A different species


There I was: taking pictures of the Colosseum and St Peter's Basilica. Fighting my way through the masses of cameras focused on happily smiling people posing in front of the sights. Admittedly, on my short trip to Rome I saw all the monuments praised in every tourist guide. When I travel, I’m interested in seeing these famous places. If they live up to their reputations, I won’t hide my admiration for the architecture, art or whatever it is I’m looking at. But what really makes me dislike such places are them.

Those strange-looking, over-equipped, atmosphere-sucking creatures that wander from one sight to the other, eating local food converted into their own country's cuisine and buying inauthentic souvenirs to show the rest of the world: I was there!


As my Roman friend teased me: You despise people, you always take pictures without them! While the latter is true, the former needs some clarification: I love people. I despise tourists. They destroy the real appearance of the place, because it is ridiculously obvious that they don’t belong. They look like they are on a different planet that prohibits the usual forms of dress. They wear huge trainers, pants that are too long to be shorts and too short to be pants, and hats, bum bags or neck pouches. Are these clothes really more convenient than the clothes these people wear at home?

That said, when it comes to their behaviour most tourists are their usual uninformed selves. It doesn’t occur to them that certain actions could be disrespectful in other parts of the world.

Sometimes I feel sad that genuinely beautiful and interesting places lose their magic simply because they are overrun by tourists. And then it hits me: I’m one of them. I’m a foreigner on holidays, taking pictures and wandering around with a map when I get lost. I try to hide. I try to vanish in the real world of this place. I try to do things differently than them. And at the same time, I ignore the fact that this is what I am: a tourist.

Catharina Rudschies 

A different species
Author: Redactie

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