Tourists are stupid. They’re treated like cattle, with a really low IQ. Yet, they never complain because they don’t want to ruin their holidays. Besides, nobody selling to them gives a damn what they think anyway, for they know they’re never going to see them again. It’s the same all over the world. Tourists are considered as mass-produced a commodity as the China-made stuff they buy. There’s always more where they came from.
That’s what I heard all the way back from dinner this week at “one of the best” Italian restaurants in San Diego. That’s “best” according to our hotel concierge. I love San Diego. Its Old Town and Balboa Park are done as well if not better than any tourist destinations anywhere. I also love our hotel.
|San Diego Skyline|
|US Grant Hotel|
But I defy you to find a decent meal in that town without a friend’s recommendation. It that regard, it reminds me of dining in Rome these days, “Diner Beware.” And I’m not talking the cheap stuff here, I’m talking the out for a big occasion, could be a mortgage payment type meal.
What is it with so many tourist-driven locales these days? Finding a decent meal is like buying a used car. A lot of big smiles and front of the house attention to get you to order the “signature dish” followed by pretentious, ill-trained service delivering food that would trigger an investigation if served in a nursing home.
But let’s stick with the used car lot analogy. In trying to sell the sucker a car, the one trying to earn the commission always sides with the mark against his nefarious “sales manager,” the culprit blamed for what you do not like about the offered deal. In the restaurant version, it’s the caring, sympathetic waiter/maître d/busboy agreeing with you in his ”I know, but what can I do, I need this job” act, ratcheting up shared anger with you at the manager responsible for the lousy meal—all the while hoping you won’t take it out on his tip. And they’re damn good at their routines, too.
So, what’s my solution to all this? Well, one thing is to make sure to go to places where there are far more locals than tourists. Another is to try a local ethnic street fair and eat there. You won’t be expecting much and will likely be pleasantly surprised. That’s what I found in Palm Desert (an area with very good restaurants) when I stumbled across the St. George Greek Orthodox Church Greek Festival (what else). It was a hoot, delivering no more or less than what it promised. And in these days of buyer beware, what more can one hope for?
One last caution to travelers to tourist destinations: Be wary of cruise boat and hotel employees steering you to places. Often the recommended shops and restaurants are paying them to do just that.
This rant is now officially over. Just don’t get me started on Tumi Luggage.
Finally, here’s a big PS filled with love and expectation. Happy Birthday to my daughter, a soon to be new mother!