If I were in the business of marketing for assisting tourists plan their trip, I would be able to give them some advice, on what NOT to do. I am not talking about the essential 10 Things never to do in Europe (we did none of them…) These are far more subtle, learned on my recent travel abroad, with an entourage of 8, that would have “screamed” from the top of the bell tower; they are, clearly, tourists.
Maps in hand, cell phone picture taking and oversized water bottles (although this was only after we found the French market…before that were were getting a bit dehydrated from our long daily outings.) I don’t think the lot of us were 100% dressed as Americans (some yes, but not all).
There were several other indicators that embarrassed our 16 year old daughter consistently throughout the trip. Then again, there were a few parental moments of anguish as our children, were, well, children. (Parents everywhere have those moments, they don’t just happen in another country.)
We were respectful and reverent in Sacre-Coeur and Notre Dame, two of our favorite visits in Paris – all ages considered. We lingered less than we could have in the Louvre, but it was crowded and we had things we definitely wanted to see, like Napleon Bonaparte’s private apartments. We saw more and pondered the art displays much longer in the significantly smaller Musee D’Orsay.
We could have relaxed MUCH longer in the street cafes, but again, time was not on our side with just 3 days in the city…and always forgot to request l’addition to pay our bill. We could have mastered simple phrases, where we stumbled through them in French, but were more so surprised when we couldn’t understand the brogue in Ireland. Cast your vote with the token… “Cahaasst yor vhoaht weht dah tahocken.” (This was for a charity selection by the local market. Never in a million years would he has guessed that was what she was saying. thankfully, it was clearly signed in English and Gaelic at the exit.) Again, it happened in Ireland with the request for the source of the local goat cheese…our friendly waiter – who knew that Americans tend to tip when not expected – was more than happy to write it down for me. (Now if only they export to the US.)
There are many things to do to limit your attention getting activities that announce to local shop and restaurant owners clearly tourists have decided to eat in their pub, or cafe and shop in their store. If you’d like to know more, just ask. I’d be happy to help you fit in just a tad, bit more.
~ Dawn aka Hat Girl
PS Happy to be home but so grateful to have been able to experience this in person. I highly recommend it to all.