. Another opportunity for commerce foiled. She may have even waved when we left. I don’t know what she does in there all day but it isn’t cleaning toilets.
Kondopoga. The worlds vacantest train station until some old dude showed up and was so happy to find us there, he took out his teeth and shared his wine.