As a tourist, you want to do what the locals do. I grew up in a small town of 36,000 people in France. My town is OLD; well I guess I should say it has a lot of history. In 121 BC [Yes, this is correct], the Romans defeated the Allobroges and their vast territory became part of the Roman Transalpine Province. In 62-61 BC, under crushing taxes, their uprising was in vain; Vienne [my hometown] became their capital city. So, yes I can say it is an old town.
The thing is, when I was growing up, I never appreciated it. One year in the late 70’s a new college was needed to support the growing population. When they started digging the foundations, they found some roman ruins. Archeologists stopped the project. The more they dogged, the more they found. After a while the city decided to relocate the college further west. In the meantime, the preservation society decided to pay more attention to every construction projects and half of them would get stopped because of new discoveries. I just thought they were stopping progress. I did not realize at that moment in time the importance of their work in preserving the past.
Moving forward 30 years, my boyfriend and I are going to France on our annual trip to visit my family. As a good host, I decided to take him on a tour of the town and show him where I grew up. My first school, where I worked, the wineries, and of course the good life. This is when I saw my hometown in a total different way.
On the first day, we went downtown. He wanted to have a glass of wine at a terrace of a café, just like the locals. [Ironic, I never did that as a local]. I then proceeded to show him the old stuffs [roman ruins] that are still standing. He could not believe what he was seeing. This is when it hit me. I grew up in a town that founds its origins in the 5th Millennium. One of the oldest discoveries is a mammoth’s tusk, which dates back approximately 18,000 to 20,000 years.
How many of us have been in this situation? Yes, we all take things for granted [I know it’s a cliché], without even realizing it, but I would suggest you do the test. Take someone that has never been to your hometown or where you live today, and do the tourist tour; it may surprise you as much as it did for me. Discovering my town through the eyes of a tourist was amazing and made me appreciate the rich culture and stories hiding in every street corners and buildings.