SHE SAYS:

In previous blogs about our recent trip to Italy, Joe mentioned two things, about which I need to comment.  One is the group traveler and the other is that most people you encounter are kind and helpful

While we were in Florence and Venice, the crowds of tourists including large tour groups almost made it unpleasant.  Of course, there are many travelers like us who travel on their own including couples, families and groups of friends.   Then there are the tour groups.  I’m sure there is a good reason for people to choose a tour group, but as an outside observer, I can tell you that most of them do not really seem to see their surroundings. For me, part of exploring a foreign country is to become part of the atmosphere and assimilate into the culture for the time you are there.  When in Rome…

Some group travelers don’t seem to fully enjoy anything around them and their visit seems quite sheltered.  They are so intent on listening to the tour guide on their headphones and watching for the tour guide’s flag that they lose sight of the wonders all around them.  We were sitting next to a couple on a boat at Lake Como who were part of a tour group.  The lake is beautiful and there is so much to see.  They spent the entire one hour ride looking at their map as the tour guide spoke in their ears telling them where we were.  Instead of enjoying the views, they watched their progression on the map not wanting to miss one word. 

Lake Como

Lake Como

We met many wonderful people during the month including travelers from all over the world and locals.   Unfortunately, one day I had a bad encounter.  We boarded a boat in Venice to visit an island called Torcello.   The boats have enclosed seating and only 6-8 seats outdoors in the rear of the boat.  We headed there so we could take pictures.  There were four empty seats.  As I opened the door to the rear, a man who was a tour guide waiting for the rest of his group, stiff armed me and pushed me back through the door stating that the area was closed.  He and Joe had a brief encounter after that.  My only recourse was to approach him as we left the boat to tell him he was a very rude man!

4th Century Basilica in Torcello

4th Century Basilica in Torcello

On the other hand, while at Lake Maggiore in Stresa we took a day trip by car to Locarno, Switzerland.  It was a spontaneous trip so neither one of us even gave a thought to the money.  We had Euros and in Switzerland, the Franc is used.  As soon as we arrived, we needed change for metered parking.  While I stayed with the car, Joe walked a few blocks to find somewhere to change money.  I saw a woman park and go to the central parking meter.  I approached her to see if she might be able to help, but she did not speak English.  However, she understood that I had Euros and not Francs.  She handed me the two Francs I needed and refused the Euro.  It’s nice when you can rely on the kindness of strangers…

Locarno, Switzerland

Locarno, Switzerland

WHAT DO YOU SAY?