Saturday, 11 May 2013

How to Commission a Tour / How to Be a Tourist.

I've had some enquiries about how a tour is made and what it consists of so, having already made a pitch for a tour in Cambridge, it was easy enough to produce a brochure that covers the essential details. It's now online: 

I'm writing this in Zagreb and looking at the city through a dual lens. On the one side I am very much engaged in the performance workshop I am assisting, which deals with, among other things, urban and communal space, connecting the many layers of personal, political, contemporary and historical views of the city. On the other side, I am also looking at it with the memory of The Tour of All Tours fresh in my mind and from the point of view of a visitor to the city. It is really valuable to not forget what it is like to be a visitor and to be excited by things that inhabitants of the city take for granted.

Although this is far from my first time in the city I am struck afresh by the different colour palette that I see around me. Buildings are painted such colours as cream and brown. 

And the staircase inside the building is also painted in unfamiliar colours. While they may not be spectacular in themselves they make me aware of the relative absence of these colours in my own environment in the UK. There are cities which are a riot of colours and this is not one yet it does frequently have these creams, browns, ochre shades and greens in various states of freshness. Many buildings were once pained in this manner but have acquired layers of dirt, graffiti and neglect which produce a quite specific result too.  

The final thing that has surprised me afresh and endeared me to the city is the prevalence of brown paper bags. They remind me of when I was growing up; they were much more used in the UK in the 70s and 80s and are relatively rare now. Here is one that contained a lisnato mak, a roll you find in the bakeries that contains a sweet poppy seed filling. You can see some of the crumbs on my trousers. What's more, it is no problem to bring your snack into the cafe, order coffee and eat it in peace. That has been a regular breakfast fixture in fact. And that is another thing that is no longer generally possible in the UK where signs usually advise you "Customers may not consume food that has not been purchased on the premises."

These are the sorts of observations a tourist might make and which should be allowed to find their way into The Tour of All Tours, which is another way of saying, I should not be too professional a tourist as to be above such matters.

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