It’s a strange issue, this one: there are some cities in the world in which, if you behave like an idiot, they will tell you. They will not take your rubbish. If you are messing with their culture and not getting it right, you will be informed. A few examples: in New York, if you choose not to tip in a restaurant, they might well chase you down the street and explain that this is the custom and you should abide by it. In London, if you get in their way or dare to break your pace to admire a building, you will be tutted at, sighed at and assailed with a disproportionately angry “Excuse me!” In Milan, if you order a cappuccino after 11am, they will flat out laugh at you. And in Cracow, if you’re caught drunk and disorderly in the streets they will flat out lock you up. Now there’s an overreaction. My point is, if you behave like a bad tourist, you will know about it.
As such, Berlin is applauded as one of the more tourist-friendly cities. Visitors to Berlin will wax lyrical about how friendly the locals are, how helpful, and if you need to ask someone a question they will always stop for you. A nice city, Berlin, at least that what everyone says. So would you be surprised to learn that they don’t actually feel that way?
If you happen to have an insider source in the form of a Berlin local, they will tell you that you’re not as welcome as you feel. I know, right? I was hurt just as deeply. It would seem that Berlin is becoming too popular for its own good. Berliners didn’t mind when there were just a few tourists, digging that arty, hippy, liberal vibe and having a sing-song next to the crumbling wall. They were there for the right reasons, it seems. But now, they’re feeling a bit overrun by people who want to be seen in a really “cool” city, preferably one with good clubs and cheap beer and a preferably one that can become the newest destination for stag nights. You see where we’re going with this? The Berliners have a name for this particular brand of tourist: the EasyJet Set. And they are swiftly becoming the most hated people in the city.
The EasyJet set turn up drunk, hit the bars, get more drunk, try to get into clubs where they’re not wanted and, for want of anything better to do, throw up on the street and drop their beer bottles in the roads, before heading to their hotel and sleeping for most of the next day. Then they mooch to the wall, moan that they thought it would be better than that, and head for the nearest bar. Lather, rinse, repeat; as needed.
Basically, these are the people who don’t care about the city itself and don’t mind trashing it, because they’re heading home in the next day or so. But it’s starting to grate on the nerves of the poor old Berliners, and unfortunately all of the tourists are starting to be tarred with the same brush. After all, the people who live there can’t know who’s nasty and who’s nice. So don’t be surprised if people start giving you the evil eye, for all their reputed kindness to tourists.
So what can be done? Not a great deal; just be as respectful as possible to the locals and try not to mess up their city. And if you’re the kind of person that fits into the EasyJet Set category: Stop it! No one likes you!