Ignorance may be bliss, but it can cause innocents abroad to unknowingly run afoul of local laws.
And there are plenty of legal oddities to run afoul of. Witness this list of top 10 unusual foreign laws compiled by GlobalVisas.com.
No word on how often these ordinances are actually enforced, but consider yourself warned.
It is illegal to:
1. Feed pigeons in St. Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy. The practice was outlawed in 2008, much to the dismay of seed vendors there, because the historical buildings (and many sightseers) were bearing the brunt of the byproduct.
2. Run out of gas in Germany. More precisely, it’s verboten to stop on the nation’s fast-paced autobahns, where German motorists tend to get all Fahrvergnugen behind the wheel.
3. Drive while wearing flip-flops in Spain. It’s also illegal to drive with groceries on the back seat of a convertible. Best to stay on your toes no matter what’s on your feet.
4. Spit in public in Barcelona. Not a bad call, and one a few more cities might want to consider.
5. Wear high heels at Greek archaeological sites such as the Acropolis. Pointy heels pierce the delicate “skin” of these antiquities, officials determined in 2008 when they first sought the ban. Indeed, stilettos can transmit more pressure per square inch than an elephant, experts say.
6. Drive in Scandinavia during daylight without headlights switched on. The reasoning behind the law is sound: Daylight hours are limited during long northern winters.
7. Chew gum in Singapore. The government instituted the ban in 1992 in response to sticky wads gumming up the subway system and other public spots. It has resisted occasional calls to revoke the ban, though medically therapeutic gum is OK.
8. Eat during Ramadan in the United Arab Emirates. Muslims abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset during the month of Ramadan. And non-believers are expected to follow suit. Same goes for Saudi Arabia, where offending foreigners can get their visas canceled for the infraction.
9. Step on currency in Thailand. Thai baht bear the picture of the King of Thailand.
Defaming, insulting or threatening the royal family is illegal — and so is stepping on paper currency.
10. Pee in the ocean in Portugal. No word on whether anyone has ever actually gotten busted for this.