On Being a Tourist

Our trip to Barcelona coincides with a festival La Mercé 06. It starts tomorrow but everywhere you look in this area the squares are full of stages. They have been setting up for days. It looks like it will be pretty wild, the city is already filling up.

We went to the beach today. I’d say about 20% of the women were topless. Very big deal for American men, you know. Actually not. I think its cool and it makes me wonder about the fat prudes in the US that are so upset by our natural bodies. Many of the older women I saw were topless, it was not just the young and beautiful by any means. At one end of the beach was clothing-optional. As usual, a lot of hairless gay men. One of the guys I’m with, who is a very nice and smart fellow, is a little obvious about it all. He likes looking at the titties. He snapped one picture before we were all ready to kill him.

Which brings me to my point: I despise being a tourist. It drives me nuts. I love traveling and I love feeling like I live where I am visiting. We have a sweet flat here so it is easy to feel at home. I absolutely hate things like valet parking, having maids in the room every day and being surrounded by a service industry that assumes you are a tourist. When I walk down the street I like it when people watching could not tell where I was from.

The same guy who was a little too obvious with the titties (I love you, Joe) looks very much like a tourist, too. He has flaming red hair, a golfing hat, camera around his neck. (Also the same guy who got pick-pocketed.) It’s no problem, we are having a blast, but when we are all together it is like having a big tourist sign over our heads. We did a couple shots of absinth for some god-forsaken reason and wandered around. At one point we were sitting in this sidewalk cafe and I was just amazed and annoyed at what a bunch of loud Americans we were. You couldn’t hear anyone else talking but everyone else could hear us. It drove me crazy. I like having a good time and I don’t mind when people get lit up and loud. But for some reason, in that moment, I could feel how little we blended in. This town, or at least this part of town, is full of travelers from all over the world. There is no shame in being a tourist in general and certainly not in his place now. Still…I don’t like being a tourist.

On Being a Tourist

One thought on “On Being a Tourist

  1. I totally get where you’re coming from here. When I travel, especially when I travel abroad, I enjoy staying in more residential areas – in apts or flats or villas. I like sitting back and really trying to absorb that cultural experience without being entitled or calling too much attention to myself. I don’t like being too much of a tourist. I like being a watcher. Roaming around, drinking in the scenery, enjoying the food, meeting new people. My Lovely Partner takes it a step further and always falls into a groove wherever we go. She finds that one little coffee shop or cafe that she’ll read the paper at every morning of our trip and she meets the owners or staff and chats with them daily. She’s really good at not being a tourist. It’s a better experience that way. And I don’t find myself apologizing for being a boorish American—mostly because I’m more respectful.

    Oh yeah. ENOUGH WITH THE FAT CRACKS. 😉 Some of us are just fat and sassy. We’re still cute. Mister.


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