Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'Tourism'

And this is Samantha in front of the Mona Lisa. Isn’t she beautiful? Samantha, I mean.

 

[Coincidentally this story, headed Row Erupts over Sistine ‘Disaster’, appeared in this morning’s (October 2) Herald.]

I think it was Bob Jones who rather sardonically observed some years ago that one of the worst developments of the second half of the 20th century occurred when international travel ceased to be the preserve of the rich and became available to the middle and working classes.

It’s difficult to rail against the evils of tourism when one is a tourist oneself, but I found Bob’s words ringing in my ears on almost every day of our three-week holiday in Italy. Our journey took us to Rome, Florence, Siena, Venice and Milan. With the exception of its magnificent cathedral, Milan has little to offer the visitor other than expensive shopping. But you could spend weeks in any of the other four cities and not even begin to exhaust their scenic, architectural, aesthetic and historic splendours.

In his poem Leisure, William Henry Davies coined the well-known lines ‘What is this life, if full of care, We have not time to stand and stare.’  We would have liked to stand and stare at many of the splendours I’ve referred to, but you can neither stand nor stare when on every street or piazza, in every church, museum or gallery, before every monument, statue or painting, or in the vicinity of anything that can remotely be described as ‘famous’, you are little more than a teardrop, swept along in a relentless tide of humanity whose sole purpose is to ‘get a picture’ and move on.

The behaviour of these photographic trophy hunters is indistinguishable from that of bargain hunters as the department  store doors are thrown open at the start of some massive, ‘everything must go; 75% off; all you can carry; closing-down’ sale. The law of the jungle. The survival of the fittest. Read the rest of this entry »

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How success can spoil an excellent restaurant – and why we’d still go back.

 

 Today,  Easter Monday,  we decided to have lunch down at the Viaduct. A couple of months ago we’d discovered this marvellous Italian restaurant there -The Merchants of Venice. The food was superb, the service exceptional. We’d gone back a month or so later and were not disappointed. For the second time I took the trouble to congratulate the chef. ‘Brilliant. Thank you.’

On both of those occasions The Merchants of Venice had been reasonably quiet. Today the restaurant, and seemingly the entire waterfront, was packed. We nonetheless asked for a table for two. The maitre d’ informed us that there would be a 15 to 20 minute wait for a table. Would we like to sit at the bar?

Judy explained that her husband was diabetic and would have to eat reasonably soon. The maitre d’ brought the menu and the wine list. We ordered a bottle of cheapish Italian pinot grigio and some sparkling water. Carbohydrate to fend off a possible hypo was the next urgent requirement.

On our previous visits we’d ordered the bread and dips to start with. A variety of interesting breads and three delicious dips had arrived post haste.

We waited a lot longer today. What finally arrived was a mountain of bread and two smallish portions of dips. The bread was dry and heavy. One of the dips bore a passing resemblance to pesto in aioli; the other, a yellowish concoction which Judy swears she saw squirted from a plastic bottle, had no flavour we could identify. We left most of the bread and half the dips.

More than 20 minutes later, the maitre d’ returned to ask us if we’d be happy to sit at the back of the restaurant. Beggars, as they say, can’t be choosers, and we reluctantly agreed. The pleasure of eating in these waterfront restaurants is being able to see the water and the passing parade. You couldn’t see the water from our table next to the toilets. Nor, given the relative darkness of that part of the restaurant , could you see anything at all. The couples on either side of us, who were already seated when we’d  arrived at the restaurant, had that hangdog look of diners who’ve waited too long and have exhausted every ounce of small-talk that can fill the empty conversational space before the food arrives.   Read the rest of this entry »

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