Friendly Friday Challenge – Tourism

I was reading this week about the chaos at the Louvre as people were complaining about waiting time to see, briefly, the Mona Lisa and how 80% of visitors are only interested in seeing that painting and nothing else.

I was fortunate enough to go to the Louvre last time in Paris, nearly 10 years ago. We planned our visit carefully, got advanced tickets on a booklet with other attractions and went early as we knew we would spend a lot of time there. We are part of the 20% that wished to see everything else. Even 10 years ago, the madness around the area where the Mona Lisa was was insane. People complaining about it being so small and so far away you couldn’t see it properly and this in a room full of other amazing paintings no one cared about. This is tourism at its worse and this was before the selfie generation. I cannot imagine how annoying it must be now.

I tend to dislike tourists mainly because there’s a sense these days of keeping a skin deep record of your travels, you have the pictures and the likes to show where you’ve been, but are there any memories in your mind and in your heart? And tourism does transform everything it touches. Just look at my beautiful city of Lisbon I don’t recognise anymore. For years I wanted people to discover my hidden gem, but now I wish some would just leave it alone.

11 thoughts on “Friendly Friday Challenge – Tourism

  1. Ah, so many comments running through my mind. As for Lisbon: a shame if it’s gone too far. Over here in Helsinki, we have seen a boom of tourists, mostly from large cruise ships. I think it’s mostly positive (for our economy), but I’ve read articles about the ships dumping waste into the Baltic Sea, making its already polluted state worse. I would never eat fish from the Baltic Sea – the salmon in our supermarkets is from Norway.
    As for Mona Lisa, it must’ve been around 2000 when I saw it on my first trip to Paris. (A few years later, I lived there!) Back then, in 2000, it was shielded with thick armored glass and there was a crowd, but you were allowed to go up close to inspect it. There was a sign saying ”don’t touch”. I wasn’t very impressed and always wondered what the hype was. My favorite part of the museum was the Egyptian bit. Anyways, years later, I heard that the Mona Lisa on display isn’t even the original! The real painting is tucked away somewhere in a safe.

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    1. Likewise. The Egyptian part was amazing and empty so we had all the time in the world to really enjoy it. I didn’t know about the Mona Lisa not being the original. I think it would make a difference to me, underwhelmed as I was, (not about the size but about everything, da Vinci has numerous other works I find more impressive) but for the masses it doesn’t really matter, does it?

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      1. Same here, da Vinci has other works that are very impressive. The whole idea of the painting perhaps not being the original is very perplexing to me – what’s the point in seeing a replica, especially if it involves queueing. I guess many people just need to check it off the list…

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  2. I went to the Louvre and was one of those that wanted to see it all. I read about the Mona Lisa madness and was prepared for the crowds. What was most shocking was that 75% of the people were facing away from the painting – taking selfies! They were more interested in posting a pic of themself with Mona Lisa than the actual painting.

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    1. On my first time in Paris, on a school trip, one of my colleagues took quite a few pictures and this was at the time of analog only, no digital cameras or smartphones. All photos were her and Paris in the background. So I can imagine how bad it is now with this selfie obsession. Shame…

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  3. I am old enough to have traveled before the era of mass tourism. Back in the late 1960s I just walked into the Louvre and could meander about as I wished. The same thing for the Uffizi in Florence. A friend and I just decided to wander in after lunch. But years later I was there with our kids who were 10 and 12 and I had booked tickets in advance so we would not wait in the hours long line up.

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  4. I could write this for my city, Ljubljana, as well: “For years I wanted people to discover my hidden gem, but now I wish some would just leave it alone.” It goes for the entire planet, it seems…

    When I was in Louvre in 1991, I remember writing in my notes that people were practically camping in front of Mona Lisa. It only made me wish to flee, as does Fontana di Trevi, every time.

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