tourist trap

In all about the ride, san fran, stateside, travelling on December 6, 2010 at 9:49 am

So I’ve just ridden over the golden gate bridge, and it was a bit of an anti climax, headwind all the way in, dodging other cycling and foot tourists, it’s enough to turn you into one of those pompous self-important travellers who want the whole unspoiled, no one else has ever set foot here but me types. And if I ever have to look at one of those people posed in front of landmark photos it’ll be too soon.

There are lots of photos being taken and I wonder how many photographers there are taking them.

Vista point on the Marin county side of the bridge is bustling with people, daytrippers, travellers, school trip, everyone camera in hand to record the moment.

San Francisco has been grey and windy, the microclimate here meaning that summer, as in the good weather doesn’t get here until august through October, with the June gloom which covers Coastal California extending for months. San Francisco reminds me of Wellington in that respect, windy and grey but still warm, occasionally hot when the sun peaks through.

But back to the tourists, the sightseers, and I’m one as well don’t get me wrong, but I’m reminded of Mr Smiths speech in the matrix, comparing humankind to a virus that replicates itself to the detriment of everything else around it, that is kinda what tourism does if it isn’t controlled or marshalled correctly. I rode through Fisherman’s Wharf and the tourist tat that is on sale there is the experience that I want to avoid. The codified experience that forms for the out of towner, the t-shirts, the jewellery, the experience of being somewhere confirmed and validated by the purchasing of items that explain this fact, whether you need them or not.

Being on the tourist trail, at sights which you must see when you come to town and the languages and accents that aren’t native to that space start to co-mingle. Sometimes I get the fear, an aversion to the bodies, and the swift strides, and the constant posing in front of sights for posterity’s sake. It is the cousin of that feeling I’d get on the weekends when there was stuff to do, but the thought of the crowds, the bustle, the struggle to move through was enough to keep me in the house, scouring the cupboards for something to eat and wondering whether noon was too early to be ordering in pizza.

Cycling pushed most of that away as the desire to be on the bike and owning a bag big enough to contain most of my shopping needs of a weekend, made the crush of people something easily navigable rather than born like Christs suffering.

But here I am full circle, amongst the teeming masses, wondering where they have come from, where they are all going to and when will they all leave and let me enjoy this space without them, but as always the realisation sits in the back of the mind that they are enjoying the space as well, and despite my inbuilt feelings of superiority, I have no inherent right to this space, I don’t own it, so I’ve just got to get on the bike and enjoy the ride…

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