Monday, January 27, 2014

Being A Tourist

 “The difference between a traveler and a tourist,” a publican once explained to me over a pint “is that a tourist goes somewhere and expects to be entertained. A traveler goes some place and is entertained by learning about the place and the people.”

My friend Brian

imparted that wisdom to me and I have never forgotten it. The quote is brought to mind because yesterday, Australia day, I did something I NEVER do. I played tourist! What can I say!? It was raining when I got up. The forecast was for a soggy and overcast day, and I wanted to do something more than sit in my apartment and mope. So, I headed down into town, went to the main tourist hub, and bought a ticket on one of those hop-on-hop-off tour buses.

Here’s my assessment of that sort of arrangement: Mixed. It’s okay, I guess, and I can see how it would be good if you really had no clue about the city and the things to do in the town and couldn't be bothered to plan an itinerary of things that interest you. The bus did stop at a number of places that are of interest to me – but those places, I have already found my way to. There was only one thing that it passed that I had not yet found myself, and I will probably go back there, but other than that, it showed me nothing I had not already found myself.

And it is EXPENSIVE! Sure, your $40 ticket lets you hop on and off all day, but for about half that, you can buy a weekly bus pass and hop on and off buses all week. Granted, the city buses are not topless double-decker buses, and the photograpic opportunities were sort-of worth it, but having done it once, I don’t feel any compulsion to do it again.

That being said, it was a lovely ride, and it did eventually clear-up. And the day was not without its moments – There was the family sitting in the seat directly behind me who bugged everybody who sat in the seat across the aisle from me to have them take their picture. And there was the bus driver on my homeward trip who apparently has issues with traffic. No Lie! This guy sat there, grumbling and gesturing at all the holiday traffic. Granted, it was bad, but not that much worse than it would have been on a work day!

Ah, well! It was a lovely day and there is always something that you can think of to entertain yourself when you’re an skillful world traveler!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you’re a traveler – not a tourist!

Don Bergquist – 27 January 2014 – Glebe, New South Wales, Australia

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