Sunday, 5 August 2012

An American Tourist On-Board

Most of the world's outdoor enthusiasts have claimed the Snowdon Mountain in North Wales as a lifetime achievement. It is the third highest peak in the British Isles and this was where Edmund Hillary trained for his ascent of Mount Everest. 

The summit can be reached by a number of well-known paths but for the less fit of us, there is another way (albeit a less popular one): the Mountain Railway. The return journey takes 2.5 hours and takes on the stunning scenery and awe-inspiring views with commentaries about the legends that surround the area. 

The steam train only carries one carriage and we were sat in front with the amazing views before us. The weather was  not the best but we were assured that we will be able to reach the top. Everything was nearly perfect. 

Except there was a lone passenger with us and he's American. Although I don't normally enjoy sharing a carriage with them lot (I can't stand the lazy accent), I can normally tolerate them. But this time it was different. 

Like most American tourists who find themselves in another country with a compatriot, it wasn't long before we became privy to their lives. It wouldn't have really mattered except that the commentator was also talking about the more interesting stories of fairies, giants and the legendary King Arthur, the story of Wales and the reason why we were there in the first place. 

Along the journey we have discovered as much: 

"I studied at Pennsylvania University (an Ivy League school, if you don't know that)". 
"I'm studying for a Masters Degree."
"I was sent to London by my work for two months."
"I plan to go to Australia after I finish my Masters because my Dad is looking at opening a business there. He owns a chain of liquorice shops."
"I've been to Paris...Berlin...Prague ('I love Prague')...Venice, Florence and Rome ('It's not really as great as they make it')...Budapest...Vienna...(the list goes on)."
"I didn't like Zurich, there's nothing there."
"I want to go to Lithuania and Moldova, where not a lot of people had been" to which the other American responded "Well surely there is a reason why not a lot of people go there?" and where the response was "Yeah, but it's cheaper that's why I'd like to go there." (???)

It's wrong to generalise, I admit, but so far, the American tourists in Europe have done little to endear themselves to the locals. They always talk (and there's nothing wrong with that) but all they talk about are 'how different everything is from back home' and how 'scary the women's toilet is in Berlin' (from an American onboard the Munich-Vienna train). They are rather rude too, in France, a group of rowdy teenage girls came in a patisserie and asked the waiter "Is this the menu?" (It was and well, they are in France and you can't just assume everyone speaks English). But what really disappoints me is that on a street and listening to their conversations, what you hear are people comparing where they've been and who they have seen there, rather than what they think of the culture they are experiencing. I often wonder, after they have been and gone, what have they taken with them? Or is it just another ticked box in a Bucket List?

For more of the Mountain Railway journey:  

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