As I sit here in Vichy, it is clear to me that the only thing that counts is what you feel, not what you have. I am resting after a long swim and have joined those pensioners who go to thermal resorts to regain their health and to relax. It is comfortable and soothing for the body and mind, everything is at hand, and it is not expensive. A comfortable bed, three meals a day, a quiet park, a swimming pool and yoga classes are all I need. Not everyone who travels is a tourist. And not everyone who carries a backpack is a traveler. I fall in between these two categories. I do not haul a rucksack, sleep in a tent or stay on the road for a long period of time. Neither do I belong to the bus tour, camera-totting crowd.
Three years ago, I decided to go to Paris to brush up on my French. I stayed in a half-hostel/half-hotel. In the morning, I attended classes and in the afternoon I was free to do whatever I wanted. I met a lot of people from all over the world and we used to go out every day, soon realizing how much the locals hated tourists. Signs on the monuments and beautiful bridges "Mort aux touristes! Tourists go away!" were hardly left unnoticed. Hadn't I mastered the language, the French would have looked at me with disgust, they told me. I thought they hated those foreigners who owned cameras and who pried their noses into everything. I also believed they hated strangers who did not speak French, which is a very delicate subject for the French since their language is spoken and used worldwide, the French president Jacques Chirac not speaking English for the same reason. Nevertheless, the young French talked to me in English and I did not encounter any language barriers.
While in Paris I went to the Louvre, and decided to learn something about fine arts since I was not a good connoisseur of the subject. I spent twelve hours finding out nothing, except that Mona Lisa watches you all the time as you pass her.