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Living with tourists – Haystack Rock, at Cannon Beach in Oregon

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Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

Jogging past Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

The inhabitants of Cannon Beach are clearly tired of tourists walking through their gardens, trying to get the best view of Haystack Rock.

Panorama of Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

Panorama of Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

I can sympathise. I’ve lived in a couple of very touristy areas and it can get on your nerves occasionally!

After university I lived just off Baker Street in London. Across from my front door were Madame Tussauds and the London Planetarium, and just round the corner was 221b Baker Street. Walking home from work I would have to dodge fans dressed up as Sherlock Holmes posing at 221b, despite it now being a red plastic covered branch of the Abbey National bank. Arriving back at my flat, the front door step would usually be full of Spanish students dropping the litter from their picnic and talking loudly into the night whilst drinking cheap cider.

A while later I lived in Blackheath. It’s a beautiful town in South East London, but not that well known to foreign tourists. Possibly because of this, it is a popular destination at the weekends for Londoners to drive slowly and drop fast food wrappers and chicken bones out their car window, onto the pristine and carefully maintained heath.

The last place I lived in the UK was Greenwich. It’s is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it popular with tourists both foreign and domestic. Again a historic and beautiful place to live, but you have to be prepared to scurry round camera-toting tourists stopping randomly along the paths to photograph a pie and mash shop or some naval memorabilia.

The large number of tourists has led to a rise in the number of overpriced and low quality restaurants (mostly gaudy Tex-Mex), as the restaurateurs don’t expect much repeat custom. A few good restaurants are carefully hidden away in back streets, where visitors rarely venture.

Thankfully Beijing, where I live now, is large enough that there are touristy areas and residential areas, and the two very rarely overlap.

Despite this long history of living with tourists, I’ve never gone to the lengths of erecting signs telling people to go away. Every house in Cannon Beach has signs telling visitors that theirs isn’t the path you’re looking for.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

Looking towards Tolvana State Park

As is typical, once you do actually find the narrow steps down to the beach you’re much too close to get a good photo.

A far better spot is just a little to the south at the Tolovana Beach State Park where it’s easy to get a better overview of Haystack Rock and the two smaller rocks alongside.

No-one has thought to just put up a sign pointing towards to the path everyone is looking for, or even better just suggesting that there’s a more satisfying view, lots of parking and some clean toilets at the nearby state park.

Have you ever lived in a tourist spot? Was it a good or a bad experience?

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

Looking back at Cannon Beach from Tolvana State Park

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Since leaving London in 2006 I’ve travelled, worked, volunteered and lived in over 90 countries. Highlights so far would be driving along the Silk Road from Beijing to Istanbul, a complete circuit of South America and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica. I’m currently back in Beijing, as a base to visit more of Asia and attempt to learn Mandarin.

20 comments

  • Pingback: Dr. Jessica Voigts (@WanderingEds)

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  • Oh God…I live in Los Angeles, and this week is one of the spring break weeks (how many can there be??) so you should see our beaches. And our amusement parks. And our freeways.

    Reply
  • Pingback: @TravelSavvyMom

  • I live in Seville, Spain, which is home to a UNESCO World Heritage cluster of sites. This, of course, means that the center is rampant with tourists who don’t adhere to bike lanes, overpriced eateries and gypsies trying to give you a “gift” of a rosemary spring. For this reason, I chose to live a bit further outside the city center my first few years here, so I got a real taste of la vida española.

    Still, Spain is barely thriving on its tourism industry, so it’s a necessary evil!

    Reply
  • Pingback: @breizh2008

  • I lived in the historic section of Philadelphia and I actually liked it! Unless I chose to go to one of the more touristy restaurants (I didn’t), I didn’t find tourists to be a problem. There are lots of tiny cobblestone streets that get very little traffic from either cars or people, so it’s easy to lose yourself amidst the 250-year old houses (old for the US!). I always got a little thrill when I saw people walking around MY neighborhood. . . I felt so privileged to live somewhere that others chose as a destination for their vacation! It was also very cool to stroll by Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell at night when we could have it to ourselves.

    I think the ideal scenario is to live near attractions you value, while managing to be off the major tourist paths.

    Reply
  • Those pictures make Cannon Beach appear utterly serene and deserted. What a hoot that residents feel forced to put up signs. Parts of New York are totally overridden with tourists, from SoHo to Times Square. Can’t imagine any signs going up!

    Reply
  • The transition from tourist to local can be a strange one. We’ve spent a couple of seasons in Playa del Carmen, Mexico (starting out as tourists). We’re really starting to notice the increasing numbers of tourists (along with the much higher prices!) in the last couple of years. It’s ironic, as we likely would never have ended up in Playa if it hadn’t been an easily accessible beach town.

    Reply
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