There are elements of summer travel that consume the intellect – history and literary settings and reevaluation of the real from the media images we’ve been fed. There are things that consume the body – sun, mosquitoes. And things the body happily consumes, like wonderful food.
There is consumerism in the very way we travel, consuming sites as conquering heroes armed with minor technology. Masses of tourists take in history by whittling down a palace to a tiny frame on the phone screen and holding out their arms, snapping themselves in front of it. They frame themselves as new additions in a Van Gogh canvas, and bring home the booty.
Then there is the hunger of raw consuming. People gorge. They can’t help themselves. Buses drop off Asian tourists in front of Galeries Lafayette in Paris where some buy suitcases and fill them with luxury brands. They are given quotas of consuming. In Russia, shopping is a great deal for those with foreign cash after the fall of the rouble. Others will simply never be part of the new economy (and many will never want to be).
And in the last picture, there is Sofia, capital of Bulgaria had been part of the Soviet bloc and is struggling as a poor member of the EU’s market economy. Remember that Bulgaria was on the edge of the Greek empire: in the photo, the values of the past find their own way – or not – to square with the modern.