Peter White is the Disability Affairs Correspondent for the BBC’s programme ‘Blind Man Roams the Globe’, broadcast on the World Service.
In a recent interview with The Independent newspaper he explained why he wanders the world and what it’s like to be a blind tourist.
“The first thing that sounds different are the voices. And so instantly you’ve got that idea of getting your picture of the place from what people are saying, what they’re talking about, the intonation, whether their voices go up or down, the way the street-sounds work, the way people sell things, all sorts of things which are very distinctive and which make a soundscape”.
One thing that the interview doesn’t mention is Braille monuments, reproductions of churches, cathedrals and other buildings that allow blind tourists to feel what they can’t see.
Valencia has a number of these mini monuments, such as the cathedral, where the authentic, uncontestably genuine Holy Grail is on display, La Lonja, where the world’s first ever letter of credit was signed, and may even have been honoured, and L’Almoina archealogical remains.
The Torres de Serranos, one of two original city gates, also has one of these touchy-feely mini-monuments.
White paints an extraordinary picture of the sensations of places he visits and how much he can learn listening in on other people’s conversations; although sometimes the results are not as inspiring as he hoped.
As he relates: “One of the problems is that often people are not giving out a particularly spiritual nuance themselves. I remember sitting on Hadrian’s Wall while two or three tourists wandered by discussing the latest plot of Neighbours”.