It’s quite a strange thing to be a tourist in your own country, but lately I have been checking out flights to New York and becoming more and more tempted to join the throngs of visitors that journey to the Big Apple and indulge myself in some serious sight-seeing and annoying picture-taking.
When you travel regularly, sights and experiences that most people in the world will never see in the flesh can begin to seem passé. I have heard some fellow travellers be casually dismissive of the places they have been and the national monuments they have been lucky enough to visit. “The Taj Mahal,” they say,” whatever.” “Oh, some lions stalking and eating a newborn gazelle right in front of me. Ho hum.”
I suppose it has the same root cause as that peculiar form of boredom which causes those who live in a particular tourist destination to be completely blasé about the sights and attractions that others spend thousands of dollars to see for a week. Perhaps it is the sense of immediacy that is lacking – why go and spit off the top of the Empire State Building today when both it and you will still be there tomorrow? If you have shelled out for flights to New York
, hotel bills and taken time away from work, you are going to feel much more urgency.
Maybe it is a desire not to stoop to the level of the wide-eyed out of towner. Having spent so long travelling I could be considered an out of towner to pretty much any town, and have lost all sense of shame. I think that my eyes are in fact perpetually widened. I hope I never lose the sense of wonder that I feel when I see a triumph of human engineering or a vibrant expression of a foreign culture, but I equally hope that my appreciation for such things will extend to the cultures and achievements of my home country.