Cardinal Sins Insult My Intelligence

Looking for adventure?

Climb to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica and bring your binoculars. You never know what escapades you’ll discover when you peer into all these windows:

Visit the Vatican and experience sin first-hand.

Visit the Vatican and experience sin first-hand.

I wonder if the ever-so-vigilant Vaticanites complained when those unsightly apartment buildings started blocking people’s view of their churchly treasure… or if they decided to (euphemism alert!) look at the bright side of life.

Showing Up Late Insults My Intelligence

Travel tip: If you show up early, the workers may see you and conveniently forget to put up those obnoxious chains that keep people from getting too close to the attraction.  Then, you might find yourself in the fray of some nice, beautiful military endeavors:

Luckily, I've never had to be closer to the business end of a cannon.

Luckily, I’ve never been closer to the business end of a cannon.

In case you were wondering, this is the changing of the guards in Stockholm.

Night Insults My Intelligence

You may remember that I’ve already written two posts (about London and Stockholm) on how low-light conditions can contribute to greater pleasure as a tourist.  Today, I’m shifting gears to explain how sunlight can provide new and profoundly accurate dimensions to what you see.  For instance, take this photograph:

Witness this colossal marvel as it stretches towards the sun.  It's the stuff of dreams.

Marvel as this beast stretches towards the sun. It’s the stuff of dreams.

What thoughts entered your mind when you saw that picture?  Don’t worry.  It’s okay that your mind didn’t move towards G-rated things like Thumper and Bambi and Bambi’s mom.  I took this shot in Amsterdam and the sunlight makes this structure look… uh…  well…

People go to Amsterdam to experience precisely this.  I think that explains it.

Day Insults My Intelligence

Don’t you hate the masses of tourists that clog all the sites and turn your nice peaceful vacation into a noisy game of human bumper cars?

Me too.

That’s why I would go out at night.  When I did, I could find things like this:

London's Big Ben shines at night.

London’s Big Ben shines at night.

No tourists and no traffic.  Just me and the view and the muggers and the rapists and the murders who I luckily managed to avoid.  That’s quite a contrast.

Feeding the Bears Insults My Intelligence

If you visit Bern, Switzerland, you’re likely to find a pit at the end of town that contains a few friendly-looking bears:

Switzerland is a zoo.

If I were one of these bears, I’d miss the little things like grass and trees.

However, Switzerland is a zoo… especially during tourist season.  And do you know what happens in a zoo?

Inappropriate feeding:

Here's a closer look at the same image.

Here’s a closer look at the same image.  Notice the parent and child in the upper right.

As the sign often says, “Do not feed the bears.”  But if you must feed them, please remember that your kid is not appropriate for a bear’s dinner.  The bear may enjoy him, but you’re inviting a lot of trouble on yourself.

The quiet ain’t worth it.

Comfortable Seating Insults My Intelligence

Ah yes, an old Austrian castle with all the amenities:

Old is beautiful.

Old is beautiful.

I can forgive the poles and chains because they bring back the whole torture aspect of the good ol’ monarchy.  And I can forgive the lovely refurbished medieval shiny pleather or wheatevertheheck material it is on those adorable chairs.

However, the glare from my camera flash on the unknown synthetic material detracts from the room as a whole.  Nevertheless, I’m sure those chairs are more comfortable than period-appropriate pieces would have been

Forgetting the Linguine Insults My Intelligence

Paradise is beautiful.  For instance, there’s this place near Sorrento, Italy:

The only ingredient that's missing is pasta.  Salami would also be acceptable.

The only ingredient that’s missing is pasta. Salami would also be acceptable.

But there’s a story behind all that beauty.  People have to work hard to maintain those pristine beaches and unpolluted waters.  And those workers eat pasta and sausage and salami and all that good stuff that no one cooks up quite like the Italians.

And it’s rare to see photos that take that background action into account.  This one does.  Those waves you hear aren’t the ocean.  They’re the continual flushing of all those portapotties.  Where do you think all that wonderful food ends up?

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!

Reading Insults My Intelligence

When you’re traveling, you’ll inevitably encounter writing that you can’t understand.  You will piss people off if you continually ask “What does that mean?”  Especially here, at the Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke) in Lucerne.  A couple dozen of these images remain after some unruly flames decided to have some fun:

Imagine trying to read this as crowds of people rush past you.  Repeat 30 times.

Imagine trying to read this as crowds of people rush past you. Repeat 30 times.

It doesn’t matter what the words say, so don’t bother reading them.  The orange does its artistic duty and lends a halloweenish aura to the Latin and the skeleton… and even to the skeletons in the bridge’s second picture.

And that’s exactly what a “Chapel” is supposed to involve.  Skeletons and Halloween.

 

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.

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.