Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tourists and Attractions

Roll up, roll up, and watch the Mona Lisa weep

Just a few weeks ago the Sistine Chapel took action to protect the Michelangelo and Botticelli frescoes, cutting opening hours and raising prices. My recent memory of this, the ultimate shrine of Christian art, was struggling to stay on my feet in the middle of a yammering mob while a team of young priests went hoarse calling for silence and respect. It was like Grand Central Station, except that there just wasn’t room to sit down and weep.

As anyone visiting popular sites has, I have noticed the same thing (the photo shows the room with the Mona Lisa in it). It seems like the only likely solution is to use attractions to draw the crowds, like months to a flame, and then try to enjoy what remains. This works better at places like the Grand Canyon where you can hike for days but most tourists spend 17 minutes outside looking at nature according the a Park Ranger the last time I was there.

Even on the South Rim hiking down one of the trails, leaves the crowds behind in just 30 minutes (and on the North Rim I hiked 2 different days without seeing more than a handful of people (granted it was literally the first 2 days the lodge on the North Rim opened.

But even this will be overwhelmed with time. So I figure they should add several trails at national parks just to attract the hoards and then I can go on more remote trails and enjoy them. Even if they are not the best trails they will still be great and I prefer having the option to avoid the crowds. With other museums I am sure you can do the same type of thing, though someone probably needs to repackage this concept to be "more positive" before it will be used on a wide scale.

A strategy for museums is to go early or late stay until closing (though even this at the Louvre is not that great a help but at many places it is).

Photos: Paris photos - Grand Canyon National Park - The MET, NYC - Rocky Mountain National Park

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