Place, People, and Period

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When it comes to traveling a plethora of museums, historical sites, and strange ‘unique to this place’ attractions are available in every town. Cities create incentives for people to travel in to spend their money on the local city economy. Incentives bring in visitors, which leads to sight seeing. Site seeing is a peculiar concept when you think about it. Of the many tours you can take in any given city which one actually respects the nature of the city? In my opinion all fail this simple and most important aspect of being a tourist of my nature. Actually, I prefer visitor. Why? Because understanding the nature of the city is a personal and extensive process and can never fully be accomplished by a simple visit.

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To explain what I mean by respecting the nature of the city, a great example is the city of Vienna. I traveled here from Prague cheaply and briefly this weekend. Money well spent. There were several buildings I immediately wanted to go see (i.e. The Secessionist Building arch. Josef Olbrich, Karlskirche Cathedral, various Otto Wagner buildings, etc.). As my friend Doris and I made our way to the touristy parts, the opera house had several obnoxious tour buses parked in front, complete with abrasive tour guides attempting to persuade the naïve into getting on their bus. However, I must say this was not what bothered me most. No, instead it was watching a bus pass by an actually important site at around 30 mph, no stopping. I can’t imagine how one thing can be explained in 2 minutes. It is disrespect. How then may disaster be averted if you do not know anything about a place?


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I purpose a solution that attempts to capture a small piece of the holistic nature of a city in a way that does not compromise its beauty, and strip it of it’s importance by being labeled as a ‘tourist site’ (because that phrase should be left to the swindlers in the janky souvenir shops). With my architecture obsession comes a sort of critical analyses of space no matter where I am. What is the layout? How is the orientation? Wow, way to fail at blocking the sun in the hottest part of the day. What kind of place thinks a labyrinth of bushes is okay for visitors? (Because it’s not unless you voluntarily know you’ll waste an hour getting lost and then enter the maze) Size. Shape. Aesthetics. History. Cities are living, breathing museums of culture and zoos of artifacts from everywhere and every era. A simple tour that barely explains the city is not sufficient. A visitor of my nature needs simply two things: research of noteworthy architecture beforehand, and the metro, tram, and bus map upon arrival. Sure, guided tours are fine, but only by foot and within a certain radius of the city for a more extensive look. But, half of understanding and acquainting oneself with a city is taking the trams, getting lost, finding the hidden gem of architecture only seen in pictures. It’s a list rather than a plan. It is place, people, and period that contribute and impact a city and in my opinion to fully understand the city is to call the city home. This is why we must respect the nature of cities and strive to capture their glimmer of life. We must respect home.


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One thought on “Place, People, and Period

  1. Maddy:

    Outstanding. I could not agree more with your view of visitor vis-a-vis tourist. One of my first trips to Hawaii I scheduled several tours. I went on the first one and was so disgusted I cancelled the rest. You come by it honestly.

    Phil

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