Saturday, June 21, 2008

The secret evil of hotels

We all sort of know that hotels like to add annoying little extras to our bills that we're generally too polite to dispute. 

Joe McInerney, president of the American Hotel and Lodging Association would like to make it clear, though, that fees for incidental services represent a 'miniscule amount of revenue'

So, in that case, they must be doing it just to annoy us..

Welcome, Guardian Guiders!

Thanks for popping by. There's an extract from my fitfully amusing book below, if you fancy it. Or of you're just here for the map, which is pretty funny (my favourite one's Istanbul) you can find it here. Or you can leave your own tale of holiday woe here.

Or you can just poke around the blog and find stuff. There's another extract somewhere, some slightly comical news items and even an alternative Olympic logo, for some reason...

EXTRACT:5 reasons that everybody hates a tourist

1: Money

Wherever you’re going, it’s a safe bet that you’ve got more disposable income than most of the people that are there. The farther you go, the greater the disparity will grow. Now, money isn’t everything but it can more-or-less buy everything and so it ends up figuring rather significantly in the minds of people who haven’t got so much of it. I’m not suggesting that your squandering conspicuous sums of money on international travel will engender the sort of resentment that, say, the self-indulgence of the French Royal court did in 1789, or the lavish excesses of the Russian aristocracy in 1917. No, Not a bit of it: The fops and dandies in question interacted very little with the peasantry, yet still annoyed them enough to precipitate a bloody revolution. Tourists are there in the people’s face every day for the whole bloody Summer. Which leads us to…


2: Luggage

A lot of foreign travel involves cities. Even if you think you’re going to a bit of exotic countryside you’re bound to end up flying into an airport on the fringes of some major conurbation and then getting a train or taxi through the city centre to your destination. Let’s hope it is a taxi, because that’s just an annoying car like so many others and unlikely to give rise to too much smouldering resentment. If you’re on a train or an underground system of sort you’ll be dragging assorted pieces of bulky luggage around with you, scuffing the shins of pedestrians with your suitcase, obliviously crushing the newspapers of  tube travellers with your rucksack, or tripping absolutely everybody up with one of those spectacularly annoying trolley-bag affairs. You may think that you’re having enough trouble struggling from airport to hotel or train terminus, but the people you’re inadvertently barging into are on their way to or from work, and were probably in a fairly bad mood before you clattered into them with your skis. Which rather calls to mind..


3: Congestion

The joy, such as it is, of visiting a foreign city is stopping to look up at the interesting architectural features, unexpected poor weather, or strange and unusual birds that are about to defecate on your head. The drawback to these simple pleasures of course is that every time you stop to rubberneck at an exotic-looking and mildly pornographic advertising hoarding you will cause a concertina of collisions in the ‘long tail’ of fast-moving locals behind you who have seen all this stuff before and are just trying to get to where they’re going before the monsoon rains kick in. Which naturally takes us to..


4: Time

You’ve got lots of it. The people you’re asking for directions have little or none. The people behind you in the queue for overpriced cups of coffee have even less. Words do not exist to describe the depth of their hatred for you. Please remember that in many other countries knives and guns are more commonly carried than they are in – say – Royal Tonbridge Wells. Which takes us rather neatly to..


5: Money (again)

The presence of a large group of people with substantial amounts of disposable income, generous amounts of leisure time to fill and no way of storing or cooking fresh food tends to skew the local economy somewhat in the direction of overpriced coffee or sandwich bars and expensive clothing shops. Exactly the opposite of what you need if you actually live in one of these places, where all you want is a sensibly priced pastie to reheat in the office microwave for your lunch, a reasonably-priced dry cleaners and somewhere to buy an emergency present for your wife’s birthday and you’re not made of bloody money and you’ve only got an hour to eat, get your suit cleaned and buy the Smallest Diamond On Earth™.