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Living in a large city known for being “extremely hip and young,” Berlin tends to be overrun with tourists all year round and can turn even the noblest of non-judgemental individuals into grumbling assholes muttering under their breath about “goddamn tourists.”

portrait of me in vienna

Berlin seems to have become one of the most desired travel destinations in the last decade – and for good reason. Berlin is a goddamn awesome city. Still, for those of us who live here (and by living here I mean those who have created a life for themselves in this city and do not view it as just a temporary stop over), constantly battling tourists at every turn does make you hate Berlin sometimes.

vienna coffee

The tourist question has become such an overwhelming “problem”, due to noise complaints and constant accounts of rowdiness that the mayor of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg in Berlin, Monika Herrmann, has even gone so far as to draw up a Rules of Conduct for tourists – the most famous  having to do with the incessant sound of suitcase wheels reverberating throughout the streets at all hours of the night.

portrait of nick

Now tourism is kinda a tricky subject, because everyone has the right to travel. And everyone should. Travel allows us to widen our horizons, learn about new cultures, and just generally become more open, flexible individuals. I would be lying, however if I were to say that it does not get tiring after a while that I can never find a seat in my favourite cafe or that I have to constantly fight to part the sea of human beings like moses at major S-bahn and U-bahn stations just to get to work, or that the general population of every club consists of about 90% tourists these days.

vienna architecture

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a good time when you visit a new city, but as a local, going out on the weekends or lazing about at the park ceases to be as fun when you feel like you are on some foreign exchange program or part of a tourist group because everyone and their mom around you are either erasmus students or just passing through because they heard that Berlin is the best place to get drunk and high and stay out all morning until 8 am. People come to Berlin to experience the culture, but the paradox is that some of this culture ceases to exist, when everyone around you are also tourists with preconceived notions of what Berlin is supposed to be all about.

woman in cafe reading

That being said, the culture of any city is shaped by its inhabitants, transient or permanent, and maybe us residents of Berlin need to accept that Berlin’s culture has become, in part, a culture full of transience, messy weekends, dreams, hopes, preconceived notions, and frustrated grumbling locals bitching about how Berlin “used to be authentic” all rolled up into one.

crochet bombing

I recently took on the role of the tourist myself when I travelled to Vienna with my boyfriend and family last spring. (It was actually my second time visiting Vienna – the last time being a few summers ago with a then good friend of mine.) Being on the other side of the fence looking in on a relatively unfamiliar city with wide eyes, and no real expectations is exciting and what makes travelling so damn wonderful. (Which is also the reason I could never hate tourists – I just hate certain aspects of what tourism can do – and that isn’t even getting into the dependency many countries have on tourism and the west as a major source of income.)

portrait of nick

As a photographer and product designer, varying the scenery is also an invaluable breath of fresh air. We artists are simple creatures. Just show us something beautiful and we are happy. It’s kind of like some fresh to death spearmint toothpaste for the eyes. You just feel refreshed and minty afterwards.  We didn’t have too things explicitly planned out, so we really just spent most of the time wandering around the city and sitting down to drink coffee at every turn. We did spend one afternoon wandering around Prater, which I would definitely recommend if campy sun-bleached amusement parks where cowboys and indians are somehow still a thing sound fun. It’s basically amazing and terrible at the same time.

coffee in vienna

Although money and time are precious commodities, it’s kind of a damned shame that I don’t pick up and go more often. I will probably not live in Berlin forever (It may just be my favorite city, but I constantly get the urge to move somewhere new) and I better milk this whole being landlocked thing for all it’s worth. There are so many things we always talk about wanting to do, but we never really seem to get around to it, and this is one of those things that I want to talk less about wanting and actually go about doing.

couple on holiday

So in the spirit of wandering, Nick and I will be heading to London in a few weeks for a long weekend, so it will be a different city’s turn to roll its eyes at me as I make my way through its streets with a confused look on my face and a possible map in hand stopping short at really inconvenient locations causing a pile up of people behind me (Just kidding. This is one of my pet peeves, so I avoid doing so myself like the plague). But London, don’t worry. I will be bringing a backpack, and luckily those things don’t have wheels.

Photography: Rae Tashman



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Rae

Rae Tashman is both the creative mind behind LFB and a freelance photographer. She lives in Berlin with her two fur babies and loves creating images and living consciously.

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  • Stephanie Louise

    Oh the infamous tourists! You love them, don’t love them, want them gone, want them there, and everything in between. The ones that visit here do alright, except when they cause trouble because of the abundance of cheap alcohol and lax rules. Sometimes around Korea my brother and I “become tourists” with our backpacks and tripods. Have a wonderful week Rae! x

    http://nativeblush.com

    • rae

      I know – tourists are a tricky subject, because there are enough people who “live-live” here in Berlin and also cause trouble, but somehow there still is a difference when you live in a place and can’t even get seated for brunch cos the place is teaming with tourists. Yes! I have had this experience a lot of times or at least felt like I will get mistaken for a tourist because I am roaming the streets with a camera speaking English to English-speaking friends.

  • “the incessant sound of suitcase wheels” hahaha! Are backpacks okay then ;) I agree with you, I do sometimes grumble about tourists clogging up the place (doesn’t seem to be that bad in Sydney though, only around the more touristy precincts) but I’m so often that annoying lost/picture-taking tourist in other cities, I can’t hate.

    • rae

      Agreed with everything in this comment! I actually value travel so much and want to do so much more of it so I could never fully hate – at least not on the individual tourist. But when they come in swarms … ;)

  • Hello Rae! I love your blog and photography – so glad that I found it! Have a great week and a wonderful time in London! :) x

    • rae

      Thanks so much, Shelley, really glad you like it!

  • Very well written Rae! We do have the same problem/lucky situation in Barcelona, specially when the good weather comes. It’s fun how as a local I tend to avoid places with lots of tourists (although I love to have tourists in Barcelona, don’t get me wrong! ) while I do the same when I am the tourist and thus annoying locals by my presence in some “you’re not supposed to be here” places, hahaha. Good to know about the suitcases wheels noise regulation, I live near to a main station and this is certainly an issue :) Have the nicest time in London, waiting for your pics!

    • rae

      Thanks, lady! Haha, and definitely agree with your comment – when I travel I do want to experience something local and not just go to tourist hotspots all the time. It definitely depends, because many tourist spots are such for a reason – meaning they are worthwhile to see – but at the same time, I don’t want to come back from my trip and just have pictures of monuments and museums and the heads of other tourists. I actually value just sitting down at a cafe and watching the people go by and feeling liek I am at least learning a little bit about the everyday people.

  • Ana Castilho

    love the first picture!

    xoxo

    http://myheartaintabrain.blogspot.pt/

    • rae

      Thanks Ana.

  • I used to live in Egypt (a country that relies on tourism and gets a LOT of it), and while I didn’t mind tourists (come on, who DOESN’T want to see the pyramids?!), I did mind the tourists that were unprepared to experience the culture. Egypt has a majority of Muslims, and I wish people would think about that before they go! I don’t think they realize how strongly they shape the views many Egyptians have about foreigners, especially Westerners. I had to live with those stereotypes when the tourists left.

    • rae

      This is one of the difficulties with tourists, especially if you yourself are living somewhere as an expat. A lot of the difficulties that people may have experienced with tourists will undoubtedly affect how they view you. It’s a real shame that the majority of western tourists cannot seem to open up their mind enough when travelling. They are a guest in someone else’s land and while I do not mean that one needs to completely assimilate, a healthy amount of openmindness and respect is really key – and not just for travelling but for any situation. Sadly, many tourists from the west do not know how to check their privilege at the door.

  • This was such a fun read and the whole topic on tourism is a double edge sword at times. Especially in NYC, where at one point tourists used to strictly stuck to Time Square and the Upper East Side, but now they’re becoming more adventurous and wandering more outside their comfort zone. I think it’s important to be conscious when you’re a tourist and not disrupt the city’s culture.

    ww.recalcitrantgirl.com

    • rae

      Thanks Tara – it definitely is. I agree with your comment entirely. I honestly think that it is great when tourists get “adventurous” and venture out of known tourist hot-spots – after all one of the things I look at critically when I myself at the tourist is that when you only experience things on a pre-made checklist the only thing you come away with after travel is basically your own preconceived notion of a country – that and your experience is hardly an experience of the culture of the land you are visiting, because by hitting all those tourist spots, you are really only surrounded by other tourists the whole time! But I agree – it is important to allow the city (or wherever you are) to maintain exactly what made it so appealing in the first place.

  • I love Berlin so much, it’s an amazing place and I can’t wait to go back.. I have friends that live there so that means I’m not a proper tourist, right? ;))

    • rae

      Haha, don’t get me wrong – not all tourists are bad! From reading your blog, I could definitely see how Berlin is a city that would appeal to you :) It’s great that you have friends that you can visit when you come here – I think one of the best ways to travel is to be able to travel to a place where you know people. That way, you are guaranteed to have a good time and kind of bypass the whole hit-and-miss “oh maybe that place is nice” wandering around that consumes 50% of a holiday to a foreign place without anyone to really point you in the right direction to things you would personally find interesting!

  • Bex

    I’m sure living in a tourist infested place would be uber annoying! But the city has such a magnetism! Your photos are exquisite and you are a beauty awesome post!

    VIXETTE

    • rae

      That is is, and with good reason as well! Thanks Bex!

  • Nancy Wilde

    “the incessant sound of suitcase wheels” – So many years working as a hostel and hotel receptionist, I have to say I can’t stand that noise, I’m traumatized! I feel like a homicidal maniac (and also Pavlov’s dog) whenever I hear that rolling… Ahah even if it’s me the one walking my trolley. Silent backpacks, please, and the world will be a better place. Lagos gets pretty hectic in the Summer – crowded narrow streets full of urine, coma, vomit and public sex; beaches packed with aussies and used condoms by the bay; loud teenagers and stag parties. I honestly don’t know why I haven’t snapped yet. It’s hypocrite of me to say it but I hate to be surrounded by tourists, even if I’m a tourist myself. People ruin my landscape photos, my peace of mind, my patience. There should be a mandatory guidebook like “Tourists, become/behave like Locals”. That’s the whole point, isn’t it? Experiencing it from the locals angle? Instead of acting the alien number?
    Flight booked to Bratislava, so might day-trip to Vienna – suggestions needed, doll!
    Enjoy London, I miss it already! Also need to come back to Dublin asap, it feels like it’s a grim yet swanky borough of London, village-orientated and with nicer, relaxed people. My goal is to move elsewhere, so either London, Dublin, Glasgow or Edinburgh… Your opinion is welcome, just sayin’. Also, you look so fucking beautiful in that last pic. No wonder the man looks so happy :p xx

  • it’s the same here in sydney as well, and given our reputation of throwing a decent NYE party i’m not really looking forward to the impending hoards of tourists that are heading our way this summer. there are good days however, i still some times feel like a tourist myself :) enjoyed this rae!

  • I guess everything has it’s pros and cons. Touristy areas tend to get very convenient when reaching out for things but it gets loud too. The city has got to be interesting enough for so many people to visit. I would usually try to avoid the touristy area as much as I can but if it was my first time visiting, I’m guilty as charge visiting those famous landmarks too =D
    Vienna is pretty and I love your hair! =D

    • rae

      I agree with you completely. When I am the one doing the travelling I like to see certain famous sites, which of course are teeming with tourists for the very good reason that the site is worth seeing. I also like to spend time just hanging out at a cafe and people watching though, to try and take in part of the local scene.

  • whenever i go somewhere, i try to be as non-touristy / cliche as possible, haha ;) that said, vienna looks amazing! it’s been at the top of my ‘to visit’ list for so long, hopefully soon. :)
    xo, cheyenne

    • rae

      I really hope that you can make it to Vienna – the city is extremely beautiful and def. worth visiting!

  • So in love with your photos. They’re such great quality.

    • rae

      Thank you so much, Fionna!

  • sileas

    Wow, I just discovered your wonderful, inspiring blog! I’ve recently been to Berlin (again), so different from Vienna but loved it <3

    • rae

      Thank you so much for this sweet comment! So glad that you enjoy the blog. Yes, Berlin is very different from Vienna, but I hope you had a lovely time there!

  • Ivana Džidić

    very entertaing read! I love tourists…I only get annoyed when streets of my hometown get closed for filming foreign commercials or editorials…Last time I was particulary disappointed perhaps because the model was half my size and wasn’t really a handsome guy according to my standards;)

    http://modaodaradosti.blogspot.ba/

    • rae

      So glad that you enjoyed this read, Ivana! Where are you from that they are filming so many films, commercials and editorials? Berlin also has it’s fair share of film crews – one summer there were so many – it was the year they were filming some movie with Liam Neeson and I also kept running into people filming commercials too, haha.

      • Ivana Džidić

        I’m from Split (Croatia). It is also a city that is quite popular with filming and ad productions…Game of Thrones was recently filmed here.

        I wish I would run into Liam Neeson…not that many actors impresses me but the has got that special something and he is brilliant actor.

        • rae

          I just googled images of Split and it looks beautiful! Do you know what part of Game of Thrones was being filmed there? And yeah, if I had actually gotten the chance to run into him I would have died. I am kind of in love with him (and Matt Damon).

          • Ivana Džidić

            seasons 3 and 4 were filmed in Split and another Croatian city Šibenik….. season 2 was filmed in Dubrovnik (not those snow scenes obviously…they were filmed in Ireland and Iceland I think ;)..I heard the new season will be filmed in Spain, in some small Spanish medieval city a blogger friend living there made a post about but I forgot its name.

          • rae

            How crazy! It must be kind of cool though to get to witness just exactly how a film crew works – Although that is the photographer in me talking. They keep filming stuff at this cafe next to my flat (I think probably some tv show) and I am not really that interested in which show it is but more curious about all the equipment and lighting, haha.

  • I really really love your photos, they always have a kind of calming and cozy effect on me – even this travel photos. I don’t know if this is a weird thing to say, but definitely true. Haha.

    • rae

      Thank you so much, Kia! That means so much to me!