LUV - Here’s a horrible confession - I think I might be the worst holiday companion alive. You see, I’m a planner. You might view your holiday as an opportunity to unwind, to briefly come up for a much-needed gulp of clean air after toiling away in your horrible little sweatbox of a workplace for what seems like an eternity. Nuh-uh. Not on my watch, buddy.
Go on holiday with me and you’re essentially resigning yourself to more back-breaking exertion than you could have ever suffered at work. I’ll start poring over the Lonely Planet guides weeks in advance, deciding exactly what I want to do and where I want to eat, before grouping everything into zones and criss-crossing elaborately zigzagged itinerary paths across a fold-out map. Worst of all, I’ll expect us to explore the city on foot. If you don’t come back from holiday with your feet so bruised and veiny that they barely fit into your shoes any more, then you haven’t been on holiday. That’s the rule I like to live by.
And, naturally, I like to sightsee. Oh, don’t look at me like that. You like to sightsee too. It’s just that I like to sightsee things that are actually worth looking at. If I go to Paris I’ll visit the Eiffel Tower. If I go to China I’ll visit the Great Wall. If I go to Belgium I’ll visit the little statue of the boy having a piss. Admittedly I’ll quickly wonder what all the fuss is about and then eat 15 waffles and then die from an exploded heart, but at least I’ll do it.
That’s not your thing, though, is it? That’s a bit too obvious for you. “Ugh” you think as you traipse around India. “I’m not going to see the Taj Mahal. Visiting perhaps the most heartbreaking manifestation of lost love in the history of modern humanity is so touristy. I want to see the authentic India.” And, when you come back and someone asks if you saw the Taj Mahal, you can glower down your nose at them and snort “Phuh! No! I don’t follow crowds, man. I set my own path. But I did see three cows and then contract dysentery, so thanks for asking.”
But guess what? You’re still a tourist. As you’re strolling around these backstreets and villages, trying to soak up the true atmosphere of wherever you are, you still stick out like a sore thumb. It doesn’t matter how much street food you eat, or how many items of national clothing you wear, or how many grammatically incorrect local phrases you hopelessly maul. The locals will still see you with your stupid shorts and your patronising face and your sunglasses that cost more than their house, and they’ll think you’re a cunt. You’ll go home and simper “They had nothing, but they looked so happy”, but they’ll go home and say “Today I saw a cunt. I hope he dies soon”. And they’ll win.
So embrace your inner tourist. See as many sights as you can. Buy the baseball caps and the snowglobes. Those fat Americans, the ones you sneer at as they waddle around in Hawaiian shirts and bumbags, loudly asking each other where the nearest Burger King is, they’re your brethren. Don’t bother thinking otherwise. Give into it. Join them. Join them. Join them.
- Stuart Heritage
HAT - No thanks. I don’t want to go sightseeing today. Look, I’m tired - that’s why I came on holiday in the first place. Plus, I’ve been to places. I’ve seen sights. Ain’t no big thing. And, after over twenty years of going up to icons like the Mona Lisa (really small) and the leaning tower of Pisa (bit wonky) JUST TO CONFIRM WITH MY OWN EYES THAT THEY EXIST, then going home again, I’ve decided that I am over sightseeing.
Because what’s the point? What’s the actual point of sightseeing, given that we have Google Streetview now? I could probably download an HD desktop wallpaper of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer that’s more immediate and breathtaking than actually looking at it from the ground. For a start, it’s 130 feet tall and I’m not, so the only part of Christ the Redeemer I’ve ever had a really good look at is the plinth it stands on. And I’m not saying it’s not a good solid plinth, I’m just saying that - plinth alone - it wasn’t worth the price of the plane ticket to Brazil.
And, you know what? I’d rather study some historic monument or area of outstanding natural beauty alone, on my sofa, in my sweatpants, with Wotsits dust down my chin. Because then I can look at it for as long as I want, in as much detail as I want, while gleaning background information from Wikipedia and - crucially - without being elbowed in the throat by whooping Global Hypercolor-sporting Italian chauvinists.
And it means I don’t have to suffer the sightseeing anticlimax.
You know what I mean - that moment when you’ve paid the ridiculous fee, climbed the rocky whatever and shouldered your way past the crushing throng of tourists, and suddenly it’s you and the thing you drove, flew, haggled in pidgin English and got fucking diarrhoea to see.
And it’s shit.
I mean, it’s just a thing. Be it a tower or sculpture or gigantic hole in the ground, it’s just a thing that looks like all the photographs you’ve ever seen of it, only smaller and with more bastards in three quarter-length trousers clustered around it.
It’s there, and so are you. You’re just a person, in a place, looking at a thing, and that’s it. There’s no awe and no magic, especially since a) all you can think of is how hot and thirsty you are, and how far up your bumcrack your pants seem to be, and b) you only get to look at it for a tenth of a second before some Australian barges you out of the way so they can Instagram themselves in front of it.
So, in summary, sightseeing is rubbish and I’m vetoing it from my holiday. I won’t miss it. I have sleeping to do, a Grisham novel to get through, a minibar to empty and toiletries to steal. So please fuck off out of my room with your bumbag and itinerary. It’s 6am for god’s sake.
- Robyn Wilder