I’ve given a lot of thought to whether or not it’s worth my precious travel time to see the touristy spots and take pictures of the monuments, restaurants, movie scenes, buildings, etc. When I first started traveling, visiting tourist destinations was the only way I knew how to travel. And the only real reason anyone goes to touristy spots is to take pictures of themselves with the thing that’s been standing for hundreds of years in the background. Because my face is super important, right?
Yikes. I have several pictures of us in front of things like the Eiffel Tower, Versailles, Kilkenny castle in Ireland, and this particularly weird one of me in front of Big Ben. Kathleen is a natural 🙂 Even then, I found it awkward to have someone take pictures of me standing in front of a monument. What are you even supposed to do with your hands/arms/face/neck? Clearly I don’t know.
Millions of people have that exact same photo although most people look decidedly less awkward than I do. My trip to Paris was largely touristy which I regret on one hand, but we had so much fun! I also learned a lot about different cultures and humanity in general. It was a wonderful experience.
Now I’d much rather sit at a cafe and speak to the locals about why they live where they do and where would they live if they could. I’d rather talk to them about their culture, daily lives, habits, and things like that. I like to get a feel for a destination, and I certainly can’t do that when visiting touristy places. They are often watered down parts of the culture. And they feel the same everywhere I go. People trying to sell you pointless things, food and drink price gouging, people with cameras over their eyes, people without cameras in front of their eyes but right in the way of your view of the Mona Lisa, etc. Ugh.
See what I mean about awkward? I took so many pictures on that damn boat ride in San Fran that I barely remember the experience without my phone in front of my face. It took me the ENTIRE boat trip to get a decent selfie with the Golden Gate bridge at the most artistic angle possible in the background. Out of 55 pictures, I only got one good one. And even that one reads as weird and self-absorbed. There’s a sort of beautiful, venerated, and world famous icon in the background which clearly makes my face look better.
Touristy spots while traveling is a DON’T about 95% of the time in my book.