Tourist Eyes In The Big Smoke

I always find it fun to put on my “tourist eyes” even when I’m walking around places I know very well. Heck, I even do it around my own neighbourhood. You never know what you might notice.

Yesterday, I was willingly helping out a friend by transporting her to appointments at a hospital in the Big Smoke. (I know she reads this blog, hence the emphasis in that sentence.) While she did what she needed to do – and as it was a beautiful warm Spring day – I went for a walk.

I decided, as I walked, to put on my ‘tourist eyes’ and pay particular attention to the things around me.

Hm. Here’s where I make a confession. I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite a lot but here’s the shocking thing: I hate taking photographs. (All the photography bloggers reading this just went GASP!) I take them because, let’s face it, one does like to have a visual reminder of where one has been, but whenever I do, I feel like such a tourist.

“But you are a tourist.”

Pedant. Well, yes, technically, but does the local populace have to know that? Can’t I pretend for a while that I’m a local? (Or, in some ethnic areas where I clearly am not a local, at least an ex-pat or migrant?) My favourite things to do when travelling is to jump on and off public transport, or go shopping at a local market or just sit in a park and watch other people. I do the ‘tourist’ thing because I feel I have to, not really because I want to.

So, when I say I put on my ‘tourist eyes’, that means the ‘no photographs tourist eyes’.

no photographs

Instead of stunning photographs of where I went and what I saw on this walk (not that you would get them anyway because I am a very ordinary photographer at the best of times), here’s some observations in word form instead.

It will be fun, I promise.


Why do souvlaki shop owners put pictures of fluffy lambs on their signage and call themselves things like “Lamb on Chapel”? I’m sorry but this does not entice me to enter your shop and buy a lamb souvlaki. In fact, I may never eat souvlaki again.

There were a number of swanky clothing shops on my route. I only window-shopped because I was dressed in jeans and sneakers and didn’t intend to re-enact the Rodeo Drive scene from ‘Pretty Woman’. The first one, not the follow up “Sucks to you” one.

I passed a rather swish Reception Centre right next door to an Anglican church. I was thinking the church must get good business when twenty metres further down the road I passed a Catholic church. Then I wondered if they competed for Reception Centre customers and what that might look like. “We have incense! Make your wedding smell great!” “Free confession for every guest! Start your marriage guilt-free!”

A truck reversing in front of me was playing a tune, rather than the usual ‘beep beep beep’. I don’t think this is very effective. I mean, if I hear ‘beeeep, beeeep, beeeep’, I get the hell out of the way. If I hear a tune, I’m likely to think it’s an ice cream truck and come running only to result in getting run over.

There was an Indian restaurant called “Hungry Nights Indian Restaurant”. The rest of the sign said “Delivering happiness beyond darkness”. What does that even mean?

I was walking through a park and a young blond American woman was ‘face-planting’ or whatever that ‘talking at the top of your voice to your phone while it’s at arm’s length’ procedure/app is called. This is what she said (and I kid you not):

“So, like, I’m saying ‘How are you supposed to signal here because, like, I’m used to driving on the other side of the road?’ and they’re, like, ‘You just signal the way that you’re going, you know, left, right’ and I’m, like, ‘Seriously??'”

My apologies to my American blogging friends but this just screams “typical American”. Don’t take it too hard, though. I know you’re not all like that. I mean, we Aussies are frequently portrayed as Fosters-swilling bogans. Let me tell you, nobody in Australia drinks Fosters. Unless they’re a tourist. But we do have bogans so, you know, fair due.


Part way through my walk, I stopped to sit under a tree in one of the many massive parks we have in the Big Smoke so I could listen to some friends’ mad radio broadcast on community radio. Let me just say, this was actually an incredibly difficult thing for me to do. I was going to sit and do nothing but listen for an hour. I was not to do anything else while I was listening. It took me a good 15 minutes to relax and allow myself to do just that.

Laughter and sunshine – a cure for all ills.

Well, except for the result of whatever it was that bit me at some point and resulted in a large, itchy, red lump on my arm. Oh, don’t worry, it’s gone now. I just have a bruise. (The things I put myself through to be supportive. Honestly.)

By the time I got back to the hospital, I’d walked well over 10 kilometres. Add it to the 6km run the previous day and needless to say the old leg muscles are a bit unhappy today.

Okay, I said it would be fun with no photographs and if you’ve made it this far, maybe it wasn’t so boring for you. As a prize, I’m going to offer you my one and only photograph from the day. I felt I could get away with this one on a ‘selfie’ standpoint in lieu of the tourist.


How was your day?



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26 thoughts on “Tourist Eyes In The Big Smoke

  1. This was a delight!! I have always felt exactly as you do about spending time taking photographs when on the road. I head to a gift shop and buy post cards instead if I want a remembrance of the scenery. OMG, Heather, when we are in Asia it is NON-STOP picture-taking by our Taiwanese hosts to the point I want to scream. The American sounds like a Californian, frankly, and most of us look, like, askance at them too!! LOL. Now I have to go google “Big Smoke!”

    Liked by 1 person

      • Heather, it’s a source of constant fascination to me, word junkie that I am. I actually wrote about it a while back….all the terms “all of y’all” use that I, an avid reader, have never heard in my life. “Faffing about” and “Chuffed” and so many others. Never heard the term “Big Smoke” before this post. Of course, now I know…..for all the good it will do me!

        Liked by 2 people

        • I’ve always thought it a shame that American tv producers think it necessary, when a British or Australian show is a hit, to make an American version rather than just show the original. I think Americans are being short-changed. Sure, US audiences may not understand all the references, but they’ll learn which can only be a good thing, right?

          Plus it leads to unspeakable travesties like the US version of Life On Mars. [shudder] 😉


          • I agree wholeheartedly yet completely understand why productions are Americanized. It’s all about mass appeal. Struggling to understand accents (yes, occasionally we are offered subtitles when the speaker is Irish or Scottish) and “foreign” references is not what John Q. Public wants when he settles into his Barcolounger. We do get the real thing on our public television and, of course, there is the huge success of Downton Abbey which is still not the demographic they are targeting for advertising dollars. I saw the British version of “The Office” somewhere and was blown away by how funny it was; infinitely more entertaining than our version. It is a shame. How I do go on. Sorry!!!


  2. I enjoyed our walk together and your observations 🙂

    I know what you mean about feeling conspicuous while taking pictures. Last week when I was downtown taking photos, there were several people who stopped and asked if we needed help. People see someone with a camera and automatically assume they are a tourist. I’m trying to get over that feeling of sticking out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for tagging along! 🙂

      I don’t think I could ever own one of those big SLR cameras. I just have a small point-and-shoot that I can shove in my bag in a hurry or hide in my hand (almost). I didn’t have it with me anyway. I suppose I could have used my phone but to me that’s almost worse. (When we were overseas last year we saw people taking photos with iPads. I was speechless. I mean, really???)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Poles apart 🙂 🙂 My camera helps me see. I am so much more observant since I started to take photos. And I would struggle to sit anywhere for an hour unless I had my laptop. I am capable of sitting looking at the sea for quite a while, I suppose. I’ll have to time myself. 🙂


    • Perhaps, in much the same way that writers just have to write, photographers have to photograph. It enhances the experience for you. Whereas presumably non-writers find writing a chore just as non-photographers find the same having to take photographs.

      Or something.

      Because I was streaming the radio show on my phone, I couldn’t even fiddle with that. It was interesting to find how difficult that was but a relief to also find I could do it after a while and enjoy it. With summer on its way, I may even incorporate the odd ‘do nothing’ hour into my days here and there. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You and me both, H – I mean in re not photos. But there’s a difference: you because it’s your thing: me because I’m the world’s worst photog. ! 🙂
    Chic used to tell me to look UP, and see how different everything seemed to be. He was suttingly correct on that: one can be in one’s own suburb and, looking UP, can feel as if somewhere entirely different.
    Your word pic.s summon up your environment far better, imnsho, than photos would, anyway !!!
    Complimenti bella …


  5. I was listening this morning to a radio program on changes to the travel industry in the digital age and I learned that photographs of one’s travels are now referred to as “social proof”. So I am relieved you relented and provided social proof to support this blog 🙂


  6. Loved your observations. I live in Washington DC and feel like I have to have a happy-face on when I’m roaming around doing my everyday chores – just incase I end up in the background of a tourist’s photo or video! 🙂


  7. I’m seeing my city through different eyes! Love the selfie (one of the search terms that found my blog was ‘toe selfies’. And, no, I’m not in the habit of taking them).

    I love taking photos on my walks – as you say, writers have to write, photographers have to photograph. I wouldn’t call myself either, but am compelled to do both. And there is one person who enjoys it when I share my photos on FB – my sister-in-law in Sweden. If we ever travel together, we wouldn’t get very far for all the photos we’d take 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • @ beeblu – I don’t do Facebook so the main reason I started a blog was to allow my family in Australia to follow my life in America. The photos helped them – though mine are of the point & shoot variety. I think I’d enjoy a photo walk with you and your sister-in-law.


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