You can find the map for today’s 6.64 mile walk here. 26 days until the Congestion Zone Ends Party! Follow on Twitter for more updates.
As per usual, today’s walk had some distinctly different areas.
For the first bit, I finished off the streets I had left in St. James. I thought these would be a little boring because I had obviously seen the prettiest parts of the neighbourhood the day before. But there are a few gorgeous places around here, too rich for my blood, perhaps, but fun to walk by.
Most of the pretty buildings are hotels (really swanky, rich people hotels), or private clubs (to go along with the gentlemen theme from Day 49), or both like the St. James Hotel and Club (probably the most beautiful of all the buildings around here), which is also home to a Michelin Star dining experience.
Also, I had always wondered where Duke’s was, the hotel whose bar claims to be the creator of James Bond’s famous martini, and I found it tucked down a tiny little mews off St. James Place. One day (when I like actually like martinis) I will come here and get the real deal.
I really enjoyed this area. It was so quiet and peaceful because it is surrounded by parks and palaces and is off the beaten path of the tourists just around the corner.
I couldn’t avoid the manic parts all day though and, for the most part, this walk was in the middle of tourist central.
I mean crazy loads of tourists.
The idea of “tourism” irritates me a lot. I get so annoyed when I am in these parts of town and people think I am a tourist. I mean, really. How can you mistake this person for a tourist?
In any other part of London, they ask if I am a surveyor, or working with the council, or doing something really important that only a local would be doing (obviously I live here, duh. Can’t you tell by my American accent?).
But I started thinking today about why it is that we (and I) get so irritated with them.
As a traveller myself I hate the way high-traffic tourist areas are immensely generic, lacking creativity of any kind. I don’t like that everyone clusters on the same streets, plugging everything up. It irks me that they queue up for photos of things they don’t take the time to experience because they get to see it for all of two seconds before they are squeezed out by the next round of photo-takers.
The thought of travelling in a big bus with a bunch of people, having my day dictated by someone else’s schedule and seeing what they think I should see makes me want to die a little.
But that’s my feelings about my own travels.
Why do tourists irritate us so much when we aren’t the ones doing the touring?
I think it’s because we’re jealous.
Here are these people on holiday, milling about, walking slowly so they can actually see the things they are passing, taking photos (selfies, groupies, or group selfies) and generally being really lazy and aimless.
They aren’t rushing to work. They aren’t in an hurry. They aren’t required to do anything. They just hang about, sitting on benches, eating sandwiches, blocking up street crossings and, most irritatingly, smiling while they do it.
And how jealous does that make us?
So jealous that we mutter under our breath about them. So jealous that we mock them for taking photos of our city’s most beautiful icons So jealous that we push past them on our important way, belittling the leisurely speed they are walking at.
We are jealous.
We’re jealous because we want to be on holiday. We want to sit around with nothing to do. We want to walk around with our friends and laugh and joke and smile and have a good time on a Wednesday at 2pm.
So when someone thinks I am a tourist, I shouldn’t get annoyed that they think I am one of them. I should take it as a compliment. I should think, “I look like I don’t know where I am going because I don’t. That’s the plan. And I want it that way.”
And I should be happy that I look like someone who is enjoying her day out. Being lazy. Taking her time. Snapping twenty photos of one park just because she wants to remember the feeling of relaxation and tranquility she experienced while she ate lunch there on a Wednesday at 2pm.
I kind of like life at tourist speed. It’s not a bad way to live.
So I think I’ll carry on with my aimless wandering and photo snapping.
See you next time!
26 days until the Congestion Zone Ends Party! Follow on Twitter for more updates.
Quick update from the future: now that this project is finished, I’m off on another adventure! Keep in touch on my new blog at Three Miles an Hour. See you there!