Bloody tourists. We’ve probably all thought it in our least tolerant moments- when someone’s stopped to work out directions in the middle of a street, or you can’t get to where you need to be because of too many people taking photos. But last week, I was one of those bloody tourists, clogging up the streets of New York taking a series of incredibly unflattering selfies (seriously, how do you take a good selfie? It is just a matter of taking 800 photos until one of them is passable?!). Here’s an example, one of the better ones, believe it or not.
Anyway, my family and I spent a week being tourists, marvelling at the city where every street reminds you of a scene from that film/tv show/song/every piece of pop culture ever, and no doubt pissed off countless New Yorkers by misunderstanding the subway, stopping to take pictures in the street and doing everything that I have at one point or another been irritated at tourists for in my city.
At one point my mum wanted to go to M and Ms World and I eyerolled and sighed in true pubescent style (because apparently you are never too old to act like a child around your parents) ‘Really?! We have one those in London’. I thought it was a cringe-y, tourist-y, thing to do. But, on reflection, who the hell am I to tell someone else what they can and can’t do on holiday?
Yes, there’s a certain frustration when you see people visiting cheesy attractions, because you know there’s so much more to your home than that, but isn’t there a certain beauty in seeing something through the eyes of someone experiencing it for the first time? Of course I’m going to go to the Statue of Liberty, because I don’t know whether I’ll ever get the chance to again. I looked up on holiday so much more than I would do at home, because I wanted to drink it all in, and was rewarded with awesome stuff like this:
Naturally it’s important to try to soak up as much ‘real’ stuff as you can when visiting somewhere new, but you can’t possibly understand a place within a few short days, and believing that you can have anything other than a fairly surface experience is unrealistic and frankly ignorant- there’s nothing worse than the person who tries to act like they know everything about Italian culture after a one-week trip (you had some pasta in Pisa mate, pipe down).
I absolutely believe in seeking to understand a place as much as you can in as authentic a way as possible. But as long as you’re being a culturally sensitive and responsible visitor, I also think there’s a great joy in being unashamedly happy to be seeing something in front of your eyes that you’ve only ever seen in pictures, or imagined in your daydreams.
This isn’t a thinly veiled excuse to brag about going on holiday.
Or at least it’s not entirely a thinly veiled excuse to brag about going on holiday.
I genuinely feel like there’s something to be said for experiencing the world as if you’re a visitor all the time.
So I came home and acted like a tourist in London for the weekend. I went rowing on the river in Hyde Park with my boyfriend, tried to find a pet cemetery (because we’re cool people) and watched a pink sunset over the city with some tinnies. And it was bloody marvellous. I feel so grateful to live somewhere that I’m so happy to come home to. And I want to remember that as often as I can.