Downloaded Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad to read on the way home from India. I thought I had read it before, and probably did, but I've forgotten much of the humor. Twain's dry wit is impeccable once again, skewering his fellow travelers, himself, and with special glee, the tour guide industry.
I have taken small tours of places like San Franscico with a several hour guided tour, which included narration, stops at points of interest, and detours to shops not advertised on the primary itinerary advertisements. Twain's experience is dead-on mirroring of the modern guides I met in my just-concluding trip to India, including non-stop prattle, steerage into French textile shops, and the kind of whoopers they grow in Calveras County. I can't possibly match his razor-sharp insights into the alleged innocents, and for this trip I had the advantage of being solo and not needing to succumb to the whims of the majority. But I was subject to the preplanned routes and rigamarole, and was only able to escape at my peril.
One advantage I had over Twain's experience was an occasional 5 or 10 minute respite from the package deal, by most of my guides. They would say, Ok, you go explore this space and meet me back here, or I can't climb all those stairs again, I will wait here.
So far, I am about 25% into Twain's book, where they've reached Italy. I know the "Holy Land" is ahead, and can't wait for the comparative religion discusiion the irascible steamboat pilot will surely get into to.
I should be boarding the flight to Detroit soon... More later!