Exactly What I Thought!

So recently I’ve come across some articles on my favourite travel blogs and felt things that really rang true for me.  I’ve been following these blogs and identifying with the content for months now, but more-so since I’ve been back from Europe.  I recognize different spots and actually have valuable comments to add.  I even have an identical photo from the coast of Nice as one of my favourite bloggers, Christine!

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This post from Stephanie would definitely have been a good read for my trip (btw Stephanie’s site is amazing!).  She perfectly captures the feelings of travel burn-out.  I remember wanting to stay in bed and watch TV instead of going out and exploring.  But I would feel so guilty! It was a constant battle between guilt and exhaustion.  But Stephanie’s right, what’s the point of travelling if you’re too tired to enjoy it?  So while it’s hard to hear people mention places I missed out on seeing (I didn’t realize St. Paul’s Cathedral was that big a deal or that Barcelona is known for their ham!) I’m proud of the choices I made.  Sometimes watching Say Yes To The Dress in Portugal is more important than exploring the night life of Lisbon.

Sometimes this is the better choice!

A new favourite of mine is Alex in Wanderland (though the grammar and spelling mistakes drive my slight OCD-ness insane).  Alex is a recent college grad who travels the world taking amazing photographs and scuba diving! Her piece on bad tourist behaviour in Laos really struck a cord with me.  As I’ve discussed before, I really hate looking like a tourist.  I try to blend in by taking stealthy camera shots, avoiding big tourist (and money) traps and refusing to sport a money belt.  The time I got mistaken for a local in Paris might be the best compliment I’ve ever received!  Anyway, Alex talks about tourists ruining a religious ritual in Laos.  Looking at her photos, the tourists do act downright disgusting!  In this age of facebook and twitter, people are doing almost anything to get the shot.

It’s hard when you’re travelling to find the balance between capturing the moment and experiencing the moment.  I was constantly taking my camera out and then shoving it back in my purse and then grabbing it out again.  It’s hard! Especially when you’re travelling alone and pictures are one of the few ways to share your trip with someone else.  But I did make a point to put my camera away when I was asked.  Most of the churches I visited prohibited photography, but there are always sneaky ways to get the shot.  I saw lots of tourists taking photos when they weren’t supposed to.  It made me sad. I understand if you’re not committed to the particular religion but it is a sacred space – no need to ruin it by blinding the priest with your flash.

As close as my camera got to the inside of Westminister Abbey, allowing me to fully appreciate the Choral Service without distraction.

In fact, I prefered the churches where no photography was allowed.  It gave me a chance to walk around, admire the beauty and reflect on what I was feeling.  I made a point to stop in every church to take a seat and pray.  It gave me a minute to check out and to thank God for all the amazing things I had the chance to experience.  Those were some of my favourite moments of my trip.  But in places like Notre Dame, it was hard to focus with people posing next to crucifixes and changing lenses by the altar.

Note all the cameras visible inside Notre Dame

But like Alex, I have taken part in “bad” tourist behaviour.  In the Dominican Republic I gave money to kids selling sea shells on the beach.  You’re not supposed to give them money because it encourages the kids to keep selling things on the streets instead of going to school and getting an education.  Ironic, as I was also working on a school building while in the DR. I didn’t realize it at the time but giving the kids money wasn’t a good idea.  One of many travel mistakes I’m sure I’ve made.

The boys I mistakenly bought seashells from in the Dominican. Live and learn!

So those were posts that really affected me.  There have also been a couple NYC posts on some of my favourite blogs (I’ve been trying to plan an NYC trip this summer but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen) – coincidence?  Here are a few of the travel blogs I really enjoy:

http://www.twenty-somethingtravel.com

http://www.cestchristine.com

http://www.alexinwanderland.com

http://www.nomadicmatt.com

www.lostgirlsworld.com

…and a few more! But those are probably the ones I follow the most closely. If you’re looking to spend some time getting lost in the travel-blogging universe those links are definitely a great start. Let me know of any others I should be checking out!

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