Stay Home if You Are an Ugly American

Posted on December 9, 2013. Filed under: Philosophy, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Travel - Bill at Cinque Terre

Hiking in the Cinque Terre

As we travel around we find many fellow travelers who are friendly and enjoying their trips as much as we do.  We also occasionally come upon what we term the Ugly American who makes us ashamed to come from the same place.

I think you are an Ugly American traveler if:

1.   You expect to be able to have everything just as you like it at home.  (“We insist on American-style coffee, not this espresso-stuff they drink here.”)  If you even try unusual local food/drink you expect it to be unpalatable, or something that will make you sick.

2.  You get angry that there are other people trying to travel too.  You are surprised and irritated when you have to wait in line, share a table, or tolerate a crowd at an important attraction.

3.  You look at people’s customs, dress, and language with disdain.   You see nothing but inferiority everywhere you look.

4.  You expect everything to go perfectly smoothly.  When the inevitable disruption to your plans happens, you wallow in self-pity instead of finding a way to make lemonade out of lemons.

5.  You are frightful of local people, expecting them to rob you when they have the first chance.

6.  You are actually happy when you see McDonald’s, Starbucks, and the like in foreign countries.

When we run across Ugly Americans we try to slink away.  They want co-conspirators, though, so there have been times we’ve tried to show them the bright side.  Aren’t the differences in culture they are experiencing interesting?  Haven’t locals been friendly and helpful considering how many tourists traipse through their area every season?  Isn’t it amazing to see such wonderful, world-famous art/mountains/historical sites?

Trust me, there is no arguing Ugly Americans out of their mindset.  Next time I might just say, “You should stay home.”  That is the truth.  If you can’t enjoy the differences between your destination and your home, then you should stay there, at home.  If the food, drink, accommodation, weather, sights, people and transportation are irritating to you, why have you come at all?!  You are not enjoying it and your fellow travelers are ashamed of you.

Travel - Atop the Duomo

Atop the Duomo in Florence

Travel - Chestnut seller

Chestnut seller in Florence

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Cairns in the Dolomites

Posted on November 9, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Travel - Dolomites Cairns 1

Cairns in the Dolomite Mountains of Italy are different than other places I’ve been.  The stones are blockier, it seems to me.  Here is a big field of them built over time, I’m sure, by many, many hikers.

Travel - Dolomites Cairns 2

It was hard not to stop and spend some time looking at these many small sculptures.  I really, really wanted to make one too.  But, alas, we could not take the time to play here on this day.  Sigh.

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Hey! That’s My Foot!

Posted on October 25, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Poetry, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Travel - White DevilHey!  That’s my foot!

I know, it makes a nice place

to sit right down

and look at me with your wistful eyes.

You ARE pretty sweet,

coming and going

into and out of the shop.

And stopping to greet me in this funny way.

What’s your name?

White Devil!

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Tre Cime di Lavaredo Hike

Posted on October 19, 2013. Filed under: Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Travel - Tre Cime 1Spectacular in every way, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo lives up to its reputation as the most famous mountain peaks in the Dolomite region.  How do I know this?  The trail was very crowded with every imaginable person out on this beautiful Saturday!  It’s best to go very early in the morning and to avoid weekends if you want it quiet, so get your tail out of bed early or give up the sulk about getting a late start.  We weren’t bothered at all.  Everyone was very polite on the trail, some lovely Italians even helping me up when I tripped and fell.  Also, who cared about the people, for goodness sake?  All you have to do is look around you and you forget all about the tiny insects we are compared to these limestone giants!

Travel - Tre Cime 2

Travel - Tre Cime 3

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Italian Mountain Church

Posted on October 2, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Philosophy, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Travel - Mountain ChurchMountains make me contemplative.  They are so massive with soaring heights of rock and plunging valleys.  Their skies hold wild winds and clouds.  I can understand the logic in putting a tiny church right here.  A quiet and small place to retreat and commune with the Creator of all this.  Lovely.

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Rocks from the Dolomite Mountains

Posted on September 19, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Travel | Tags: , , , , |

Travel - Souvenirs Dolomite Roacks

We are just back from a 16-day trip to the Italian Lakes and the Dolomite Mountains.  Most of the shops that we came across either offered the usual kitchy souvenir junk, or extremely high-end clothing or home furnishings.  My favorite souvenirs, therefore, are the photographs I take, locally-produced foods, and rocks I find along the way.  Here are my dolomite representatives showing the three colors we primarily saw:  white, green and pink.  I especially like the biggest one with sparkly areas where it has broken to show the interior.  I found that one on a particularly difficult hike down a mountain where the path was all boulders.  I will never forget conquering that section!

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