Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Travel Realities: The Other Side of the Postcard

“Do you ever write about the bad stuff. . .or do you ever experience any bad stuff?”

The question has been asked more than once of us.

In reality, we  haven’t experienced any real ‘bad stuff’ –  lost luggage, small rooms, cranky people, schedule changes – are irritations, but not ‘bad stuff’ in our book. 

0005540-R1-035-16Yet, we probably are guilty of focusing on the  pretty side of the postcard when writing of our travels. We’ve not spent much time on the flip side, the one on which the human message is written. 

Our travels -- particularly in Europe --have given us a chance to see the other side of the post card; particularly the graffiti and the protests.

Those images on the flip side of the card aren’t the picture-pretty tourism shots, and we don't focus on them but realize  it’s important not to forget them either. Today we remember:




Madrid, Spain

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DSCF0663In Madrid, Spain posters announced a manifestacion (a protest) that would ultimately fill the Plaza del Sol with such numbers of unhappy Spaniards during our stay that we ultimately quit going through the square but took back streets to avoid it. We weren’t particularly afraid of going through the gathering but just as we avoid emotionally-charged groups of protesters at home, we do so on our travels as well.



Dubrovnik, Croatia

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From the top of the Old City wall’s of Dubrovnik, Croatia we had spectacular views like that to the right, but also far too many views of graffiti marred historic buildings like the photo above.






Bologna, Italy

Graffiti artists had struck nearly every building here – even those where owners had painted murals to decorate the metal security doors that are pulled down and locked each night.

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And while we loved this Italian city and hope to return one day soon, we’d be less than honest, if we didn’t mention the smell of urine that filled the air as we strolled through some of its famous arcades (and there weren’t that many dogs. . .let your imagination do the rest)







Naples, Italy

As we began our day-long explorations last fall the ‘welcome parade’ was a protest march – again by another unhappy group.

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SilhouettePt12012 034 In fact, it is always interesting when we see the notices and the signs being carried. . .prompting this basically monolingual pair to wonder what all the unhappiness is about?












Seville, Spain

One of the more interesting protests we encountered was a group of unhappy teachers who’d set up their protest camp inside the massive Cathedral:

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Venice, Italy

Even Venice was not immune to graffiti vandals who tagged walls where ever they saw fit:

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Lisbon, Portugal

Where the  tram was so graffiti covered that it almost appeared to be a mural. . .

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Madrid,  Spain

Where faux-blood, red paint was splattered near the sign of the Syrian Embassy when we went past one morning. . .and gone by the time we returned a  couple hours later.

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And  the protestors who lined the street near the Embassy the day before. (Just down the city street firefighters had set up a protest camp).








United States:

I wrote that first portion of this post prior to our arrival in Honolulu, Hawaii last week.  It would have ended there, but we’ve got a post script to that postcard now:  We spent three nights with this view of Waikiki – the postcard view, you might say:

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OahuKolina2013 053Saturday night as we walked back to our hotel, we sadly witnessed a fight between two street people; one who was using his leather belt to whip the bare upper body of the man who’d challenged him.  By the time we got past, they were grappling on the ground as sirens of the responding police cars could be heard. Three of the police cars were below our room for some time.  Just last night a police chase in Waikiki ended in officers killing a soldier, whom they were unable to otherwise restrain.

Yes, we’ve come to realize there are certainly two sides to the postcard. What have you learned from the other side of the postcard during your travels?

And that’s our contribution to Budget Travelers Sandbox’s Travel Photo Thursday.  Head over there for some additional armchair travel.  Hope you’ll visit our Facebook page as well. And come back again real soon.

24 comments:

  1. I think we all have some of those. The one I remember best was waking up at 1am in our hotel room in Puerto Rico to the sound of gunshots outside our room, then massive numbers of helicopters, police cars and fire trucks. We were afraid to leave the room to find out what was going on but knew it wasn't good. Turns out two policemen had been shot, fortunately not killed. They were still washing the blood off the sidewalk next morning when we went out.

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    1. Oh my! Now that would be the other side of the postcard. And certainly a travel memory!

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  2. I guess we all try to only remember those rosy parts of our travels. Some of your images triggered some memories for me too. We had those same protesters when we visited Madrid in 2009 and we avoided Plaza del sol too especialy with kids in tow. It was also a surprise to find Venice's Rialto Bridge with a lot of grafitti. Sorry to hear about what you witnessed in Oahu. Hope the rest of the trip was better.

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    1. It is a good stay in Hawaii. And hopefully we all will have isolated memories associated with the other side of the postcard.

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  3. As I read your post, I was trying to think of the not so pretty side of travel for me. Thankfully there are not many. I do remember someone trying to steal my phone in Madrid whilst I was talking on it. Consequently I never felt comfortable there and don't want to go back! Graffiti seems to be world wide problem and these days and I don't seem to notice it anymore. An interesting post!

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    1. Thanks Jenny for the comments. I can't imagine having someone try to steal the phone while using it!

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  4. Thankfully most of our travels have been trouble free (with the odd theft) & seeing the sights as your pictures portray reminds us that people all over the world are basically the same :-)

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    1. We have found wonderful people all over the world and those are the ones we remember the longest. Sometimes though I do paint a rosy picture of travel and would hate to have someone arrive thinking everything was postcard perfect only to find the realities like in today's post.

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  5. Unfortunately fights along Waikiki Beach seem pretty common late at night. I've only stayed there 3 times and I've seen 2 big ones.

    We loved Bologna too and I guess we were lucky that we didn't come across any stinky porticos! One evening while trying to find one of the famous gelaterias we saw a few too many shady looking characters in that part of town and decided that great gelato wasn't worth the risk.

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    1. There seems to be continuing concern by the locals of the types of people hanging out in and near Waikiki these days. . .sounds as though as the development plans for new tourist accommodations continue they need to be making some plans about how to deal with those who are tainting its appeal.

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  6. I appreciate your bringing up the other side. There's nothing wrong with looking at the world more closely and learning from that close-up view.

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  7. That's what we think as well. . .you really need to see both sides for a true to life travel experience. Thanks for commenting!!

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  8. I relate to this so well, especially your Madrid experience. Anti-austerity demonstrations were in full swing when I was there in September prompting large-scale protests and violence. I didn't witness the violence, but I had a very heart-pounding experience as police in full riot gear were marching through the train station all around me chasing after protestors there. Things like that take the event from the TV screen into your life.

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    1. Cathy, It was the post you wrote about your Madrid experience that got me to thinking about this topic. Reality like that would make for some heart-pounding moments!

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  9. I think Europe is going to see a whole lot more discontent especially if you look at the demographics and the unemployment rate. it won't be a pretty picture.
    Fortunately - touch wood - I have seen very little of the dark side.

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    1. I sadly suspect you are right Leigh. I sometimes wonder what might transpire in the U.S. should we go over the fiscal cliff in dealing with the debt ceiling. . .

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  10. I remember seeing a soccer riot in Germany and even watching a crowd trying to pull the door off the police van. My mom wanted to stay and watch, but I just wanted to get out of the area. Luckily, I haven't had anything worse than that. My dad went Kashmir a few years ago and was surprised by the number of armed soldiers walking around. I told him he should pay more attention to the news when picking vacation spots.

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    1. Good point about paying attention to the news before beginning a trip.

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  11. Wow - what a honest portrayal of some of the "unhappiness" we witness while traveling. I'm like you, I dwell on the nice side of the postcard - why remember the other side?

    Great post - hope you link it up with Friday Daydreamin' too!

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    1. You are right, I do prefer the pretty side when it comes to memories but when it comes to telling the real story about travel experiences, the flip side is an important message as well.

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  12. Hi Jackie,

    So true that we don't always focus on the real things that we run across in each city to see the 'real sites' occasional I publish street art, but never protests. In a way these are also important to see the life of a city and it is vivrant and not just a postcard to see and visit. Thanks for sharing the warts and all....

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    1. We have encountered those who only see 'the other side of the postcard' and complain about all the negatives and how things aren't 'like at home'. It is important to find a balance in the perceptions one provides readers, I think.

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