Yesterday I received an email notification in response to a comment that someone left on one of my youtube videos. It turns out that, according to this viewer, I am promoting sights in Paris that are only good for ‘uneducated tourists’.
It looked a little something like this:
For those of you viewing on mobile, here’s the full quote:
Stay on the Left Bank. Visit musée de l’Orangerie & musée Rodin. Add musée d’Orsay if time permits. Only uneducated tourists go to the Eiffel Tower & the Louvre.Lots To Learn
Without mincing my words, this comment pissed me off a little bit.
So here’s a bit of advice for any of you who have visited, or plan to visit, the Eiffel Tower or The Louvre while in Paris.
An Open Letter to Uneducated Tourists
I love the travelling community. I love the way we can inspire others to step outside their comfort zone and experience things they may never have considered.
It’s one of the reasons I write this blog. I love hostels. I love travelling solo. And when I have great experiences I want to encourage you guys to experience them for yourself. That’s why I write about them on here.
Receiving comments on this blog and on my social media platforms is another thing I love. Whether it helps you guys out, or even gives me more advice on where to go and what to see when I’m in a destination, comments from our community are a great way of learning more about the world around us.
Personally, I’ve never heard of the Musée de l’Orangerie despite countless trips to Paris. So had this commenter suggested it without attitude, I would have been super excited to hear about it and add it to my list. In fact, I have added it to my list of things to do in Paris and I suggest you do too!
However, let’s just take a moment to consider the fact that this commenter believes that those people who might want to see the Eiffel Tower or The Louvre are ‘uneducated tourists’.
We are all uneducated tourists
There we go. I said it. So let me explain why I think this.
I try and experience life as the locals live it in every destination I visit. I try and find local bars in Bruges, or street art hotspots across Europe. And I want you guys so see the unexplored district of Amsterdam Noord, and get to know the awesome people of Montenegro.
Some people would argue that this makes me a traveller not a tourist.
I’d argue, what the bloody hell is the point in making this distinction?
Because guess what. I’m also obsessed with the Notre Dame Cathedral, and have enjoyed a hop-on hop-off canal boat tour in Amsterdam. I also don’t see anything wrong with doing a Vatican City tour, or visiting the highly touristic Edinburgh Dungeons.
You might want to take off for two months of travel with a carry-on backpack, or head to Paris for the weekend with a suitcase. Either way you are still giving yourself the opportunity to learn more about the world than if you had stayed at home.
Perhaps you prefer to travel with no guide at all, a trusty copy of Lonely Planet, or take a group tour with Topdeck or Contiki. You are still putting yourself in situations in which you will learn more about yourself and the destinations you visit.
Travel Is Personal and You Shouldn’t Be Shamed In To Thinking Otherwise
Here’s some facts about me. I’ve never been inside The Louvre in Paris or the Sagrada Família in Barcelona. Does that mean I really dislike tourists? Hell to the no!
Actually, I just really dislike crowds and queueing. And I’ve had little interest in stepping inside them.
But I will (and have on multiple occasions!) wake up at the crack of dawn to see the Trevi Fountain in Rome at sunrise. Or to get an early entrance into the Notre Dame Cathedral.
So if you want to queue for the Eiffel Tower or the Sagrada Família then I don’t want you to listen to some jumped-up, pretentious traveller bullshit that you’re not a real traveller if you do so.
Your Actions Will Always Be Judged By Someone, So Do Them Anyway
What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then.William Least Heat Moon
I would hate to think that anyone who read that comment now feels bad for choosing to see certain sights or take part in certain activities while travelling.
Unfortunately you will come across a few people on your travels who believe they are better travellers than everyone else. They have stepped outside of the box more than you, experienced local life more than you, and understand the local culture more than you. At least, that’s what they think.
But by diminishing your personal experiences as a traveller or tourist, all they are doing is trying to enhance their own feelings of self-worth by judging yours. Judgemental people have a morality skewed in their own favour. So no matter how you choose to travel, they will always claim to do it better and you’ll often be wasting your energy even trying to argue with them.
So instead of arguing with them, take a moment to acknowledge your own achievements. If you’ve stood atop the Eiffel Tower and achieved a personal dream of yours, then be proud of it. You can be just as proud of that as eating from a street-food stall in Marrakech.
And if you find it hard to feel proud of your achievements, remember that I’m proud of all of you!
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