Cultural Ignorance Insults My Intelligence

Quick… can you tell me what country this windmill comes from?

It's as though the blades were twisting in the wind.

It’s as though the blades are twisting in the wind.

If you’re smart, you’re probably thinking it can’t be from the Netherlands… unless you believe I’m pulling some reverse psychology on you.  Or perhaps those Dutch windmills are more diverse than you imagined.

This reminds me of when Barack Obama was “helping” with Chicago’s unsuccessful bid to win the 2016 Olympic Games.  He claimed that the United States’ uniqueness lies in its diversity (unlike those homogenous countries like India, the Netherlands, and the eventual winner, Brazil).  In turn, he touted Chicago as a city where people from across the globe could go and meet people who look just like them…

because the purpose of the Olympics and of travel in general is to avoid encounters with people who aren’t like you.  Right?

And so maybe you can see yourself in someone or something of another ethnicity or race or nationality.  For instance, a Dutch windmill might enjoy meeting this foreign Swedish windmill at the Skansen museum in Stockholm.

Art Insults My Intelligence

Architects sometimes get a little overzealous on the creativity and innovation.  You can probably imagine my surprise as I was traversing Barcelona, a city famed for Gaudi and for other pinnacles of aesthetic accomplishment, when I discovered this:

It's shiny up close...

It’s shiny up close…

This giant… ahem… feminine pleasure device, um… phallic symbol, no, er… rounded building of very painful glass loses its shimmer in the moist

Okay, I give up.  A work of art is supposed to make people pause and discuss; this building certainly accomplished its purpose.  However, I hope the discussion rises above crass humor someday.

But not today.  Immaturity is too much fun.

 

Ignoring Similarities Insults My Intelligence

Once upon a time I visited the University of Antwerp.  Here’s a picture from while I was on the move:

It looks just like an American college.

The ivy is dead.  Too bad…

If I hadn’t told you the school’s location, you might not have identified its location.  Actually, it looks like a lot of American campuses, except they obviously don’t spend exorbitant sums on landscaping.

When you’re traveling, don’t just pass through the things that look like the same old boring thing from home.  You can learn a lot by noticing the similarities in different countries.

By the same token, you can also learn from the differences in things that look the same.  For example, McDonald’s sells beer in Germany.

Prost!

Earthtones Insult My Intelligence

Spring means that many tourist attractions lose some of their earthtones.

Vienna is home to manicured gardens and exhausted gardeners.

Vienna is home to manicured gardens and exhausted gardeners.

 

There’s also a downside.  The worst thing that could happen to me today is being asked to help with gardening.  If you don’t like brown flowers, find your free labor elsewhere.

I’ll be busy enjoying a job application and maybe a can of tuna.

Hidden Masterpieces Insult My Intelligence

When all those architects and artists were designing churches so many centuries ago, couldn’t they have had the foresight to make the intricate artworks more accessible to photographers?

I took this photo at a church in Antwerp.  After twisting and contorting my body to get a good angle, I was finally able to get a somewhat decent shot of the art that looks down from on top of everything.  Even so, the shot could be improved.

By comparison, this makes the Sistine Chapel ceiling look easy to paint. Why not make things easier on the artists?

In other words, tourist attractions should be tourist friendly.  Our world had progressed greatly since the time this church was built.

Monumental Buildings Insult My Intelligence

There’s no such thing as a monumental building.  It’s all in how you look at it.

It towers above me.

It towers above me.

As you can tell from the picture, this building has only three or four stories.  Looks bigger here, doesn’t it?

It’s more fun to be small and let the little things tower over you.  You don’t need an Eiffel Tower to be awed; monuments are where you find them.

This has been your budget travel tip for the day.  Stay thrifty, my friends.

Memories Insult My Intelligence

It was late.  It was cold.  We were cold and we were too tired to be horny.  We were on the threshold of returning to our hotel and we waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited.

Our home away from home, or so it seemed…

These are the memories that last a lifetime but we almost never think to photograph them.

Frozen Romances Insult My Intelligence

venice

Unfortunately, everyone thinks the sights are beautiful.

Welcome to Venice, home of semi-romantic gondola rides and hordes of tourists.  Unfortunately, those rides aren’t as lovely as you might imagine because those bridges and shores function as streets.  And there’s people on them there streets and they’re all looking at you, or so it seems.

Kissy kissy!

And so you look back at them.  Nothing gets seafaring lovers in the mood quite like watching a bunch of people eating, walking, and carrying their loot around.  Especially when it’s cold.

And it’s even colder on the water… cold enough to make anyone frigid.  Pun intended.

Life’s Ups and Downs Insult My Intelligence

Reflections on life:

Few attractions are as cleansing as Park Guell in Barcelona.

Few attractions are as cleansing as Park Guell in Barcelona.

When you climb the stairs of existence, overcoming the falling water that threatens your rise, you will one day reach the pinnacle and discover something resembling a bidet that had been complicating your ascent with its slippery spawn.  However, things are not always as they seem.  That fountain of hope will eliminate the remaining shit from the bottom of your existence.

That is, until the folks at Park Guell kick you out.

Artlessness Insults My Intelligence

Why do people always feel the need to destroy things?  This was a perfectly good mountain before someone transformed it into a functional piece of art by putting a road inside.

Traffic cave

Near Prague’s city center, this tunnel looks just as historical as its surroundings.  I hope they only bored a hole through a mountain and not through a real castle…

On second thought, could the engineers and architects who designed this please come to the U.S. and replace our green steel monstrosities that in no way blend in with the nearby forests?

Convenient Perspectives Insult My Intelligence

Have you ever looked at those glossy tourist brochures promising you bright and colorful adventures that look like this?

Prague cropped

Oooooh, pretty!

Of course you have because that’s what’s best for business.  However, you inevitably arrive at your destination and discover something a little different…

Cheerful, isn't it?

Cheerful, isn’t it?

I took this photo in Prague, which is a beautiful city in a soot-covered sort of way.  It still looks a little run down in places because of its time under communism and a lot of the sights haven’t been scrubbed clean… or so it seems.

Moral of the story: when planning a vacation, make sure your perspective matches that of the travel agency.  Or better yet, do your own research.  Your sleep deprived spouse and children will thank you while you’re all cooped up together in that tiny hotel room with no escape from each other.

Staying with the Tour Insults My Intelligence

alley2

Ahhhh…. peace and quiet amid the tourist chaos.

Ladies and Gentlemen, today I present unto you a wall.  Actually two of them… with windows and doors and fun stuff like that.   This abandoned side street will reward your refusal to follow the crowds when traveling in a small Italian town.  The tour guide does not know everything and often steers you towards the “sights” whose overseers funnel his company a little financial recompense.

For that reason, you get a 2-for-1 post today.  Since memorable stuff like this exists, established tourist attractions also insult my intelligence.

Actually, so do tour guides… so that’s 3-for-1.