Avoiding the Crowds
Certain events are popular travel destinations for a reason. They’re fun, they don’t happen every day of the year, and typically they involve alcohol. I can totally understand this, but I’ve realized over the past couple of years that I don’t like crowds. It’s not that I’m claustrophobic or anything, but being stuck in a big crowd makes me uncomfortable and impatient. Andy and I have been to several events that have shown me just how much I dislike crowds, and after a few I finally started to adjusting my travel goals.
Crowds at Tomatina
A little town called Buñol, about an hour or so from Valencia, Spain, holds a giant tomato fight on the last Wednesday of August every year. Tomatina was something I wanted to participate in since I first read about it while doing a project for my Spanish class about holidays in Spain. Chucking tomatoes at people sounded like so much fun! Of course, I was 19 at the time, and by the time I got around to actually going, I was 31. My perspective had changed without my realizing it, and I hated Tomatina.
Thousands and thousands of people were crammed into a narrow street for hours. The fight itself only lasts for one hour, but everyone gets there early, and many people were drunk by 8AM. When the tomatoes finally arrived, it didn’t take me long to decide this wasn’t for me. But then I had to fight my way through the crowd to get out. I think I’m easy to overlook in situations like this because I’m so short. I’m only 5’1″ or 155cm, and not only did I get pushed and shoved as I tried to get out, but I even got elbowed in the head once because someone just didn’t see me.
Crowds at Carnivale
The timing of my return to Europe after my round the world trip worked out perfectly for us to go to Venice for Carnivale. Since this festival isn’t about throwing food, it was a little more civilized. I really did enjoy seeing all of the elaborate costumes people were wearing. But since it’s such a popular event, and we were there for the last couple of days, the crowds were hard to avoid.
I realize St. Marks Square in Venice is the center of the action no matter what time of year it is, but I still wanted to see it. I hadn’t been there since I was 16, so we made our way over for some pictures. Unfortunately this meant dealing with shoulder to shoulder crowds. After about 15 minutes, I was done with it all and we found the quickest way out to an empty side street.
Crowds at the Christmas Markets
I loved the Frankfurt Christmas Markets. The atmosphere was very festive, there was tons of food to try, and I do enjoy some Glühwein. But so does everyone else. Trying to get through the crowd to order a sausage can be a challenge. We wanted to see as much of the markets as possible, so we fought our way through the hoards of people for two days hoping the Glühwein would make the crowds a little more tolerable.
I’m sure I’ll keep going to Christmas Markets because they are fun. But I have to remember that they’re crowded events and prepare myself mentally for it. We actually wanted to go to a few other Christmas Markets besides the ones in Frankfurt and at home in Freiburg, but the thought of dealing with those crowds several weekends in a row kept us away. Maybe just going to the ones in Freiburg and one other city is enough for one season.
All of this has taught me that going to a popular event that is sure to be filled with people probably isn’t the best decision for me. As much fun as Oktoberfest sounds, I doubt I will ever attend. I like the relaxing aspect of travel, and being in a crowd has the opposite effect on me. I’m sure at some point the desire to attend something will override my distaste for large gatherings of people, but for the most part I will avoid the crowds.
January 14, 2013 @ 9:29 AM
Overcrowded places & events can be off putting. I tend to avoid unless it is a specific event that I want to attend.
January 14, 2013 @ 9:28 PM
Yeah, I can’t handle it anymore, so I’m definitely trying not to go to these things anymore. I doubt I’ll ban ALL crowded events, but I will drastically cut back.
January 15, 2013 @ 2:28 AM
I don’t think anyone really enjoys fighting their way through crowds. Sometimes it just goes with the territory of events you really want to attend, unfortunately.
January 15, 2013 @ 6:01 PM
Yeah, I guess some people just like those events enough that the crowds don’t bother them as much. Not my thing though!
January 15, 2013 @ 8:06 AM
After you went through a specific experience, you tend to avoid big crowd events.
The Christmas Markets can be really great, but after you visited one or two bumping into people can get really annoying.
January 15, 2013 @ 6:02 PM
I agree. Though the Christmas Markets are probably the easiest of these types of events, and I doubt I’ll stop attending!
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
January 15, 2013 @ 2:14 PM
Apart from the fact that I haven’t been to any of these places, I swear I could have written this post! 😉 I know that some people LOVE crowds and find them energetic or something, but not me. I am a short lady as well, and being surrounded and jostled by that many people is just so overwhelming and fraught for me. Since leaving for our RTW trip back in August, I have been pushing myself to try new things and seek out new experiences, but the one that really backfired was attending a big festival in the Philippines. Within minutes, I realized it was a mistake as it was just streets filled with floods of people. I turned to my husband and said, “What was I thinking?!? This is my nightmare!” Now when we hear a country has a major festival, we do everything we can to avoid it! 😉
January 15, 2013 @ 6:04 PM
Thanks Steph, I’m glad you can relate! I make such an effort to remind myself now that those big festivals are my nightmare too, especially if it’s one with a party atmosphere. Definitely to be avoided!
January 15, 2013 @ 5:54 PM
I hate crowds too – will do almost anything to avoid them!
January 15, 2013 @ 6:06 PM
Yep, I’m so glad I finally realized over the past year that crowds are not my thing so I can avoid them too!
January 17, 2013 @ 9:14 AM
Can not stand crowds full stop. Start getting paranoid about pick pickpockets. I avoid all crowds when possible.
January 17, 2013 @ 7:00 PM
Ugh, yeah the pickpocketing danger does up a bit in a crowd, especially in certain places. I just always feel like I’m going to be trampled!