Thursday, April 22, 2010

Tourist Traps. Agree or Disagree?

A friend sent me a link to an article on the 10 world’s worst tourist traps. The link, if you're interested in reading more, is at the bottom of this blog.

However, if you don’t feel like going to yet another link, the 10 worst tourist traps, according to the article, are:

1. Kissing the Blarney Stone
2. Riding in a Venice Gondola
3. The Leaning Tower of Pisa
4. The Empire State Building
5. Niagara Falls
6. Stonehenge
7. Walt Disney World
8. Sears (Willis) Tower
9. Salem Witch Museum
10. Graceland

I have no idea if those were listed in some sort of order of importance, but I must say it was a little disconcerting to realize that I’d been to six of the 10 of them. In my defense, three of them were from when I was a kid and I didn’t have a say in where we went on vacation.

On the other hand, visiting some of these places probably wasn’t all that bad because it was a lot of years ago and (a) they weren’t as “tourist-y” as they are now and (b) there probably weren’t as many people walking the earth, so they weren’t as crowded. Oh, and (c) they were probably way cheaper!

I was astounded to learn that it costs $79 per person per day to get into Disney World. That’s before you buy your kid the first ice cream cone or soft drink or one of those goofy Mouse Ears Hats. Or Goofy Ears Hat. Whatever.

I have some friends who just took their kids to Disney World – there were three adults and four children. That’s…well, I don’t have my calculator handy at the moment, but that’s a lotta money! Paying for food for seven people plus hotel accommodations might necessitate taking out a second mortgage on a person’s home.

I remember when I was a kid and we went to the Empire State building – it was amazing to be 86 stories in the air and looking out over New York City. It was probably more memorable to a kid who grew up in the small town of Alliance, Ohio, where the highest building was probably 4 stories high and elevators were not required. (I jest – I really have no idea what the tallest building in Alliance is. But I don’t really recall encountering too many elevators.)

I will say that I completely concur with the #1 choice – “Kissing the Blarney Stone” in Ireland. I totally hated the Blarney Stone! My dad, sister and I made the trek up the old stone steps to kiss it. I had no idea there was a gap between the wall and the floor. You had to lie down on your back, hold onto metal poles on either side of the wall, tip your head back at an unnatural and uncomfortable angle and kiss the wall behind you while someone held onto you so you didn’t tumble down through the gap backwards and headfirst. Plus, the wall was all wet – whether from the weather or from other folks’ lips – I don’t know, but…bleccchh! All I knew for sure was I didn’t want to get anywhere near that nasty thing! Instead, I did an “air kiss” so my actual lips didn’t touch the actual wall.

I think the guy hanging on to me suggested I give it another try, but I said I was good and I had plenty of “gab” thank you very much. I got up, dusted myself off and thought, if I’d had any idea this was the deal, I would’ve stayed down on the ground with mom. I guess I really should read a tour guide once in a while before heading to some of these places.

I’ve been to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and, yep, it’s leaning. And I think we went to Niagara Falls when I was a kid. I remember a lot of water and a lot of mist. I’ve seen the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) in Chicago, and, yeah, it’s a tall building. Didn’t go up in it, but looked up at it – does that count?! And I’ve been to Venice, though I didn’t take a gondola ride. We were there in February and it was spitting snow and icy rain – they couldn’t have paid me enough Euros to get in one of those things that day!

I have not been to Stonehenge, but I’ve seen photos. According to the article, you’d probably get a better view looking at pictures since these days they keep tourists pretty far away or something. Nor have I been to the Salem Witch Museum, even though my parents are from Massachusetts. Guess my folks figured they should take us to Plymouth Rock instead for a little Mayflower history, which is a tourist attraction I’d have to add to the list. It’s just a roped-off rock with a little plaque! But at least it’s not overrun with tourists and you can get up close and personal – provided you have an interest in seeing a big rock up close.

The tackiest tourist trap on the list, I suppose, would have to be Graceland. One of these days I might have to go – just to say I’ve been.

And, to the writer of this article for making me feel like one of those unsophisticated tourists who go to all the tacky tourist attractions, I say in my best Elvis impersonation, “Thank you…thank you very much!”

Smarter Travel link:

(Photo: brosner via Flickr. Type of CC Attribution.

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