Saturday, March 2, 2013

They Get Away With Murder

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
Gaslight District
US Grant Hotel
Old Town
Balboa Park

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!



  1. What wonderful synchronicity-to find a Greek street fair just when you're in town! Happy birthday to your daughter, and much joy to all of you.

  2. Thanks, Lil. And may synchronicity soon visit you in great measures of baklava!

  3. Funny! “Finding a decent meal is like buying a used car.” Great analogies. How à propos‎: Greek Festival is the answer. Wonderful photos. Love it. PS Kali Eleftheria to your daughter!

  4. Thanks, Poppy. Hard to imagine my little girl having her first baby. But I guess all papas are like that, even those long a papou.

  5. Native San Diegan here (and I even used to work at the Zoo!). The town has changed a lot since I lived there, but I'm enjoying spending time there and rediscovering it. The whole South Park area around 30th St. is awesome for food and drink. Especially beer. San Diego's microbrewery scene is amazing. #1 craft beer city in the US.

    I am told that there's an amazing, authentic Sichuan place not far from where my folks live. Can't wait to try it!

    1. Thank you for proving my point, Lisa: FIND A NATIVE! We explored a lot of San Diego but completely missed the area east of the park:(( It's a wonderful part of the country and before we go back--which we most certainly will, and soon--I'll make sure to ask you for guidance. By the way, that was a terrific post you put up today, showing you to be the true world-adventurer among us.

  6. Jeff, when you buy me that elusive coffee at last, I will tell you how to find a good restaurant in Rome without have to mortgage the farm to eat well.

  7. How about this week? And no, it wasn't the dangled bribe that brought me say that, it was a Delta flight out of San Diego. Let's email over the details of our rendezvous off line so to keep the jealousy of my blogmates at my good fortune to a minimum.