Archive: Anti-Americanism: Reports from Travelers
In the wake of the disagreement between some European countries and the US over the war in Iraq, the media has led many Americans to believe they will be treated with hostility when traveling. Below are reports from travelers who have recently returned from Europe and how they were treated.
I recently returned from a trip to France & Italy, and I had an experience related to this topic. We were sitting in a train station in Italy, on our way to Rome, when we met a mother-daughter duo from Canada. We wound up riding most of the way with them, and they were delightful, but what really struck me was that right off the bat the mother very frankly told us how she was embarraased to be a Canadian, and how much she disapproved of various things (healthcare, politicians, etc.) (We had started the conversation with 'oh, you're from Canada, how nice!' type pleasantries, and were met with 'no, not really') My point is not to have anything negative to say about Canada or this woman (I've never been to Canada, and other than the Anti-Canada sentiments these people were a lot of fun). It was, however, a really interesting look at what "Ugly travelors" (American, Canadian, whatever country) looks like. This was my first impression of her, and it seemed really shocking to hear such an attitude. I sat there thinking, "Is this what Ugly-Americanism sounds like? Wow, I hope I don't sound like that!" It was a good lesson- we came across a small (and I mean small) amount of Anti-American sentiment, but really it only came up whenever Americans made it an issue (just like this woman from Canada did about her country). Other than that, we had a womderful time with almost every single European we came across, regardless of what they thought about America in general. People were kind, funny, hospitable, and in general just delightful. I remember standing in the rain in Paris, cold and wet with a map even wetter than we were, and a French lady stopped to ask us if we were lost and needed help. My best advice- leave whatever negative sentiments you may have about your own country (or any other for that matter) at home. Its just extra baggage (when we're supposed to be packing light!)
TX USA Tue 05/25/2004
I just came back from 3 1/2 weeks in England, France and Italy, and encountered absolutely no anti-Americanism. Everyone was wonderful and welcoming and always helpful (aside from the crabby desk clerk in London and the snooty guard in Calais, but that is not anti-American, that is normal). I was so pleased at how nice everyone was. There were several who wanted to discuss issues but were very sensitive in bringing up any topic and just wanted to talk — no "bashing" involved.
La Junta, CO USA Mon 05/24/2004
I'm an American living in Brussels and disagree that the "staff, waiters and shopkeepers" won't help Americans. They are warm, welcoming and happy to help if you approach them the same way. You get back what you put out. As always if you are travelling abroad you need to learn a bit of language and be pleasant in approaching people. We expect the same when visitors arrive in the US, especially the language, and the same should be expected from us. Europeans are very aware of the difference between governments and people. If you avoid the loud, ugly, demanding routine you'll be just fine and meet wonderful people. Good manners will take you a long way!
Brussels, Belgium Mon 05/24/2004
Anti-Americanism? Unfortunately, yes.
I went to Europe on business last month. In Brussels, the shopkeepers, waiters and hotel staff are adamant in not assisting those from the U.S., despite orders from their superiors. If you are ever in France, I suggest not reading Le Monde or Liberation, for they both publish articles and editorials that cast this country in a negative light, and I don't just the administration. Much of Europe is against the American people and it's a problem for the business community. Also, I doubt your political persuations would help matters in the end.
Indianapolis, IN USA Mon 05/24/2004
It's Really Bad! Please Re-Consider Going!
Just got back from Paris last night. They really don't like us over there. I was only walking in my regular clothes along the Champs Elysee and a group of people noticed me there, about 3 men. They wasted no time telling me in broken English how they don't want my "kind" there and how we should go home immediately. Also, I saw a lot of anti-American impromptu demostrations outside Paris. Needless to say, I'm not going back.
Philadelphia, PA USA Mon 05/24/2004
I'm a middle-aged (well, maybe a little older) woman just returning from a month traveling solo in Ireland. I encountered lots of people from many countries (predominantly France, Germany, Belgium) and experienced nothing but warmth from all. It seemed that everyone was very tuned in to and knowledgeable about world politics and crises and was eager to talk about them. While most people were highly critical of the American politics, no one was critical of the individial American — -other than eye rolling at some individual behaviors. As the Iraq photos, etc. unravelled during my month, I was aware of heightened tension and criticism of our administration, but nothing for me to take personally. I traveled with a busload of French and Irish high-schoolers for a while and they were incredibly nice and fun — -not a bit of anti-Americanism there. The only awkward time was in a pub where an American man (with perhaps too much Guinness in him) was attempting to prove how superior the American viewpoint is to any other — that was embarrassing!...So...not a bit of personal anti-Americanism toward me or to other Americans with whom I discussed this issue.
Port Townsend, WA USA Sun 05/23/2004
Anti-Americanism, no; Media hype, yes!
The media here try to keep a lot of crap stirred up; totally disgusting! My wife and I just returned from 8 days in Germany and Austria. Except for one waitress, Elizabet, in "Zum Spöckmeier" in München's Zentrum, the Deutsche and Austrian Volk were plenty receptive, kind, and willing to endure my ragged German. One nice couple in München even gave us their cell number and told us to call from anywhere in Germany if we needed help. How many times have any of us Americans offered that to a European touring the US?
Lynn A. Goss
Asheville, NC USA Sun 05/23/2004
I am doing the basic Eastern Europe 3 week trip that Rick outlines in his new Best of Eastern Europe book. I am presently in Dubrovnik, Croatia after traveling through Ljubljana, Vienna, Krakow, Budapest, and Prague. I have been using public transportation, B&B's mostly, with lots of contact with the locals. I have had absolutely no problems with anyone at all, everyone has been warm and helpful. Europeans have their own lives to live and no one has focused on me and my journey unless I open up and initiate contact. After that, all has been great. I am a big believer in treating everyone with respect and kindness and it all comes back. This is my third European trip (17 countries)in 2 years without any unpleasant interactions with the people of Europe. Lots of great times and good memories for a lifetime. I had some second thoughts on doing this trip at this time with all the bad images coming out in the world press, but I went ahead and I am so glad I did. This has been a wonderful experience!
Sedro-Woolley, WA USA Sun 05/23/2004
I got a small bit today...
I'm currently in Riga, Latvia...a wonderful (though a bit inclement with the weather) city to visit! This is part of a "Northeastern Europe" trip I'm taking, including Russia, Poland, etc. Anyway, I was walking around a park in Riga, and a young guy asked me if I was Polish (I don't look or dress very American — thus, I often get asked for directions, etc. when traveling overseas — at least where Caucasians are common). I said no, I speak English (thinking he was curious about my language). Then he said "Oh...England." Then I said "No...from the US." He then shook his head and walked away in what very much looked like disgust but I did get a word in...something like "Well...I don't like everything that goes on in my country, especially with our president" (and gave the thumbs-down to Bush) hoping he'd at least understand that there are people in the US who are dissatisfied with what their government is doing! I definitely don't take his reaction personally, and that happens rarely (and I've traveled extensively...India, Africa, Central/South America, etc.)...especially since most people around the world do realize that Americans are a very diverse group of people regarding their beliefs and how they feel about their government...just like people in their own countries!
San Diego, CA USA Sat 05/22/2004
Return from Paris
We just returned on Thursday from three weeks in Europe, ending the trip with a week in Paris. As always, the French were fabulous. Twice we were stopped on the street by strangers, one who ended the conversation with "God bless America". A lady in the park simply said, "welcome to Paris, we love Americans and you have stayed away too long". Everyone said the same thing, we don't blame you just the "crazy" man in the whitehouse. They took no attitude nor did they gloat. It appeard to us they felt sorry for us.
Oklahoma City, OK USA Sat 05/22/2004
Not in Netherlands nor London
Just came back from 12 days in Haarlem/Rotterdam/boat/London. During this time, the first pictures of Iraqi prisoner abuses were surfacing. There was never any anti-American sentiments directed at me. I met a family from Goude, Netherlands in a cafe and spent several very pleasant hours talking to them.
Naperville, il USA Sat 05/22/2004
I have been in Germany since September and have experienced no anti-Americanism whatsoever on a personal level. Not that there aren't people who disapprove of current events, but no one seems to hold it against me personally. Fact is, Germans enjoy a good discussion, especially if you hold opposing viewpoints. You may get in heated argument, but in most cases, it's not personal and they'll still consider you a friend afterwards. Germans value sharing your honest opinion over telling "white lies" in order to avoid a conflict. My advice, have an intense political discussion with a German if you have the chance. Maybe you'll both learn something new.
Mainz, RP Ger Sat 05/22/2004
anti American comments
Just returned from a week in Paris with my wife. Wonderful trip. We saw nor experienced any anti American comments during our stay. Also, security, once in europe, is not as heavy as in the USA. Francis
San Bruno, ca USA Fri 05/21/2004
I don't know if I am out of hand here, but I am going to Europe in June. However I was in Australia in January 2004 and only realized a few anti american problems. One in an airport where we had to wait in line for security, where someone made the comment, " you can thank Bush for this". Yet, I Traveled on 5 different airplanes in Australia and was never asked for an I.D. or my Passport. I feel safer when I have to show everything here in the states before I go overseas. The other incident was with a hippie on the beach that had a grudge, but he got over it. I have been to Europe 9 times. As my grandfather used to say, If you look for trouble you will find it.
St. Louis, MO USA Thu 05/20/2004
None that I noticed
Just back from Paris and really did not experience anything that could be thought of as Anti-Americanism. We were a close knit group of 8 people who went over for a cooking class and stayed on for an extra 6 days so we could have been a bit impervious to slights, if there were any. Actually, people were extremely friendly and I had to be insistent several times to get people to speak French with me because I wanted to practice. One man did say he would rather hear his English than my French, but I couldn't really blame him. Saw a number of ugly american sightings, however.
Davenport, IA USA Wed 05/19/2004
Attitudes towards the US
I'm now living in the Berchtesgaden area and I have run into a few anti-US/Iraq policy people - most had a few too many beers or were young people but admittedly I have seen more negativism towards the US than in the 25 years I've traveled and/or lived here. Note — -in this area there is an "asylum" made up of mostly by Iraqi asylum seekers - it gives one a different perspective to talk with them. One other thought - watching German news or CNN International also gives one a different viewpoint as to why there might be negative feelings.
Berchtesgaden, NA USA Tue 05/18/2004
Anti-Adminstration not us......
Any anti-Americanism is aimed directly at our administration and not us. Recent great trip to London an no one was rude or avoided us because ae are American. One thing was for sure though that their Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is becoming increasingly unpopular because he is seen as weak and being to close to Washington. People very kind and certainly not hostile.
TX USA Mon 05/17/2004
Americans in Paris
My family and I have lived in France for 7 years. We have rarely encountered negative or abusive treatment in our travels in Europe. Politeness, respect (and speaking the language help!). Loud, demanding behavior will insight similar responses. Remember, American, Europeens do not hate you personally ,but neither to they aspire to be Americans. The press and TV are much more critical of the Bush administration than what is allowed in the U.S. You may hear insults hurled but I would advise ignoring these and not engage in an aggressive verbal discourse. Remember you are visiters.
Meudon, France Sun 05/16/2004
Just returned from Paris. The French people were wonderful and very helpful.
Greensboro, NC USA Sun 05/16/2004
Ugly American Sightings
Several years ago my parents,two uncles and aunts were in Germany visiting my mom and her sisters' distant relatives.Everyone was in their 60's and having a good beer-fueled time.Unfortunately my family doesn't German anymore and our relatives are probably the only Germans in the world who can't speak English.My uncle,a loud and friendly funny fellow,was trying to explain that he was the "wholesale carpet king" of Seattle.Unable to get the point across,he stood up in the beer hall.shot his right hand up in a sieg heil salute,put 2 fingers on his lip as a moustache and shouted "I'm der tapas fuhrer!" Another great moment in Intercultural Communication.
USA Sun 05/16/2004
I live in Japan and travel often for sometimes lenghty visits throughout the Pacific and Asia including Indonesia,Malaysia and southern Thailand.The only times I have ever even remotely experienced any anti-Yankism is from young,opinionated Europeans.People are generally sharp enougth to differentiate between a bad government and the people.In fact I believe there were many more anti-French incidents in the U.S.A. than vice versa.
Japan Sun 05/16/2004
Anti-Americanism in Europe
I am an American living in Basel, Switzerland for the past two years. Swiss are not known for being friendly and this applies to Americans touring. But the Swiss here all hate the Bush administration, not Americans. One should still not be overtly obvious American in public. It could start uncomfortable political conversations, or worse.
Basel, Switzerland Sat 05/15/2004
I think it's worth remembering that all anecdotal evidence should be treated with caution. For example, I've spent the last 2 years in Europe — mostly in Belgium and the Netherlands, but also in France, Britain, Germany, Finland, etc., and have experienced no anti-Americanism whatsoever. But then, I speak several European languages, and am generally able to blend into the crowd — at least if the number of times I've been asked for directions in foreign cities is any indication! So, at the risk of re-stating the obvious for the thousandth time: attitude is everything. If you go to Europe with a gigantic chip on your shoulder, you're more likely to notice anti-Americanism than if you go with an open mind and a non-confrontational mindset. As the saying goes: "wherever you go, there you are."
Amsterdam, NL Sat 05/15/2004
Yes. More specifics, please.
In reading several of the posts below, I agree with Pat that it would be helpful to have specifics when posting negative experiences, in which country and under what conditions. When I was in London on business at the end of April, I was not always treated with courtesy but did not view that as anti-Americanism. Though I will add that I felt the atmosphere in London was very different from other trips I have made there over the past 10 years. People seemed tense and in talking with a couple of colleagues there, they agreed that there is a tenseness in the air. They also felt that people in their acquaintance are very anxious concerning world events and how the UK will be impacted by the war, etc. etc. Several people I spoke with were anxious about what could happen if there were clashes with the large muslim population.
I do feel that the poster who left Spain early was probably right to do so. No doubt that country was shell shocked after what they experienced. After September 11th, not all of us New Yorkers were particularly hospitable to out of towners, and in fact, I practically bit someone's head off for asking me if I knew when the Broadway theaters would reopen.
I would just like to see more specific reports from posters rather than people who had a couple of negative experiences with shop keepers, waiters, etc. and taking the leap that the whole country hates Americans. That really doesn't help any of us and isn't what this site is for. As far as the positive comments that tend to encompass the entire country? Well, speaking for myself, I am more interested in the negative experiences when they are posted simply because I travel to Europe a lot on business and it is helpful information to gauge the climate there, and therefore, more specifics would be appreciated.
NYC, NY USA Fri 05/14/2004
Europe and America
We were recently in the UK, France, and Belgium and really experienced no anti-Americanism. The only place we did encounter any was in Paris, but once out of the city we found 99% of people to be friendly and helpful. We also did notice a lot of Rick Steves guidebooks! As others have said do be prepared to discuss politics. As a more conservative person I tended to support Bush when discussing it (though that's changing a bit!!!) but most people continue to discuss with you in a calm, mature tone even after that.
CO USA Thu 05/13/2004
Ugly face of Europe — Charles' post
Charles states he got a lot of stares and ugly comments during his trip to Europe. I've been to Europe many times over the past years and have visited most of major cities. I found that the folks in the cities were busy with their life and wouldn't have cared to stare at me or direct ugly comments toward me. They had more important things on their mind, like getting on with their life. I suppose that if I were acting in a demonstrative manner, I would have received the stares and comments. Were you doing something demonstrative, Charles? I believe this forum needs a good definition of what is meant by "anti-Americanism." Seems like every slight or perceived rude treatment is considered "anti-American." I don't consider negative comments about the current administration necessarily "anti-American." If that were the case, than approximately half of the US population would be anti-American according to the latest polls. The guidelines for this forum state that posts should be specific. Therefore, Charles, what kind of stares and rude comments did you experience and under what conditions did you experience them? and in what city? You owe the rest of us an explanation when you post comments like that.
NC USA Thu 05/13/2004
I have travelled and lived in Europe at many different times over the past 25 years. For every country I visit I make good use of my travel time and my pocket dictionary and learn "politeness phrases" in the local language. It's amazing how happy people are to help you when you've learned "excuse me" and "can you please help me...". My family travels 'reservationless' and finds rooms in small hotels or private homes mostly and have had nothing but great experiences. While we've seen anti-American graffitti and demonstrations, we've been treated well on a personal level.
Gainesville, Fl USA Thu 05/13/2004
Ugly face of Europe
I agree with Melanie. We went to France and Germany, and it was pretty ugly. Lots of nasty comments, stares. I went to Europe years ago and it was much better. Now it is full of hatemongering and ugly stereotypes. Extreme intolerance.
San Fran, CA USA Wed 05/12/2004
Go to Europe, you will have fun!
I went last year in July all over France and I did wear my US flag bicycle jersey all over France and only one Frenchman scowled at me. All the French folk I meet from Bordeaux to Grenoble by bicycle seemed to okay to me. I did attempt to speak French all the time I think that was the key although some French people wanted to practice their English on me. I treated everyone respectifully and it was returned. I learned to say hello and gooodbye in the shops especially in the villages per French custom. I heard criticism of our government and their government so I didn't take it personally. I am not the US Government just an American guy in France having fun. Many of the French people have either been to America and have relatives here, or would like to visit. Remember Paris is not all of France. And the waiters are indifferent to everyone it's not personal. Waiters are salaried in France and tips are already included in your bill. Tipping is unnecessary. Now go have fun!
Lowell in seattle
Seattle, Wa USA Tue 05/11/2004
Anti-Americanism in France, Liam's Post
My thanks, Liam, for catching my attempt at humor. I wanted to make a statement as to just how paranoid many US travelers are becoming. I admit I had reservations about going to Paris two years ago. However, I couldn't have been treated nicer. I love the people and the country. They don't care that I'm an American. (OOPS! I mean a Yank. Sorry Canadians.) And I didn't have to hide behind the dumb pretense of claiming to be a Canadian. Now have been to France twice and have had a great visit both times. One final suggestion: leave your feelings about the war and the administration (pro or con) at home. They will still be there when you return. Just enjoy yourself and the marvelous culture that is France.
NJ USA Tue 05/11/2004
On the contrary, my experience going to school in France at 9, 15, 22-24 as well as trips there throughout my life have been nothing but a joy. I have been treated almost like a god in France, Italy, etc..., partly because I learned/try to speak the languages, and partly because I speak in agreement with Shopenhauer: "National character is only another name for the particular form which the littleness, perversity and baseness of mankind take in every country. Every nation mocks at other nations, and all are right."
New York, NY USA Tue 05/11/2004
Traveling in Paris
I will be traveling to Paris shortly and have been worried about anti-American sentiments but after reading everyone's post I feel much better. I am glad that most of the Europeans know enough to separate the individual from the government. Wish everyone was so open minded. Liam, if someone asks how I feel about the war and Bush - I will tell them the truth - I cannot stomach Bush and the war. And I will proudly say I am Canadian since I was born in Canada but I will also convey that I love both my country of origin and my adopted country - the USA.
MA USA Tue 05/11/2004
Traveling in Paris
I will be traveling to Paris shortly and have been worried about anti-American sentiments but after reading everyone's post I feel much better. I am glad that most of the Europeans know enough to separate the individual from the government. Wish everyone was so open minded. Liam, if someone asks how I feel about the war and Bush - I will tell them the truth - I cannot stomach Bush and the war. And I will proudly say I am Canadian since I am I was born in Canada but I will also convey that I love both my country of origin and my adopted country - the USA.
MA USA Tue 05/11/2004
Richard B - too funny
Richard B - I was howling with laughter at your post. Unfortunately it seems that no one else here got the joke.
I have never experienced anti-Americanism overseas. That's just ridiculous. If you treat others with respect, you will have no problems regardless of your personal political philosophy or nationality.
Just because someone doesn't like our politicians does not make him dislike our country. Anti-war graffiti is not the same as anti-Americanism. (Unless in your twisted value system pro-war and pro-American are synonyms.)
I don't want to take this into political territory, but I feel the need to address a common theme I see in these posts. I am not a fan of Bush's, but I find it annoying that so many of you say you had no problems once you declared you didn't support the war or that you didn't like Bush.
You mean you will be treated poorly if you happen to disagree with the political leanings of a shopkeeper? What happened to all of those open-minded Europeans I have experienced in past travels? If Europe has changed that much, I am not so sure I want to go back this summer.
I feel really sorry for anyone who feels he has to scrape and apologize for some politican while traveling overseas. If someone is only going to respect me if I march lockstep with his ideology, then I don't particularly care for that taxi driver, shopkeeper or waiter.
When I travel, I am pretty private about my political beliefs. I will talk about it when asked, but I will not lie or pretend to be Canadian or a rabid Bush-hater. If someone doesn't like me personally because of the way I vote, then I have no time for him.
It comes down to respecting your hosts, people, not making excuses for someone in Washington DC. Try to speak a little of the local language, respect their customs, and you will not experience any of this fabled anti-Americanism.
Boston, MA USA Tue 05/11/2004
My husband and I just returned from a week in France. We were treated very well, no anti-Americanism there. A woman even gave us a Euro to buy a Metro ticket!
The only English language TV channel we could watch was CNN. The French believe Americans don't support our president.
The numbers will show in November!
Chicago, IL USA Tue 05/11/2004
Score One For US :)
My friend and his wife just got back from a couple of years in London and he told me every single person,both older and younger generations he spoke to, had no issue with the individual american, only their foolhardy leaders. He told me the only issue he ran into was at Speakers Corner in Hyde Park at the beginning of the Iraq war with an arab gentleman who declaired the west "Infidels",which my friend countered with the countless atrocities that arabs have committed against their own men, women and children. This, along with alot of pro freedom chanting from the crowd that gathered, closed the mouth of the gentleman and earned a few well deserved pints from the crowd for my friend.
Dallas, TX USA Mon 05/10/2004
Anti-Americanism: view from an American living in Italy
My wife and I live in central Italy and are both fluent in the language and immersed in the culture. Our circle of friends includes Italians from all backgrounds and political stripes and throughout our experiences with them, and other Italians, there is a common thread; whether or not they support our various wars they are not anti-American. They may be against our government's policies but not against individual Americans. Their feelings toward us have ranged from pity, at the start of the war, to confusion, with the revelations of torture. They still believe in and admire the "American Dream" and in the ideals we profess. They listen to our music, go to see our films, and try to emulate us. Currently they are struggling with some hard truths that contradict what they had always believed about us. They don't hate us, they just can't understand how such atrocities could come from the America they thought they knew.
Umbertide, PG Italy Mon 05/10/2004
England' Support of America
I just returned from an extended visit to England and was happy to find out just how much the "Brits" support our war on terror. Similar to the time when we stood alone against Nazi Germany. The US and UK will stand again, together. It was nice to find such strong support against the despots of the world.
San Jose, CA USA Mon 05/10/2004
I did two, month long trips throughout Western Europe in 2002 and 2003 with absolutely no anti-Americanism at all. Europeans were wonderful — very helpful and well informed. I take every opportunity to discuss politics and let them know I am in alignment with the general European consensus on world affairs (and 60 years of American bipartisan foreign policy up until now) and in total disagreement with the present Bush administration. I am leaving this week for another long trip to Europe and part of my mission is to be an ambassador of goodwill in the Rick Steves tradition. I will build bridges, one on one, with the people I meet.
Seattle, WA USA Sun 05/09/2004
I just returned from a four-week trip to Europe with my wife and 12-year old daughter. As a frequant traveler, I knew enough to relize that almost all Eropeans (as almost all people almost anywhere) treat individuals as individuals, no matter what they think of the actions of the nation they come from, so I was not too worried about us being accosted personally. As expected, we were treated great by almost everyone, and the few instances of rudness might be as easily attibuted to anti-tourist or general misanthropic sentiments as anti-Americanism.
We did take every opportunity to discuss politics with people we met (as we always do). We found people relieved to find there are thinking Americans who are opposed to the arrogant, short-sighted, anti-rule of law policies of our current adminsitration. One could see their relief, and this left them open to aknowledge the good side of America, which they have not forgotten. We should take heart that reputation of our country as the moral giant of the Marshall plan, who kept Western Europe free and prosperous after the war has not yet been totally squandered by the current administration. We also learned much about their political situations, which they are just as eager to criticise. My daughter learned a great amount — much of it about the good American has done for others and the imortance of looking at the world through other eyes — something some Americans could stand to remember.
Shoreline, WA USA Sun 05/09/2004
Just got back from a 12 day trip to Egypt, including Cairo, Aswain
Luxor- we found no anti-american sentiments, only helpful, kind and friendly people.
USA Sat 05/08/2004
Politics in Europe
I just spent a semester of study abroad in Germany — and loved every second of it. In fact, I'm heading back with a friend for a couple of weeks later this month to visit all my new European friends. In short, yes, anti-americanism does exist, if only in certain segments of the population. A group of teenagers on a street car made a point of proclaiming loudly in our presence that they "hate Americans", and one needed only walk through town to see evidence of anti-americanism in signs and grafitti. These instances aside, (and as noted by many people here) 90 percent of the time, people are able to seperate the policies of American government and the individual Americans who are visiting their country. Do be prepared to discuss politics in Europe, as complete strangers had absolutely no qualms about asking my opinions on Bush or the war in Iraq. Generally, more people are politically aware in Europe than in America, and many will want to dicuss such topics with you in public. Whatever your opinion, I would advise keeping it relatively tempered, as Bush, in particular, is decidedly unpopular in many parts of Europe right now.
Langhorne, PA USA Fri 05/07/2004
RE: Identified as an American
Pulling out a guidebook in public can be a bad idea because it tells people you're a tourist, and potentially easy prey. But I don't think because it was a Rick Steve's guidebook it needed to be hidden. Whether or not you agree with Bush is one thing, but saying you wish you were born Canadian... that you're ashamed to be from the US is another. That is an insult to the rest of us, and if anything, will make it that much more difficult for the rest of us while abroad. We shouldn't be expected to be ashamed of who we are, or where we come from.
Reno, NV USA Fri 05/07/2004
No Problems with Anti-Americanism
We just got back Friday 4/30/04 London,Belgium and Paris. We did not have any problems in any of the places we visited. I did see quite a few Rick Steves guide books being used.
Everett, WA USA Wed 05/05/2004
Travelling in "Anti-American " Europe
My wife & I have just returned from a month in Europe(U.K.,France and Spain) and never encountered the slightest bit of hostility. The Europeans we met were quite able to distinguish between " Regular Americans on Vacation" and the Policies of the US Government.We did however meet an "Ugly American" on the Seville to Granada train.(but that's another story")
Hillsboro, Or. USA Tue 05/04/2004
Identified as an American
My wife and I just returned from two weeks in Paris. We never really experienced anything I could call anti-American until one evening on the subway. I took out my Rick Steves Paris 2004 guidebook to check out site when I was immediately accosted by two men who accused me of being a war-mongering American. Surprised, I asked them how they knew I was an American since I had not said anything and felt I dressed in a manner that blended in with populus. They said it was the book I was reading. They calmed down a bit when I agreed that I hated Bush and wished I had been born a Canadian. One lesson I learned is don't take out a Rick Steves travel guide in public. Only look at it in a secure unobservable area.
NJ USA Tue 05/04/2004
Me, my husband and our two kids went to Spain and Portugal and returned last week. The experiences we had while over there were unforgettable, and not for the better. To start, we were interested at checking out the cultural institutions in Madrid. Shouts of "Yankee Go Home!" were heard every two blocks while we were on the streets. It was frightening since we were in a foreign country and were unsure how to get back to the hotel room. Not that it was any better, as the hotel staff couldn't care less about how we were serviced, only taking our money. It was obvious that they were just happy to get rid of us. We tried our best to be considerate and understanding but to no avail. Portugal was a tad better but not by much. My advice to everyone is don't go!!!
Flint, MI USA Tue 05/04/2004
I'm Not Going Back
I was in Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris a month back. After the horrible experiences in each city, there's no way I'm going back. For instance, while at Brandenburg Gate, some locals spotted me while I was taking pictures. They proceeded to harrass me and were very vile, while the other pedestrians laughed and went about their business. My best friend received similar treatment while in central Italy.
Tulsa, OK USA Tue 05/04/2004