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.

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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.

The Circus Insulted My Intelligence

When I think of circuses, I imagine bright and colorful lights shining down on breathtaking performances.  I imagine animals prancing around in all their glory.  I imagine crowds of people, including babies who are afraid of clowns.

And so I visited Piccadilly Circus while I was in London and discovered this:

circusI got my bright and colorful lights shining down on magnificent architectural performances, but somehow my enjoyment wasn’t heightened.  I got animals prancing around, although I didn’t need to travel so far to see homo sapiens in my own natural habitat.

However, I did see crowds of people.  I’m sure any baby would fear the clowns (a.k.a. tourists) you can find here on any given day.

Even though one can find plenty of restaurants nearby, why would a tourist choose to pause here?   London explodes with greater attractions than these gaudy advertisements… even though the ads happen to be juxtaposed with worthwhile stuff.

Unwise Tourists Insult My Intelligence

Many years ago I traveled to Salzburg, Austria.  I highly recommend it unless you suffer from acrophobia.  This Alpine city’s tourist attractions often require transport to high places and the World of the Ice Giants was no different.

In case you’re wondering, the World of the Ice Giants is an ice cave and you can catch a tour bus to get there after you arrive in Salzburg.  And be prepared to meet some fascinating people on the bus.  For example, one terribly acrophobic fellow brought his family on the cave tour because he figured that a cave wouldn’t trigger his fears.  Don’t ask me why he was vacationing in the mountains…

Up

The funicular. (Photo credit: barbaraluef)

If you have ever visited the Austrian Alps, you probably remember the narrow winding roads that overlook steep falls.  Most of us enjoyed those until the roads could take us no farther.  Then a truly unique funicular took us up to the next level.  It was the world’s steepest and the views were amazing if you weren’t afraid of them.

Unfortunately, the funicular doesn’t take you to the cave’s entrance. You have to walk up a long and winding dirt road that overlooks even more cliffs. Only a minimal wood fence separates you from your death as you ascend.

Ice cave entrance

The cave entrance. (Photo credit: Suniltg)

Werfen - Eisriesenwelt

The path to the cave entrance. (Photo credit: egonwegh)

And then we finally reached the cave. The acrophobe was relieved, just for a moment, that his agony had ended. But caves are funny things. When you picture a cave, you probably think of something you enter through the front and traverse by just walking forward. Not so with this one. Mother Nature has a sense of humor and gave us a magnificent vertical cave.

The interior of the caves

Inside the caves (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think we spent at least 20 minutes walking upstairs on our cave tour then then 20 minutes walking back down.  In a cave full of ice.  And ice is not slippery.

Eisriesenwelt Ice Caves

Looking out from the cave. (Photo credit: Dale Harvey)

And then it was back down the path and to the funicular.  And that’s where the acrophobe finally proclaimed that he couldn’t go any farther.  Once his wife explained that he couldn’t stay there, she took a photo of him so his mother would believe that he had actually ventured so high.  (The man had his grown children with him, so the mention of his mother was precious.)

And on our way down I’m sure he cursed himself for not paying enough attention to details in the tourist brochures.

Inhumanity Insults My Intelligence

Cemeteries are entertaining, as are mass graves and memorials to dead people.  Whenever I visit one, a sense of cheer always overwhelms me and I want to hop and skip and jump and play.  There’s no better way to spend an afternoon than with a game of freeze tag in the presence of the dearly departed.

The entrance to Camp I at Auschwitz, with the ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s humor week at the Weekly Photo Challenge and naturally my mind turned to thoughts of death.  And of vacation.  Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I’ve traveled a bit and had the opportunity to see some fantastic things.

And none inspire more jubilation than Auschwitz.  There’s never a dull moment at a concentration camp.  Who wouldn’t be overjoyed at the sight of so many emaciated prisoners?  And at their shaved hair, preserved and piled to the ceiling?  And at the family photos of people who were murdered?

And look at that holding cell over there where four inmates were forced to stand, crushed together, all day long, day after day.  Can you take a picture of me in there?

But of course the historians want to ruin my fun.  They even have a sign up that reads:

You are in a building where the SS murdered thousands of people.  Please maintain silence here; remember their suffering and show respect for their memory.

I am a tourist and tourism is supposed to be entertaining.  How dare they rain on my parade!  And they’ve got another sign out where dead bodies were piled into a mass grave.  They want me to remember that I’m at a gravesite and that I should consider the people around me whose families may be buried there.  Well excuse me!  I have as much right to enjoy my day as they have to mourn.

And where are the damn vending machines?

Okay, I think this has gone on long enough.  I visited Auschwitz almost ten years ago and was appalled that these signs were necessary.  When I entered the camp, I thought the inhumanity I’d learn about was the Nazis’.

I also remember walking through a gas chamber and seeing vacationers who were filming and grinning like they would if they were visiting Buckingham Palace.  It was just another exciting tourist spot they had always wanted to see.

Thank goodness they didn’t ask for a live demonstration.