What is the deal with Top Ten lists, who creates this stuff?
Top Ten places to see in Paris
Top Ten things to do in Australia
1000 Places to See Before You Die
The thing about these lists is that they are not made by you.
Travel author Sally Kumquat tells Bob Editor over at Big Publishing House that the Mona Lisa just is so unbelievably amazing it must be seen before you die, and since Sally apparently is the final word in all things travel and death, the Mona Lisa gets plopped on every goddamn list on the face of the planet.
Thus, it is determined a person would literally spend eternity in life achievement purgatory for not witnessing the majesty of the Mona Lisa, and why you, guide book in hand, have just forked over 10 Euros to elbow your way through the 358 other tourists (guide books in their hands), camera lenses flying, to the velvet rope that keeps you a good twelve feet from this painting that is in reality smaller than a sheet of poster board. I have seen the Mona Lisa, needless to say, it did not rock my world.
But that’s where we get trapped in the box, I say I went to Paris, the response is always, did you see the Eiffel Tower and Mona Lisa. Yes, I did, and while there I met Toby from Brooklyn and Kate from Portland, shared a bench with a guy from Germany and snapped photos with a Japanese family, seeing a pattern here….(psst no French people). And if we don’t go to these places it’s amazing the world did not swallow us up whole, sacre bleu!
So, here’s my own top ten reasons why you should ignore top ten lists:
1. Screw them, make your own list
That’s it, one line only. Make your own list.
Don’t let Sally Kumquat and Bob Editor control your life and tell you what they think you should see. I love the show No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain, and I recently saw a repeat where he was in Egypt, and the great thing was he made a running point throughout the episode that he refused to go and see the pyramids. Personally, they just were not something he was into, and of course everyone he declared this to thought it just seemed so strange, all the way to Egypt and no pyramids!? But, I applauded it, because he did his own thing, and that’s what we all should focus on.
And please, before you up and leave my blog (I can’t afford to lose any readers!) I am not advocating you throw away the guidebooks if you don’t want to. If you want to see the pyramids or the Mona Lisa or all of the 1000 places on Sally’s list then absolutely 100% do it, the point is, the choice is yours.
This all goes back to your travel philosophy, its a personal thing and there is never a wrong way as long as you are making it your own. But, remember this, the lists can be a place to start, but more often than not, a place and a culture is a lot more than what can be whittled down to a few bullet points. England is a lot more than Big Ben, just as New York is a lot more than Times Square, and I think we’d all get a lot more out of our very short travel lives if we didn’t focus on seeing all the things we are ‘supposed to.’