I’m baaack! (For now.)
I briefly emerged from grad school studies to enjoy a short and quick Europe-trek during my semester break. I had a fabulous time, but learned quickly that a good traveling companion is hard to find. My ideal travel companion is one that is adventurous, fun, flexible, and has a matched, if not more, curiosity for the wonders of foreign lands. I was fortunate enough to have a couple of these along with me on this trip. However, there were some I wish I left behind. Since we all fall under the category of “American tourists”, here is a list of what I discovered to be some of the weird/annoying behaviors we exhibit whilst travelling to Europe.
1.) The traveler who is too lazy/hung-over to sightsee.
This person takes one morning trip to the Eiffel Tower and wants to spend the rest of the day napping and/or vegging out in front of the hotel TV or Wi-Fi. Why this person made an expenditure on an airplane ticket for halfway across the world is beyond me. I don’t know about you, but I came here to see and learn about new places, have adventures, and gain new experiences. Maybe even learn a little bit of a foreign language. What is the big deal about Facebook? What was the need to clear out the mini-bar and drink yourself into hallucination until 4 a.m.? I mean, we’re in EUROPE!
2.) The travelers whose idea of traveling is shopping.
You are in the land of centuries-old history, palaces of historic royals and political leaders, magnificent mosques and cathedrals, a whole new culture, and you want to spend your trip at a shopping mall? This person definitely ranks on my list as the most annoying person to travel with. This is because there are times where I have to sacrifice chunks of my sight-seeing schedule to standing by while said companion stares at racks and racks of dresses and purses, when she could have just stayed at home to do the same thing. Besides, you are not exactly getting a great deal out of buyng Zara items in euros than in dollars. While shopping for souvenirs and products unique to the region is part of the experience, there are too many who dedicate their travels to commercial shopping.
3.) The traveler who, despite being amongst some of the finest coffeeshops in Europe, still complains that they miss their daily $5 Starbucks latte.
In most coffeeshops in Austria and Italy, an espresso and a café latte cost about the same: 1 euro. This is because Europeans have the sense not to charge, say, an extra 2 euros for frothy milk (the way Starbucks will charge an extra $3.50.) This is also about the same amount it takes to enjoy a café latte, delicious cappuccino, or just any beverage of your choice in a beautiful, antique Viennese coffeeshop once frequented by Sigmund Freud. Tourists who hop to the neighboring Starbucks to buy a 5-euro latte in a paper cup need to be eliminated!
I’m sure this is not an exhaustive list on silly American tourist behavior, but these frequent ones continue to baffle me. However, other than this, I still loved Europe, and would like to return some day as a new and improved tourist.