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December 24, 2000

Package Tours

I've lived in Oregon for going on twelve years now, and I had never gone to the 'End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center' even once. Deep in my bones, I knew it would be disappointing. Actually, since I already had limited expectations for it, I suppose it would not have been disappointing at all. But I knew instinctively that it would be as thrilling as the wait in line for Pirates of the Carribean.

I'm not a big fan of travel for travel's sake. When I took the GMAT prior to entering graduate school, the paperwork required two photo IDs. Well, I only had my driver's license, so for chuckles, I got a passport. Five years have elapsed on that passport, and no stamps. I've taken to joking that I'm going to fly to Tokyo, walk around the city for 24 hours and then fly home, just so I can get my passport stamped before it expires.

But overall, I don't have the urge. Yesterday's field trip helps to crystallize some of the motivation for that. I'm not a history buff, so visiting historical sites just for the sake of touching the soil doesn't float my boat. Historicity (the imbuing of a thing or place with weight due to historical associations) makes me yawn.

I was trying to get this across to Jean's dad in a conversation last night, and he obliviously regaled me with the charm of several locations in Europe due to their historical significance! Outwardly, I'm nodding politely. Inwardly, I'm screaming "I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored!"

So the most likely venue for me to travel in, the package tour, is anathema to me, exactly because of it's concentration on the historical significance of various landmarks. When we went to Philadelphia, I gave all the standard landmarks a miss. Instead, I went to see the Mutter Museum, not because of it's historical significance, but because the topical matter itself was interesting. Flailing about in Europe on my own, I would be unable to find such gems. In a package tour, I'd be protected from myself, but bored out of my skull.

So now Jean has decided that she'd really like to go to Italy. I would too, but I'm very uneasy about the notion of a tour package. What I want is to do two simple things:

Anything else is just a side-trip to me. The one glimmer of hope here is that Jean's sister, a professor, has spent several years in Italy, and is fluent in Italian. We hope to convince her to come along as our guide (at our expense) so we can bypass all the standard tourist traps.

This is a two-edged sword though. Ann (Jean's sister), is apparently a strong advocate of dressing you so you are not mistaken for Germans (hated in Italy to this day, I am told). What that entails is at least not wearing sneakers. Since I wear them for my back, pronation control and arch support, this may present a problem. All this is academic as yet, since we don't have the money saved for a proper trip. Jean's parents say a tour can cost around $2900 per person, so with Kelly, that's approaching $10,000. Hubba, hubba!

Who said travelling should be easy? I think I'll crawl back in my cave now "qbullet.smiley".

Posted by dpwakefield at December 24, 2000 04:50 PM