Friday, May 29, 2015

When You've Seen One Gold Ceiling, You've Seen Them All


One of the downsides of the trip to Europe, admittedly, was the educational tours we had to endure. Being a school trip, our itinerary was peppered with guided tours of several places we had visited, including the Doge's Palace in Venice, the inner towns of Lucerne and Florence, and a bus tour of Paris. Now I've never been the kind of traveler who likes guided tours.  No, I've always been an explore-it-on-your own kind of guy.  With the exception of one very unique and interesting guided tour of the Vatican Museums in 2000, I've never been on one I really enjoyed, and the ones I experienced on this trip were no exception.

As a person with an aptitude for writing, I have my own unique point of view, and so my observations of an experience are usually different from most.  During these guided tours in Europe I paid more attention to the guides themselves rather than the things they were pointing out, and I can say with certainty that there is a common thread to what brought these individual people to their jobs.

Ever since I've been a teacher, I've learned that different personality types draw teachers into their content areas.  There's no doubt that people's natural attributes make them well-suited for one job or another, not only in the teaching world, but in every vocational area.  I often brag that I can tell what type of teacher a person is after just  a few minutes of talking to them.  ESL teachers, like me, are nurturers first and foremost, and they love culture.  Social studies teachers tend to like to speak...a lot, and are pretty opinionated in their views.  English teachers, of course, love literature and their manner of speech is impeccable, and so on and so forth.

Like teachers, tour guides are all strung together by the same personality type as well.  First of all, they all have an affinity for history or art, or a combination of the two.  Most of them probably wanted to be teachers of some sort, and for whatever reason they were swayed into this particular vocation instead.  They are all extremely passionate about their subjects, delving into the most minute details that not many other people would find interesting, and they don't seem to have any empathy for the tourist experience when they're giving their tours.  They continue on in their passion without much regard for how their 'student' are enjoying the experience.  Thus, sadly, they can be very boring.

I can't really say which of our European tour guides was the most boring.  They all had their own individual quirks, but they all exhibited the same personality traits I describe above.  Perhaps I'd give the prize for the worst guide to the lady in Paris, who, sadly, put each of the chaperones, including me, to sleep.

Ah, I see I've put all the chaperones to sleep!  Perhaps we should wake them up so we can get up and walk around, heh? She said to the kids.

Startled awake by her comment, we were all jolted from our slumber to return to the monotony of the tour.  It was here, though, that it got a little better as we left the bus to check out a park and get some fresh air.  That didn't last long, however, as the boredom set in soon after as we boarded the bus once again to continue the tour.  I'm not sure if it was the monotone sound of her voice or the fact that we were sitting and not walking that put us to sleep.  I only know that I was quickly in la la land almost as soon as the tour began, and fidgeting the rest of the time that I was awake.

Ugh, these tours were absolute torture!  I can never understand how anybody can find such thrills in the tiniest minutae about the Medici family or a gold paneled ceiling in the Doge's Palace, or even the map gallery in the Vatican Museums.  God, when you've seen one gold paneled ceiling, you've seen them all!  Though there were moments of interest during some of the tours, like the Lion's Carving in Lucerne or the Bridge of Sigh in Venice, but overall...ugh!

So if you should ever find yourself on vacation in Europe, or Asia, or any other place for that matter, I highly recommend you stay away from guided tours, that is, unless you actually enjoy minutiae and monotone voices.  Trust me, you'll be happy you did!

When you've seen one gold ceiling you've seen them all!

This way to the Doge's Palace

Check out previous posts on my Europe trip below and stay tuned for more...


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