How To: Be a Tourist In Europe

So you’ve decided you are going to travel to Europe this summer. Congrats! Maybe you’re not the 1%, but you’re at least part of the wealthiest 5% of Americans. You deserve to celebrate that. Here’s how.

Make sure you take one of these on your flight. You're just so artsy.

Make sure you take one of these on your flight. You’re just so artsy.

First, fly to one of Europe’s capital cities. It doesn’t really matter which one, everything in Europe is just old churches anyway. Don’t even worry if you can’t speak the language of whichever country you choose, you’ll speak English to all the waiters and shopowners regardless of where you end up.

For the sake of this guide, let’s say you’ve chosen Portugal for its beaches and wine. You definitely can’t get those in California, and what more do you possibly need? Fly into Lisbon and check into a hotel that you can trust, like the Hilton or the Marriott. Anything else could turn out to be sketchy, or, even worse, unique. After all, familiarity reduces culture shock!

A great way to spice up your European escapades is by doing day trips, so call a tourism company and book a daylong getaway to a small nearby town. Don’t worry if it’s totally overpriced–remember, you deserve this vacation!

Roll into the tiny, quiet town on a huge coach bus filled with other eager Americans: a bunch of older couples spending their retirement savings on a Eurotour and a handful of perky college students who came to Europe primarily to get drunk at nightclubs but must participate in an appropriate number of “cultural experiences” to warrant their parents paying for their trip. And then there’s you.

Once off the bus, you have a few tasks to complete:

1) Don your brightly colored headset and intently follow your guide’s overworked tour, complete with scripted jokes about the town’s history and lots of technical difficulties with the microphone system. Bonus points if you wear heels; they are the perfect accessory for cobblestone streets.

2) Chatter away with your fellow bus buddies and ignore locals and other tourists. Focus entirely on your map/guidebook/camera rather than, you know, making sure you’re not being hit by a car. When you inevitably piss off a Portuguese driver by standing in the middle of the road, make sure to comment about how “people are so much nicer in America.”

3) Take photos of your travel partner posing in front of the town’s mediocre attractions (probably a church, or, if you’re lucky, the house of an author you think you might’ve heard of before). Note that there are three possible outcomes when taking this type of photo:

Seriously, your trip is so much more meaningful now that you have this photo.

Seriously, your trip is so much more meaningful now that you have this photo, even though you won’t be able to remember which monument it’s from.

a) Your travel partner will look model-esque in the sunlight. The church, on the other hand, will be completely overexposed and indistinguishable behind him. (“Oh yes, here’s a picture of my husband in front of…this lovely European white blob!”)

b) Your travel partner will be just one shade lighter than a silhouette, but the church behind him will be gorgeous. Who needs to see his face anyway? You can’t wait to post the photo on all your social networks with the hashtags #eurotrip2k14 and #blessed.

c) Use the flash to achieve some sort of balance between the church’s sun exposure and the shadowy street where your friend or significant other or person you kidnapped to accompany you stands. Suddenly your travel buddy will be forced to do the ugliest squint you’ve ever seen, and his skin will turn out three shades lighter than the blindingly white exam rooms at the doctor’s office. Because of this, the photo will be unusable, since he looks more like a standing corpse than a tourist just trying to enjoy a relaxing day trip before returning to his cozy room at the Hilton and ordering room service for dinner. The church will look good though, and you’ll consider just cropping him out and posting the picture to your Facebook page regardless (#blessed).

Now that you’ve completed these three tasks, eat lunch while complaining about the food, get back on the bus, sink into your wonderfully American hotel, and be proud of yourself for really experiencing Portugal. 

9 thoughts on “How To: Be a Tourist In Europe

  1. Funny. I see these people all of the time when I travel. (Not that I travel over seas all of the time, mind you.) I have, however, taken bus tours and am completely aware at how much they advertise me as “an ugly American”. I hope you had a great time in Portugal and made us Americans look at least a tiny bit better than the stereo type; )

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Six Months? | Victim to Charm

  3. :-D nice to have photoshop at home… and some nice postcards with the lovely views you missed! By the way… sometimes is even better to forget to catch a picture with your following friend/husband etc.
    Have a lovely afternoon (here in Europe is already knight!) :-)claudine


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