I recently read an article that suggested we should wear our “tourism” like a badge. I cringed at the idea because I am always trying to make myself seem less like a tourist when I travel. As a direct consequence of the nature of this blog, I am rapidly overcoming my concerns and proudly sporting the “tourist badge”. Although I am a resident of Switzerland, I am a tourist.
I actively seek out historical and cultural information and write about it. I try and visit as many of the popular and not so well knows sites and write some more. I hunt and peck through magazines, blogs, tweets, Facebook Pages and Pinterest pins to find something new to captivate me and therefore you. Consequently, I have to agree in part to the bloggers comment:
“ … Tourists are more alive than a local resident. When a tourist visits …, she walks around like a child, observing every building, every sign, and every scent. The local, on the other hand, walks with tunnel vision, oblivious to the world around … .”
I am not sure that I would go so far as to say that locals are oblivious. I would argue that they are simply busy with their day-to-day life and not on vacation. Who can say that the locals don’t become gawking tourists when they travel? I am not an expert about my hometown; I don’t know everything about its history. This does not mean, however, I appreciate it less than the tourist. What it suggests is that most of us rarely stop to smell the flowers and that the grass always seems greener (and more interesting) elsewhere.
In any case, I appreciated the blog post because it was a gentle reminder not to be so quick to snarl at tourists unless I wish to be snarled at. Visiting a new place, whether within your own town or in another corner of the world, is always exciting. Because we live in an age where we can get around more easily, we can experience many new cultures and enlighten ourselves and others about the complex and florid histories that make up the planet we share. At some point, most of us will be a “tourist”.
So next time you feel the urge to grumble at the bus load of tourists blocking your road, or the piles of suitcases and flag waving tour guides at the train station impeding your progress to wherever you’re headed, or those enthusiastic kids with backpacks and cameras hogging the tables at your favorite café, snarl at your own risk.
Happy Sunday Everyone … locals and tourists alike!