Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Paintings, Bagpipes, & Tourists. Oh My!

Last Saturday I found myself elbowing my way through crowds just to catch a glimpse of a painting I probably could've appreciated more on Google. But isn't that the point of being a tourist-being jostled through an art museum so much that they almost end up with Van Gogh's paint on your nose? Wait a minute, did I just use the word "tourist?" Didn't I move to a foreign country for a year so I would have time NOT to be a tourist?

[Thank you to this toddler for looking appropriately alarmed when I snapped this photo]

This is the point of living in a city for the year. You have time to scope out cute cafes, not go to one of the 400 places J.K. Rowling supposedly wrote Harry Potter in, but is now known for coffee tasting like jet fuel. You can go to museums after class on a weekday, not a weekend when all of the tourists looking for their clan's tartan invade. Unless you're the idiot who thought the Impressionist Gardens exhibition at the Scottish National Galleries lasted for another month, only to find out it ended that very weekend. Yes, weekend. You would have to push (or punch) your way through the crowds just to see the corner of a Klimt painting. Yes, that idiot was me last weekend.
I knew it would hell and bagpipes to pay to go on a Saturday, but Mom and Dad you've instilled a love of impressionism in me, so I had to go. I must admit the exhibition was impressive (five rooms of international impressionists and not just the work they left in their coat closet, but famous paintings) and gave me faith in the National Gallery to fulfill my aesthetic needs in Edinburgh when I'm not behind on my reading (clearly I won't be going that often ;). But the crowd was the claustrophobia-inducing type that couldn't move on to the next painting without demonstrating their knowledge of the artist. I couldn't handle more than 45 minutes in that environment, who knew gardens could be so stressful?

So I left the museum where I could breathe air not choked with perfume and see the subtle color change, oh and more tourists. Now I know why I avoid the Royal Mile (more like Royal headache of tartan and shortbread shops that sell the same Walkers Shortbread you could get in the US) and Princes Street (the shopping street, not so bad on a normal day. It has Topshopafter all) on a weekend. I should've known better, but in DC at least the tourists are confined to the National Mall for the most part and why would I ever go there on a weekend? [To the left is the Sir Walter Scott monument and the Balmoral Hotel is on the right. Yes, that's a hotel. The very one where J.K. Rowling finished the seventh Harry Potter book to be exact.]

I guess I'm starting to feel part of this city if the tourists are now annoying me. At heart, I still feel like a tourist (just a subtler one ;).
[The Grecian building is the National Gallery and behind it, that prestigious looking building with the spires? Well, that's where I go to class 4x a week.]


  1. my unequivocal distaste for art comes with several perks--it burnishes my 'average uncultured joe' credentials (something of which I'm proud) and also allows me to avoid museum crowds such as the one you described.