Landmarks Are Just Brands with Souvenirs

 

The Idea of Things

One of the last things my ex-girlfriend and I did before we had our Breakup Party and left LA was take a sporadic trip to the Grand Canyon.

We were talking the day before and both thought it would be good to go see something so epic and breathtaking before taking off on our own paths, and it absolutely was.

For the first 5 minutes or so.

After those first 5 minutes we stared politely a bit longer, exclaimed for the third time that it looked fake, and then decided to hike a bit down into the canyon, both feeling that we really should. I mean, we came all that way.

Not only that, but everyone else seemed so awestruck that it would have ruined the mood to just hop out of the car, stare for a few moments and then make our way back to the skyscrapers, food trucks and honking horns of Los Angeles.

Great Expectations

There are certain landmarks one is supposed to see.

No, that’s not quite accurate. It’s more like there are certain landmarks that one is supposed to WANT to see.

The Eiffel Tower. The Hollywood sign. Big Ben. The Sistine Chapel. Angkor Wat. The Grand Canyon. The Statue of Liberty.

And you know what? All of them are absolutely impressive in a way, but not as impressive as you’ve been told, and not as impressive as you’d like to believe, especially after making a long journey to see them.

An Epic Brand

The long and the short of it is that these locations and spectacles all have really great branding.

They’ve got an impressive story that’s been stretched and fluffed and decorated and perpetuated by the people who stand to gain and the people who have seen it (who also have something to gain: the prestige of having seen something great).

The idea of these landmarks are a thousand times more impressive than the landmarks themselves, and this is what continues to bring people back day after day, year after year, to kiss the Blarney Stone or to take their picture holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Yay, Brands!

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The placebo effect can work wonders with expensive wines, resulting in a legitimately better experience for the person consuming it over a cheaper bottle.

Further, landmarks like The Great Wall of China and the Colosseum can actually help inspire a sense of pride in one’s culture, and so long as this is used to move people forward rather than holds others back, this can be very beneficial.

Boo, Brands!

Then again, sometimes it is a bad thing.

When travelers go to a landmark expecting to get a real, genuine cultural experience, sometimes they’ll be disappointed with what they find. Even worse, they may think that what they saw and experienced at the tourist trap is a good representation of the country and people who live there.

This is misrepresentation and it breeds distorted perceptions between nations. I’ve heard all about what people in Argentina think of people from the United States (based purely on the TV shows and movies that make it here, and sometimes a quick jaunt up to LA or Miami), and the opinions are laughably incorrect and a little offensive.

On the other hand, I had never left the US before this excursion, so despite being ignorant about Argentinians, I also had few or no preconceived notions about them. I was a blank slate, ready to be filled with information.

Is It Okay?

There is an ongoing debate over what kind of travel method is better (touristy travel or more culturally involved travel) and I don’t want to address that here. The point that I really want to get across is that we should all be aware that landmarks serve a purpose: they are entertaining and can teach a bit about history (though not always totally accurate history) and can be amazing to look at/explore for a bit.

But we should not worship them as a be all end all, and certainly not as the high-point of a culture’s contributions to the world.

If you really dig them, go see them! See them all and take more photos so that those of us who aren’t quite as psyched about making the long trip to see them can look at your photos and feel like we made it there too, because honestly – even though I know I prefer slow, non-landmark travel – their branding is solid, and I’m kind of curious what they look like.

41 comments

  1. I think landmarks are cool to see, but the real deal is in the markets and and real streets of the place.

    It has to do a lot with what you want to see, if landmarks as a tourist is ok, then go for it, there is always a lot to see, and wonderful stuff can happen there.

    If you want to know the culture, you need to get in touch with more common tasks and places. I find this option far more interesting, still it is always great to see a great pyramid or something like that.

    It is hard to choose and I think it is something we must do on a very personal level.

    Thanks for sharing Colin!

  2. I think landmarks are cool to see, but the real deal is in the markets and and real streets of the place.

    It has to do a lot with what you want to see, if landmarks as a tourist is ok, then go for it, there is always a lot to see, and wonderful stuff can happen there.

    If you want to know the culture, you need to get in touch with more common tasks and places. I find this option far more interesting, still it is always great to see a great pyramid or something like that.

    It is hard to choose and I think it is something we must do on a very personal level.

    Thanks for sharing Colin!

  3. Interesting post Colin – I am a similar kind of traveller to you (slow non-landmark style) although now and then one really calls to me (The Grand Palace in BKK for e.g.)but I dont like putting pressure on myself to see certian things unless they interest me. I like the branding angle here.

  4. Interesting post Colin – I am a similar kind of traveller to you (slow non-landmark style) although now and then one really calls to me (The Grand Palace in BKK for e.g.)but I dont like putting pressure on myself to see certian things unless they interest me. I like the branding angle here.

  5. I know how you feel. I went to school in Buffalo, NY, and I felt the same way about seeing Niagara Falls. It was pretty cool, but I think I would have been pretty disappointed if I went there for the main purpose of seeing Niagara Falls.

    I still want to see the Grand Canyon though. :-)

  6. I know how you feel. I went to school in Buffalo, NY, and I felt the same way about seeing Niagara Falls. It was pretty cool, but I think I would have been pretty disappointed if I went there for the main purpose of seeing Niagara Falls.

    I still want to see the Grand Canyon though. :-)

  7. When I go somewhere new that curiosity caused by awesome branding really gets me. Not that I’ve done a ton of traveling, but like, the first time I visited New York City I just HAD to go to the Empire State Building and I HAD to go to Times Square. It was interesting to me that those places were perhaps the least memorable part of the entire trip. Really cool post.

  8. When I go somewhere new that curiosity caused by awesome branding really gets me. Not that I’ve done a ton of traveling, but like, the first time I visited New York City I just HAD to go to the Empire State Building and I HAD to go to Times Square. It was interesting to me that those places were perhaps the least memorable part of the entire trip. Really cool post.

  9. I completely agree. I felt this during my travels through Oz. In an effort to see all “the spots” and take in as much as possible I was let down a few times. I learned very quickly not to take other peoples opinions and experiences so seriously and decide what I really wanted to do, see and experience. This no longer entails seeing things just to say I’ve seen them, but to plan and do the things I know will be fantastic. great ideas here!

  10. I completely agree. I felt this during my travels through Oz. In an effort to see all “the spots” and take in as much as possible I was let down a few times. I learned very quickly not to take other peoples opinions and experiences so seriously and decide what I really wanted to do, see and experience. This no longer entails seeing things just to say I’ve seen them, but to plan and do the things I know will be fantastic. great ideas here!

  11. I couldn’t agree more, Colin. I’ve always felt underwhelmed when visiting monuments and tourist destinations; they’re impressive but never seem to live up to their hype.

    For me, traveling is more about living in and experiencing a new place, not jumping from landmark to landmark. I’d rather spend 3 months experiencing normal life in Italy than jetting around to the “destinations.”

  12. Haha. That trip was awesome! And despite the lack of stickiness in the awe-factor, the French people ranting about our shoes was totally worth the trip.

    And because I did notice there was more to the post than the part about me (thanks for the link, yo!):

    What I find most interesting about landmarks is not just that people from other cultures or places use the landmark to define the country in which it resides, but that the country chooses that landmark to define it. We (the USA) are a land of freedom, opportunity, peace, a “melting pot” of the world where anyone can be anything and the world is united. Or that’s how we want to be seen anyway. So what do we choose to highlight as our landmarks? The Golden Gate Bridge: A symbol of potential wealth through perseverance; The Statue of Liberty: a symbol of liberty (duh) and mutual respect for other countries; The Grand Canyon: a symbol of a pioneer spirit; The Hoover Dam: a symbol of innovation…the list goes on.
    So, I think that though these landmarks may misrepresent a country (I’m not starting a political discussion here on whether that’s true or not for the US), there’s a lot to be found in recognizing how a country wants to be seen versus how it actually is.

  13. I couldn’t agree more, Colin. I’ve always felt underwhelmed when visiting monuments and tourist destinations; they’re impressive but never seem to live up to their hype.

    For me, traveling is more about living in and experiencing a new place, not jumping from landmark to landmark. I’d rather spend 3 months experiencing normal life in Italy than jetting around to the “destinations.”

  14. Haha. That trip was awesome! And despite the lack of stickiness in the awe-factor, the French people ranting about our shoes was totally worth the trip.

    And because I did notice there was more to the post than the part about me (thanks for the link, yo!):

    What I find most interesting about landmarks is not just that people from other cultures or places use the landmark to define the country in which it resides, but that the country chooses that landmark to define it. We (the USA) are a land of freedom, opportunity, peace, a “melting pot” of the world where anyone can be anything and the world is united. Or that’s how we want to be seen anyway. So what do we choose to highlight as our landmarks? The Golden Gate Bridge: A symbol of potential wealth through perseverance; The Statue of Liberty: a symbol of liberty (duh) and mutual respect for other countries; The Grand Canyon: a symbol of a pioneer spirit; The Hoover Dam: a symbol of innovation…the list goes on.
    So, I think that though these landmarks may misrepresent a country (I’m not starting a political discussion here on whether that’s true or not for the US), there’s a lot to be found in recognizing how a country wants to be seen versus how it actually is.

  15. This post is perfect. I completely agree that landmarks can offer a really fulfilling experience, but it’s usually only fleeting unless there’s something else to it. As an example, I see the Hollywood sign every single day, but it’s the hike around the Hollywood Reservoir or horse-backing in the hills that makes the Hollywood sign special to me. I’m a brand man through-and-through, but nothing beats a personal story and experience.

  16. This post is perfect. I completely agree that landmarks can offer a really fulfilling experience, but it’s usually only fleeting unless there’s something else to it. As an example, I see the Hollywood sign every single day, but it’s the hike around the Hollywood Reservoir or horse-backing in the hills that makes the Hollywood sign special to me. I’m a brand man through-and-through, but nothing beats a personal story and experience.

  17. This post was not what I expected, but still very cool. I think you’re dead on: people want to see the Eiffel Tower because it has great branding as an incredible building.

    I think the type of travel you choose just depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for, and to tailor your travel plans to that “ideal” experience.

  18. This post was not what I expected, but still very cool. I think you’re dead on: people want to see the Eiffel Tower because it has great branding as an incredible building.

    I think the type of travel you choose just depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for, and to tailor your travel plans to that “ideal” experience.

  19. I look at it this way – I can learn about the history of a country watching a documentary or on Wikipedia. What I can’t learn about is the people and their stories. This is my focus when I travel.

  20. I look at it this way – I can learn about the history of a country watching a documentary or on Wikipedia. What I can’t learn about is the people and their stories. This is my focus when I travel.

  21. Hey Colin, excellent post with some great points I’ve never really thought about before.

    I feel like landmarks are mostly hype and I’m not inclined these days to go very far out of my way to see them. I often get surprised looks when people hear I have been to New York four times without seeing the Statue of Liberty and stuff like that, but I’m not trying to impress anyone by ticking off the famous things I’ve seen.

    I don’t think landmarks have much to do with the culture and would rather experience places on a more subtle level.

    The points you made on expectations are spot on.

  22. Hey Colin, excellent post with some great points I’ve never really thought about before.

    I feel like landmarks are mostly hype and I’m not inclined these days to go very far out of my way to see them. I often get surprised looks when people hear I have been to New York four times without seeing the Statue of Liberty and stuff like that, but I’m not trying to impress anyone by ticking off the famous things I’ve seen.

    I don’t think landmarks have much to do with the culture and would rather experience places on a more subtle level.

    The points you made on expectations are spot on.

  23. Different strokes for different folks. I’m really interested in history so I like to visit old building and ruins.

    Other people like taking cooking classes, visiting markets / shopping, learning the langugage, partying with the locals.

    My advice is that people just do whatever they want because when you get back your friends will take 5 seconds to look at your photo of you next to ‘the Pyramids, the Colleseum, Sydney Harbour’ etc. exclaim ‘cool’ and in the next breath ask you if you’re coming to tonights party / the cinema / the game whatever. It’s a great little metaphor for life, just do what you want ’cause it doesn’t really affect anyone else and they don’t really care what you get up to.

    I’m concerned that your reducing landmarks to brands (maybe a tongue in cheek comment?). I think that’s just you looking at the world through marketers eyes.

    BTW Don’t kiss the Blarney stone, the locals piss against it.

  24. Different strokes for different folks. I’m really interested in history so I like to visit old building and ruins.

    Other people like taking cooking classes, visiting markets / shopping, learning the langugage, partying with the locals.

    My advice is that people just do whatever they want because when you get back your friends will take 5 seconds to look at your photo of you next to ‘the Pyramids, the Colleseum, Sydney Harbour’ etc. exclaim ‘cool’ and in the next breath ask you if you’re coming to tonights party / the cinema / the game whatever. It’s a great little metaphor for life, just do what you want ’cause it doesn’t really affect anyone else and they don’t really care what you get up to.

    I’m concerned that your reducing landmarks to brands (maybe a tongue in cheek comment?). I think that’s just you looking at the world through marketers eyes.

    BTW Don’t kiss the Blarney stone, the locals piss against it.

  25. Having traveled quite a bit myself, it seems that either of the two types of travel you present would be equally acceptable. They’ll result in different outcomes, sure, but those largely depend on the people experiencing them. Like most experiences in life, it’s the human experiencing it which determines the outcome, not the experience itself. For example, watch a child fall down. The child will immediately look to its parent for their reaction, and if the parent has a “Oh no! Are you hurt?!” look then the child will cry. If the parent has a giant smile and says “Alright let’s go on the swings now!” then the child will smile and laugh and run to the swings.

    Also, living with family members who are quite different in terms of their travel desires lends an anecdote here. One relative, at my age, traveled the world on a whim. He’d just get up and go. Another relative, on the other hand, refuses to leave the country. Under no circumstances. So if I were given the chance to get her to Paris, I don’t think I’d care what kind of travel it was.

    Likewise, it’s quite harmful to think of topics – like which kind of travel is better – in such binary terms. If I had to propose a not quite fully developed thought, it seems touristy travel is kind of the first step. It’s putting your toe in the water, so to speak. Not everyone can jump out of an airplane by themselves the first time, and likewise not everyone could just take a plane, get a hostel bed, and start walking around Beijing.

    Either way, glad you’re in Argentina. And I’m even happier you’re writing about your experiences, so please don’t stop anytime soon.

  26. Having traveled quite a bit myself, it seems that either of the two types of travel you present would be equally acceptable. They’ll result in different outcomes, sure, but those largely depend on the people experiencing them. Like most experiences in life, it’s the human experiencing it which determines the outcome, not the experience itself. For example, watch a child fall down. The child will immediately look to its parent for their reaction, and if the parent has a “Oh no! Are you hurt?!” look then the child will cry. If the parent has a giant smile and says “Alright let’s go on the swings now!” then the child will smile and laugh and run to the swings.

    Also, living with family members who are quite different in terms of their travel desires lends an anecdote here. One relative, at my age, traveled the world on a whim. He’d just get up and go. Another relative, on the other hand, refuses to leave the country. Under no circumstances. So if I were given the chance to get her to Paris, I don’t think I’d care what kind of travel it was.

    Likewise, it’s quite harmful to think of topics – like which kind of travel is better – in such binary terms. If I had to propose a not quite fully developed thought, it seems touristy travel is kind of the first step. It’s putting your toe in the water, so to speak. Not everyone can jump out of an airplane by themselves the first time, and likewise not everyone could just take a plane, get a hostel bed, and start walking around Beijing.

    Either way, glad you’re in Argentina. And I’m even happier you’re writing about your experiences, so please don’t stop anytime soon.

  27. “No, that’s not quite accurate. It’s more like there are certain landmarks that one is supposed to WANT to see.”

    Wow, how many times I have felt that; but then, there have been an equal number times where I was awestruck. I missed the Grand Canyon now 2 years in a row.

  28. “No, that’s not quite accurate. It’s more like there are certain landmarks that one is supposed to WANT to see.”

    Wow, how many times I have felt that; but then, there have been an equal number times where I was awestruck. I missed the Grand Canyon now 2 years in a row.

  29. Yeh i usually find its the unexpected that makes the most interesting experiences. Usually its the people you meet, not the landmarks you see.

    Also, different people like different things. History buffs may like ruins, nature buffs mountains and religious buffs temples. So what is amazing to one is not necessarily so for another.

    I like your point on expectations. They make a big difference.

    I hope you dont expect to see any hobbits in New Zeland :P

  30. Yeh i usually find its the unexpected that makes the most interesting experiences. Usually its the people you meet, not the landmarks you see.

    Also, different people like different things. History buffs may like ruins, nature buffs mountains and religious buffs temples. So what is amazing to one is not necessarily so for another.

    I like your point on expectations. They make a big difference.

    I hope you dont expect to see any hobbits in New Zeland :P

  31. I enjoyed this & came here because I like your tweets.

    We definitely “prefer slow, non-landmark travel” but have also seen tons of landmarks on our open ended family world tour since 2006 ( & on travels long before that began).

    It amazes me that some are still so impressive even after seeing a ton of pictures. Pont du Gard comes to mind, although we hadn’t expected to be impressed.

    We probably would never have gone there or the Sahara (also more impressive in person) or many other places had we not had a child we wanted to educate, but most have turned out to be enriching & enlightening to all of us.

    Some times they do disappoint…Marrakesh was a huge disappointment, but Fez and rural Morocco were not, but even in that, there was value in seeing them ourselves and making our own mind about them.

    Kids love the big travel “brands” & they can be fun, especially if you go off season and off key times (ie- we manage to have Ephesus entirely to ourselves for almost an hour in high season & even dodge all crowds in Santorini, Mykonos in summer etc).

    BUT, the best way to know a culture is to immerse deeply, speak the language, do slow travel, experience the rural life.

    Happy travels to you!

  32. I enjoyed this & came here because I like your tweets.

    We definitely “prefer slow, non-landmark travel” but have also seen tons of landmarks on our open ended family world tour since 2006 ( & on travels long before that began).

    It amazes me that some are still so impressive even after seeing a ton of pictures. Pont du Gard comes to mind, although we hadn’t expected to be impressed.

    We probably would never have gone there or the Sahara (also more impressive in person) or many other places had we not had a child we wanted to educate, but most have turned out to be enriching & enlightening to all of us.

    Some times they do disappoint…Marrakesh was a huge disappointment, but Fez and rural Morocco were not, but even in that, there was value in seeing them ourselves and making our own mind about them.

    Kids love the big travel “brands” & they can be fun, especially if you go off season and off key times (ie- we manage to have Ephesus entirely to ourselves for almost an hour in high season & even dodge all crowds in Santorini, Mykonos in summer etc).

    BUT, the best way to know a culture is to immerse deeply, speak the language, do slow travel, experience the rural life.

    Happy travels to you!

  33. I think at the end of the day, traveling is also about being with other people. Either traveling with old friends, new friends, or making friends along the way, those shared experiences make a trip memorable.

    I was in San Antonio and while seeing the Alamo was awesome, it really is small and my best memories of that trip was walking around the river walk till 2am with a group of friends I only see twice to three times a year, then having to get up for breakfast at 7 the next morning for our meetings.

  34. I think at the end of the day, traveling is also about being with other people. Either traveling with old friends, new friends, or making friends along the way, those shared experiences make a trip memorable.

    I was in San Antonio and while seeing the Alamo was awesome, it really is small and my best memories of that trip was walking around the river walk till 2am with a group of friends I only see twice to three times a year, then having to get up for breakfast at 7 the next morning for our meetings.

  35. Sorry about the late replies, folks! I just got off a 72-hour bus ride from Buenos Aires to Lima and have only now been able to plug in to my Peruvian hostel’s WiFi.

    Thanks for all the great comments on this somewhat-contentious topic!

    @Alejandro: You’re totally right that each and every one of us has a different idea of what is fun about travel, and we should each follow our own road with that, rather than relying on others to tell us what to see.

    @Jen: There’s definitely no reason why you should force yourself to live someone else’s travel dream just because they say so. Go your own way, whether that means talking to people or going to landmarks or mixing it up and doing both! Free will! Woohoo!

    @Mark: You should check out the Grand Canyon if you really want to see it. It’s definitely worth a peak!

    @Nate: The best part about traveling is being surprised, and I imagine that the reverse happens just as frequently, where someone goes to a new place not intending to see a landmark, but then they do and it turns out to be really fabulous.

    @Amber: Yeah, to me seeing something to say that you did isn’t a great excuse to see it. On the other hand, that might be the ideal situation for many people (Chris Guillebeau, for example, has gotten a lot out of his trip around the world, even though he doesn’t spend much time in each place he visits).

    @Jeffrey: That kind of thing fascinates me too, Jeffrey. While in Buenos Aires I did my best to establish a lifestyle more or less equivalent to what I saw around me (though with a bit more spending power, due to the higher value of the dollar over the peso), and I really, really enjoyed it.

    @Kristin: Very good point, that the cultural value that these landmarks hold are interesting unto themselves in what they can tell you about a place. To me that isn’t enough reason to visit by itself – I can find the same info online, along with nice photos – but it definitely does add some intrinsic value to the place itself as well.

    @Rob: Yeah, the brand of a place is a big deciding factor as to whether or not people will visit from all over the world just to see it. Maybe some of these landmarks need an updated branding job, one that integrates more stories and less straight history? Stories tend to make marketing ideas stickier.

    @Anthony: Very good point, and one that people with limited time should take into consideration while they travel.

    @Kirsty: Yeah, I’m more of a subtle-traveler as well. I do know many people who aren’t, though, and would really hate to travel the way that I do. To each their own!

    @NomadicNeil: Good point about the cyclical nature of one’s life through parties! Also: I wasn’t being too terribly tongue-in-cheek about the landmarks being brands, because they actually do have people who sit around and design ads and brochures and logos for them, who do the marketing work, PR events, etc. They are brands just like you or I are brands, which doesn’t make them bad, it just forces me to look at them in a certain light (and explain it from that standpoint as well as others). Good to know about the Blarney Stone…yeesh!

    @marc: It’s true that I haven’t traveled much, but I would much rather live my life declaring my opinions with confidence than cringing and apologizing for them, following in other peoples’ shadows and making up my mind based on their opinions. I may change my opinion later, but at least I went my own way! You should too!

    @Tyler: Really well said. It all does come back to the person who is experiencing something. My sister, for example, loves to travel and take tours and view new cities through a guided tour on a bus or hired car. That would make me miserable. On the same note, she would be miserable traveling like I do, taking things more slowly and making mistakes to learn, rather than having everything served up for you. Definitely different strokes for different folks, as NomadicNeil said.

    @Moon: You should definitely go see it! Find the time and let me know how long you stay!

    @Vinay: Wait wait wait; there aren’t any hobbits in New Zealand? Damn, I need to make some phone calls….

    @soultraveler3: Thanks for dropping by! I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and I know that we could all do a lot worse than to follow your advice on travel…you 3 seem to be having a great time, and I wish I would have had the same experiences when I was a kid! All that being said, yeah, getting a good mix of both is probably ideal for most people. Time can be an issue for many people, but the middle path is generally the right one.

    @Andrew: Definitely. My favorite experiences while traveling so far have revolved around people. Without the people, even a beautiful place can be dull and uninspiring, while the most podunk, nothing-to-do-can-we-leave-yet town can be ridiculously awesome.

  36. Sorry about the late replies, folks! I just got off a 72-hour bus ride from Buenos Aires to Lima and have only now been able to plug in to my Peruvian hostel’s WiFi.

    Thanks for all the great comments on this somewhat-contentious topic!

    @Alejandro: You’re totally right that each and every one of us has a different idea of what is fun about travel, and we should each follow our own road with that, rather than relying on others to tell us what to see.

    @Jen: There’s definitely no reason why you should force yourself to live someone else’s travel dream just because they say so. Go your own way, whether that means talking to people or going to landmarks or mixing it up and doing both! Free will! Woohoo!

    @Mark: You should check out the Grand Canyon if you really want to see it. It’s definitely worth a peak!

    @Nate: The best part about traveling is being surprised, and I imagine that the reverse happens just as frequently, where someone goes to a new place not intending to see a landmark, but then they do and it turns out to be really fabulous.

    @Amber: Yeah, to me seeing something to say that you did isn’t a great excuse to see it. On the other hand, that might be the ideal situation for many people (Chris Guillebeau, for example, has gotten a lot out of his trip around the world, even though he doesn’t spend much time in each place he visits).

    @Jeffrey: That kind of thing fascinates me too, Jeffrey. While in Buenos Aires I did my best to establish a lifestyle more or less equivalent to what I saw around me (though with a bit more spending power, due to the higher value of the dollar over the peso), and I really, really enjoyed it.

    @Kristin: Very good point, that the cultural value that these landmarks hold are interesting unto themselves in what they can tell you about a place. To me that isn’t enough reason to visit by itself – I can find the same info online, along with nice photos – but it definitely does add some intrinsic value to the place itself as well.

    @Rob: Yeah, the brand of a place is a big deciding factor as to whether or not people will visit from all over the world just to see it. Maybe some of these landmarks need an updated branding job, one that integrates more stories and less straight history? Stories tend to make marketing ideas stickier.

    @Anthony: Very good point, and one that people with limited time should take into consideration while they travel.

    @Kirsty: Yeah, I’m more of a subtle-traveler as well. I do know many people who aren’t, though, and would really hate to travel the way that I do. To each their own!

    @NomadicNeil: Good point about the cyclical nature of one’s life through parties! Also: I wasn’t being too terribly tongue-in-cheek about the landmarks being brands, because they actually do have people who sit around and design ads and brochures and logos for them, who do the marketing work, PR events, etc. They are brands just like you or I are brands, which doesn’t make them bad, it just forces me to look at them in a certain light (and explain it from that standpoint as well as others). Good to know about the Blarney Stone…yeesh!

    @marc: It’s true that I haven’t traveled much, but I would much rather live my life declaring my opinions with confidence than cringing and apologizing for them, following in other peoples’ shadows and making up my mind based on their opinions. I may change my opinion later, but at least I went my own way! You should too!

    @Tyler: Really well said. It all does come back to the person who is experiencing something. My sister, for example, loves to travel and take tours and view new cities through a guided tour on a bus or hired car. That would make me miserable. On the same note, she would be miserable traveling like I do, taking things more slowly and making mistakes to learn, rather than having everything served up for you. Definitely different strokes for different folks, as NomadicNeil said.

    @Moon: You should definitely go see it! Find the time and let me know how long you stay!

    @Vinay: Wait wait wait; there aren’t any hobbits in New Zealand? Damn, I need to make some phone calls….

    @soultraveler3: Thanks for dropping by! I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and I know that we could all do a lot worse than to follow your advice on travel…you 3 seem to be having a great time, and I wish I would have had the same experiences when I was a kid! All that being said, yeah, getting a good mix of both is probably ideal for most people. Time can be an issue for many people, but the middle path is generally the right one.

    @Andrew: Definitely. My favorite experiences while traveling so far have revolved around people. Without the people, even a beautiful place can be dull and uninspiring, while the most podunk, nothing-to-do-can-we-leave-yet town can be ridiculously awesome.

  37. This isn’t so much as a comment on landmarking (though I suppose I would be one for the cultural traveling experience) as much as it is a compliment.

    This man, the cool cat known as Colin, along with so many other awesome bloggers, have been influential. And the messages they all share are grandeur in scope; especially if you try and look at them all at once. Wow, damn, and holy-shee-moly! Thanks Colin.

  38. This isn’t so much as a comment on landmarking (though I suppose I would be one for the cultural traveling experience) as much as it is a compliment.

    This man, the cool cat known as Colin, along with so many other awesome bloggers, have been influential. And the messages they all share are grandeur in scope; especially if you try and look at them all at once. Wow, damn, and holy-shee-moly! Thanks Colin.

  39. Pingback: January / February 2010 Edition of Digital Nomad Blog Carnival | LifeExcursion

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