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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Isetta – The World’s Cutest Car

Posted on October 23, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Italy - Isetta 2What a sweet little car, complete with tailer!  This Italian-designed mini-car from the 1950s was quite a sight to behold while we waited for a bus.

The couple that got out of it were like rock stars.  People swarmed around snapping photos and asking them questions.  They were very gracious.  I’m sure they are used to the attention.

Italy - Isetta 1 It’s the funniest thing how the whole front of the car opens and that’s the only door!  The steering wheel actually has to pivot with the door.  That’s the little motor there above and to the right of the back wheel.  It sounded like a lawn mower when they pulled up!

You do see the most interesting things while traveling!

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The Mountain is on its Side

Posted on October 22, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Travel - Stratification 2This mountain in the Italian Dolomites had huge vertical lines of rock.  The mountain was very forcibly pushed onto its side at some point in its past.  The glaciers look to be still, but they are powerful movers, and any rock in their path better watch out!

I think the colors and patterns of the pushed rock is interesting to look at.

Travel - Stratification 1

Isaiah 64:1      Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, That the mountains might quake at Your presence…

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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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The WWI Tunnels at Lagazuoi

Posted on October 17, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Travel - Lagazuoi 1

“In 1915, Italy entered the war joining the Allies of Britain, France, and Russia. At this time, the Dolomites were still a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a member of the opposing Central Powers. Until the end of 1917, the Austrians and Italians fought a brutal mountain war here.  Not only were they fighting each other, trying to gain control of peaks for artillery and line-of-sight advantages, but also against the fierce climate and verticality of these mountains.”  From Dolomitemountains.com

There is some fascinating history here.  One can descend the whole mountain in these tunnels, but that didn’t appeal to me.  Just looking into these cold, dank spaces gave me the shivers!  I could imagine the poor men who had to create and live in these tunnels all the while battling an enemy that wanted to kill them and the brutal mountain weather.  It’s sad that such awe-inspiring landscape was the scene for such awful human enterprise.  I’m glad that it’s all about tourism now.

Travel - Lagazuoi 2           Travel - Lagazuoi 3

Travel - Lagazuoi 4

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Misty Monte Baldo

Posted on October 14, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Travel - Monte Baldo 3

This was one of our all-time favorite hikes.  There were sheer cliffs down the mountain and misty updrafts from the lake below – eerie!

Travel - Monte Baldo 2      Travel - Monte Baldo 1

The bad part was racing down the mountain through farm fields after this amazing section in order to catch the ferry back across the lake.  Leave early so you can savor this gorgeous hike!

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Paragliding on Monte Baldo

Posted on October 13, 2013. Filed under: Italy, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , |

Travel - Paragliding 1I summited Monte Baldo!   Thanks to the funivia (cable car) from the nearby town of Malcesine, lying on the Lake Garda, it was quite easy!

Then we got to watch these paragliders taking off high over the lake.  It was really interesting to watch them waiting for the signal from the leaders and the perfect wind.

Travel - Paragliding 2What a view they must get!

After this we got some amazing views hiking.  I will post these shots next.

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Happy Picture

Posted on October 11, 2013. Filed under: Health, Italy, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Travel - Hiking Trail

Just looking at a shot like this on a crazy, hectic day like today when I am back home can change my perspective for the better.  There are mountains, wide-open spaces and trails to follow in the world!

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