In a disused theme park in Halensee, locals met and moaned. “If tourism is Berlin’s biggest growth industry”, pouted their literature, “where will those who provide the fun for the guests relax?”
Community meetings in Kreuzberg – a working
class area to the west with a large Turkish population, favoured by visitors on
weekend breaks – flew banners reading, “Help! The tourists are coming!” One
alternative magazine urged its readers to “steal their mobile phones and
wallets as you walk by their café tables, burn their cars, smash their hotel
windows, drop rubbish, throw stuff at tourist buses”.
The grievances are varied: tourists rattle
their wheelie cases over the cobblestones early in the morning, and change the
nature of clubs by taking pictures of each other on mobile phones.
The resentment springs from an enduring
counter-culture. During the Cold War, West Berlin attracted dissidents because
the government exempted citizens from military service. It duly became a
pressure cooker of politics. The fall of the Wall meant two very different
cultures – and sets of incomes – were thrown together. In the old East, there
is resentment as yuppies move in.
And there’s likely to be more to moan
about. Berlin had over nine million visitors in 2010, a 10% increase on the
previous year. But the city needs them. The destruction and division of Berlin
left it with virtually no industry. Companies like Siemens relocated to
Bavaria. Berlin needs the money – your money.
bloggers nominate tourists’ most annoying habits
London: “Trying to touch in on London’s Oyster
system using a paper ticket.” -- Matt Brown, Londonist.com
Barcelona: “Tourists on [pedestrian mall] Las Ramblas and the surrounding
parts wearing only what they had on in the sea.” -- David Brydon, barcelonasights. blogspot.com
Copenhagen: “Tourists show up at The Little Mermaid statue and are disappointed
at how small it is. Given that she’s called The Little Mermaid, this shouldn’t
be much of a surprise.” -- Timothy Anderson, thecopenhagenreport.
Mumbai: “Calling the Gateway of India ‘India Gate’, which is a different
monument, in Delhi. Mumbai already resents Delhi because it gets more
government funding. To take our iconic monument and call it by a Delhi name,
sacrilege!” -- Deepa Krishnan, mumbaimagic.com
“Tourists are easily seen because of their smiles.
It annoys most Muscovites.” -- Olga Borte, see-you-in-moscow.com
“They forget it’s a modern city. While looking for
the ‘authentic Roman’ experience, tourists accept poor service and bad manners
when they should say ‘basta’ [enough]!” -- Erica Firpa, moscerina.com
Evans, Berlin correspondent for the BBC, lives in Prenzlauer Berg, a yuppifying
part of the old East Berlin.
This article was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Magazine.