Stranger In A Strange Land


Rays of light, symbolically represented as hor...

Rays of light, symbolically represented as horns on the head of Moses (Michelangelo), can be a graphic symbol of Wisdom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Daily Prompt: “What’s your favorite part about visiting a new place — the food? The architecture? The people watching?”

What is it like for me to be a stranger in a strange land?

The first thing I notice and enjoy in a new place, a totally new place, not just a new town, is the light. Australia has a particular light, bright and full or air. Europe is a softer light and South East Asia has a light filtered by the high humidity except for that glorious hour late in the afternoon after the rain.

Then I notice the different buildings. It’s not just the architecture but the street advertising and furniture. To my eye the buildings in Australia are fairly monotonous. They were built by a first world country in the last hundred years and we have very little that is noticeably Australian. It’s only when you start going north up the coast of Queensland and you run into the classic Queenslander lifted high off the ground, girdled by wide overhanging verandahs and shuttered windows and doors. These aren’t storm shutters, they are built to shut out the world while letting the cool night air into the house.

My first trip to Europe was such a shock. I’d come from Sydney via a day in Bangkok where of course the architecture is anything but Australian – even the shopping centre architecture is totally different in Bangkok let alone all the other buildings, though I have to say our inexpensive hotel close to the airport could have been almost anywhere in the world – standard multi-storey concrete construction.

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Baedeker And Beyond


English: View of NYC from Empire state building

View of NYC from Empire state building (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Daily Prompt asks “What’s your dream tourist destination — either a place you’ve been and loved, or a place you’d love to visit? What about it speaks to you?” It’s noticeable that they title the post ‘Tourist Trap’.

Who exactly is a tourist and what is a “tourist destination”?

The idea of a tourist really derives from the “Grand Tour” — a tour around Europe undertaken by the wealthy of Europe (principally England) to expose a young gentleman to the cultural legacy of antiquity and the Renaissance. At first, in the 1600s, they were accompanied by an educated and informed guide but later as travel got cheaper and the middle class arose books to inform and assist arose – the forerunner of the guide books we use today. Forster’s book ‘A Room With A View’ is a novel that deals with English men and women at the end of the era of the Grand Tour at the beginning of the Twentieth Century.

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