Just To Say We Did (or You know where you can stick that bucket list)

Today my boxers seem to involuntarily be in a bunch about tourist traps, probably inspired by my recent trip to the Grand Canyon but also as I needed a T word to write about this Tuesday and I certainly am not one to bash tourist (something about shitting on the hand where I feeds from, or something like that) Of course, the Grand Canyon is not a tourist trap but one of several nearby rather large chasms in the earth that I never tire of gazing at or frolicking in. [Insert your Freudian analysis here]. My gripe is not really with tourist traps by design really but more of what I feel are tourist traps by intention; a feeling of brain-washedness that we are all susceptible to whereas we almost feel obligated to perform certain activities at certain locales as prescribed by The Tourism Industrial Complex. My personal example of this is the day trip to Grand Canyon from Las Vegas; an 8 hour round-trip that I am often asked to make with out-of-town guests. While I love car trips, content to just aimlessly drive for hours (while my inner Al Gore drawls irritably on my mind), I always leave Grand Canyon after such a trip feeling like a debaucherous tourist that quickly takes my pleasures from her without proper reciprocation. I know that many people only need to spend an hour or two by the rim, (that ooh-ahh factor dissipates after a couple of views) to feel complete; after all, not everyone wants to spend hours grinding joints together and callusing their feet to explore the Canyon more fully.

A more glaring example of the tourist trap by intention is the peculiar desire for people to pose for photos by the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. It’s not even an interestingingly designed or constructed sign, but as so many movies and TV shows use it as a visual bite to signal the Vegas arrival, somehow we are programmed to believe it is some sort of significant landmark. It’s location is pretty outdated as well. Is my point making sense yet? Not a tourist trap, per se, as no money is spent here but definitely a tourist trap of intention, kind of something off of a low brow bucket list.

That is my idea of a tourist trap by intention; a place where someone goes because the travel book or television show or brochure tells you that you should but that robs you of any feeling of discovery of your destination.

I am going to try to make this one of those interactive postings, hoping that someone will comment about such a tourist trap of intention in your area, or that you’ve visited and felt disappointment about. I will start the comments with one from Spain. I’m going to feel like a total dork if no one comments, but that fine, I’ve been there before.


7 responses to “Just To Say We Did (or You know where you can stick that bucket list)

  1. While I lived in Mallorca, the number one tourist attraction was a bus ride up to the town of Valldemossa to see a piano that Chopin supposedly wrote some Preludes on while spending an ill-fated winter living there with George Sand to try to improve his failing health. I would visit this town often, a nice stop on a biking route, and was always dismayed by the many double-decked tourist buses lined up and ruining the view of the shaded streets of this bucolic, mountain town. There were huge throngs of sweaty tourists waiting a long time to slowly shuffle past the piano then out the door to a group of souvenir kiosks and then back on their buses. Never mind that the same church that housed the piano also had a beautiful garden and ancient cemetery which was mostly deserted out back, built to the edge of a promontory with stunning views across the island including the city of Palma and the turquoise bay beyond. Around the town which consisted of tiny walking streets were many shady little lanes and mini squares containing little local coffee shops with tables spread out under the shade of huge trees (I wish I knew which). On the one hand, it was a blessing not to have crowds of foreigners ruining the tranquil atmosphere, but I’m sure some of these small businesses wouldn’t have minded having more customers.

  2. I really enjoy your take on the whole tourism thing. I am an avid anti-tourist and avoid any and all commercially advertised places of costly pleasure. It is much my preference to visit the “off the beaten trail” places where the town folks go. I’d rather rub elbows with the real people of the locale instead of being pushed out of the way by some camera happy tourist trying to get the shot of his clan by the 40 foot Paul Bunyan and his pal Babe. Loved this post!

  3. Joanne, me too. (Although there is a picture of me and my brothers with 40-foot Paul Bunyan and his pal Babe.)

    I was thinking that maybe the biggest touristy place near me is the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s nothing special, really. To walk across it is noisy and traffic-smelly and not unlike walking across any busy bridge in America. And yet… I still get a little goose-bumpy-proud when I see it in the gathering SF fog…

  4. I’m a big fan of bridges, so I would probably waste a perfectly good afternoon that I could fill with more exciting San Franciscan activities, trying to find a vantage point to take a picture. That is, of course, if you were too busy to take me to that spot you posted your pictures of the bridge from.

    I thought of another: Area 51, in Nevada. Do people think it’s going to be all last-half- hour-of- Close-Encounters out there?

  5. I am laughing that you both have seen the supersized Paul Bunyan and his blue companion. Yes, guilty as charged. Big trip through the entire west coast as a kid. Judy, the Golden Gate Bridge is beautiful to look at but there used to be a little origami shop in Chinatown that was much more fun and a lot quieter.

  6. By far biggest (smallest) disappointment was visiting Plymouth Rock. I was with my then fiancé and his parents. They were showing me the sites. After my husband had mocked the beach of my childhood in Galveston, I welcomes the ridiculousness that is Plymouth Rock. It is a small rock surrounded by glass or plastic and that day there was an empty beer can on it. Good times! I was pleased in my not so evil little way.

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