Reluctant Tourists

I saw Checkpoint Charlie today, by myself. I had a doctor’s appointment at a tropical health clinic nearby and had some spare time afterwards so I grabbed another döner and walked around the tourist spot, taking pictures. I found myself resenting the tourists I saw there. Their tour vans, big cameras, and clueless looks annoyed me and I was reluctant to be associated with them so I put on my ipod, dialed up The Cool Kids & Lupe Fiasco and did my best Berliner impression. I did manage to read the signs explaining the history of Checkpoint Charlie as I wandered around a bit and I tried my best to not look embarrassed when I snapped a couple of pictures of the flags in front of the guard building, but for some reason the idea of being a tourist doesn’t sit well with me.

My ire for the phanny-pack wearing, culture appropriating, camera wielding sparked again when Sebastian and I gave in to our inner-tourists and made our way tocrowds was Alexanderplatz to see the city from the top. It took us about 3 seconds to decide that the long line and loss of 10 euros we were about to endure was not worth it. Once again I was reluctant to do the tourist thing, which is strange because a tourist is exactly what I am.

The problem is that sometimes this reluctance to act as a tourist leaves me feeling distant, although Berlin had made plenty of effort to make the relevance and importance of the sites accessible to me. Of course I do not always deny my inner tourist. I have been to museums and most of the major sites in Berlin, but I have the feeling I could be getting more out of this experience if I weren’t so embarassed about what I am actually here to do. I promise to do better in Prague.

-j

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