“Over-tourism” or Opportunity?

If you have traveled outside the U.S. within the last five years, you may have realized that you need to develop some new travel skills. While this is particularly true of visits to more well-known places such as Paris, Vienna and New York (Yes – coming from California, I do consider New York a foreign country), those are not the only places where new skills can come in handy.

The skills? 1) Wait and stand and 2) Body Blocking 1A

I recently had the privilege of going on a fourteen-day tour of seven Baltic countries. The area has a long, rich, history and we thoroughly enjoyed the trip. There were three destinations where the new skills came in handy. We visited the Hermitage and the Summer Palace in St. Petersburg as well as the museum in Gdansk, Poland. This was my first experience with “over-tourism” on such a grand scale. We employed the “Wait and Stand” strategy as we waited for the long line at the entrance gate to snake its way through the entry and in to the building. Next, we employed “Body Blocking”.

I was reluctant to employ “Body Blocking” at first. After all, one should wait patiently, say excuse me, and above all take turns. But when I discovered that this strategy resulted in an elbow in my stomach and the inability to keep my feet under me, I reconsidered. My elbow came out, I stepped down even though someone else’s foot occupied the area, and I never said “excuse me”.

Although we toured these sites during national holidays in Poland and Russia, most of the people employing the ‘new skills’ were fellow tourists from countries all over the world.

The last few days, the press has been discussing “Over-tourism.” Plagued by tourists in Vienna who jump into the canals from the bridges and tourists who dress “inappropriately,” Vienna is considering levying a fine for such behavior. In an interview, an airline steward remarked that tourist seem to forget common courtesy when traveling. Another commentator blamed “Over-tourism” on the availability of “cheap flights.”

I don’t have a solution to this situation. It would be a great loss if people stopped traveling. Travel is an eye-opener. It can makes us more tolerant, more informed and better world citizens.

ST. Stephens in Riga, Latvia – it has been a Catholic church and is now a Lutheran Church.
Ruins at Visby, Sweden. Visby was part of the Hanseatic League, a powerful trade organization. When the Hanseatic League disintegrated, Visby lost its economic base. The Ruins remain because the town was too poor to rebuild. It is a rich source for understanding the past.

Peace

San Francisco – The Dark Side

When I hear ” San Francisco,” I think of Tony Bennett singing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”,  Pier 39, Cruise ships, the Golden Gate Bridge, and other tourist attractions. The last time I visited San Francisco, I traveled there in a bus, and went straight to the cruise ship boarding area. No mess, no fuss.

But recently I had a very different experience. I rode “shot-gun” and served as the navigator for a friend. Neither or us had actually driven through San Francisco in several years. I am not known for having the keenest sense of direction. ( Calls of  ‘Your other left’ still haunt me when I think of dancing), but in spite of this I never recoil from the role of navigator.

We made it through without incident to our destination and completed our task. Granted, there was one place where we almost ended up in Oakland/San Jose due to some misdirection from the car’s On Star system ( not MY fault!) but other than that, it was relatively smooth.

After a few false starts and several conversations with the folks at On Star, we made it back toward San Francisco and in the general direction of Interstate 80 East, the main highway that would take us home. That’s when the trouble began. We soon rediscovered how interesting it can be to drive through San Francisco.

Because I was so busy making sure we stayed on the correct course, I did not take even one photo of our adventure; however, I do have two drawings I did after we returned home. I hope you enjoy them.

The official plan for entering Interstate 80 East from downtown San Francisco

The way the official plan looks to most drivers.

 

Peace

Where in the World?

Looking through some old photos of trips my husband and I have taken through the years, it struck me how many places in the world bear a strong resemblance to each other – not that anyone would completely mistake one for the other – but close in some ways.  Here they are. What do you think? Either/or?

IMG_20151231_0001South Africa or the Salinas Valley, CA in August.IMG_20151231_0002

 

 

Germany or Bloomfield Hills, MI.

 

IMG_20151231_0003

The Alps or the Sierra Nevada in CA.