Imagine two thousand year old marble steps leading to beautiful carved marble columns with the sunset lending just enough light to offer a view that nowhere in the US could you see. You’re standing there, in your mind, hold the ones you care about the most, in total awe of the beauty and history before you. Breathtaking isn’t it? That’s what I’ve been able to do, although its been solo most of the time. Now look down at the steps. Look closely. Everywhere you look, there are cigarette butts and black bubblegum stains marring the landscape. See them now? There are everywhere. Like a plague or infestation of insects filling every void and blotches covering every step you make.
Absolutely disgusting! Everywhere I traveled throughout Europe, visiting cities that were sometimes a thousand years old, with beautiful building and plazas of granite and marble, I saw the ugly blemishes of bubblegum and cigarettes. Yesterday at Buckingham Palace, right in front of the main gate, I witnessed an American tourist, standing not five feet from the gate, take a piece of gum out of his mouth and throw it to the ground. Horsewhipping would have been too lenient. “Keel hauling” would be far mor appropriate, ( Keelhauling: a form of punishment meted out to sailors at sea. The sailor was tied to a line that looped beneath the vessel, thrown overboard on one side of the ship, and dragged under the ship’s keel, either from one side of the ship to the other, or the length of the ship (from bow to stern). As the hull was usually covered in barnacles and other marine growth, if the offender was pulled quickly, keelhauling would typically result in serious cuts, loss of limbs and even decapitation. If the victim was dragged slowly, his weight might lower him sufficiently to miss the barnacles, but this method would frequently result in his drowning.) Appropriate in my mind to anyone who should consider desecrating the grounds of the Queen, or for that matter any o e of the thousands of historical sites I visited throughout my travels.
Last week in Prague, a city hundreds of years old. It looks like the setting for any Disney fairytale story, I noticed on the steps leading up to the castle, ( forgot the name but there is a photo here somewhere), there were literally tens of thousands of “Wrigley’s” left-overs covering the steps. But it didn’t stop there. As I climbed the last few steps, about one fifty or so, I witnessed a man, toss his cigarette box onto the ground not two feet from the trash can. After he smoked, he threw the butt, or rather flicked it out towards the center of the courtyard instead of into the ash bin, on tip of every trash receptacle I saw. Keel hauling for him? Naw…he should be forced by the Stasi or whatever they call the secret police in the Czech Republic, to pick up every butt with his mouth. Maybe it will help stop his craving for cigarettes. In Rome standing outside my hotel, smoking a cigar, I looked down into a grating on the sidewalk. There were over five thousand cigarette butts down in the vent below. Five thousand, at least. I put my cigar butt out in the receptacle at the entrance to the hotel, just four feet away. Apparently smokers have difficulty making those tow steps after their last puff. Dumb asses!
In Rome, London, Antwerp, Hamburg, Venice, and most everywhere tourists congregate, the story was the same. The “butts and bubblegum” were so prevalent, it was hard not to see. Now I can’t say how much of this is caused by Americans but I’m sure we are a large contributor to the filth, and it wasn’t so mush from the kids. There just isn’t as many there. The butts, euro’s are to blame here. They are the worst offenders since almost every Euro smokes, men or women, and they both don’t seem to care about tossing their butt anywhere.
Luckily the rain comes offer here. At least the rain washes the streets and steps clean of the cigarettes even though it most likely ends up polluting the waters somewhere. The bubblegum; it will most likely be here until Rome is resurrected.
It’s no wonder they put barriers around the Mona Lisa. If they didn’t some dumb ass tourists would stick a wad of gum there too.