Roaming the streets is something you must do when you’re spending more than a couple of days in a city. You just…. must. Or at least I do because otherwise I would just be yet another tourist in a queue for the Statue of Liberty (which I did not visit, so don’t hold your breath for that post).
For me, being a tourist sucks. I’ve said it before and I stand by it – I don’t like taking selfies (and suck at it); I don’t like being one of the countless people taking a picture with the same statue/building/pile-of-random-shit, or even worse – having to wait for a ridiculous photo session, done with practically a flip-phone, so that I can take my own picture of a natural phenomenon (stay tuned for the Utah leg). I dislike all these situations so much, I even annoy myself when I take too long to photograph something. Often, I even forsake the whole idea and just keep the mental image (or get the photo online if I need it later, god knows there’s a picture of literally everything out there now).
But taking too many pictures for too long is just one side of being a tourist. How does this fit together with the previous paragraph about roaming the streets? Because tourist don’t roam the streets, they swarm them.
Before I go on, I’d like to get something out of the way: for me there’s being a tourist and there’s being a traveller, and the two are vastly different.
Tourists collect pictures, souvenirs, check-ins, and “likes”; travellers collect experiences – along with some photos and knick-knacks, of course, but the actual being in a certain place is more valuable than the virtual recognition of having been there. Tourists check off sights on a sightseeing tour/brochure/website; travellers explore. Which brings me to the roaming vs swarming part.
You’ve travelled, obviously you have – and/or currently are – or you wouldn’t be on this blog. So take a second and answer this – from how far can you spot a tourist on the street? Quite far, right. Because tourists don’t mix in with the “locals”, and they don’t blend in. They’re not interested in how things are done in this “other place” – they seem to have this sense of entitlement about themselves that, wherever they are, simply because they’re there that’s enough for things to be done their way. As in “Why the hell should I care about these people’s ridiculous rule about not eating and not drinking during the day? I’m on vacation!” –> Because, asshole(!), you’ve come on vacation to an Islamic country during Ramadan and it’s just plain fucking rude! Not to mention it could put your own precious self in danger. Or as in this gem from this trove of complaints: “On my holiday to Goa in India , I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.” I won’t even comment on that.
There will be many more occasions for me to rant about the annoying throngs of tourist I’ve had to encounter, so I won’t pile it on here. I will conclude with this appeal: travel, please, as much as you can, but be a traveller, don’t be a tourist! Thank you!
Now that that’s out of my system, I’ll be sharing some pictures that I took while roaming the streets of Manhattan. Starting with some eggs. It was, I later found out, New York City’s Big Fabergé Egg Hunt. I didn’t find them all, of course. I didn’t even try, but not for sheer lack of competitive spirit.
For one, I’m Eastern Orthodox and on Easter we have egg fights (egg vs egg, hard-boiled and dyed) not egg hunts, and we eat real eggs, not chocolate ones. For another, these pieces of art were spread out across all five boroughs of New York, and even if I knew where all of them were, I’d still have taken me a week to “collect” all 260 of them.
I did have fun spotting them around the city, though, even if I didn’t snap them all. If you want to take a better look at all or most of them, check out Pinterest.
In the meantime, I’d lost interest in the eggs and had moved onto flowers. It was nice to see pots like these all over the city. Even if there’s not a lot of parks, there are still colourful spots of tulips and daffodils (and this is where my types-of-flowers knowledge pretty much ends) every here and there to brighten your day.
There were also flowers in windows and on the stairs and beautiful blooming trees in the quieter streets of East Village. Streets that I’ve come to think of as “the place I’d like to live, should I ever move to NYC”.
These are some of the worst street pictures that I’ve taken, but like I mentioned before, being on that street on that rainy day is more important.
There are some amazing streets you can mosey along, where you can find things like this:
Or even this:
I could go for the japanese tacos, but mexican sushi?! That just sounds like a health hazard.
So the streets are fine, but if you’re an observant traveller, you’ll know there are things underground that you should watch out for. And I’m not just talking about mice and pickpockets. Check out the little community I found at the subway station on 14th street:
If you take a look just behind the little girl – hah! hadn’t noticed her, have you! – you’ll see there’s another little fellow traversing the wall there 🙂
Again, I didn’t take photos of all of them, because even for the several I did photograph, I already looked like a crazy person wandering around the station.
But it was a whole village of these little guys in various places – some looked like they were behind bars, others were street musicians in a little corner by the door, and some… some I’m not even sure. Like these guys above the platform:
Nevertheless, these just go to show that however many different goals you’ve set yourself for the day, it’s still worth looking around sometimes. Even at a busy subway station 🙂