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A woman poses for a photo near some gondolas.  Near her, two smiling children also pose for pictures
Tourists taking photos in Venice: ‘The compulsion to document life is now deeply entrenched in our collective psyche’ © SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

In case you hadn’t noticed, Europe is crawling with travelers again. Having skipped through Rome, Paris and fair London town this past month, it’s obvious that tourists are going through our streets once more.

Europe is the most popular destination among US travellers, with numbers outpacing 2019 levels, according to Hopper’s Summer Travel to Europe report. As a result, hotels are charging some 37 per cent higher tariffs (63 per cent in Rome) as demand grows by as much as 20 per cent.

Head to Europe any time in the next few weeks and prepare to hit a sticky, sweaty tail. Unless you are ready to rise at sun-up and charge off to the Sistine Chapel (or the beach bar), you should anticipate that your progress will be impeded by shuffling dawdlers, trying to co-ordinate their itineraries while simultaneously staring blankly at their phones.

I am not a snob when it comes to sharing lovely places. I do not bemoan the ghost landscapes of the pandemic age — largely because I failed to go out and enjoy them, but also because what is a city if its very lifeblood has been erased?

Besides, I often find watching tourists far more entertaining than admiring ancient ruins. Like being immersed in a Tod Papageorge portrait of the Acropolis in the mid-1980s, or one of Martin Parr’s postcards, all human life is there to be observed.

That said, we can all enjoy our Hot Tourist Summer if we follow some basic rules. In an attempt to alleviate crowding, contempt or general incompatibility on the calamari shuffle, I’ve compiled a list of antisocial behaviors that should be considered verboten on the road.

1.Wear shoes
Yes, even you, strange little lady with your Comic-Con T-shirt, blue hair and wide-eyed expression of wonderment walking through the Place de la Concorde. It should be considered the most rudimentary of obligations that one puts on footwear to undertake one’s 2023 voyage. I do not wish to look at your calloused pinkies, and neither will your podiatrist when you return home from your barefoot odyssey. Feet should be protected by at least a flip-flop or ideally some form of hard-soled shoe. Passengers on airplanes should also take note of the unofficial bylaw that says shoe removal is only considered acceptable on flights of six hours or more. Visiting the bathroom in your stockinged feet should be made punishable by law.

2. Get out of the frame

Want to kill any culturally immersive experience stone dead? Stick a phone in front of it and then record it for an hour. The compulsion to document life is now so deeply entrenched in our collective psyche that it seems unconscionable to participate in anything without creating a blow-by-blow account. But no matter whether you’re on a ramble through the Rijksmuseum or rapturing in front of Taylor Swift, one selfie is all you need to get the T-shirt, and then, for God’s sake, put the phone away and view things with your eyes.

3. Think before you eat
I’m not quite sure what it is about the warm weather that seems to make everything so smelly, but the noxious whiff of cheese and onion crisps that you thought permissible to munch on the Central Line during rush hour has now been amplified one million times. Eating food of any description on public transport is disgusting; eating cheese and onion anything in an enclosed setting should be considered a crime against your fellow man.

4. Very few people want to see your buttocks
OK, so perhaps there might be a few old pervs who might want to see your bum. But, really, the thong under the miniskirt arrangement is an attraction no one needs to see.

5. Don’t stand in the doorways
Yes, I appreciate that you may have spent long minutes queuing to get into the Pantheon. And yes, once inside, the cool stillness of the portico and majesty of the rotunda may well stop you in your tracks. But do please remember the 20,000 people standing right behind you who would like, very kindly, for you to make your way inside. Ditto platform entrances, which seem to have a force field deterring folk from moving down the actual platform. Or in any public building, where the urge to stop stock still at the busiest intersection is written in our DNA. One day someone will unlock the physics of human movement and thus determine a world in which there is a constant flow: until then, stand, queue, get to your destination and then move the hell along.

6. No ice cream tasting
So you want to try all the flavors of gelato. And maybe this one is slightly more enticing than the last. The answer is pistachio. Stop dilly-dallying and get a scoop.

7. Put your phone on silent
It strikes me as antediluvian that some people still think it’s OK to let their phone ring or, worse, have failed to deactivate its haptic click. The only people allowed to let their phones ping are characters in 2000s romcoms designed to illuminate the mores of the Tinder age. The same goes for pinging notifications, or taking pictures without muting that obnoxious shutter noise. The only sound that should emanate from your smartphone in a public setting is absolutely no noise at all.

Email Jo at [email protected]

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