Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Type of Tourist I Am Not

I should listen to my own advice before travelling.

My concept of a vacation differs greatly from that of the tourist who visits Lake Balaton, one of the "top 15" tourist destinations in Europe. This type of tourist is one who wants to relax, get away from things, and do nothing. There sure is a lot of nothing to do at Lake Balaton.

That's not what I want when I take a vacation. I want to meet people, see local towns and crafts, and experience the unadulterated country. The concept of tourism at Lake Balaton is to preserve you from experiencing anything of the country.

At "tourist destinations" they have endless shops selling tourist garbage: buttons, shotglasses, hats, and t-shirts with the crest of the local area. Sunscreen and coke at inflated prices. Who buys this stuff?

Ths stuff is all crap, and everyone knows it. Everyone I'm ever met says that when something becomes touristy, or catered to tourists, it becomes bad. So who is buying this? Who is keeping this industry afloat?

It must be that other type of tourist. The one who wants to experience nothing, do nothing, and say he's been there. This must be the same guy who reads and responds to spam. Is this a generational thing? Is that type of tourist dying out, and my type gaining ascendance? If so, can we finally dry out these businesses and send them looking for other work?

If my experience of Hungary was boring, it's because I spent it at Lake Balaton. Even at Balaton, if you conspire to get lost and follow the little trails off the beaten path, you can find many nice things, places, and sights. But you have to work hard at getting lost. Undoubtedly, if I had vacationed in any other part of Hungary I would have had a better time.

But Budapest is lovely.


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