2015 and 2016 have both been record years in terms of U.S. tourists arriving in Europe, and 2017 seems firmly placed to be third record year in a row. Why wouldn’t they come? The American economy is doing well, the Euro is on a 12-year low (just 1.07 USD for one Euro!) and Europe is a safe, pleasant and immensely variable destination. Added bonus – many Americans have European roots, so even without direct relatives still living on the “old continent”, its always fun to see the town where your great-great grandmother came from back in 1882.
In recent years my city – Rotterdam – has become increasingly popular with tourists as well, becoming the second most popular Dutch city. Rotterdam will probably never surpass Amsterdam, which gets more than 10 times as many visitors. Nevertheless, with the increased popularity of the sea cruise, not a week goes by without 2, 3 or even 4 cruise vessels docking in Rotterdam. You know what that means – Americans! Europeans welcome the American visitors and their $$. In addition, the visitors bring with them a perhaps even more valuable commodity – free entertainment. As my fellow writer WD Fyfe has so nicely put it in his guest post: “You are just as exotic to the locals as they are to you.” Here are a few of my own observations on the habits and customs of the American visitor to Europe.
- Americans tend to think everything in Europe is “cute” and “small”.
Cut it out. Its not “quaint little Cologne“. Cologne is a city of over a million people, the centre of a metropolitan region with a population of 3 million. It lies in the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region, with over 10 million people, the third largest metropolitan in the EU. Just because the city centre looks old, doesn’t mean its a cute little village. Same goes for Amsterdam, Brussels, Prague and all other major European capitals. Such comments are especially funny when made by Farmer John and Pumpkin Jane from Springfield, Illinois. Although even if you come from the suburbs of Chicago, its still no excuse to pretend you’re living in a cyberpunk 3D Futurama-meets-Fifth Element-style SuperCity, and you feel agoraphobic in these European “quaint little cities”.
- Speaking of Chicago, you’re not in mortal danger in Europe.
Dear American visitors. You’re not “surviving” Brussels. You haven’t “braved” Paris. Your few days in London were not a selfless act of courage. Yes, in 2015 and 2016 there were several high-profile terrorist attacks in Europe, with almost 200 people killed in both years. No, you’re not in mortal danger from the moment you step on European soil until the moment you leave. Think of it – in Chicago, 700 people were murdered in 2016! How does that compare to the risks posed by terrorism threat in Europe? Right – relax and get a bullet-proof vest when you get back to USA.
- Since I mentioned bravery – there’s nothing “daring” in visiting Budapest.
For some reason, Americans still believe the Iron Curtain is crossing Europe. Therefore, they tend to describe their day-trip to Budapest as a hair-raising plunge into the Great Unknown, where Stasi agents lurk on every corner. Stop it. You’re not “boldly going where no one has gone before”. Prague and Budapest are not even in Eastern Europe – its Central Europe. Both cities are in the Top 10 of most visited cities in the world. Countries like Estonia welcome more tourists per capita than Spain or Italy. Trust me – they’ve seen tourists before you. They know how to strip you of your dollars. Its not by robbing you, silly – its by selling you rubbish guided tours and ridiculous chariot rides.
- “Copenhagen is a hidden gem of Europe” – yes, exact quote.
I’m sure that’s the reason you can’t even see the statue of the Little Mermaid, let alone take a good photo of it. The crowds of tourists are there to hide this gem. Look – just because you haven’t heard of a place or a city, doesn’t mean its “new”. Something is “a hidden gem”, “a route less taken” or “off the beaten track” if its actually less haunted by the masses. A place like Gent, a region like Pyrenees or a country like Moldova might qualify for such a term, because they are not immediately recognized by everyone. In the more touristy places its also possible to find “hidden gems” or go “off the beaten track“. But calling Copenhagen “a hidden gem” is about the longest stretch ever.
- I know it’s a shock to you, but not everything is better in America.
Of course, this one is not limited to Europe. Americans are known throughout the world for compulsively trying to prove that everything is better in America. I recall one especially fanatical American, who, in front of a Belgian, a German and a Czech, tried to argue that the best beers in the world are being made in Boulder, Colorado. And all that in a Danish pub. Of course, it didn’t occur to him that a)it’s a matter of taste b)nobody actually cared and c)he was making a complete fool of himself. Seriously – why do Americans try to make a pissing contest out of everything? It only shows your deeply engraved inferiority complex, darlings. No need to argue with the French about who’s wine is better, with the Germans about who’s cars are faster, with the Greek about who’s state debt is bigger and with the Russians about who’s president is insaner.
Dear citizens of America visiting Europe in their masses this summer. Please chill out. You’re on vacation. We wish you a pleasant stay and hope you never change. Life would be so dull without you.
4 responses to “2017 set to bring record numbers of Americans to Europe for third year in a row”
I appreciate you pointing out that record number of Americans are flocking to European cities for the third time in a row, however, I must point out that in your blog, you tagged my earlier post on Cologne being a quaint little town and identified me as an American. I would like to clarify that I am not American, I am Indian, and as somebody who comes from a country of 1.25 billion people, a population of a million in a city like Cologne was a refreshing change. I enjoyed the charming nature of the city, but you seemed to have highlighted that in a negative way. There is absolutely nothing wrong with referring to Cologne as quaint in comparison to other European cities like Berlin or London by sheer population and space. My comment was not meant as a dismissal of the city in any way. Kindly do not take it out of context.
Thank you for your comment. Your reference to Cologne as “quaint little city” was so delightfully American in style that I assumed it came from an American. My apologies for the assumption. Perhaps I should devote a special post to the reflections of Asian visitors to Europe.
Yes some Americans are jerks, as can be said for people from any country. And most Americans are willing to talk freely, even though they occasionally may (unintentionally) offend.
To give the impression that you tolerate Americans because it’s profitable may not reflect well on you. I know that America bashing is in fashion these days – even a large segment of the US is into it – and that in some cases it’s deserved, but you may want to reconsider your viewpoint. There may come a time – in the not too distant future – when you’ll need Americans. But, of course, that’s your choice.
Dear Bob. I was America bashing long before it became mainstream. So I’m not doing it because its in fashion.
I never referred to Americans as ‘jerks’, these are your words. Rather, I pointed out the funny slightly naive and very entertaining features of the Common American Tourist. Kind of like Mark Twain did – mind you I do not dare to compare myself to him but look at his work as a source of inspiration.
As to your not-so-thinly-veiled threat – well, if because of a little irony you won’t come to help a cousin and a long-term ally in an hour of real need then it says more about you than about me.