Published: July 12, 2012 at 11:54 AMParis (Parisians) and feeling welcome as a tourist will be a tough one. Even if you try to speak their language the majority treats you as garbage. There are always exaptions but they are few.
Published: July 12, 2012 at 1:39 PMI've been to Europe a long time ago. It was hit and miss then. I'm sure London is experiencing lots of rain. The inclement weather was the first downer. It doesn't get pleasant until you reach Italy.
France was the most prickly. As you know, France would be great if it wasn't for the French.
As least do as the locals do. Drink to excess. You'll forget about your troubles. Europe does liquor like no other place. German and Austrian beers. French and Italian wines. It was amazing.
Published: July 12, 2012 at 1:56 PMGreat idea! We should have an area for complaints /compliments about US and overseas travel. I can't stand for someone to look down their nose at me and be rude or condescending, but still take my money. When I was much younger, while living/working in a resort area, I was guilty of the "I'm a local" mentality. I see now that we were just biting the hands that fed us.
Published: July 12, 2012 at 3:21 PMTwo words: Magic Mountain.
Published: July 12, 2012 at 7:00 PMGo to Russia next and French service staff will look very fake emotional afterwards, since showing any emotions postive or negative like smiling is considered unprofessional there.
Published: July 13, 2012 at 8:01 AMLiving in an area that is a perpetual tourist destination (Washington DC), it's hard not to grow frustrated with tourists that don't understand how things work or want attractions to be more than they are. More and more cities are trying to balance their books on the backs of tourists and only see them as walking ATMs that are going to spend their money regardless of the service provided. Between special taxes on airfares, rental cars, hotels, tolls that offer discounts for locals, and public transit that deliberately increases fares on people who don't live in the city, tourism is more about pulling everything including the pocket lint out of every single outsider that walks into your city than showing them a good time hoping they'll come back in 10 years.
In general, the tourism industry as a whole has lost its charm. It's no longer about going out of your way trying to get a tourist to want to come back for another visit, it's about trying to separate the tourist from as much of their money as possible. I think the industry has discovered that most people can only afford to take one or two vacations a year, and with so many exotic destinations becomming far more accessible than 20 years ago, tourism agencies have begun to realize the chances of a foreigner visiting the same place a third or fourth time in their lifetime was becomming more and more rare. Those agencies lost the desire to work for repeat business, because it didn't matter how pleasant they were, the tourists wouldn't make a repeat visit.
Also, most major tourist detinations are pretty stagnant. Sure, exhibits change and a new museum or attraction may get built, but if you've been to Buckingham Palace, it's the same today than it was 20-30-40-50 years ago. That's where theme parks have an edge, and why I think we see theme park chains going out of their way to make sure guests enjoy their stay. Those businesses thrive on repeat visits to grow, and are constantly needed to make additionas and improvements not only to stay ahead of the competition, but just to give more reasons for prior guests to come back again.
We were in Prague, Sweden, and Denmark over the past winter, and while we never ran into a situation where we felt that we weren't welcome, we never came across a situation where we felt that someone was going over the top to get us to come back.
Published: July 13, 2012 at 9:34 AMRobert, I agree with the brief comment on the Tube. On my trip to London last year I fell in love with the efficiency of moving passengers/guests through the station, onto the platforms, and beneath the city. The one way queueing is a much better system than a multi-point station entry as scene in NYC.
Published: July 13, 2012 at 2:54 PMParis in particular is notorious for having contempt for tourists. I wonder how fast their attitude would change if tourists started to boycott them...
Published: July 13, 2012 at 8:04 PMNobody does customer service like the United States. This country is so demanding of its businesses that it has online reviews for everything. I needed to find a new dentist in my area and Yelp returned hundreds of results, each covering areas ranging from the waiting room amenities to the friendliness of the receptionists. Last week, I needed a passport photo, and I was shocked to see reviews of local post offices! Post offices!
I've decided that friendly, disingenuous service is almost always more appreciated than rude, authentic service.
Published: July 14, 2012 at 5:29 AMI've always felt that the Parisians get a bad wrap. I've lived in France and visited as a tourist twice, once as a teenager and the second time with my wife. In the entire time I was there I ran into exactly one overtly rude person and that was in a Metro station on the outskirts of Paris. In this instance, all of the Metro ticket machines were out of order so I went to the booth to buy one from the ticket seller. He however tried to charge me a fee more than twice the correct amount. Speaking French (and savy to the fare prices) I called him on it and quoted the correct price. He wouldn't budge, so I told him off and decided to go with my gut instinct and hopped the turnstyle, got on the Metro and got off at the next stop and paid there (the proper price).
Now, like I said, this guy was the exception. I honestly do beleive that when you go to a foreign country at least try to learn some handy local language phrases. You will be surprised, especially by the French, how much they appreciate it. The French love their language and have a real pride in their culture and will respect you for at least making an attempt.
Published: July 15, 2012 at 12:04 PMTo be fair, most Frenchmen I have met openly admit that Parisians are rude to everyone (fellow countrymen included).
Good friend who is Louisiana French (I live in New Orleans) who spent half his life in the rural areas of Auvergne, once told me "Mike, don't feel bad - Parisians hate us TOO".