Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Tourist Life

Since moving here and starting this blog, I've made it a goal to really explore this new city of mine. That means I'm perpetually in the "tourist state of mind."

You know when you're on vacation and you cram so much into a day that you're completely exhausted by the end of it. Museums start to run together, your feet are throbbing, and your glass of wine is empty before you even realize you've been drinking it? (Or, maybe that latter one was just me in France.) All tourist adventures don't have to be like that. 

I've tried to do at least one "touristy" activity each weekend, when possible. Sometimes that means just hopping on the Metro and getting off at a new stop to explore. Last Saturday, I had an afternoon free and thought, "Hey, why not go see some art?" The "art" of HGTV's House Hunters was getting a bit tedious. (Yes, you want an open floor plan and granite counter tops - we get it!) Admission to The Corcoran - one of my favorite galleries - is free on Saturdays in the summer. The Corcoran is also the perfect sized gallery because it doesn't take all day to see. In fact, it took me exactly one hour (including time to peruse the gift shop).  Aaaand, since I was in the neighborhood, I decided to take a slight detour and continue my touristy adventure....

Sadly, the term "tourist" has developed quite a bad connotation. Tourists are often viewed as annoying and inconvenient. And - truth be told - they often are. I blame midwestern accents and fanny packs for that - I mean, that's how "tourists" are portrayed in movies, right? I'm sure I'll grow tired and annoyed of the loud and confused visitors crowding the Metro all summer long. So, go ahead and call me a hypocrite. But, I think they've got the right idea. (Except when they block both sides of the escalators. That is not the right idea). 
I understand that it's hard to see and do it all, especially in a city like DC. But it's certainly fun to try. You don't want to be that person who says, 'You know, I've lived here 10 years and I've never seen [insert the name of something awesome]."  And this "tourist" mentality works in any town. I've already thought of a dozen things I wish I'd done and seen when I was in Charlotte.

Now if we're going to take up this new outlook on life, we need to band together to reclaim the term "tourist." It should be a good thing. Who doesn't love a vacation? Here's where I think tourists go wrong...

Lindsay's Dos & Don'ts of Tourism: 

As I continue to explore and observe the onslot of DC tourists this summer, I'm sure this list will grow. Until then, here are my top five considerations. 

  • DON'T: Fanny Packs. Contrary to popular tourist beliefs, you do not need to wear them. In fact, I don't even know where you people are buying them. 

  • DO but also DON'T: Photography. By all means, you should have pictures of your trip and explorations. But, do you need to have your family of 8 in the middle of the sidewalk? You do? Ok, well then could you take the picture quickly and get out of the way. Don't take it and then all huddle around - in the middle of the sidewalk- while you see if it took. Or, if you're taking pics in front of something iconic like, oh I don't know, the White House, please be considerate of others around you and do not loiter in front of the view.  
  • DO: Volume Control. For some reason, people think when they're in a new city, they have to talk louder. I've done it too, especially in other countries. But guess what, nine times out of ten, you do not need to raise the volume of your voice just because you are in another city. If you can hear your family members on the sidewalk in your hometown, then you can probably hear them here as well, especially if you're in a small space like a train car or even a gallery. I suppose I shouldn't be too harsh on this one because for most of my touristy activities, I'm flying solo and don't need to yell to a companion, "I think this one's the Capitol!" 

  • DO but also DON'T: Souvenirs. Souvenirs are overpriced and unnecessary but they're fun. So, have  at it. Buy until your heart's content. However, I hope your heart is content before you reach the point when you have so many souvenirs that they start to encroach on other people's personal space. And, I speak from experience when I say, if you let your kid have a balloon that's attached to the end of a stick (??), please do not let her wave it around on the train. Sticks and stones may break my bones.

  • DO: Your Homework. Especially in DC, you're here to learn. I get that. Open your eyes. Learn about the government. However, try to be a little informed when you arrive. At least know what some of the big building looks like so that you aren't standing in front of them acting a fool and saying things like, "This is the Lincoln Memorial, I mean Jefferson. He was the President that freed the slave. I mean, Lincoln, Not Jefferson."  Bless your heart. I see you holding that guidebook. You might as well read from it. If you're embarrassed to pull out your guidebook then know this, people are already judging you for your balloon-on-a-stick purchase. So, you might as well learn a thing or two and maximize your time in our nation's capital (or any tourist destination.) 

No comments:

Post a Comment