Usually we’ve been places just a touch too long to really be considered tourists (foreigners: yes, tourists: no), but that hasn’t stopped me from loudly proclaiming “Let’s head down to _______ (fill in random attraction) and pretend to be tourists!”
There’s something freeing about speaking in one’s own language and accent without an overwhelming expectation of “What? You don’t speak exactly like us yet and you’ve been here for HOW long?” The truth is, no, I don’t speak exactly like the locals because:
- They would be offended if they knew just how bad my attempt at a cockney (or any other) accent was and
- I’m still me – a unique person with a unique history that does not perfectly match anywhere on this planet, never mind this exact location.
So, on some days I’m a tourist.
For large attractions we go early in the morning and usually on a weekday in order to skip out on the overwhelming crowds of people. There’s something magical about the beginning of a new day and walking freely among history’s monuments – all without getting stuck in a crowd or having to hear the shouts of vendors.
A view of Big Ben without the big crowd
Getting up early also means beating the crowds into museums, aquariums, theme parks, and zoos…
We’re kind of aquarium fanatics – more on that later
There are also plenty of smaller and less attended attractions one might not even think about until sitting somewhere bored for several months. One of our favorites ended up being the American Museum in Bath, England. What American would think of going to a museum about America while in a foreign country? The answer: one that likes giggling at what the British really think of us. Oh how difficult it was to keep a straight face.
The above “yarn tree” with its day-glow colors was found directly in front of the American museum. I’m fairly certain that it was a completely unrelated project (I think?), but never the less – there were many jokes made about the significance of traditional American yarn trees and the 4th of July.
Just remember, rush hour eventually catches up to us all, even those of us that avoid peak hours….
Personally, I prefer to hide from it in the safety of a nice cafe until the masses have passed by. The way I see it, there are two options when confronted with traffic (and life in general):
- Hang out for a while, enjoy yourself, have a conversation, have some tea – and be late
- Get packed into a train like a sardine, experience delays, stand around waiting – and be late