Did anyone ever book a Tour Operator in order to achieve a dream travel, and the discovery of countries in which heritage and history merge with the one of the Humanity? I hear by that, countries from around the Mediterranean sea, as well as in Asia, with their monuments which are centuries or millennium old, and their culture can be studied. Well, better keep your dreams and money, because that is NOT what you might expect! The horrors of unbridled capitalism are also rife there, and maybe even worse!
I explain, a Tour Operator, is the most convenient, and safe way to travel in a foreign country, because, it handles all, and you don't have to worry about anything. Which is nearly mandatory, when you want to visit such countries. The Tour Operator is also set up the visits of monuments, museum and other interesting places, with guides who are explaining to you plenty of great things, and in your own language. Perfect will you say? It could be if the visits weren't conducted at the double! You can't stop by and admire anything, you keep moving on, walking and can never take the time to admire things. Why is that? Simply because something else is coming next, something immensely more important,... the visit of local shops. Because, yes, the bus is taking you to historical sites , but also drops you at the shops! And suddenly, there is no more rush, we can stay as long as we want in the shops,... Vendors are always very nice and charming, caring, making effort to speak your language, telling about their life, and their country, and presenting you hand made artisan items of all kind. So of course, you are touched by all this, and want to bring souvenirs, and if you can contribute to help improve the living of the local people, why not? So you chat with the vendor, who explains to you that such or such carpet is ancient and no longer being done, so deserving to be in a museum, hand made in a tiny village lost in the dry mountains, and blah blah, and because he feels you are good person who can protecting this patrimony, they grant you a nice discount! So nice! On your way back to the USA, during the tens of hours of flight, you have plenty of time thinking of your marvelous journey, ... and start to realize that you visited more shops than historical places... Then, so proud of your ancient carpets, you go see an expert to flatter yourself about the great deal you got. And there is the cold shower! Your carpet has nothing of ancient, it has been artificially aged, to look old, but it's been made during the last few months, and not by hand, but by machine! The same could be find in US stores for a fraction of price you paid! Fuck!
Damn, all this ended to ruin a journey which was already far from what I was expecting. Then reading about it, I learned that these stores are paying Tour Operators up to $100 per tourists they are sending to their stores! So, this is not surprising that they made us visit more stores than sites!
I am mad, as you can guess. Did anyone have a better experience? May recommendation on how to visit a country for real?
by: Laura W.
May 02, 2015
That is too complicated to read all the way. I fully intend some day to visit Hong Kong. I won't pay a tourist guild, because I don't want the guy to take me to his relatives' stores. I'm buy a couple of empty suitcases once I land and I'm going shopping!!! I don't care if I pay duties!!! I just want to shop in legendary Hong Kong!!! Yay!!
by: Still Sarah
February 12, 2016
That is really depressing, laura. I guess I can't go and visit France by myself because I would need a tour guide, but you say they are frauds? Then I would need to know someone. I am thinking that a lot of countries might be like this. I remember years and years ago, a French lady at one of our local malls here in the U.S. sold small tapestries that she claimed were old. To me, they look real and antique. I guess she was lying to me. I was going to buy one for my older sister, but I didn't have the money. I'm really glad I didn't get it now.
February 21, 2016
Another thing about those "antique", "French" tapestries: The price was cheap, about $75. I was a jerk to think they were real. I guess thank God I didn't have the money, but I was going to give one to my older sister. I don't know, maybe she would have still thought the tapestry was pretty.
April 21, 2016
The thing is, when you travel to another country, you like to bring back souvenirs. Problem is, when you look closer, what you think is from local artisans is in fact, manufactured in China ! If you want to find real local and traditional items, you need to go see the little merchants, but it's hard when you are in foreign country to walk your way out of the touristic areas.
Ideally, to enjoy visiting a country, the best would be to have a friend there already.
May 05, 2017