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San Francisco city skyline

Being a Tourist in San Francisco

Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory, views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz: these are typical tourist destinations in San Francisco. Those of us who travel a lot like to see ourselves as something other than tourists. Some use the term “traveler,” or “visitor,” for example. We avoid like the plague any…

Bones of the dead

Yesterday my friend, Kim, and I visited Marseille’s medieval church of Saint Victor, parts of which date back to “paleo-Christianity”; in other words, the fifth century or so. I love visiting medieval buildings; it doesn’t matter whether it’s a church, a castle, or just a humble house, as long as its original details are still…

Chinese Tourists

Everywhere we’ve gone so far, there have been very few foreign tourists like us. Most of the tourists — and in some places all of the tourists — are Chinese. Sometimes they’re in pairs or families, sometimes in groups. When they’re in a group, even if it’s just 5 or 6 people, they hire a…

Rocca Priori, Italy, July 9, 2009

We were in Rome yesterday and the day before, but apparently so were representatives of the G8 nations and other dignitaries. Sights/sites closed or opened arbitrarily to accommodate their whistle-stop visits. At one point, for example, we wanted to cross the road in the middle of St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. Just cross the…

Outside Vicchio, Italy, July 17, 2009

So here I am in what has to be the most beautiful place I’ve ever stayed. It’s an old farmhouse, probably dating in part from the 14th century, in the Tuscan countryside. It’s the whole cliché: ivy-covered walls, beamed ceilings, terracotta pots holding dried flowers or fruit trees. There’s a gorgeous view of the sunset…

Australia Comment #3: No Worries!

The most typical phrase in Australia is not “G’day, Mate,” as I expected, it’s “No worries!” It’s amazing how often we heard that phrase and in how many different situations. Someone just gave you your change from a purchase. You say “Thank you.” The reply: “No worries!” You accidentally bump into someone in the grocery…