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When in Rome…

Vicki Gilhula April 7, 2008 Vicki Gilhula No Comments on When in Rome…

Russell Smith, the Globe and Mail’s men’s fashion expert, advises men to leave their Tilley hats at home when they go to Rome…if they don’t want to look like tourists.

Most North American tourists tend to dress for a day at the beach not the city when they travel in Europe (and they really, really stand out!)

I have to confess I wore my Tilley (Hey, look at me, I am a Canadian tourist over the age of 40 hat) when I was in Cuba recently.

OK, I wore it to block the sun from my face, and to cover my messy hair. I forgot to pack my hairdryer.The hat covered a lot of sins.

I got the feeling the Tilley hat is a status symbol in Cuba like Levi jeans and Nike shoes.

Cubans want to look like “rich” tourists from Canada.

One of the hotel managers tried on my hat, and sort of strutted around with it. (Hey, look at me, I am pretending to be a Canadian tourist over the age of 40.)

A Cuban on the beach wanted to buy my partner’s Tilley hat. (Yes, we have his and her hats!).

I suppose there is nothing wrong with looking like a tourist, but it can make one prey to scam artists.

In Havana, four of us were approached by a young man who wanted to give “his Canadian friends” a gift. It was a Cuban peso with Che’s picture on it. It is worth about 10 cents or less and we knew it. As we said thank you and walked away, he yelled after us that we owe him five convertible pesos ($5) each for “these very expensive coins.”

By this time, I had dropped my very expensive gift in my purse and couldn’t find it to give it back to him.

So being a “nice” Canadian, I gave the scammer a couple of convertible pesos just to get rid of him. He must of had a good laugh.

My Tilley hat has gone back into my closet. It might come out this summer at camp but I don’t wear it in Sudbury. I don’t want to look like I am over 40.

The inventor of the Tilley hat, by the way has a Sudbury connection. Alex Tilley wasn’t born here but he spent his teen years here and went to Sudbury High School.

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