Enter the Tourist Zone

Teesha's Trip 553I think you see them in every big city that is a tourist destination: those open-topped, double decker, hop-on, hop-off tourist buses with their passengers hanging over the sides to see what there is to see. Yes, they are very touristy, but are they any good? Interesting? Worth the money?

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I think yes to all of the above. One time I was traveling with a friend who is a resident of Washington DC. She wasn’t too sure of the idea of spending the day touring on a hop-on, hop-off bus. She said that they laughed at the eager-eyed tourist as they were driven through the streets of their city. When the day was over, she said she wouldn’t laugh at them any more. It is a good way to see the great sites of the city that you are visiting.

Picture this, you are in an exciting new city that you have dreamed of visiting. The sun is shining (not too hot, just perfect),  you are on the top deck, you have your ear buds in and are listening to the commentary as the bus rolls past the sites of the city: Eiffel Tower, Arch de Triomphe,  down the Champs Elysees, Louvre, Notre Dame.

It’s not cheap, but neither is it expensive. Think of it as being in the DIY section of travel products.

My tip: know the layout of the city before you get there. Know the sites that you want to really visit and explore and those that are more of a photo stop. This is the day to make sure that you get the photo stops in. You might not have time to really explore the sites that you have traveled so far to see. Save them for tomorrow when you can use cheaper mass transit. Today is for relaxing and enjoying the unique view that you get from the top deck of the bus.

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What are your thoughts? Do you like the hop-on, hop-off buses? Too touristy for you? Too costly?

Favorite Travel Buddy

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Who do you like to travel with? A close friend? A family member? That very special someone in your life? I have traveled with all of the above and enjoyed all of the trips and the special bonding times. But, my very favorite person to travel with is my husband of 35 years- Jim. What comes to mind when I think of traveling with Jim? The very fun and exciting times: Our 25th wedding anniversary trip to Thailand. When we threw out the budget and celebrated achieving a mile-stone that a lot of people never achieve. The scary times: When we crossed the Mexican border in our RV, hit a light sensor, and we and everything that we had with us became property of the Mexican government. Or the time driving the RV through the “maze” in the California Bay Area and had 2 fender benders within 10 minutes. The relaxing family fun times: camping and boating with the kids at Trinity Lake in northern California. Visiting the southern California desert with my parents and sitting in the sunshine and knowing that the people at home are getting rained on (that’s what I’m doing right now). I’ve enjoyed all of it. 

Happy birthday, Jim. I am so looking forward to spending 2 months in France with you this fall. 

Fast Food – Palestinian Style

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Once again, I seem to be eating. We were traveling through Israel and the West Bank with my sister, who works for a NGO and has spent a lot of time there. She introduced us to shawarma. Seriously good stuff!

We stayed in Jericho in the West Bank for a few nights and had shawarma at a place in town. The restaurant had a cart on the street where they kept the food warm and prepared the shawarma. As we stood there on the street, we watched the tourists drive by in their air-conditioned buses. Sitting high above the streets and looking down on the activity. Never a part of it. Just looking on and not getting to really experience any of it. What a pity, to be so close and miss the opportunity to come to a better understanding of the people in the countries that you are visiting.  

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Wait a minute, he only had three of the flat bread that he needed. There were four of us. He told us that he needed to get some more. We stood on the sidewalk and talked and watched everything that was going on around us while we waited. The needed bread arrived. We didn’t see how the bread got there but were too hungry to spend much time thinking about it. When I was looking at my photos, I saw the delivery man that brought the bread.

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I think we might have been distracted by the truck loads of Palestinian Forces driving by.

Everyone knows that after a good meal a cup of coffee is needed and here’s the guy for you. Starbucks Palestinian style.

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I Really Should Have Tossed a Coin In

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Have you ever dreamed of seeing the Trevi Fountain? With it’s over the top baroque architecture, the pictures were always so beautiful. What the pictures didn’t prepare me for, was the people! I was amazed when we turned the corner and run into the mass of tourists there.

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A few mornings later, we were out for an early walk when we rediscovered the fountain without the tourists. It was between eight and nine and the fountain was shut down for cleaning and it was very interesting to watch them clean and remove all of the money from it.

p1020226We bought some breakfast from the McDonald’s (I know, I know, but it was what was open) just down the street and sat there at the fountain and enjoyed our breakfast and coffee. It was lovely.

The legend has it that if you stand with your back to the fountain and toss a coin into it, you will return. We didn’t toss any coins in and we haven’t been back. I really should have tossed a coin in.