The Trouble With Tourists

It is a widely excepted fact that tourists are strange. It is also a widely accepted fact that they do strange things.

At the start of spring confused looking tourists clutching maps suddenly appear on every street corner of Amsterdam like members of a badly organised invasion. If they are not busy interrogating the locals for hotel directions tourists keep themselves occupied by trying to put money through the card slot of the ticket machines at central station or by asking several times if a tram is going to the destination which is clearly written upon it in very large letters. They also get confused trying to work out if the Dutch euro is the same as the euro back home if they come from Europe and use the phrase ‘monopoly money’ a lot during their visit if they don’t.

When communicating with locals most tourists (especially the English) try to smash through the language barrier with the brute force of talking louder. When this fails (and when said local has been appropriately deafened) tourists will then attempt the opposite and employ a strange kind of sign language that involves a lot of pointing at maps.

People start doing strange things to try and please these visitors. The appearance of tourists suddenly makes it acceptable to stand in a public place and enthusiastically rant about nearby buildings. Such behaviour that would normally have locals crossing the street in avoidance will instead attract crowds of devoted listeners who want to hear about the time the architect visited Greece and got his foot stuck in a bucket.

Tourists also do things that they normally would never do in their own country. For example; entire families of tourists will happily take a stroll around the red light district because it is ‘famous’ and ‘has to be seen’ but they would never dream of taking the children for a day trip around the porn section of their local video store (and to suggest such things is apparently considered ‘crazy talk’. It’s just double standards if you ask me).

Tourists are strange… And that’s not even including the ones who only come for the red light district and coffee shops.

21 responses to “The Trouble With Tourists”

  1. Seb says:

    I find a lot of them on my way to work, strenuously looking for the Anne Frank house while standing next to or almost inside of it. These people are probably fairly well functioning human beings in their home town, but drop them in a foreign city they become bumbling cretins.
    And don’t get me started on when these people decide to rent bikes.

  2. Anneke says:

    [like] (I’m on facebook way too much, I actually started looking for the like button!)

    I always dodge the people walking through Nijmegen following someone with a tiny flag. They always want you to take pictures, and somehow are not amused when you tell them you don’t have time to do so because you actually have a life and are not here for their amusement.

  3. Alison says:

    Fortunately, I don’t have to deal with them much here in Utrecht, but growing up in Orlando and spending some years in New York definitely has contributed to my desire to never look like a tourist, even when I am! The ones in NYC drove me up the wall on a regular basis. New Yorkers can be some of the friendliest and most helpful people you’ll meet — until you start behaving like a rude tourist.

  4. dragonlady says:

    I can remeber one Dutch man who got very upset when Alan and I said we didn’t need directions on which platform our train went from. (we use the trains a lot when in Holland and can find our way around) We very politly said “no thankyou, we know where we are going” But he got really angry. Maybe some Dutch people like giving tourists directions.

  5. julia says:

    We get lots of tourists. They usually drive on the wrong side of the road. And ride around on Segueways (I have a nasty habit of yelling “Segueway” when I see one and laughing hysterically).

  6. Dave2 says:

    Thanks to mapping apps on smartphones, I hardly ever see people with paper maps anymore. That’s a strange sight indeed.

  7. Wezz6400 says:

    The last time we had a lot of tourists here in Rotterdam they burned down our city center. Ever since then, every tourist which is discovered is chased out of town with pitchforks and torches. ;-)

  8. VallyP says:

    Most of the tourists I see in Rotterdam are waving cameras around and balancing precariously on my loopplank. My number one tourist response is “no, this ship is not open to the public. Yes, I know it’s a museum, but sorry, it’s private….the ship, not the museum.” Or, “Excuse me, but you’re standing in my house.” As you say, Stu, the tourists do strange things, but they make the locals even stranger…I’m no exception :-)

  9. VallyP says:

    Of course, being English, I have to say all of the above VERY LOUDLY!

  10. ugb says:

    weeeeee!!!! i love cheese!!!!

  11. French Bean says:

    I had considered travelling to Amsterdam to see what the whole Queen’s Day celebrations would be about, but I kind of chickened out at the thought of being a tourist (plus taking the trip by myself paralyzes me). It’s been a while since I have not regressed to shouting and map-pointing. :-P

  12. Aledys Ver says:

    Is it really that bad?! I’m thankful that I live in a land far, far away – where no tourist has been before :D (except for the Germans…. but as Basil Fawlty said, “we are all friends now”, so I won’t make politically incorrect jokes about that!)

  13. Invader_Stu says:

    Seb – I know what you mean. People who can ride a bike in their own country suddenly forget how it all works when they rent one in another country.

    Anneke – I’m always tempted to cross their path holding my own umbrella to see if I can fool some into splitting away from the main group.

    Alison – I know how you feel. I’m always very conchase of trying not to look like a tourist.

    Dragonlady – Maybe he was on a quota.

    ugb – You must be a tourist :p

    VallyP – I would say it very loudly either way. I can imagine it must get very annoying indeed.

    Julia – I would do the same. I’m disappointed I’ve not seen any yet.

    Dave2 – Amazingly I still see a lot of tourists with paper maps. I’ve got into the habit of trying to to help them with my smart phone maps but when ever I do they look at me like I’ve just pulled out some alien technology.

    Wezz6400 – Are you talking about the nazis?

    French Bean – If you come here on queens day you won’t get a chance to point at a map. You’ll just get sucked into the flow of people moving around the city (Queen’s Day is something you have to experience some day though).

    Aledys Ver – Don’t mention the war.

  14. Heather says:

    I was in Amsterdam at the weekend and it was hilarious to watch the group of guys standing in the side streets with their jaws dropped.

  15. Invader Stu says:

    Heather – Red Light District? :p

  16. Heather says:

    It was in that area where the lines between China Town and Red Light District are a bit blurry and sometimes merging. :)

  17. Invader Stu says:

    Heather – Ah yes. the drug dealer hang out.

  18. Bart says:

    It’s a good thing then that Dutch people behave absolutely normal when they go abroad – hack – cough –

  19. Invader Stu says:

    Bart – Oh yes… nothing strange there at all :p

  20. Amal says:

    lol, this is hillarious. really enjoyed reading it!

  21. My Travel Bookshelf: Armchair Traveling in July 2014 - The Girl and Globe says:

    […] The Trouble with Tourists by Invading Holland I’m heading to Europe next week, with Amsterdam first on my agenda, so naturally I’ve been drawn to posts about the Netherlands.  Stuart’s comics are great, but even his blog posts sans pictures are funny.  Of course, I’d be laughing harder at this one if I wasn’t about to become the tourist he describes.  I’ll try to be normal, I promise. […]

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