Monday, May 20, 2013

{touristing}

I love when I'm talking to someone about travelling and they get all serious and give me a furrowed brow and take a sip of their extra-sweet latte before saying something like, "Well, I'm not really into touristy stuff. I like going places that other people don't normally end up."

Two thoughts:

This is Earth. And if you want to 'go where other people don't normally end up', we're probably talking about taking a vacation to someplace like this, and you'll probably die, and they probably don't have extra-sweet lattes there. 

The second is about how the dictionary definition of "tourist" is, and I quote: "A person who is travelling, especially for pleasure." So basically, you could go to those boring sand dunes down in southwest Saskatchewan and be the only one there, and you're still a tourist. You're just not having as much fun as the tourists in France who are there expressly to see the Eiffel Tower. 

I'm not mad or anything, I just think it's a funny thing to say. 

And I know that what they mean to say is, "I'm too cool to hit up souvenir shops and gawk at impressive architecture and wear my camera around my neck," or maybe, "I hate large crowds." (Which is just a different thing altogether.)

I think tourist attractions are kind of like cliches--those things that get said over and over and over until we're all sick of hearing them and start to think they're untrue or inapplicable simply because they're overused. 

But I would argue that cliches often end up being cliches because they're just the straight-up truth. And tourist attractions end up being tourist attractions because they're just straight-up fun to look at/experience/know the history of/hang around. And that's why I have no problem with being that tourist. The one who wears my camera and gawks and points and squeals and, yes, visits maybe one little kitschy tourist shop per vacation.

But I also like asking locals where some good, quieter, lesser-known places to visit would be. I like visiting in the off season so that I'm the only one on the bus sometimes. I like having an experience that I feel is almost just for me and no one else. And that's ok too. (But it's still tourism.)

Anyway. All that to say that our first day in New York was pure and extreme tourism in the most widely understood sense of the word to the max. The kind of tourism with crowds and landmarks and pointing and squealing. We walked down through Manhattan to the Statue and over to Wall Street and searched for places we remembered from movies and stopped to talk to interesting people and tried to look in all directions at all times so we wouldn't miss anything.

And I loved it.
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