Monday, November 26, 2007

On Being a Tourist

Much to my husband’s dismay, I am not a good tourist. I don’t read the guide books, or listen to the audio tour, or stand in front of paintings for thirty minutes. To be honest, he is hard pressed to even get me to GO to a museum. I understand the value, really, I do. But my brand of tourism is wandering quaint cobblestone streets, window shopping and stopping for frequent coffees and local food treats. I’d much rather mingle with the people than check out the sites.

If I’m going to tour something, I prefer to wander through empty buildings, like castles. I like the starkness of the cold stone and echoing space. That way I can use my imagination to picture medieval people having a feast in front of a roaring fire, with large dogs lolling about. See, all tourism should require food.

One of my favorite touristic memories is the time we took some supporters to see The Alcazar in Segovia. Meg took one look at it and gasped “Does a DRAGON live here?” I think SHE wanted to grab a snack too.

I guess I'm not an accidental tourist, I'm just a lazy one.

I don’t care if it takes me all day to get through just one room at the Prado, I want to take my time, to soak in the painting detail by detail. This drives Heather crazy. (So if we are ever in a museum together—which is not often—she will just go right on without me. And this drives me crazy.)

She will be done looking through the whole place before I finish even half a floor. And then I worry that she is getting bored, so I can’t enjoy myself. But, I needn’t fret because when I finally catch up with her a couple hours later, I find out that, in that small space of time, she has started and finished reading a 500-page novel.

The other day we took the kids on a bus tour of Madrid (called Madrid Vision). They give you earphones so that as you travel you can learn interesting facts about the city. This is great for me, since it builds up my repository of useless data that I can then pull out later in a game of Trivial Pursuit (see our post on Games to understand this compulsion). At any rate, Heather could not care less what café Humphrey Bogart had a beer in nor what street corner Franco was seen picking his nose on. Me, on the other hand, I like to know things like that.

1 comment:

Gerg said...

. . . just wait until you get to see the manhole on Lincoln avenue where John Dillinger was shot. Right next to the Biograph theatre.

I think there's a book store nearby, so it could definitely be a family outing ;-)