Sunday, November 28, 2010
A Tribute to Audio Tours
Tourist. Tourist. Tourist! Audio tours scream Tourist. And, as we all know, NO ONE wants to be labelled as a tourist. As Indiana Jones once stated about his good friend Dr. Marcus Brody, the goal is to blend in so that no one even notices. Tourists, after all, get taken advantage of. And Audio Tours? Come on. Can you choose a more cheesy label? Can humans look any more gullible, any more naive, than wandering around a building or site with headphones on, ne'er noticing the ground in front of them?
This was how I felt for years regarding audio tours. I didn't want the extra information - instead, I just wanted to look and read things. I wanted to look more "normal" as a tourist - I didn't want to stick out like a large group of Asian tourists, what with their cameras and translators (you all know what I'm talking about).
But then, I realized the beauty of audio tours. In France, we found audio tours in English that greatly enhanced the visit. I never realized how enjoyable the audio tour could be, how much added information could lift the tourist's experience from "yeah, we saw that building," to "yeah, we saw that building; did you know this and this and this!". In New York, we once again dabbled with the audio tour, and once again, I was pleasantly surprised. True, I may have sacrificed a bit of self-dignity and a chance to get a fellow tourist to smile at me by wearing those goofy looking headphones, but it was well worth it.
In closing, I restate my argument. If you are going to travel for miles to visit some site or building, you might as well glean as much as you can out of that visit. Sometimes, sticking out is well worth the price.