The Irony of Tourism

I saw a very funny photo on Facebook today.  There was a big, ugly bit of graffiti on an old stone wall that said “Tourists Go Home.”  And the lady posing by the sign was obviously a tourist.
What makes someone obviously a tourist?  I can’t quite put my finger on it, because often tourists are like psychopathic mass murderers – they like just like everybody else.  And I’m not one to say “I don’t know, but I know one when I see one,” because that would probably be an exaggeration of my observational skills.  I’m just saying it was pretty clear that’s what this picture was about.  So, it was ironic.  And that makes it funny.

I’ve lived in Prague for 20 years, but I’m still a tourist in many ways. I frequently find myself in neighborhoods I’ve never been in before, and I speak English most of the time.  But I’m very happy being a tourist, a stranger in a strange land, so to speak.

Prague draws the people of the world like moths to its flame. The beer, the clubs, the old buildings, the statues, the parks, the bridges. It is a treasure appreciated by the entire human race.
Of course, some Czechs feel their capital city has been co-opted, and they resent tourism.   I’m not terribly sympathetic.  Prague is one of the great tourist cities of the world, and if you live here that’s just a fact of life.  It would be like living in Los Angeles if you hated the film industry and Mexican food.


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