Planning: the art of being a good tourist (or publican)

People in Manchester were a bit bleak this last week. Either about the news that Sir Alex was calling it a day at Old Trafford, or because City were blown out of the competition by Wigan. And Mancini loyalists were also hit with the news of his departure. Rumour has it that the Chairman said, “I don’t know what we’d do without you, Roberto, but from tomorrow we’re going to find out!”

The team from Rutters will probably testify to having to help their customers plan for either the celebrations or the mourning – depending on which part of the city they covered. One wonders what sort of memorabilia will become available now that Sir Alex has moved on and what items will be worth hanging on to … those old photos of the dugout taken of some argument he had with a ref or when players got switched might start to be worth something as time goes on. Especially if there are any signed programmes or shirts hanging about. Hopefully there won’t be any rip-offs offered to visitors who travel to see the Theatre of Dreams. You know, those fast talking types that accost people before they get near the real place. Those ones “letting you in on a bargain,” as often happens to tourists.

One tourist, Mr Bannister (he wasn’t from Manchester but from Birmingham), got ripped off in Italy the other day. He decided to treat himself and his party to the experience of gelato in Rome. He was a miffed when the bill came to £13.50 each. He felt that a total of £57.00 was a bit much for a cold snack for four people. The question is always, why do people always take advantage of tourists? Do the locals pay the same as the tourists? Of course they don’t, they’re not stupid. So by implication, tourists are stupid! No, just uneducated. Uneducated as to where to get the best deals. Like which pub to visit to get great food at fair rates. Or how to buy the genuine “Man U” kit at the best prices – not from the hustlers over the road from Old Trafford.

One wonders why people going on holiday don’t do some homework before they reach their destination. Much the same way that landlords use their stocktakers to explore all the avenues and alternatives open to them. It just makes sense when you’re on a budget, to get the most out of your hard earned cash. Granted, some budgets are more than others, but a budget nevertheless.

Large & small gelato – bought in Rome last week for non-tourist prices

Large & small gelato – bought in Rome last week for non-tourist prices

Take the gelato in Rome, for instance. Poor Mr Bannister and his family shelled out 57 quid, while in the same city other tourists paid 10 (that’s £8.50) for the same thing, or €1.50 (£1.27) for a small version. And they were able to do this because they had taken some trouble to do some planning and research before travelling. But on top of that – they asked the locals. Instead of just being a “tourist,” they embraced the experience and talked to the people who live there. Asked questions. Found out about them and they lives they live.

So when the friendly people of Manchester chat to visitors to their city, and show them around, they’ll get to see the haunts that the locals frequent (depending on which club supporter they’re talking to). The “Del Boy’s” of this world won’t thank them though, they’ll still be on the lookout for the uneducated ones.

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