14 November 2011

The Authoritative Guide to Being an Expert Tourist (vol. 1)

Congratulations on advancing this far, young tourist. You've done well.

You have mastered the Security Line Rumba, that dance of slipping off your shoes and emptying your pockets while pirouetting to avoid the trio of hungover conventioneers whacking you with their carry-ons as they try to dig out their laptops.

Your internal Irish Pub radar is so well-honed that you can smell the Guinness and County Cork tchotchkes from three miles away.

You have perfected the Goofy Tourist Picture Pose, every bit as ridiculous and labored as a supermodel's pout-strut, but accessorized so much more creatively, with the Eiffel Tower as a hat or Manneken Pis pee(r)ing over your shoulder or Mary Tyler Moore as your bronzed arm-candy (see fig. 1). (See further reading section below.)

Fig. 1
But those were just the basics. You have proven your interest and commitment. Now you must prove yourself. It is time to move on to the Advanced Touristing Techniques. And I, your Touristing Guru Master Expert Dude, am here to help. Master just a few more skills, young camera-toting, globe-trotting, guidebook-waving grasshopper, and you, too, will be able to call yourself a true Advanced Expert Tourist.

This will be an ongoing set of lessons--the wisdom of the ancients cannot be explained in a single blog post, nor can true proficiency be attained if your focus is not pure and constant. I ask--nay, implore--you to begin practicing forthwith and to dedicate yourself to the cause with singular vigor. More lessons will follow shortly.


Get out of the way or join the dance: Two methods of interacting with other camera-toting tourists.

Method 1: The camera-duck/tourist-pivot
The scenario: You're walking through a busy tourist area and you spot someone seemingly staring--hard--into space, a big, cheesy grin affixed to his or her face.

Rookie mistake: After staring hard at the person, trying to determine what that demented Jack Nicholson-in-The Shining grin is all about (and whether or not you should be sprinting away), you realize that said person is posing for a picture. You stop abruptly so as not to walk into the frame, but your halting, flustered demeanor makes the poser and the photographer both become self-conscious, and the poser starts to apologize just as the camera shutter clicks, necessitating a do-over or ten. The spontaneity is lost, the moment ruined, and it's all your fault.

Advanced technique: After much time on the tourist trail and much practice spotting the assorted and multitudinous but not-very-elusive breeds of photo-posers, you will hone your vision and instinct and be able to spot them from a minimum of twenty strides away. Pretend you don't see them but stay out of the frame. Don't break stride, don't make eye contact, just duck or pivot around them.

Recommended practice: Ducking and/or pivoting without breaking stride. I suggest at least five reps of ten pivots and fifteen walking-ducks per day.