Americans Abroad

Why is it that the most annoying people I meet on my trips are most often Americans?

This trip was no different. On the day tour to Capri, the group included 4 Americans from Charleston, SC, a couple and two additional female friends. They were retirement age or close to it. And there was no part of the trip that they didn’t complain about.

The pick-up van was late (thanks to the lovely Australian couple) but we still had to wait for the four Americans.

Walking to the boat, one of them complained about going to Capri at all. The other apologized for dragging them along and though she offered to turnaround and do something else for the day, her friends agreed to continue on. That lack of interest in going at all may have been the root for all the complaining. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt here, that they don’t always complain.

The Blue Grotto wasn’t what they thought it would be. There was no visible appreciation for the fact that it was actually open and our tour guide, Simona, got us in an entrance with a minimal wait. Their oarsman was rude and didn’t help them into and out of the boat. (Every oarsman I saw helped the people in and out of the boats.) The stairs down to the grotto weren’t Americans with Disability Act-approved. I’m sorry, but if you’ve just had your knee(s) replaced, don’t you think you should either a) wait until they’re better to vacation in an area that is nothing but steps or b) bring a cane with you for added support?

They were late for the midday meet-up. The rest of the group had to wait, frequently, for the group to catch up to the rest of us.

They gasped with concern every time a large vehicle approached our van on the very narrow road up to Anacapri. (Simona said it’s known as “Mamma Mia” road.) I certainly wouldn’t want to drive it, but the only folks allowed to drive the roads on Capri are Capri natives and they know how things work.

The food at lunch wasn’t good. “We’re just really used to good food at home.” “There’s only ONE soft drink included with lunch?”

“We’re not stopping at Tiberius’ villa? That was one of the two things I had to do on Capri.” Well, honey, read the brochure – that was never part of the tour. You could have chosen to taken your own trip to Capri and made arrangements to visit the villa, if it was a must-see for you.

This is not to say that I thought the tour was perfect. It wasn’t – I would have liked a bit more free time and would have liked to take one of the open-air taxis or ride the funicular down to the port. But these are notes I’ve made for myself for next trip.

And the most unforgivable part, in my mind, was complaining so much that our tour guide got wind of it. These tour guides work very hard, 7 days a week from April through October. Most of them are very interested in ensuring that their tour groups have a good time. Simona didn’t deserve to hear any of their bitching.

They didn’t tip her at the end of the day either.

I did meet some lovely Americans the next day on my tour of Pompeii. A couple from San Francisco, in the restaurant business, visiting their son who was teaching in Prague. They were very nice, friendly and not at all derogatory within earshot of anyone else. They DID tip Stella (our Pompeii tour guide) at the end of the tour.

To the group from Charleston, I wish they could live in the moment, enjoy where they’re at and quit comparing everything in Italy to things back home. They’re not the same but who wants everything to be the same all the time? I wish they could understand how lucky they were to be visiting Capri. How so many folks would love to do the same and can’t, for a variety of reasons. People who would love every moment, even the less-than-perfect ones.




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