Fitting In 2


Regensburg by Joan Gilomen

Can you spot the American?

Before our trip, a friend said that she wore leather shoes on her trip to Europe because Europeans don’t wear tennis shoes everywhere like we gauche Americans.  Looking like an American seems dicey.  So many people love to hate us, and when we’re liked, it’s usually because we are so easily parted with our dollars.  So I paid top dollar for a pair of non-athletic shoes and then wondered if shoes would really do the trick.

IF Steve and I remembered to take off our Vantage badge and headset receiver and camera when we left the tour, wouldn’t the locals still spot us as tourists?  I couldn’t usually tell who was who, but surely Steve’s boots, western shirt with pearl snaps and trucker cap were a major tipoff.  We suspected that that was why sales clerks greeted us with a “hello”, but then it seemed that they greeted everyone that way.  In one store a clerk, trying to get Steve’s attention, started throwing out neighboring nationalities to establish his language.  When I told another clerk “no sprechen sie deutsch,” she said “Well what sprechen sie then?”  Maybe we don’t stick out like sore thumbs.

A tour guide who’d left teaching to bring down the big bucks in tourism, instructed us “no smiling, no smirking.  Behave like proper German tourists.”  I’ve been trying not to smile at people all along, but then I realized that most of them were tourists trying not to smile at me, and quit trying so hard.

The key to spotting Americans was finally revealed in a skit by our River Navigator staff.  They started by placing a dollar on the floor for different nationalities to find.  The Italian got his girlfriend to pick it up, so he could slap her backside.  An Asian found the money, took its picture, took a selfie posing with it, then found someone to take a couple more with better poses.  The American noticed the bill and added to it, then handed a few to everyone in the vicinity.  Maybe that’s why Steve and I pass pretty well.  Not that we are cheap, but…IMG_4542

Would anyone like to buy a pair of slightly used leather shoes?


About breathtakebyways

Ann Williams’ travel articles have appeared in publications all over the country including The Washington Post, Roads to Adventure, and Jack and Jill. Between researching and writing books, she specializes in creative lectures.


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